HARVARD -- This year, The Bromfield School is expecting a lot of technological updates, the Harvard Cable TV station construction is underway and a generous anonymous donation has been made for Cronin Auditorium.
School facilities manager Mark Force discussed the progress of the new TV station stating that the excavation and exterior work are in full force, to be completed by the end of the month.
What used to be the storage area of Bromfield School has been transformed into a 1,700-square-foot television studio to host both offices and regular operations of the cable network as well as broadcasting and similar classes for high school students.
Force is working with the DPW, HCTV and outside contractors to complete the project. Currently, a retaining wall is being poured and new gas lines are being removed and rerouted.
"We are also working to dig out the side of the wall to make it outside accessible," interim Superintendent Joseph Connelly said.
As Harvard prepares a new TV studio, the School Committee approved and accepted a $40,000 donation of new audio equipment and installation labor to The Bromfield School auditorium.
In a letter to Bromfield School Principal James O'Shea, the donor, who has lived in Harvard for 45 years with his four children who attended The Bromfield School, and his two grandchildren who currently attend, wrote, "When I attended the Three Ghosts performance last winter, which I very much enjoyed, I learned that the Bromfield sound system was in very poor condition. I am retired with long engineering experience in the fields of acoustics and electronics and decided that I could help. I propose to replace the entire system. My out of pocket costs will exceed $30,000. My time on the project will exceed 100 hours and is probably worth an additional $10,000."
Members of the committee expressed their appreciation for the gift.
"It's great that the kids that work so, so hard to memorize their lines and perform will now be able to be heard," Vice Chairman Kirsten Wright said.
"This is a huge example of generosity," Chairman SusanMary Redinger said.
School Committee members added that there is $163,000 worth of instructional school material purchases for this school year, all in place and ready to use.
"Clearly, we are giving our teachers what they need," Connelly said.
With additional updates, Connelly discussed the current student enrollment totals as well as some personnel and salary adjustments to the school system.
Enrollment totals are nearly right on target, coming in at 1,169 students. "No grade level varies more than four or five of what we estimated a year ago," Connelly said, and as enrollment totals adjust, so do salaries.
The budgeted Personnel Salary figure for fiscal 2014 is $967,358, where only $838,849 has been accounted for due to unfilled vacancies to the district. Vacancies include one middle school special education teacher.
Several necessary special education changes have impacted the Special Education budget. With five adjustments, the total increased tuition charges that are outside of the budget total $518,118. There are, however, available funds to help cushion the unanticipated expenses including addition Circuit Breaker Funds, carryover fiscal 2013 Circuit Breaker Funds, a Special Education staff reduction, tuition inflation factor funds and fiscal 2014 uncommitted salary funds due to personnel changes. With the available funds factored in, the deficit would reduce to $129,837.
Circuit Breaker funds are reimbursements from the state that schools may receive if they spend over the designated threshold amount on a special education student, and this year, they are reimbursing 75 percent of the difference.
The School Committee also discussed the projected timeline for review of Dr. Linda Dwight for the superintendent position. A public forum with Dr. Dwight is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9, 6:30-7:30 p.m. A decision is scheduled to be made by Monday, Sept. 14.
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