Monday, April 24, 2017

MERSD Budget Recap for Essex Town Meeting!

The Manchester Essex Regional School District is consistently and proudly among the highest-performing districts in the state.  MERSD is an inclusive school district; as such, we are a collaborative culture that welcomes all members into our learning community.  Recognizing that students share more similarities than differences, our learning community respects each individual’s unique contributions.  It is expected that all adults share the responsibility for providing every student with access to and participation in high quality education. In addition to a robust core curriculum that balances high expectations for student achievement with the needs of the whole child, we offer specialty programming and a variety of twenty-first century learning opportunities, such as:  elementary foreign language; Integrated Pre-Kindergarten; specialized learning programs for students with dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, and developmental delays;  STEM coursework in coding, engineering, project based environmental studies, FIRST Robotics,  and Authentic Science Research (ASR);  nationally recognized debate and DECCA teams; Project Adventure; award winning arts and music programs; and, state champion athletic teams. 

MERSD continues to provide value to the towns of Essex and Manchester by producing top tier results with a per pupil spending rate that is at the state average and the lowest on Cape Ann. The FY18 operating budget assumes spending growth of $783K, which is 3.3% more than FY17.  On the revenue side, MERSD is expecting non-town revenue growth of 4.1%, as it has increased State Aid estimates slightly to align with current year actual funding.  As a result, the assessment increase to the towns is 3.2% above FY17.  Longer-term, we continue to expect State Aid growth to be below the estimated 3.0-3.5% spending growth rate in our multi-year budget projections.  All of these budget projections are lower than the estimates contained in MERSD’s multi-year operating budget, which MERSD uses to help the two towns plan for the future. 

 MERSD Recognized for Outstanding Student Achievement
MERHS ranked 14th in Boston Magazine Best High Schools edition.
MERHS nationally ranked a Gold Medal School - US News & World Report Best High Schools.

MERHS recognized as a Commendation School by MA Department of Education.


MERSD has also leveraged its improved financial position to secure more favorable interest rates for long-term debt associated with construction of the Middle High School.  After refinancing this debt in the spring of 2016, MERSD will save taxpayers $95-100K annually through 2033, resulting in total taxpayer savings of $1.7 million over the remaining life of the bonds. Charges to the towns for MERSD’s capital budget, which pays for debt service related to construction of the Regional Middle High School, are expected to decline by $48K or 2.2% in FY18, compared to the prior year. These savings are in addition to savings generated by the refinancing referenced above.

Following the one-time revenue correction from taxpayers in FY16, MERSD has committed to keeping annual operating increases within the levy limit for the foreseeable future.  To that end, the FY17 and FY18 budgets are both “level services” or carry forward budgets, which are designed to maintain the same level of program currently in place. While health insurance costs have initially come in significantly higher than estimated, in keeping with past practice, MERSD will look for cost restructuring opportunities and other operational efficiencies to fund the increase in to health care and any needed programmatic investments in order to minimize requests for additional taxpayer funding.  Over the past several years, MERSD has outsourced many operational services in order to generate savings and the need for internal staffing/management, including:  evening custodial services, food service operations and transportation. MERSD has also taken significant steps to address long-term financial liabilities, including the cost of mandated health insurance for retirees (known as Other Post-Employment Benefits or OPEB).  As a result of a collaborative effort with the Manchester Essex Teachers Association, which agreed to migrate staff to less costly plans, MERSD is now on a path to full funding, with $1.2 million budgeted for trust contributions through FY18, funded entirely by savings from employee benefits restructuring.   





Submitted by the MERSD School Committee, Pamela Beaudoin, Superintendent  & Avi Urbas, Director of Finance & Operations




Curriculum Update!

