Monday, October 15, 2018

Visit by DESE Commissioner

Commissioner of Education, Jeff Riley, visited our district the afternoon of September 19th, when he toured Mountview Middle School, visited classrooms, and met with some Mountview students, staff members, and building administration.   The Commissioner had the opportunity to speak with students and staff about current educational issues, such as high stakes testing and educational funding.   I am very appreciative that Commissioner Riley included Wachusett as he tours the state during his first several months as Commissioner and we hope that he visits us again in the near future.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Welcome Back Letter 2018

August 2018 Dear Wachusett Families: It has been a busy summer in the Wachusett Regional School District as we prepare for the start of the school year in a few short weeks. As we work on cleaning buildings, taking stock in new materials and textbooks, as well as updated technology, we are anxiously awaiting the first day of school when the students and staff return from vacation. As we prepare for the coming school year, I would like take this time to share some information with you about our district. For the first time in many years, all five member towns approved a budget prior to the end of the school year. A great deal of preparation and outreach went into discussions on the FY19 budget and the District appreciates the support of Member Towns in the investment of educating our students. The WRSD Strategic Plan played a significant role for the District as we discussed the upcoming budget and the priorities established through the Strategic Plan. From supporting students safety and social-emotional wellness, to alignment of our curricular needs with the Commonwealth, the Strategic Plan has helped define areas of focus for our budget process. Providing our youth with opportunities to learn with strong educators, up-to-date curricular materials and technology, and safe and secure schools are the greatest gifts we can give the children who live in our five towns. Last school year, all ninth grade students received a Chromebook that they could use at school and at home. Over 500 Chromebooks were distributed before the first day of school and the response from students and staff has been overwhelmingly positive. We also purchased another 700 Chromebooks that were distributed to our other schools, where for the first time, all students in grades 3-8 took the Next Generation MCAS online. In a few weeks, we will have another rollout out of Chromebooks for the incoming 9th grade students. The addition of a Technology Integration Specialist, whose job will be to assist teachers around the integration of technology into their classroom instruction, will further increase how students access the curriculum in a 21st century classroom. Finally, I would like to welcome new building administrators to our District. Liz Garden is the new principal of Mayo Elementary School in Holden, Shawn Rickan is the new principal of Paxton Center School, and Melissa Wallace is the new principal at Dawson Elementary School in Holden. I am pleased to say that Tammy Boyle will continue in the role of principal at Thomas Prince School in Princeton. I am also pleased to announce that Jon Krol has been appointed Director of Social Emotional Learning and Guidance and Cherie Lynne Dupont Kent joined the District on July 1st as the Director of Literacy. Also this year, longtime WRSD special educator Lincoln Waterhouse will serve as the Interim Administrator of Special Education. We are excited to have these new building leaders and Central Office administrators join our community and I look forward to working with them in the coming year.

Monday, July 30, 2018

New principals in the WRSD

This has been a very busy summer for the WRSD as we continue to hire new employees prior to the start of the school year.  The four principal vacancies have been filled and three of our newest building leaders began in our district on July 1st (the fourth, TPS Principal Tammy Boyle, has been appointed Principal, after service one year as Interim Principal).  All new principals have put together entry plans for their first several months and we will be working closely with them as we integrate them into the WRSD.

 - The new Paxton Center School Principal is Shawn Rickan.  Principal Rickan is a resident of Phillipston, and his most recent position was Principal/Assistant Superintendent in the Franklin County Technical School District in Greenfield.

 - Tammy Boyle of Leicester has been appointed Principal of TPS.  Principal Boyle has been with WRSD since 2015, first serving as Assistant Principal for two years, then one year as Interim Principal

 - The new Mayo Elementary School Principal is Liz Garden, a resident of Shrewsbury whose most recent administrative position was principal of the Florence Roche Elementary School in Groton.                 

 - The new Dawson Elementary School Principal is Melissa Wallace.  Principal Wallace is a Wachusett resident who lives in the town of Sterling.  Ms. Wallace was most recently an Assistant Principal in the Groton-Dunstable School District.

The four new principals are working this summer, so please join me in welcoming them to the Wachusett Regional School District. 

