With high attendance at its successful summer programs and increased available funding for building repairs and maintenance, it has been a very busy summer for the Farmington Public School System.
As schools prepare to open on Sept. 4, the Farmington Board of Education rescheduled its September meeting and met last night to receive updates from the superintendent and business administrator prior to the start of the school year.
Board Chair Mary Grace Reed indicated that after several years of operating at a deficit in its cafeteria program, a change was needed. The board is optimistically looking forward to a new food services program run by Chartwells Dining Service.
Students of all ages returning to school next week will see many major improvements. Among the enhancements are the installation of wireless internet at Farmington High School (FHS) and Irving Robbins Middle School (IAR); new cafeteria tables and gym bleacher upgrades at the high school; and the replacement of five folding classroom walls with wood-framed, sheet-rocked walls at West District.
East Farms upgrades include tile in the main hallways instead of carpet and new cafeteria tables. At Noah Wallace, sidewalk and concrete curb replacement along the parking lot driveway will be noticeable improvements. The board will tour all schools Sept. 20-21 to view the capital improvements, said Business Administrator Michael Ryan.
Unlike recent years of fiscal austerity, this year’s budget provided available funds for “quite a number of new hires,” according to school Superintendent Kathleen Greider. In previous minutes from a June BOE meeting, 37 teachers were announced as new for the 2012-2013 school year. Also announced were several staff leadership positions, including Ted Donahue, principal, Irving A. Robbins Middle School; Krista Bauchman, assistant principal at IAR; Lisa Kapcinski, assistant principal of Farmington
High School; Cynthia Martin, supervisor of special education; and Veronica
Ruzek, director of curriculum and instruction.
Assistant Superintendent Kim Wynne reported on professional development activities this summer, including an inaugural “Assessment Academy” for 45 FHS teachers from all departments, which was well-received, she said. In addition, a four-day curriculum training session was held, with projects under development in several subject areas.
This summer, learning and enrichment opportunities were offered for grades K-12, which drew some 1,500 students — a 19 percent increase from last summer, according to Wynne. A musical theater program was so popular that three casts were needed for a summer production of “Willy Wonka.”
Vince LaFontan, director of Extended Care and Learning (EXCL), served as the coordinator of the Farmington Summer Learning Academy and reported that successful enrichment courses included the popular and well-regarded Elementary Strings Academy, a three-week Summer Academy for Strings for students in grades 1-10, held at West Woods School. The course, which draws many eager participants year after year, was enhanced by six FHS student counselors and 16 FHS student volunteers, said LaFontan.
Chinese Summer Camp, Extended Care & Learning (EXCL) Preschool and Kindergarten Readiness Camp and EXCL summer camp were recognized by LaFontan as successful programs. Also receiving high praise from LaFontan was an inter-district multicultural arts program, the 2012 Multicultural Arts Summer Programs, focused on teaching writing through the arts.
At the meeting, held in the FHS library, the board made special notice of and extended congratulations to LaFontan on being named vice chair of the National After School Board of Directors.
Summing up, Reed said she wished school officials and the board could “show people the preparation and exhaustive work that goes into readying for the school year. It’s the reason we have the achievement in Farmington that we do.”