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Superintendent's Update - July 31, 2020

Dear Shrewsbury Families, Colleagues, & Community Members,

Please see the updates below and in this seven-minute video message I recorded this morning.

1) This past Wednesday, the School Committee authorized that this required analysis of school reopening options be submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.  This includes our current recommendation that the option we adopt should be the "hybrid" model of in-person and remote learning, where most students would alternate attending school in-person for part of a week and learn from home on the other days, in order to reduce the number of students in school so as to enable a six-foot physical distancing standard for seating.  This preliminary analysis and preference will be followed by a detailed recommendation at next week's School Committee meeting.  If you have questions or comments about returning to school, please send an email to 2020reopen@shrewsbury.k12.ma.us.

2) The School Committee has submitted a recommendation for our budget to Town Meeting for approval.  Because of the adaptations to shorten the time of Town Meeting, School Committee Chair Sandra Fryc, Assistant Superintendent for Finance & Operations Patrick Collins, and I recorded this video to explain the budget recommendation to Town Meeting members.  The key message is that we are taking a "balanced risk" approach, as we are projecting a $2 million gap based on current projections, but feel it is imperative not to cut staff further while we hope for improved state funding when that budget is finalized, additional federal stimulus for public education, and cost mitigation through working with our employee groups.

3)  Thank you to families who have been patiently waiting for refunds for various tuitions and fees to be processed.  This process required intensive staff work, and I'm pleased that the first batch of refunds was mailed today and will single check per family for any refunds for Extended School Care, After School Activities (ASAP), Summer SPARK, April Vacation Program, and Food Services for graduating seniors or students transferring out of the district.  The second batch is expected to be mailed in mid-August and will include bus fee, full-day kindergarten, and preschool refunds.  For details and FAQs on these refunds, click here.

4) We are very fortunate that an anonymous donor has offered a $10,000 matching donation to the Colonial Fund.  If you have the ability to contribute to help us provide educational materials, resources, and professional development that would otherwise not be possible due to our budget challenges, please consider making a gift to the Colonial Fund that will be doubled thanks to our very generous benefactor.  We have raised almost $60,000 from 230 donors with this giving campaign, and every dollar will count toward keeping our schools strong.  Thank you for your consideration!

I hope you get the chance to enjoy this lovely summer day.  Somehow, given the difficult year we have experienced to date, it's not particularly surprising that we may experience a hurricane next week...

Thanks for your continued support of our schools.

Respectfully,

Joe Sawyer
Superintendent of Schools