Friday, June 22, 2018

End of the year message

June 2018

Although we endured a tough winter and spring, it looks as though summer will provide us with a much needed reprieve from the cool weather.  With the school year quickly coming to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon the past year and also look to the future.

This was a transformational school year for the Wachusett Regional School District.  At our high school, all ninth grade students received a Chromebook that they could use at school and at home.  Over 500 Chromebooks were distributed before the first day of school and the response from students has been overwhelmingly positive.  We also purchased another 700 Chromebooks that were distributed to our other schools, where for the first time, all students in grades 3-8 took the Next Generation MCAS online.  Next year, we will continue to infuse more technology into the buildings, and will have another rollout out of Chromebooks for the incoming 9th grade students.  Our budget this year also includes a Technology Integration Specialist who will assist teachers around the integration of technology into their classroom instruction.

Earlier this month, I had the chance to attend the Wachusett Regional High School graduation on June 7th at the DCU Center.  Having the opportunity to congratulate the 484 graduates is always one the highlights of the year for me.  In my remarks to the graduates, I noted the importance of being a good person, working hard, and being grateful to those who helped them get this far in their lives.  I truly believe that there are simple ways for our children to make the world a better place, and I am confident that our school district prepares our students to be the next leaders of tomorrow.  I want to congratulate all of our graduates this year and wish them luck as they embark upon the next chapter in their lives.

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:

Anne Busby, Chocksett Middle School
Julie Carter, Mayo Elementary School
Janet Foley, Mountview Middle School
Monica Gove, Davis Hill Elementary School
Sandra Hastings, Mayo Elementary School
Cynthia Houtchens, Dawson Elementary School
Christine Howell, Davis Hill Elementary School
Mary Kennedy, Dawson Elementary School
Steven Lapomardo, Paxton Center School
Maria Latino, Houghton Elementary School
Linda Matson, Thomas Prince School
Richard McGrath, WRHS
Mary Power, Thomas Prince School
Karen Prive, Glenwood Elementary School
Ronald Sciascia, Davis Hill Elementary School
Susan Torode, District-wide
Debra Vickstrom, Davis Hill Elementary School

As the 2017-2018 school year comes to a close and we look ahead to a new fiscal year beginning on July 1st, I want to again thank all who supported the District’s FY19 budget, which was approved at the five Annual Town Meetings in May.  This is the first time in many years that all five towns have approved a budget, and for that we are all grateful.  Passing a budget that supports the educational needs of our children is so very important and we must continue to work with one another to find the means for dedicating these funds to our schools.

Finally, I want to thank all of you for your support and dedication to the students of Wachusett Regional School District this past year.  Without the support of our employees and the five communities, the schools in our district would be a very different place in which our educators work and our students learn.  Have a great summer and enjoy your time relaxing with family and friends.


Darryll McCall, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Friday, May 4, 2018

FY19 WRSD Budget Book

Each year, I work with the Director of Business and Finance, as well as other members of our administrative team, on the annual budget book.  This year, the FY19 Budget Book contains information on several different areas associated with our schools and the proposed budget.  Although I make presentations to each of the five towns before the upcoming town meetings, the FY19 Budget Book allows members of the community to delve into some of the specific details associated with the annual request of the WRSD.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Next Generation MCAS 2018

This spring, all Wachusett students in grades 3 through 8 will take the online version of the Next Generation MCAS.  The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has been working on a revised assessment for the past several years, with many schools piloting questions both online and with the traditional paper and pencil method.  DESE has updated the standards associated with student outcomes and the new assessment will better align with those standards.  College and career readiness remains at the forefront of DESE's decision to better define areas of importance associated with student learning.

Thus far, our students have had minimal issues associated with the online version of the assessment.  We will continue to monitor the assessment and report any issues that we encounter to DESE. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018

On the afternoon of Friday, March 9th, I had the opportunity to attend the Worcester Regional Science & Engineering Fair at WPI.  This year, twelve of our high schools students participated in this annual event.  I am always impressed with the amount of work and effort that these, and all of the students, put into their projects.  Having the opportunity to speak with the students about their projects is always a highlight for me in the month of March.   Of the twelve students competing that Friday afternoon, eight placed, plus two WRHS students (Evan Mizerak and Chris Dwyer) qualified to attend the International Fair in Pittsburgh in May.  Eight WRHS students, listed below, will be at MIT competing at the State Fair on May 4th & 5th.

