This past year has been as exciting as it has been challenging. Here are some highlights:
We began the year asking the town to approve a bond to renovate school facilities that made teaching and learning difficult due to poor heat, light, ventilation, and space design and made budget projections almost impossible due to frequent, unexpected, and outsized costs for maintenance and repair. Thanks to careful scrutiny by town voters and much research and study by the board and school officials, the bond eventually passed and school renovation is now fully underway. So far the new wing replacing the caboose has been completed and two new classrooms are being created there, the 3-4 classrooms are finished, and much work has been done on the exterior – windows, siding, insulation, roofing. The teachers and students have been incredibly resourceful in coping with the construction and have even incorporated it into their teaching and learning. Burnham Hall has been generous in offering classroom space for those displaced from their usual spots at the school. The Lincoln General Store, the United Church of Lincoln, Lincoln Sports, the Town Clerk's Office, and the Lincoln Library have all embraced both children and teachers during their relocation to the center of town.
NECAP monitoring reports show that our students consistently perform as well or better in math, science and reading compared to national, state, and ANESU averages. Students who take advantage of the reduced-fee lunch program score as well as those who do not, an achievement not duplicated in most schools. Teachers in Lincoln have proven to be exceptionally resourceful, especially this year. They have invited the community into their classrooms to see their students' projects, performances, and presentations. These have included events like an exhibition on China, state-in-a-box, the 5th and 6th grade play (Shakespeare's The Tempest), student-run promotion ceremony, and annual student market where Lincoln residents could attend student lectures on the New Haven River, buy postcards with original poems and artwork, and purchase plants grown by students in the school garden.
As usual, revenue and spending have been frequent topics on our agenda. Monies were tight; the State provided a bit less revenue than anticipated and costs exceeded expectations in some areas. We moved to monthly monitoring of the budget and recognized with regret that certainty about future costs is often impossible, partly due to the schedule of decision-making at the state level and partly due to normal but unpredictable events like staff options in and out of health care plans, repair costs, and the results of contract negotiations. As the business office experienced a transition from one manager to another, we discovered a substantial legacy deficit that had to be paid after the budget had already been approved by the town. This resulted in about $.02 increase in the educational portion of the property tax.
As of this writing, the budget for 2012-13 projects a decrease in educational per-pupil spending of over 3% and a decrease in the tax rate of $.01 to $.02 compared to 2011-12 budget as adjusted mid-year. These anticipated decreases include our payments for bond principal and interest and for the retirement of almost all the accrued deficit in dining services.
In short, the past year has been one of high achievement and daunting challenge. While many issues were familiar, others were unique to the times and to our school. As the needs of students evolve, as best practices change, and as funding remains uncertain, we on the board will continue to do our best to insure the best education possible for our kids under these circumstances. We will also continue to reach out to residents for comment and suggestion in the hope that you will join us in this effort.
Dave Venman, Chair of the Board of Directors
|Tim Brokaw||Jen Oldham|
|Barry Olson||Henry Wilmer, Clerk|