Parent Message from the Superintendent: Happy New (School) Year!

September 5, 2016

Hello All,

Happy New (School) Year!  I welcome back our returning families, and extend a special greeting to those families who are new to the HPS.  Our faculty and support staffs are ready for your children, the buildings and grounds are spruced up and welcoming, and the “brand new” big yellow buses are ready to roll.

We are proud to announce some leadership changes. Dr. James “Jamie” LaBillois was appointed last spring to succeed Ellen Keane as Assistant Superintendent.  Erica Pollard has assumed leadership of the Foreign Language Department with the retirement of Sue Keyes.  Liz O’Neil’s prior role as Out-of-District Coordinator for Special Education has been expanded to that of Assistant Director of Student Services, and we welcome Andrew Nyamekye as our new Metco Director.  As well, seventeen highly qualified and enthusiastic new teachers have signed their first contract with the Hingham Public Schools.

Summer maintenance and cleaning projects have been under way across the district.  Routine painting, plumbing, electrical, ceiling, playground projects and seemingly endless roof patching needs have been given attention.  All the parking lots have had surface repairs and restriping of lines and crosswalks. There has been a town-wide upgrade to a wireless Fire Alarm notification system, an initiative of the HFD; and additional security cameras with monitoring from the main office have been added at most schools.  At the high school, students will enjoy a renovated sandwich deli area that creates an additional serving line for quicker service, As well, the weight room has been brightened and will be more inviting with the installation of a second fan for air exchange.   Foster and HHS are getting used to new phone systems that finally have put all schools on the same network, and repairs have been made at South to enhance the safety of the steep exterior staircase that leads to the lower lot. Playground enhancements are evident at South, Foster, East, and PRS; at HMS work continues on the new baseball field, where protective netting is planned along the first base line. Emergency and upgraded security lighting projects have been completed at Foster.  Of course, this is just a sampling of the summer initiatives that reflect the efforts of our quality maintenance and custodial staff; all of them deserve a special “shout out.”

Overall, enrollment will be fairly flat with an anticipated increase of about 70 students at grades 6-12 and a decrease of approximately 80 children at grades K-5.  The latter drop is mainly the result of the exit of a large 5th grade to the middle school and the entry of a smaller kindergarten cohort than last fall.

I am particularly proud and appreciative of the following (in addition, of course, to the new bus lease):

  • the upcoming implementation of a new reading program for all students at grades K-5,
  • the second year of a very successful tuition-based, full day K program,
  • the success of HPS students as reflected by standardized test scores, recent Newsweek and Boston Magazine rankings, student performances and awards in drama, music and art, and athletics, and our students’ robust participation in service projects,
  • the work of our administrators in recruiting, interviewing, and recommending for hire of the very best candidates available for the various vacancies,
  • the work of our teachers over the summer in honing their skills through coursework and workshop attendance in completing curriculum development projects, AND
  • the enormous support we enjoy from individual parents, PTO, Booster, and School Council groups and the generosity organizations such as HEF, HSP, and SNAP and SEPAC.  THANK YOU ALL!

I want to call your attention to a few upcoming dates on the 2016-2017 School Calendar.  On September 8th (this coming Thursday) there is a MA primary election.  School will be in session in all buildings, and those voters assigned to the high school are reminded of the new traffic flow pattern that enters voters from Pleasant street to the back lot near the gym.  On November 8th, we anticipate an especially large turnout for the Presidential Election; so there will be no classes at the high school or middle school on that day.  Elementary schools will be in session on November 8th; and those students will end the school year a day earlier than their secondary peers next June.

Most in-service and conference days for the HPS reflect a two-hour early release (or two-hour late start for some of the secondary dates). However, we have added a three-hour release date this fall at each of the schools to accommodate special security training for staff at all levels. These dates are September 27th (high school), September 29th (middle school), November 2nd (Foster and PRS), and December 7th (East and South).  We are working with HPD and Synergy Solutions to provide this important training that will enhance staff preparedness in dealing with potential intruders.  Stay tuned for more information about both the training and the specific dismissal protocols for those dates.

I am pleased to announce that all six of the principals have joined in designating three “no homework weekends.”  Those dates are October 7-10, February 3-5, and May 26-29.

We all are a bit anxious about what to expect about the new assessment system (MCAS 2.0) that is scheduled at grades 3-8 (in ELA and mathematics) for next spring. Tenth graders will continue with the prior MCAS).  DESE has only just signed a five-year contract with Measured Progress to collaborate on the development and administration of the “Next-Generation MCAS.” Cleary that means a lot must be accomplished in the coming months.  We will endeavor to keep you all informed; relevant information will also be posted, as it is available, on the Superintendents page on the HPS website (hinghamschools.com).

Until the next time,

Dorothy Galo, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools