Tuesday, December 13, 2016



I feel very fortunate that ​on a daily basis ​I have the opportunity to see how much learning occurs in ​the​ schools throughout our district.  Our teachers, support staff​,​ and administrators all work with a common goal ​--- ​ providing students with a strong foundation ​upon​ which they can build the rest of their lives.  

​Earlier this month, three schools in ​the ​Wachusett ​District ​were recognized by the Worcester Telegram and Gazette as being the Best in Central Massachusetts​.  ​Holden's ​Dawson Elementary​ School​ took the top prize for elementary schools, Mountview Middle School in Holden​ was selected as top ​m​iddle ​s​chool, and WRHS was​ named​ the top high school​ in Central Massachusetts​.   Principals ​Kelly ​Williamson, ​Erik ​Githmark and ​Bill ​Beando should all be very proud of the hard work and dedication put forth by their educational communities.  ​Every day the thirteen schools ​in our district ​make a difference in the lives of children and young adults​.  Having three of our schools be recognized as the best of the best is a well deserved honor​, ​and staff and students should be proud of their accomplishments.

​On behalf of District administration, I wish to thank all Wachusett employees for their efforts, commitment, dedication, and enthusiasm shown each and every day as we work with the students in our schools. ​



http://telegram.secondstreetapp.com/l/Telegram--Gazette-Best-of-Central-Mass/Ballot/LOCALSCHOOLSCOMMUNITY

Monday, November 7, 2016

Winter weather


It is that time of year again to start thinking about the inevitable delay or cancellation of school in the coming weeks or months due to inclement weather.  Even though we had very little snow last winter, we still had 4 snow days after the first of February due to dangerous driving conditions.   With this in mind, I want to remind everyone that school delays and cancellations are issues that we in New England must live with every year.  The decision to cancel or delay school is one that I take seriously as dangerous driving conditions are a constant issue for schools who transport students, especially in a school district spread over as many miles as Wachusett.  A decision to cancel school usually takes place by 5:15 am in order to give the bus company time to reach out to their drivers and a SchoolMessenger call will be made soon thereafter.  A two-hour delay occurs during the same time frame.  We average several delays and/or cancellations every year.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


Over the past two years, I have had wonderful conversations and a great deal of positive feedback with staff and families about the Wachusett App. As a means to further enhance communication within the WRSD, the Wachusett App compiles many of the important items related to the WRSD into one, convenient location. The app is available to download for free through the Apple App store or GooglePlay.  The app has several components that will be helpful for students and families, including links to:

  • the school calendar,
  • athletic schedules for the high school,
  • a staff directory by school with direct links to email,
  • the mobile PowerSchool site,
  • the superintendent’s blog,
  • school lunch menus,
  • school listings with phone numbers,
  • a map that will provide directions to any school in the district,
  • the WRSD bus provider, AA Transportation and,
  • the WRSD website

We will continue to make adjustments to the app to better meet the needs of our students, staff and families.

Thank you,

Darryll McCall, Ed.D.
Superintendent

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

WRSD Strategic Plan 2016-2021



I am truly honored to have the opportunity to present the WRSD 2016-2021 Strategic Plan. Working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS), a Strategic Planning Steering Committee was created during the last school year. The Steering Committee consisted of twenty-three representatives representing a variety of stakeholders. In order to gain feedback from the community, a survey was conducted which produced over 2,000 responses. Focus group meetings were also held in all 13 schools and in each individual town.

Drawing on the information gathered, the Steering Committee established five learning domains from which strategic objectives, priority initiatives, and action plans have been crafted. I am thankful for all of those who participated in this endeavor as it is truly representative of a broad spectrum of the constituents who make-up our district.

The WRSD Strategic Plan will provide our community with a sense of purpose as we define priorities and set budgets. Each school will now create a School Improvement Plan that ties directly back to the Strategic Plan and will help define budget priorities at both the building and district levels. Goals that are set by administrators and teachers will have common themes connected to the five learning domains, thus helping bring our five town district toward common educational outcomes.

The creation of the Strategic Plan took many hours, and involved numerous people, but the final product was well worth the time and effort, and will be the focal point for Wachusett moving forward over the next five years. This is an exciting time for the district and for our entire community.

Sincerely,

Darryll McCall, Ed.D.
Superintendent


Monday, August 29, 2016

August 29, 2016

Dear Wachusett Families:

It has been a very busy summer in the Wachusett Regional School District as we prepare for the start of school on August  30th.  Since the weather has been a little warmer and drier than a typical New England summer, it has afforded us more opportunities to be outside and enjoy all of our natural surroundings here in Central Massachusetts.  Prior to commencing the school year, I would like take this time to share some information with you about our district.

This past year, our district embarked upon the very important work of creating a Strategic Plan.  Working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Association of Regional Schools (MARS), a Strategic Planning Steering Committee was created.   The Steering Committee consisted of twenty-three representatives including school staff, parents, students, and community members. The Steering Committee was initially charged with the development of a redefined vision, mission, and core values which would serve as the infrastructure for the strategic plan for the District.  In order to gain feedback, a community survey was conducted and over 2,000 responses were shared with the District.  Focus groups were also conducted in all 13 schools and in each individual town. Five learning domains have been defined from which strategic objectives, strategic initiatives, and action plans will all be crafted.  The Steering Committee has wrapped up its’ work and the Strategic Plan will be shared with the public in the very near future.

With the recent passing of the FY17 WRSD budget, our district is positioned to provide a strong education to the children who attend our schools.  With the creation of both a Technology Plan and a Professional Development Plan last spring, our district is better prepared to support our students and staff in our ever changing world.  These two documents, as well as the Strategic Plan, will also play a vital role in the annual budget preparation process and will help define the steps necessary in meeting the needs of the children who attend our schools.  

Finally, I would like to welcome Julie Carter, the new principal of Mayo Elementary School in Holden.  Julie is a strong educator whose broad experience base will add value to both the educational experiences at Mayo and across the District.  

Thank you for your support of our schools and I look forward to another productive year at Wachusett.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

FY17 Budget approved



Last night, the town of Paxton voted to support the WRSD FY17 budget, making it the fourth of five towns needed to approve the budget.  This was truly a work of compromise and cooperation on the part of the WRSD and the town of Paxton, and I would like to thank both the School Committee and the town officials in Paxton for their support and hard work.  Having lived and worked in the WRSD since 1999, I am heartened by the conversations that are taking place around educating our children and the importance of a strong school system.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

End of year message


Dear families:

As we close out the 2015-2016 school year, I would like to thank all of you for your continued support of our schools.  I would also like to share some information with you pertaining to recent accomplishments in our District.

As I mentioned in my annual letter to the towns, the 2015-2016 school year has been both productive and groundbreaking.  Our year has been productive because with the passage of a school budget in late fall, the District had the ability to add several key positions to assist our students and teachers in the educational process including the hiring of a Deputy Superintendent, three middle school counselors, and several teachers to offset large classes at Mountview and the high school.  I want to thank all of our communities for making education a priority and supporting a budget that will help our children become well prepared to be successful in our globally competitive world.  This year has also been groundbreaking because of the completion of the new Mountview Middle School.   The state of the art design and technology found in the new building will be a source of pride for our District for years to come.  The staff and students have been in the building since April and are very appreciative of the wonderful learning space they now have the opportunity to be in every day. 

This spring, we have spent time on the development of the WRSD Strategic Plan.  Our school district is well poised to provide a visionary strategic plan that will take us into the next five years of learning in all schools.  We are committed to a collaborative, open planning process in which feedback and discussions are vital components of synthesizing our unified goals.  The plan will assist the District as budgets are created and developed for both short and long term action plans.  A community-wide survey and a series of focus groups with all stakeholders have helped to inform the strategic planning process and we are close to the creation of the final document.  Thank you for your input and support in this process!

Earlier this month I was honored to attend the Wachusett Regional High School graduation on June 9th at the DCU Center.  I had the chance to congratulate 531 graduates as they were called to accept their diplomas.  The graduates made it this far only with the support and guidance of both educators and families through their years in school.  We are very proud of all of graduating seniors and are confident that, whatever path they choose, their time in Wachusett will assist them in becoming the next leaders of tomorrow.

This year, the new FY17 budget remains yet to be approved as we enter into a new fiscal year on July 1.  Two of the five Member Towns did not approve the budget requested by our district which means that we will be working with a 1/12th budget until a budget has passed or the Commissioner of Education sets the budget for the District.  The School Committee is now in the process of revisiting the FY17 budget and will attempt to come to consensus on an amended budget very soon.   The School Committee budget includes full year staffing appropriations for the new staff which were approved last October, as well as funding for technology, instructional support, and building maintenance in order to offset the decreases in funding which occurred over the past several years.  I do not enjoy writing about the budget at this time of year, but I feel that it is important to share this information with all of you as we attempt to provide our students with a first class educational experience

I would also like to honor those who have worked diligently to make our school district a wonderful place for kids.  I wish the best of luck to all of our staff who are retiring and beginning another chapter in their lives.  I especially want to thank our principal retiree, Judy Evans, principal of Mayo Elementary School.  Judy has been the principal of Mayo for ten years and prior she served for six years at principal of Central Tree Middle School.   I had the privilege of working with Judy as her assistant principal for three years while at CTMS.  Wachusett could not have asked for a more professional, hardworking, and child-centered educator.  I would like to wish Judy, and all of our retiring staff, a happy and healthy retirement.  Best wishes to this year’s retirees:

Denise Aldrich, WRHS
Rodney Brown, WRHS
Ralph Caouette, WRHS
Elizabeth Chase, Thomas Prince School
Beverly Cochran, Chocksett Middle School
Mary Collette, Thomas Prince School
Michael Constantinou, WRHS
Charlotte Cote, Mountview Middle School
Susanne Ekberg, Paxton Center School
Judith Evans, Mayo Elementary School
Nan Fellows, District-wide
Barbara Helfrick, Dawson Elementary School
Jerry Horton, WRHS
Marie Horton, Dawson Elementary School
Ann Hudson, Dawson Elementary School
Miriam Jenson, WRHS
Susan Lauder, Chocksett Middle School
Rosemary Laverdiere, WRHS
Horatio Nicastro, WRHS
Patrice Nowak, District-wide
Carolyn O’Malley, Central Tree Middle School
Susan Pacek, Mayo Elementary School
William Perry, WRHS

As we move forward, I would like to welcome Julie Carter to the Wachusett community as the next Principal of Mayo Elementary School.  Julie is a long time educator with a broad level of experience that will help to accentuate the many wonderful opportunities already made available to students.

The end of the year is always bittersweet, especially for those parents whose children have graduated from the high school or are moving from one school to another.  In my speech to the high school graduates, I reminded them to thank all of those who helped them get to this point in their lives.  I also want to thank all of you for your support and dedication to the students of Wachusett.  Have a great summer and enjoy your time relaxing with family and friends.

Sincerely,

Darryll McCall, Ed.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Wednesday, May 11, 2016


This week, the towns of Rutland and Paxton held Proposition 2 1/2 override ballot votes to support the school budget.  Both overrides failed to pass which means that the WRSD budget did not pass in at least 4 of the 5 Member Towns.   When a budget proposed by the District is not finalized prior to July 1, I send a letter to the Commissioner of Education requesting approval to operate under a 1/12th budget until a final budget can be established.  The 1/12th budget is based upon the prior fiscal year's budget (FY16) and every month the District would operate under 1/12th of the prior year's budget in order to cover operational expenses.  The WRSDC now has 30 days from when the proposed budget was defeated in which to establish a new budget.  Member Towns have 45 days from when a new WRSD budget is approved by the WRSDC to either reconvene a Town Meeting to vote on the new budget number or the towns can accept the new number without having a Town Meeting.

Please follow this link to see the most recent version of the Wachusett FY17 Budget Book.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mountview Opening


I feel very fortunate to have been at Mountview Middle School yesterday morning as students entered the new building for the very first time.  I heard many "oh my gosh" and "wow" statements when the students walked into their new learning space.  The photo above shows the entrance foyer that all students entered yesterday prior to traveling down the corridors to their new Gold or Blue Pods.  The foyer connects the classroom spaces with the larger spaces such as the gymnasium, music wing, and cafeteria.  The LED lighting throughout the building will provide excellent lighting that is also extremely energy efficient.  The intricately designed flooring pattern adds a wonderful mix of color to the warm wood tones in this space as well as the rest of the school.  I would like to thank all of those who helped make this project possible and let them know that it was well worth the time, energy and investment!

Friday, March 25, 2016

MCAS information for families


Dear Wachusett Families:

As you may know, the Wachusett Regional School District will be continuing with MCAS this spring.  There are several important items that we would like to share with you concerning the 2016 spring MCAS, and we have detailed these below.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the state is currently in the process of upgrading the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to better measure the critical thinking skills students need for success in the 21st century. This new test, informally called "MCAS 2.0" by the DESE, will build upon MCAS assessments developed over the past two decades and will include innovative items developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) as well as new items specifically created to assess the Massachusetts learning standards.
As a result of this, we want to make you aware of the following changes to the MCAS that are in effect this year:

