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ATM Budget Message: April 29, 2004

Mr. Moderator,
Jeff Dieffenbach, Pleasant Street, Chair of the Wayland School Committee

The School Committee respectfully requests an operating budget of $25,909,202 to enable us to educate a projected 2,940 students over the course of the upcoming 2004-2005 school year.

We’ve opted to depart from the past practice of summarizing the budget book message that each household received by mail. Instead, please join us on a virtual tour of our six buildings and some representative educational successes that your generous funding provides.

(system-wide)

We will begin with the administrative offices in the Town Building. A walk upstairs to the second floor finds us welcomed by our first-rate team of administrators. Our Superintendent leads this capable unit responsible for curriculum and personnel, special education, early education, METCO, facilities, technology, business, and support. Together, this talented group enables our excellent teaching staff to escort Wayland’s children along their educational journey. To put an exclamation point on this excellence, recall that a Wayland teacher was selected last year by Disney from among tens of thousands of nominees as national teacher of the year.

Before visiting the schools themselves, let’s use the central office venue to gaze out over the system-wide landscape. More than 95% of the children eligible to enroll do in fact avail themselves of a Wayland Public School education. Daily attendance averages more than 96%, while the dropout rate measures only one tenth of a percent. We are proud that nearly 130 of the children in our classrooms, gymnasiums, and auditoriums see fit to make the daily trek from and to Boston as part of our successful and well-recognized METCO program, with which we’ve participated since its inception more than 30 years ago.

While our school children rely first and foremost on personnel, we cannot ignore our infrastructure. This year, the much-needed replacement of the Claypit Hill roof comprises the lion’s share of our $1,300,000 capital request, with smaller amounts earmarked for facilities upgrades and information technology. Our facilities manager will oversee the roof effort in the same professional manner as the rest of our facilities are maintained. On the information technology side, a comprehensive plan implemented by our director of technology ensures that students and educators alike have appropriate hardware and software available to benefit instruction.

The aforementioned attendance figures attest to our ability to attract students. Let’s visit the schools themselves to see how well these students succeed once they have arrived.

(elementary school)

Wayland prides itself on a trio of elementary schools that truly works together to provide an equal education. We should not take this crucial balance for granted, as a statewide glance reveals it as the exception rather than the rule. In the spirit of this balance, we will use the construct of our virtual tour to consider the Claypit Hill, Happy Hollow, and Loker elementary schools as one.

There exists an unmistakable energy in our combined elementary school entryway as the buses unload and the walkers arrive. Throughout the day and amongst a backdrop of school courtyards, secret gardens, and brightly colored murals, a broad range of activities absorbs this energy. Students read individually and in groups. They calculate mathematical sums, differences, products, and quotients. They conduct science experiments and discuss social studies. They score well on the MCAS exam. They access technology in computer labs and from computer carts. They prepare art projects for our eyes and create music for our ears.

All of this learning takes place under the skilled and watchful eyes of our expert teaching corps. Via such vehicles as classroom instruction, in-service professional development, and voluntary study groups, the efforts of our elementary school educators run the gamut from diversity training to reading support for struggling learners, from mentoring programs to family events, from report card design to curriculum development.

While no one milestone captures the synergy of these learning and teaching accomplishments, the wonderful fifth grade shows serve the useful purpose of culminating the elementary school years and highlighting the transition to—and convergence on—the Middle School.

(middle school)

As we enter the lobby of the newly renovated Middle School, be reminded that the equality of our elementary schools quietly manifests itself against the noisy backdrop of adolescence. Next fall, the new sixth graders will be joined by a new principal whom we are excited to have carry the torch so ably borne by his predecessor.

Our new principal will see much that pleases him, starting with a strong core curriculum. His talented teaching staff might show off the regular instruction literacy initiative, the “Math Boost” program for struggling learners, or the differentiated staffing that informs professional development. He will be entertained by not one, not two, but a full nine performing music groups. He will view an impressive number of awards from student math and science team successes that fill the school’s trophy case. He will watch students getting their first taste of organized school athletics. Outside the building, he will look in on the 6th grade bike trip that makes the writings of Henry David Thoreau beautifully tangible, the 7th grade Cape Cod trip that integrates with the Curriculum of Rachel Carson, and the 8th grade trip to Washington DC that centers on social justice based on the practices of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He will see a diverse group of 8th graders well-prepared for the last stop on their Wayland educational journey: the High School.

(high school)

The campus-style high school does without a true lobby but adds a student parking lot that reminds us of how grown the young adults have become. Wayland’s educational mission of preparing students for whatever next steps they might take comes to fruition at the High School. The school’s classical education reflects that 98% of our students will further their education, with a full 92% going on to attend four-year colleges and universities. More than half of the high school students score above 600 on both the verbal and math sections of the SAT. Almost 20% of the student body takes one or more AP exams, with more than 90% of them scoring three or better out of five. Thirty nine members of the Class of 2003 earned National Merit Scholar status. The high school isn’t just about books, however.

Almost two-thirds of the high school enrollment participates on at least one athletic team, two of whose coaches have recently won state or national recognition for their work with our student-athletes. Almost half of the student body takes part in the performing arts. The school’s Mock Trial team has done exceptionally well in recent years. Students in the history department created and now maintain a web site presenting an oral history of Wayland citizens who served their nation in the Second World War. Art students are constructing a large school mural under the supervision of a professional muralist.

Construction of another sort isn’t far from the minds of those interested in the high school. An eminently qualified High School Building Committee is working with an architect, a project management firm, and the town to define a high school modernization and expansion effort that makes sense both educationally and financially.

On that note, we will end our virtual tour with the hope that we’ve left you curious to come back soon and optimistic of our future successes.

(conclusion)

Boston Magazine has seen fit to rate Wayland second in the Commonwealth in terms of value for the money. The School Committee is proud of our schools’ role in receiving this impressive recognition. We are extremely appreciative of your generous support over the years.

The School Committee takes seriously our charge to deliver a first-rate education in as cost-effective a manner as possible. To that end, we respectfully request that the Town approve an operating budget of $25,909,202 in order that we may responsibly educate a projected 2,940 students in the 2004-2005 school year.

Thank you.


The Wayland School Committee
Jeff Dieffenbach
Lori Frieling
Robert Gordon Fred Knight
Heather Pineault


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