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Beecher Happenings 3/8/19

Beecher Happenings 3/8/19

Budget Update

It is our hope to provide this budget information update to all Woodbridge homes and families.  By the time you read this article, the Board of Finance budget workshop, scheduled for March 7, will have taken place.  As such, this writing does not include any actions taken by the Board of Finance at its workshop.

The Woodbridge community spans a population with different levels of connection to Beecher Road School.  Taxpayers are comprised of:  1) families with one, two or more children currently attending Beecher, 2) families whose children have graduated from Beecher and 3) families who have not had children attend Beecher Road School at any time.  Whatever your relation to Beecher Road School might be, we hope you will take pride in the education provided in Woodbridge.  Education continues to be an important component in making a town a desirable place for families to move to.

Beecher Road School (BRS) continues to experience enrollment growth as well 21st century changes in student learning methods.  Current BRS enrollment is 846 students.  That amounts to an increase of 80 students over the last 6 years.  Our demographer projects that enrollment will grow to 943 students by the 2023-24 school year.  That amounts to an additional 97 students that Beecher Road School will be responsible for over the next years.  The Woodbridge School District has the second highest percent of enrollment growth (6-year average) statewide.  Our special needs population has also increased dramatically in the past few years (from 8% to 11% of the total school population).

Several key areas are impacted with this kind of enrollment and special needs growth:

Class Size:  You will often hear discussions around the importance of class size.  The goal is to maintain classes at a level that allows for effective delivery of instruction.  Larger class sizes restrict the ability of a teacher to focus on the individualized needs of students.

Classroom Space:  Beecher classrooms have to provide for today’s student needs.  Small group instructional areas, work stations and classroom libraries are all integral in ensuring student achievement.

Special Education:  A major component driving our budget request is the ever- increasing costs of special education for both in district as well as out of district students.  By law, public schools must provide each and every student with an appropriate educational program.  When students are identified with a special need, we must provide specialized instruction to meet these needs.  The staffing required to accomplish this includes:  Resource Teachers, School Psychologists, Speech Pathologists, as well as Physical and Occupational Therapists. Special Education related costs equate to 45% of our total 2019-20 budget increase.

Staffing:  Education a labor-intensive business.  Over 75% of our operating budget goes to salary and benefit costs.

We realize that the Beecher/Woodbridge School District 2019-20 budget request is higher than recent years.  Our request combines contractual agreements with the accelerating enrollment and special needs of our student population.  Thank you for reading this and thank you for your ongoing support.

Building On And Enhancing Our Positive School Culture

The Mission of Beecher Road School is to provide a caring, creative community that models and inspires the lifelong learning, embraces diversity, and celebrated the unique qualities of each person.  These words truly reflect the activities and the purposeful interactions that are created for the students, as well as parents, of Beecher Road School.  A Superintendent’s Academy Night was recently held.  The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) presented an informational night for parents in collaboration with the PTO.  The ADL also held sessions for all students in grades four, five and six.  This, combined with school-based events, activities and curricular connections provide several opportunities for Beecher Road School students to continue their development as kind, caring and compassionate members of the community.  Connections to the daily curriculum also support a Positive School Culture.  An example of curricular connections includes social issue book clubs in grade six, intentionally selected titles or “Read Alouds” across all grades, as well as school wide events such as Empathy Across America (with the entire school community reading, The Day you Begin by Jacqueline Woodson).  As educators, we model what it means to be lifelong learners.  An example of this is the ongoing work around Responsive Classroom, which includes the foundational beliefs of how we function as a learning community.  This accompanied by professional readings and attendance at various workshops geared to increasing the diversity of our classroom libraries all help us accomplish the goals of our mission statement.

Congratulations To Beecher Robotics Students

First Lego League (FLL) robotics teams and their advisers/coaches from Beecher Road School were recognized at the February 25 Board of Education Meeting for their participation in the Fall 2018 FLL Festival and competition at Shelton High School this past fall.  The teams were also recognized for being selected to showcase their projects and work for Connecticut Superintendents and Board Members at the 2018 CAPSS/CABE Convention in Mystic.  Team members had an opportunity to share their projects and experiences with the Board at the meeting.  The 4 Beecher teams are The Orbiting Owls, Space Eagles, Space Cadets, and Space Surfers.  First Lego League, also known as FIRST or FLL was founded in 1998 by Dean Kamen and the owner of the LEGO group, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen with the purpose to introduce the next generation to the excitement of STEM.  FLL worldwide engages more than 320,000 participants in 40,000 teams across 98 countries.

Beecher Enrichment Initiative Featured At State Conference

Members of our third grade teaching team at Beecher Road School have been invited to be presenters at the 2019 Connecticut Superintendents “IGNITE Conference” on March 8 at the University of Bridgeport.  This annual conference highlights innovative projects from around the state.  Our third-grade team presenters (Mary Vincintorio, Aimee Meacham and John Hutchinson) will present information about their Enrichment Clusters initiative, which is part of our overall School Wide Enrichment Program.  All 3rd grade students at Beecher participate in Enrichment Clusters which is focused on enthusiasm, engagement and choice in learning through an emphasis on multiple intelligences.  Congratulations third grade teachers!

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