  • 2016 MCAS will contain PARCC item type questions on the grades 3-8 ELA and Math tests.  
  • Grades 4 and 7 will not have the long composition portion of MCAS as in previous years.
  • Writing will be assessed at every grade level through the use of a new timed section, called “Session 2B.”  Sessions 1 and 2A will remain “untimed”
  • The required time allotted for the completion of Session 2B is 60 minutes,(with the exception for students with disabilities and ELL students).  
    • According to the DESE, “Students with disabilities and ELL students may receive extra time up to an entire school day to complete Session 2B.”
  • In addition to a narrative writing task, Session 2B will also contain Evidence Based Selected Response (EBSR) questions that ask students to show evidence from a text that led them to their answer, which is new and contains items developed by PARCC.
  • DESE is anticipating that PARCC sections of the MCAS will be reported to parents/guardians and educators in the MCAS reports in the fall.  
    • A PARCC “reporting category” score will be included in the Parent/Guardian Reports and School /District Profiles
    • An estimate of whether the students are scoring at the PARCC “Meets Expectations” level will be included in the MCAS reports.

Additional information may be found:

If you have further questions, please contact your child’s school.  Thank you and have a good weekend.  

Darryll McCall, Ed.D.
Superintendent

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Mountview from above!











Principal Erik Githmark braved the cold weather this week and took a great photo of the new school from the roof of Mountview.  As you can see from this panorama, the outside of the building, including landscaping, is almost 100% complete.  On the left side of the building roof you will note solar panels that will be used to generate electricity for the new building. That side of the building will house the cafeteria (with the bowed windows), the gymnasium, and the music wing.  The center of the building, without the brick, will house office suites on all three floors.  The right side of the building will house the 6 classroom wings which are divided by floor, grade level, and team.  This is an exciting time for everyone involved in this great educational project.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Per Pupil Expenditure

Image result for wachusett logo

In the FY17 budget presentation to the School Committee and Member Town officials, a powerful statistic that I shared concerns the Per Pupil Expenditure from school districts that border WRSD.  In the past, some have questioned how the WRSD per pupil expenditure of $11,131 actually compares with districts that surround our five towns.  The reality is that all of the towns or school districts that border Wachusett spend far more than we do on a per pupil basis. Of the bordering towns, the next lowest school district in per pupil spending is Clinton at $12,082.  The difference of almost $1,000 may not seem like much, but when multiplied by the thousands of students attending the WRSD, the overall difference would mean millions of dollars more for the Wachusett budget.  Districts such as Leicester, Spencer-East Brookfield, Ashburnham-Westminster, Quabbin, Nashoba, Worcester, Berlin-Boylston and West Boylston all spend significantly more per pupil than Wachusett.  

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Annual Message to District towns

The following is the Annual Message that I have shared with member towns to be incorporated into their annual reports for the current year:


Dear Residents of Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland and Sterling,

The 2015-2016 school year in the Wachusett Regional School District has been productive and groundbreaking.  Our year has been productive because with the passage of a school budget in late fall, the District had the ability to add several key positions to assist our students and teachers in the educational process.  I want to thank all of our communities for making education a priority and supporting a budget that will help our children become well prepared to be successful in our globally competitive world.  This year has also been groundbreaking because of the progress being made on the new Mountview Middle School, with construction moving along at a fast clip and completion of the new school on Shrewsbury Street anticipated to be sometime before this coming summer.

An item that will be at the forefront of our work this spring will be the development of the WRSD Strategic Plan.  Our school district is well poised to provide a visionary strategic plan that will take us into the next five years of learning in all schools.  We are committed to a collaborative, open planning process in which feedback and discussions are vital components of synthesizing our unified goals.  A community-wide survey and a series of focus groups with all stakeholders will help to inform the strategic planning process.  I am confident that this process will improve our district and strengthen our community while providing an outline for budget priorities over the next several years. 

This year, as we begin to work on the FY17 WRSD budget, I have held two Budget Roundtables open to all Member Towns, in order to discuss budget issues for both FY16 and FY17.  The conversations have been candid and worthwhile, with various town representatives sharing their own concerns about the upcoming budget process.  The more conversations that we participate in as a whole school district, the more we all understand that many of the funding issues associated with the District are because of the funding formula at the state level.   The issue still remains that the formula will not be fixed in the near future and we are still responsible for providing our children with a strong educational experience.

Each budget that we have presented over the past several years has been fiscally sound and educationally driven.  In the past three years, our budget increases have all been under 2.5%.  By remaining fiscally frugal, our per pupil expenditure remains a little over $11,000 per student, which is well under all other school districts that border WRSD Member Towns.  We must continue to work together to assess what our schools need to provide the children of the Wachusett Regional School District the necessary skills for success. 


Thank you for your continued support of our students, faculty and staff of the WRSD.