Superintendent Weekly Update

February 12, 2021

Dear Mohawk Trail & Hawlemont Families,

As we head into February break, I hope you have a chance to do whatever it is that makes your heart happy--read a book; bake your favorite snacks; hit the slopes or grab a sled; or maybe just catch up on some overdue sleep. Whatever it is, I want to thank our staff, students, families, and community for their hard work this year. The pandemic has certainly drained us in different ways. I hope you take time for yourself or to help those around you.


Here's what's happening this week:


* FY22 Budget Update

* Strategic Planning - Link to Community Survey

* COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Updates

* School Spotlights

* MTRS Athletics Live Stream Basketball Games

* February Break Fun

FY22 Budget Update

The originally planned presentation for this week's budget subcommittee meeting was postponed until Friday, Feb. 19 as our business management team, TMS, continues to build the FY22 budget. With the delayed financials from Governor Baker's office in late January, this put us in a bit of a time-crunch. However, we're moving ahead quickly, but efficiently to get the budget prepared.


The FY22 budget has been built on level-services using new revenue sources for sustainability. Thanks to our municipal partners (THANK YOU!), we've leveraged our ESSR funds to help offset some of the costs incurred this year due to the pandemic.


Our initial look at the budget shows benefits, salaries, facilities, and our new literacy initiative taking up the largest slices of the FY22 budget pie. This is not surprising, as benefits, salaries, facilities, transportation, and special education costs are typically the largest chunks of our (and most districts') budget.


Over the past year, we made a significant investment in our technology infrastructure and supporting student learning through the expansion of technology (for students and teachers both IN and outside our classrooms). Investing in these tools helped to make our remote and hybrid learning models successful; assuring our students and staff had the tools and resources they needed for learning and teaching. This significant technology investment now opens the door widely to other learning experiences. These tools will allow us to provide out-of-school experiences/field trips/opportunities for our students both in the classroom or at home; the ability to host guest speakers from around the globe; opportunities to collaborate with other classes in the district or even in the country; and much more. We sincerely thank our community for their continued support of our budget so we can continue to improve and provide our students with the best education and supports we can give!

MTRSD Strategic Planning

We've had a slight delay with our community feedback survey and want to sincerely thank you for your continued patience. I expect in the coming week that our consultant, TMS, will share the strategic planning community survey via email to district families. Once available the link will also be posted on our website (www.mtrsd.org) and social media pages (school Facebook pages and district Twitter @mtrsdistrict) once it is live - so stay tuned as it's rolled-out! And, PLEASE share this information with your friends, colleagues, and neighbors who work and reside in this district. We are looking for all stakeholders to complete the survey. This survey--and your feedback--is essential in helping us to envision the future of our district.


I hope when you receive the link, you'll share your time with us to complete the survey (it should take approximately 20-30 minutes to complete). So please stay tuned to your email for further information from TMS.

COVID-19 School Planning Task Force Update

I am very happy to report that once again we're seeing a decrease in COVID-19 numbers in our community! This week, our data dashboard has moved into the "grey," which is the lowest category. I can't stress this enough: thanks to your diligence in practicing our mitigation strategies--those FAB FOUR--you're helping to keep our students, staff, and community safe. Keeping these numbers down keeps our ability to offer in-person/hybrid instruction possible. THANK YOU!


As a reminder, be sure to visit the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG) website, www.frcog.org/covid-vaccine/, for a list of local clinics and vaccine sites. Additionally, stay tuned for more information as we've just learned that Mohawk Trail Regional School (MTRS) has been selected to serve as a vaccination site! As soon as we have the details, we will share them widely (email, website, social, etc.) with you. We're very excited to be able to offer our facility as a clinic site to provide our community with easier access to the vaccine.


Remember to visit our COVID-19 information page (www.mtrsd.org/covid-19-information) for regular updates and links to important resources.

Practice the FAB FOUR & Keep Our COVID-19 Numbers DOWN!

As we head into February break, I'm asking you to please remember keep practicing the FAB FOUR--wear your mask; wash your hands; practice physical distancing; and stay home when you are unwell. I also ask that you consider refraining from traveling during the break to help keep community COVID-19 rates down. Staying home and practicing the Fab Four will help to keep the district in our in-person/hybrid model. This means our students can continue building their in-person connections with their teachers and classmates; students and staff stay healthy; our athletes will continue to be able to play their games; and we contribute to keeping our communities SAFE. I know it's been a long year and we are all itching to get to places we haven't seen or visited in awhile; but remaining diligent in our efforts--together--will help get us there sooner. Thank you in advance for your commitment to your school and community!

School Spotlight: Sanderson Academy

This week Sanderson Academy was featured in an article by Mary Byrne at the Greenfield Recorder. The piece showcases how our staff engaged our youngest learners during remote learning and the importance of those early remote connections in establishing relationships as we moved into the hybrid model.


Read all about it here:

https://www.recorder.com/-I-get-to-see-my-friends--Sanderson-Academy-kindergartners-meet-classmates-with-start-of-hybrid-model-38700939

School Spotlight: Buckland-Shelburne Elementary

BSE Kindergarteners in Mrs. Tomlinson's class recently finished a unit about polar animals. Using some baking soda and conditioner, students made fake snow and played with polar animal figurines. To understand how polar animals can survive in freezing temperatures, students made their own blubber gloves (using Crisco) and tried them out in the snow. SPOILER ALERT: They REALLY work! To try it out yourself, you can learn more here: https://kids.nationalgeographic.com/.../blubber-gloves/


During remote learning time, Kindergarteners also conducted an experiment to test which objects slide down ice (or not).

MTRS Athletics Live Stream Basketball Games

Attention MTRS Warriors Fans -- grab your favorite MTRS gear and head to www.vimeo.com/mtrsd on home game days to catch your favorite teams in action! Thanks to MTRS Athletic Director Greg Vouros and some amazing parent volunteers, we're able to give our fans access to the games through live-streaming on our district Vimeo channel. With COVID-19 restrictions this year and the absence of spectators, we wanted our fans to still be able to catch games whenever possible. With some quick thinking and help from our friends at Suzor IT, we were able to bring fans to the games virtually!


Elementary families - we hope you'll tune-in with your future Warriors as they cheer on our student athletes! Can't watch live? That's OK! You can always go back and watch the games at www.vimeo.com/mtrsd anytime!


For a full schedule of ALL MTRS athletics events, visit the link below.

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THANK YOU!

In this season of love--I wanted to share my appreciation for all of our staff who have worked consistently through this pandemic and help to keep our school community healthy, safe, fed, and running smoothly! A special shout-out to our nurses, custodians, food service, central office staff, and so many others who are behind-the-scenes and work tirelessly to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont Regional School Districts a great place to learn and grow!


To our teachers who keep our students learning and engaged; our students and families who are such an important part of our school community; to our community that trusts us to be the very best district we can--you are appreciated!

Need a break from the winter weather outside?

Check out these fun LIVE cams from the San Diego Zoo!

Penguins and polar bears and giraffes -- OH MY!

Thanks for all you do to make Mohawk Trail and Hawlemont School Districts GREAT places to learn and grow!