Dear Sherman Residents,
We are writing to inform you that the Board of Education voted to adopt the proposed 2017-2018 operating budget at a 0.0% increase during its general meeting on March 8, 2017.
We believe that the district’s budget should be developed with the sole purpose of allowing us to manifest our goals. Our instructional priorities, our staffing decisions, our master schedule, and ultimately each dollar that we spend should be aligned to allow us to reach our Vision:
“We enable all Sherman Students to become the best possible version of themselves. We provide an environment where our children develop into empathetic, self-directed, critical thinkers who don’t give up when faced with challenges.”
What follows are some details pertaining to the expected benefits of the community’s investment in the Sherman School through this budget. On the whole, the budget maximizes opportunities for reductions and efficiencies in order to markedly expand and improve our academic and educational offering in line with our District goals.
Program of Instruction Improvements:
Exploration Period (XP)
- We have completely reimagined how our students will be engaged in project-based learning. XP will be offered to all students in grades 4-8. Students will explore a wide-variety of interests and passions three days per week for 45 minutes.
- Both classroom and special area faculty will teach simultaneously during XP, so students will engage in Project Based Learning experiences which are interdisciplinary.
- Students will be given a choice, and their learning will be increasingly more self-directed as they progress from 4th through 8th grade.
- Students will work collaboratively on trimester-long projects and will demonstrate the cumulative effect of their learning via public exhibitions.
Band, Chorus, Advanced Art, and ELT
- We have dedicated two days for a variety of other offerings for students to choose from, including Band, Chorus, or an elective small-group Advanced Art class.
- Students in grades 4-8 who do not participate, will have access to their teachers for Extended Learning Time (ELT) for small-group, targeted instruction.
- We are funding one 42 minute class dedicated to Executive Functioning every six-days for students in grades 6-8 to teach students skills such as time management, goal setting, cognitive flexibility and self-monitoring.
Co-Taught Math and ELA
- Funding the additional periodic reinforcement of a certified general education teacher for both Math and ELA instruction in Middle School. This will reduce the faculty to student ratio and will also permit greater degrees of support and challenge.
- Increasing our explicitly taught Art program in grades K-3 and providing multiple opportunities for students in grades 4-8 to elect into our small-group Advanced Art course and/or by engaging in Art during our Exploration Period (XP).
- Overall, our Art teacher will work directly with students 20% more than in the past.
- Increasing time allocated to music instruction significantly in grades K-3.
- Middle School Band students will receive two periods of music instruction every six days while others will receive two periods of General Music.
- Funding a new offering, Music Technology, that will expose students to the world of composition and digital music media. Students will score music for videos and use MIDI keyboards to generate their own expressions.
- Increased Physical Education class time in grades K and 1 by over 20%.
- Increased organized physical time for grades 2-8 during recess in addition to the traditional Physical Education.
- Funding for a professional educator at recess each day to mitigate conflicts which often arise when students are engaged in unstructured, loosely supervised settings.
Athletics and Intramurals
- Continued funding for Interscholastic Athletics.
- Funding for an Intramural program for students who are not yet ready for Interscholastic Athletics in Basketball, Soccer, Golf, Tennis, etc. at no cost to families.
- Funding a new “Ed Tech” program designed to expose all students in grades K-8 to digital literacy, engineering, and MakerSpace activities. Imparts skills necessary to become producers of technology, learning to write code and program using a variety of technical languages.
- Funding for students in grades 4-5 to receive one period of explicit Spanish instruction per week.
- For 8th graders, provides an additional 35 minutes per week of Spanish than their 6th and 7th grade counterparts.
- Staff will have 5 forty-two minute periods each week for class planning and an additional 3 forty-two minute periods each week for ongoing professional development, SRBI meetings, and additional planning. Each grade level team will have common planning each day.
- Students in grades PK-5 will operate on a five-day schedule.
- Middle School will operate on a six-day rotation for both core academic subjects and specials.
- We will provide students with three minutes to transition between classes.
- In order for students to decompress, eat a nutritious lunch, expend energy and enjoy fellowship with schoolmates, we provide a 20% daily increase in lunch/recess time for students in grades K-5 as well as a 5% increase for students in grades 6-8.
Funding, Leadership, and Support:
In order to make all of the above possible, the Board and Administration has worked to maximize existing staff and scheduling efficiencies to self-fund improvements and create additional instructional time of existing staff. The budget also funds further investments in instructional innovation and special education leadership – along with other key support staff.
- The budget combines, modifies and refines five part-time administrative and support positions (through attrition and retirement) into two full-time administrative positions.
- New Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Innovation and new Director of Special Education will be responsible for ensuring the development and alignment of curricula and instruction in all core academic and special content areas as well as ensuring that our high-expectations for students with classified disabilities as well as those exceptional abilities are met.
- The budget reflects a reduction of 2.0 FTE roles for the 2017-2018 school year. These include: (1) Reconfiguring our Middle School ELA department so that it is more appropriately staffed with two, full-time, ELA teachers instead of one full-time and two part-time ELA teachers. (2) The consolidation of both 3rd grade sections into one 4th grade section, thereby reducing one part-time teacher. (3) The reconceptualization of our LEAP program thereby reducing a part-time position. (4) The reduction of one full-time position due to lower than expected enrollment in Kindergarten.
- The budget reflects a reduction of 3.0 FTE Paraprofessionals in art, computer lab and special education. However, we expect that we will actually increase Para/Tutor support in all classrooms.
- The budget provides for an average class size of 18 students across grades, K-8.
- In special cases, a Tutor will be assigned to maintain a student-staff ratio of approximately 12:1.
- A Tutor or Para will be assigned to each grade level throughout our K-5 program to further reduce our student-staff ratio.
Our Conservative Approach to State Funding
- With unknown variables related to State funding, including the reduction of this year’s ECS grant, our budget has set a very conservative estimate on grant revenue which is 66% lower than last year.
We are proud to present this budget to the Town. It represents a rigorous concerted effort to find savings and efficiencies in our existing program and then maximize our return by plowing both back into a highly expanded and improved educational offering. All while keeping our adult to student ratio one of the lowest in the state, and our instructional time in core subjects higher than neighboring high-performing districts. And it is achieved with a 0% increase over last year while anticipating the most conservative of outside support.
We very much appreciate the continued support of the Sherman Taxpayers.
Rowland Hanley, Chairman, Sherman Board of Education
Jeff Melendez, Superintendent-Principal