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Amity Board of Education News: Chair's Report

March 9, 2023
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Amity Board of Education News: Chair's Report

Budget and Finance:  At the February 13th meeting, the Amity Board of Education reviewed the Superintendent’s Proposed Budget for 2023-2024.  Per the Board’s bylaw, the presentation included a review of the academic and extracurricular accomplishments from the past and current school year, and the anticipated financial needs of the district regarding facilities and the academic, athletics, and arts programs.  Rooted in the Board’s vision and mission for the Amity School District and committed to the development of the BOWA Portrait of the Graduate, the proposed 2023-2024 budget is 2.93% higher than the current fiscal year budget.  The practice of comparing the proposed budget with the current adopted budget is consistent with the Town Boards of Finance.  It is not, however, just this year’s budget with some increases to specific items.  It is constructed newly each year, line by line, with input from every district department considering the specific projected needs for the 2023-24 school year.  The increase is driven primarily by contractual obligations, which increased by 2.92%, and commodities and inflationary increases.  The minimal projected increase in enrollment has virtually no adverse impact on the budget.  The Superintendent’s proposed budget includes additional staff to support students with disabilities, a middle school math interventionist to support academic success in mathematics, and a part-time Chinese teacher to meet student enrollment requests.  The proposed budget also includes long-term, 5-year financial plans to address needs in facilities, textbook acquisition, and technology maintenance.  The current modest proposal is one of the lowest in Amity’s District Reference Group (DRG), the South Central Area Superintendents’ Association (SCASA), and in surveys administered by the Connecticut Association of School Business Officials.

At that same meeting, the Board received the audit report from the 2021-2022 school year.  The Board unanimously voted to credit the unexpended funds from last fiscal year to the current school year thereby reducing the District Towns’ required allotment by a total of $711,936.  This plus the unused excess funds of $411,248 collected to cover last year’s rejected original 3.99% budget increase would effectively provide the towns with $1,123,185 that could be used to offset Amity’s proposed allocation.  Applying these funds to offset the increase in the Amity budget is at the discretion of the Town Finance Committees.  The Board of Education will hold a Public District Budget Hearing on April 3, 2023 and a Referendum will likely be scheduled for May 2, 2023.  All registered voters in the towns of Bethany, Orange, and Woodbridge can attend the public hearing and vote to support our schools in the Amity referendum.  Detailed budget information is available on the District website www.amityregion5.org/boe/budget.  The Amity Finance Subcommittee and the full Board continue to review the proposed budget and expect to vote on final approval at the March meetings.

2023-2024 School Year Preparations Begin:  Our Amity middle school and Amity Regional High School have started preparations for the 2023-2024 school year in earnest.  On January 31, 2023, Amity Regional High School (ARHS) hosted the 8th Grade Transition Night.  Approximately 500 students and parents from AMSB and AMSO came for an evening of school tours and information about academics and successfully preparing for the transition to 9th grade.  In addition to performances at the Transition Night, students and teachers from ARHS visited middle school students to talk about the high school music offerings.  ARHS students had an opportunity to meet with department chairs and student representatives from all departments to learn about elective offerings in each academic area during the Program of Studies Fair that was held during lunch on February 7, 2023.  Throughout February, students currently in grades 9-11 will select their courses for next year from our 2023-2024 Program of Studies.  Incoming 7th grade parents are invited to attend our Parent Open Houses and Orientations on March 2, 2023 at both middle schools.  The program will provide information about our schools, the middle school teaming model, and an opportunity to meet some of the staff in each building.  The information presented will help lay the foundation for a successful transition from elementary school to our Amity Middle Schools.

ARHS Trades Week:  The ARHS Trades Week was an engaging, week-long event from February 13-17, 2023, designed to foster, promote, and teach students about careers in the skilled trade fields.  All high school students had the opportunity to meet with over 20 different skilled trades people, who shared their pathways and experiences in their industry. 

Hurricane Ian Photo Restoration Project:  Throughout the first semester, the students in art teacher Lisa Toto’s photography classes have been the only high school classes involved in a nationwide effort to repair and restore family photographs damaged in last fall’s Hurricane Ian.  Krista Kowalczyk, a Florida photographer and organizer of this project travelled from Florida to Woodbridge to meet our Amity students and held videoconferences with some of the people whose photos they restored.  These meetings really drove home the importance of helping others to our students.

Yale’s McBeth Comes to Amity:  Yale University School of Drama Professor and Amity parent Cynthia Santos-DeCure visited ARHS in January with some of her students who are currently in rehearsal for a student directed production of Shakespeare's Macbeth.  They spoke with junior English classes and the Advanced Acting Class, demonstrating their rehearsal process and discussing their experience bringing Shakespeare's tragedy to life.

Success in Science at ARHS:  Eight Amity Regional High School students took top spots in the CT-STEM Fair on February 4, 2023.  By presenting their authentic research to STEM judges, the following students were recognized for their work:  Anchal Bahel, Andie Napolitano, Sabrina Osowiecki, Rebecca Chen, Jasir Zafar, Anushka Acharya, Henry Yang, and Daniel Matthew.  On January 11, 2023, Amity’s newest members of the Science National Honor Society were inducted into the organization.  Congratulations to all the new inductees!

Amity Student Art Show:  The 7-12 art teachers are proud to present a collection of work being exhibited at the Clark Memorial Library in Bethany.  The show will stay up through mid-March.  There will be an opening reception from 4:00-5:30 pm on February 23, 2023.  If unable to attend the opening reception, student work can be viewed during library hours.

Virtual Keynote Speaker:  Parent Primer on Fentanyl, Edibles, and Vaping:  The substance-use issues that our kids are navigating are much more complex than they used to be.  To help parents stay informed and aware of current trends, Region 5 partnered with BOWDAAC and the Orange and Woodbridge Youth Service departments to host a parent webinar addressing these important topics on January 25, 2023.  Panelists included Lorrie McFarland, Alliance for Prevention & Wellness and Tricia Dahl, Yale School of Medicine.  For those who were unable to attend, the webinar recording is available on the ARHS Counseling Department website.

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