Thursday, May 25, 2017

"No Override" Impact at UHS

There have been a number of rumors swirling since the vote on Tuesday, and our hope is that the questions below will answer a number of them.

Statement: The athletic program has been cut at Uxbridge High School.

True or False: FALSE. We still have an athletic program. As a result of the vote, fees for athletics for 2017-18 will be $275 per athlete, per sport. There is no family cap. There are certain pieces of the program that have been removed from the budget. Unfortunately, unless we raise fees again, we will not have the resources to fund the position of athletic trainer, and there is the possibility of some junior varsity teams not competing if there is not adequate high school participation.

Statement: There are no JV sports at UHS next year.

True or False: FALSE. We continue to sponsor JV sports if high school student participation warrants it. However, in some sports, there have not been adequate numbers of high school students participating. For example, in soccer last year, there were 15 high school girls and about 14 middle school girls participating. With similar numbers in 2017, there would only be a varsity team, and the middle school girls would participate in middle school or town sports. If enough high school girls registered to participate (19 or more), we would then have the demand for a JV team, which would enable us to offer the program to middle school athletics and use fees to offset the program. We will not know this until August.

All other JV sports, such as boys basketball, baseball, field hockey, tennis, and football, will compete in 2017-18.

Statement: There are no middle school sports next year.

True or False: FALSE. Middle school sports were not touched by the budget cuts and failure of the override vote.

Statement: Transportation was cut from the athletics budget.

True or False: TRUE AND FALSE. In our budget projection for the athletic program for this coming year, we intend to utilize the school van more deliberately, which will reduce transportation costs. There is no plan to have parents transport student-athletes to contests, nor are students self-transporting.

Statement: Transportation for all students was cut from the operating budget.

True or False: TRUE, to an extent. There is a transportation fee being imposed for all riders. If a student intends to take the bus either to or from school next year, s/he must be registered. The fee will be $180, per rider, with a $360 family cap.

Statement: The school’s accreditation is in jeopardy.

True or False: We don’t know yet. Uxbridge High School is due to be visited as part of its decennial visit in December 2018. One of the standards for accreditation is called, “Community Resources for Learning.” In that standard, the school, district, and community will be evaluated on its ability to meet the needs of all students and provide sufficient programs, including co-curricular and extracurricular programming. When fees that impact a student’s experience are imposed, the accreditation visiting team may determine that the standard is not met, or is limited, which could lead to Special Progress Reports or probation.

Statement: Other schools lost teachers, but it doesn’t appear that the high school lost personnel.

True or False: TRUE. The high school master schedule was redesigned last year around the different needs of students in terms of graduation requirements and levels. The building has been stretched to capacity in terms of teachers, with the average teacher-student load at about 106 students, and many classes (>10) already have more than 27 students in the section, with a half-dozen with more than 30 students. Should future cuts be needed, the elective program at Uxbridge High School will be compromised, which again could impact the accreditation in terms of the Curriculum and School Resources for Learning standards. When a school has challenges for accreditation in multiple standards, it risks being put on probation, pending fixes.
Students who lose supports at younger grades will eventually be at Uxbridge High School, so it is understandable to think about what skill gaps could arise as students come to UHS having had larger class sizes at younger grades.

Statement: The middle school is closing, so that will save money.

True or False: TRUE...but there is no determined date yet.  There is much work to do with the Massachusetts School Building Authority and we could be bound by their timelines. Furthermore, savings with a building closure are anticipated to be needed for capital improvements. Teaching and learning fall into the operating budget, so any money saved by the potential closure will be used toward capital improvements for the district, which has lacked a funded capital improvement plan for several years.

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