Honorable Mention:

Rihanna Massoni-Nesman - The Effect of Tangerine Citric Acid on P. barbarous

Third Place:

Timmarie Gallagher - Effect of Melatonin on Tachycardic Heart Rates of Daphnia manga
Elise Mizerak - What's in Your Water?
Emily LaBelle - Gray Water Recycler 

Second Place:

Natalie Matis - The Effect of Growth Hormone on Daphnia magna Reproduction 
Julia Danko - Ceasing Coral Bleaching 

First Place:

Christopher Dwyer - How to "Fuel" your Fuel
Evan Mizerak- Isolation of Epigenetic Insights in Heritable Fertility Trends

Once again, I was absolutely astounded by the presentations made by the Wachusett students and congratulations to them all.

Monday, February 12, 2018

FY19 Budget Narrative

We have had an eventful 2017-2018 school year thus far.  Over the past several months, the District has continued to make progress toward the goals of the the Wachusett Regional School District (WRSD) Strategic Plan.  Our school district remains one of the strongest in Central Massachusetts and we continue to create educational programming for our students that will prepare them for their future endeavors.

The WRSD Strategic Plan provides the Wachusett community with a sense of purpose as we define priorities and set budgets.  Each school has developed a School Improvement Plan that ties directly back to the Strategic Plan and will help define budget priorities at both the building and the District levels.  Goals that have been set by administrators and teachers will have common themes connected to the five learning domains, enabling our five-town district to pursue common educational outcomes.  We have focused on many areas including technology, improved instructional support, social emotional learning, and more.

In early November, District and Member Town officials held the annual Budget Roundtable meeting, which is an opportunity to discuss budget issues associated with the upcoming fiscal year.  As in year’s past, the meeting was well attended by town representatives as well as officials from the state.  An important area of focus during the discussion was the recent report completed by the State Auditor’s Office concerning the funding issues facing regional school districts throughout Massachusetts.  Our district was one of those highlighted in that report.  Working together as a unified community, our five towns and the District have made a commitment to advocate for 100% reimbursement for regional transportation by lobbying our representatives to support our request.  Grassroots organizations and our teachers union have been vocal in their support of more state funding for all regional school districts.   Insufficient funding at the state level remains a significant cause of the budget woes we have faced and continues to be an area of concern for both local and state officials.  As state funding continues to decline, we are even more dependent upon our local tax base to support our educational endeavors.  The District will continue to work with all stakeholders to advocate for the recommendations made not only by the State Auditor but also the Chapter 70 Foundation Budget Review Commission. We ask all members of the Wachusett community to join in these efforts to ease the financial burden placed on both schools and towns. 

Last year, the five towns that comprise the District funded a budget that allowed us to increase support for our students.  We look forward to continuing the progress made this past year as we create a budget that further supports our Strategic Plan. 

The current budget request for FY19 is aligned with the WRSD Strategic Plan as we focus on areas such as early literacy, science, professional development, and student health and wellness.  Budget increases are primarily due to contractual obligations, new positions, increases in out-of-District tuitions, increased funding for technology and instructional support, and increased utility costs. 

For FY19, we are requesting a budget of  $94,209,452 which is an increase of $3,831,072 or 4.24% from FY18.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

WRHS Students Honored

On Tuesday, January 9th, I had the privilege of attending the Worcester County Superintendents’ Association Annual Scholars Luncheon, held at Assumption College in Worcester.  WRHS Principal Beando and I accompanied high school seniors Evan Mizerak of Holden and Dylan Moore of Holden as they were recognized and congratulated for their hard work and accomplishments, along with 70 other student scholars from around Central Massachusetts.  

Having attended the Scholars Luncheon now five times, I am always so impressed by all of the achievements each and every student has accomplished during their time in high school.  These students are truly impressive and will be the future leaders of tomorrow. I wish Evan and Dylan a great final semester as Wachusett students and the best of luck as they both attend Brown University next year.