Superintendent's Desk: New Beal Principal, Budget Update

Superintendent of Schools Joe Sawyer issues his latest update.

Information courtesy of Superintendent of Schools Joe Sawyer

New Beal Principal: I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Christian Girardi as the next principal of the Beal Early Childhood Center. Girardi is currently in his fourth year as the assistant principal of the Abby Kelley Foster Public Charter School in Worcester. Prior to that, he was the music department head and a music teacher at the same school. Girardi is a graduate of St. John's High School, holds a bachelor of arts from Wesleyan University, and earned a master's degree in leadership and educational administration from Worcester State College. He lives in Shrewsbury with his wife and two young children.

The search process involved surveys of Beal staff and parents to ascertain the school's needs, candidate resume and phone screenings, and semi-finalist interviews with the search committee. Finalists were selected, and they each participated in a daylong site visit to Beal where the candidates participated in multiple interviews with parents, administrators, the human resources director, and the superintendent, followed by an open forum with the Beal faculty and staff. After this phase came an evening public forum, and finally a visit by members of the search committee to the candidates' schools to meet with parents, staff, administrators, and students. We were fortunate to have three strong finalists who all received positive feedback from the various stakeholder groups; ultimately, I selected Girardi based on his character, his intelligence, his leadership experience, his educational expertise and his motivation. I am confident that he will be a very successful principal at Beal.

Finalists for Paton Principal: We have selected two finalists to become the next principal of the Walter J. Paton School. They are Mrs. Wendy Bell, who is currently a fourth grade teacher at Paton, and Mrs. Suzanne Sullivan, who is currently the principal of the Warren Community Elementary School in the Quaboag Regional School District.

Budget Update: Last week, the administration presented a framework for budget reductions to the School Committee. We shared with the committee that we estimate it will take $2.8 million in additional funding in next year's budget just to maintain our current circumstances, with no improvements in class size or program. Depending on the amount of funding ultimately available, the School Department will be forced to mitigate costs, which could include significant increases to various tuition and fees that families pay; going without needed investments in textbooks, technology, teacher training; and under the worst case scenario the elimination of up to 23 full time professional educator positions. Position reductions would likely be accomplished through the reduction of educational programming (such as special subjects and electives) and/or increasing class size in even more places than is currently the case.  

Our assistant superintendent, Mary Beth Banios, and a panel of principals spoke to the School Committee about their concerns regarding our current challenges and the significant negative impact that further reductions would have on the quality of education in our schools.  I shared my opinion that a scenario where we would need to reduce the equivalent of 23 professional positions would be disastrous for our schools.  

The School Committee is interested in feedback regarding the potential of providing more access to non-resident students through school choice as a means to generate revenue, and they also want to hear parents' and community members' perspectives on raising fees and cutting existing programs and personnel.  

For the slide presentation from the meeting click here.  To watch a recording of the meeting online, click here and navigate to the School Committee link in the online video library.

Student Successes: Shrewsbury High School students excelled in a variety of co-curricular competitions recently:

• The SHS Cheerleaders won their first ever state championship.  They qualified to compete in the New England Championship this weekend.

• Nine SHS students were winners in the regional science fair competition at WPI and will advance to the state science fair at MIT in May.  SHS had the third highest number of qualifiers from high schools in Central Mass.

• The SHS Robotics team earned the Regional Engineering Inspiration Award at the FIRST Robotics Regional competition at WPI, which recognized overall excellence in their program and qualified them for an entry to the World FIRST Robotics Championships in St. Louis in April.

• The SHS Competitive Play earned first place at the Massachusetts Drama Festival regional semi-finals held at Durfee High School in Fall River, with several students winning individual recognition for acting and technical production.  They will now compete in the state finals in Boston.

• The SHS Speech and Debate team won the overall team sweepstakes for the New England District, with several students qualifying for nationals.

Congratulations to all of these students and their coaches for their outstanding performances - you have made our community proud!


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