Message From Our Superintendent
To the residents of Randolph, Braintree, and Brookfield:
On behalf of the entire Orange Southwest School District and the students it serves, I want to thank you for passing the school budget for the 2020-2021 school year. Our ongoing work is a manifestation of your support, and your support over the past two years has been immense.
We’ve made incredible strides over the past two years: enrollments are up across the district, student performance at the elementary schools has risen dramatically, expanded programming at the high school has drawn in over 33 students from other towns, and our high school graduation rate is exceptional compared to state and national averages. The influx of new students has increased the amount of revenue generated by the district, which in turn serves to offset a portion of our expenses. If we can stay the course - and your support will help tremendously - this trend should accelerate over time and begin to stabilize our tax rates.
As most of you know by now, one of the largest yearly increases to school budgets across the state is the growing cost of providing special education services to students in need. Beginning this fall, we will be restructuring how we deliver these services to improve the outcomes of IEP students in order to provide a level of service that will hopefully allow many of them to leave the special education program and, over time, reduce this population of students. We have a solid plan in place that should begin to reduce the cost of these services over the next two years.
Our next year’s budget marks a major turning point: our focus will shift from the elementary level to our middle and high school. The new budget will fund a complete overhaul of the middle-high school core curriculum, which should raise student performance at a rate that is similar to what is occurring at the elementary level. This will further improve the desirability of the district and attract more families and students, and will keep our enrollments on the rise.
Looking beyond the 2020-21 school year, will will also have to consider other initiatives the district will need to achieve its mission:
- The school community will need to decide if it wants to take the next step in our preschool development strategy: creating free, full-day preschool for all four-year olds; and
- We will have to continue to manage the costs of whatever new initiatives the legislature may enact.
We are in the middle of a decade long project to create a school system that produces such positive outcomes for students that it becomes a magnet, drawing families into our communities to take advantage of the education we offer. If we are successful - and with your ongoing support we will be - that growth will have a positive and dramatic economic impact on our three towns.
It is both my privilege and pleasure to lead this district forward, and I look forward to the many positive outcomes that lie ahead.
Layne Millington, Superintendent