April News - Mathematics
Posted by Julie DeRoche at 4/13/2017

At the end of March, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) adopted updates to the 2010 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks.  This post will focus on the expectations and guiding principles for mathematics programs in our schools. Over the course of the next year, as we review, assess, and update the district's mathematics curriculum, we will be guided by the following principles and expectations of the standards from the 2017 Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks. A strong, integrated, well-planned, and rigorous mathematics program, as referenced in the Massachusetts Mathematics Curriculum Frameworks (2017, p.5), promotes the following:  A Balance of Conceptual Understanding, Procedural Fluency, and Application

The standards strategically develop students’ mathematical understanding and skills. When students are first introduced to a mathematical concept they explore and investigate the concept by using concrete objects, visual models, drawings or representations to build their understanding. In the early grades they develop number sense and work with numbers in many ways.   Keep Reading on the Curriculum Highlights Blog....





Friday, April 14, 2017

Special Education Law Workshop for Parents!

Special Education Law Workshop
for Parents

Tuesday, May 2
6:30-8pm
MERMS-HS Library

Presenter:  Attorney Amy Rogers



Join us for an engaging training and discussion on special education eligibility criteria, IEP development, dispute resolution, and understanding your parent rights at each stage of the special education process.


Contact Rosie Read at readr@mersd.org or 978-525-6060

to register for the workshop.



Monday, April 10, 2017

April Issue of the Independent!



The April issue of the MERHS Independent is now available on the MERHS website. It's another packed issue!  It includes information about the Robotics team's quest for nationals, an article on career day, a look at college acceptances, an opinion piece on how millennials are viewed by older generations, and more!


Curriculum Update!

April News - English Language Arts

Posted by Julie DeRoche at 4/6/2017
At the end of March, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) adopted updates to the 2010 Massachusetts English language arts and mathematics Curriculum Frameworks.  This post will focus on the expectations and guiding principles for ELA and literacy programs in our schools. According to the DESE, the following guiding principles for English language arts and literacy programs, "should guide the design and evaluation of English language arts and literacy programs in schools  and the broader community.  Programs guided by these principles will prepare students for colleges, careers, and their lives as productive citizens" (Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for English Language Arts and Literacy, 2017, p.7).  Over the course of the next year, as we review, assess, and update the district's K-12 English Language Arts curriculum, we will be guided by the following principles and expectations of the standards.  A strong, integrated, well-planned, and rigorous English language arts program promotes the following:



Family Fitness Festival!

FAMILY FITNESS FESTIVAL & HIT THE STREET!
Ask your child about the Kids Fitness Challenge leading up to...

Family Fitness Festival by-the-sea
Get ready for big fun!
Masconomo Park, May 13, 2017
8:00 – 12:00 pm
Fun family-focused fitness activities!
Community wellness booths!
Local Food samplings!
Prizes!
5K run/walk/1 mile fun-run (a.k.a Hit the Street)!
Seriously, could it get any better??
Race @ 8:00am (NEW COURSE)
Activities, vendors and food 9:30am-11:30am
Registration will be open APRIL 3, 2017


Friday, April 7, 2017

Congratulations DECA Achievement Award Winners!

Congratulations to the  twenty-seven MERHS students who received   for Competitive Excellence exceeding performance standards in their designated Events during the 2016/17 DECA State Competition!



Student
Event
Annalia Laino
Restaurant and Food Service Management
Clara Tuttle
Human Resource Management
David LaForge
Marketing Management Team Decision Making
Shane Macleod
Marketing Management Team Decision Making
Drew Charlton
Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Emma Cochand
Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Dylan Wilson
Principles of Finance
Haley Wolfe
Apparel and Accessory Marketing
Jon Rouillard
Automotive Services Marketing
Kevin Hiselman
Principles of Marketing
Laura Hannafin
Hotel and Lodging Management
Lena Brzezinski
Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
Rebecca Shan
Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
Ligia Ronchi
Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Katherine Donnelly
Hospitality Services Team Decision Making
Logan Carroll
Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making
Bennett O’Leary
Travel and Tourism Team Decision Making
Maximilian Hahn
Principles of Hospitality and Tourism
Micaela Coonley
Apparel and Accessory Marketing
Olivia Mitrano
Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
Alexis Woodward
Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
Paul Albani
Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
Evan Fitzgerald
Buying and Merchandising Team Decision Making
Tracy Blagden
Hotel and Lodging Management
Tucker Jaworski
Principles of Business
Alexis Brown
Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making
Michaela Adelstein
Business Law and Ethics Team Decision Making