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Stone May Seek To Fund New Math Curriculum Via Town's Capital Budget

Nov 26, 2019 11:40PM ● By Lisa Redmond

Dracut School Superintendent of Schools Steven Stone.

DRACUT – With Dracut’s K- 8 MCAS math scores lagging behind the state scores, School Superintendent Steven Stone announced his plan to try to fund a new K-8 math curriculum - potentially costing up to $600,000 – from the town’s capital budget which is typically used to buy fire engines and dump trucks.

At the School Committee meeting on Monday, principals from Dracut’s six schools reviewed their MCAS scores which showed most students meeting or exceeding state English Language Arts scores but some grades are lagging behind the state math scores.

“We need to change to a new math standard and a new state test,’’ Stone told the committee. “We need to change the way teachers teach math,’’ he said.

After spending eight years focusing on strengthening literacy in grades K-8, Stone said the focus will now shift to improving math proficiency. School staff have already created a K-8 math steering committee to formulate a “game plan’’ to improve math scores.

In the Dracut schools, K- Grade 5 has one math curriculum while grades 6-8 have another. The goal is to have the steering committee to recommend a cohesive K-Grade 8 math curriculum regardless of cost, Stone said.

“I’ve asked them (the steering committee) to come back with what you want and my job is to find the money,’’ Stone said.

Since K-8 math curriculum can cost upwards of $600,000, Stone said he doesn’t have those surplus funds in the school budget. But since this new curriculum will serve the school system for years, Stone said he will request that the purchase be added to the town’s capital budget.

Money in the town’s capital budget is typically reserved for long-term big-ticket items.

Asking to pay for new curriculum through the capital budget and not the school budget “has never been done before,’’ Stone said. While it will be a new approach for Dracut, Stone noted that other communities have gone this route.

School Committee member Joseph Wilkie suggested reducing the cost by looking at online programs and competitive rates.

Stone noted that he must still discuss the matter with town officials.

In other business:

Of the eight companies that submitted bids to construct the new turf fields at Dracut High School, the committee awarded the contract to Green Acres Landscape and Constructiion whose winning bid was $3.3 million, well under the $3.8 million budgeted for the project. The state-of-the-art facility will use turf that is made from organic materials that provide a cooler and softer surface, as well as being free from harmful chemicals and a high-quality pad will be placed under the turf.

Stone told the committee that work on the new field should begin “soon, barring snow’’ and is scheduled to be completed in August 2020.

The Dracut High School fall cheerleading team won its 14th straight state championship among Division 3 schools.

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