Public Interviews to Start for Norwell Schools Superintendent

Norwell Narrows Pool for Superintendent Position

Norwell‘s Superintendent Screening Committee has finalized a list of four candidates for the position of Norwell Schools Superintendent. Dr. Donald Beaudette will be vacating the job after the new year. The search for a new superintendent in Norwell began a few months back with the next step being a public interview process.

Filling the Position of Norwell School Superintendent

The Superintendent Screening Committee met several times over the last three weeks to review applications and interview candidates for the position of Superintendent of Norwell Schools. The Committee received 21 completed applications for the position, with nearly one half of the applicants being experienced superintendents. All completed applications were reviewed by the Screening Committee which then invited a select number of candidates for a preliminary interview conducted by the Committee. Norwell’s Superintendent Screening Committee met for a total of 18 hours to discuss and consider the applicants before finally voting to recommend four candidates for further consideration by the Norwell School Committee.

Public Interviews with Candidates at Norwell High School

The Norwell School Committee agreed to begin interviews with the four recommended candidates. The interviews take place this week at the Little Theatre in Norwell High School. Norwell residents can get to know the candidates as well since the interviews will be televised on the local Norwell station. The schedule is as follows:

Thomas Lynch: Tuesday, November 29, 6:00 p.m.

Maureen Bingham: Tuesday, November 29, 7:30 p.m.

Matthew Keegan: Wednesday, November 30, 6:00 p.m.

Roseli Weiss: Wednesday, November 30, 7:30 p.m.

For more information about the Superintendent Search process, please refer to the Norwell School District website.

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Norwell Surveys Residents About Open Space

NorwellNorwell Residents Invited To Weigh In On Town Land

Norwell’s Open Space and Recreation Committee is looking for input from Norwell residents regarding open space and recreation issues. The committee is asking residents to complete an online survey based on their experience, interests, concerns and hopes for Norwell space.

The Norwell Open Space Plan

Massachusetts requires that all of its towns have approved open space plans before they can receive state funds for acquisition of land. To date, as a result of this process, Norwell has received $300k+ from the state, which has been used to acquire approximately 200 preserved acres of parks, open space and recreation areas in town. By completing the latest survey, Norwell residents will help plan the community’s future.

The Open Space Survey of Norwell

The current survey developed by the Norwell Open Space and Recreation Committee contains 25 questions. Residents are asked about their personal usage of town land, which lands they use most, for what types of activities, and the needs of those spaces, as well as their thoughts on the acquisition of more land. There is also opportunity for Norwell residents to write-in details and opinions. The committee is hoping to receive a large response from residents so that their plans truly reflect the needs and wants of Norwell.

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Upcoming Norwell Events Celebrate Halloween

NorwellSilly or Spooky? Family Fun in Norwell

Norwell has the Halloween spirit with haunted happenings all over town this weekend. Put on a costume and bring the kids out for a ghoulish good time!

Norwell Women’s Club Halloween Fun Day

The Norwell Women’s Club is holding its annual Halloween Party & Parade from 10 a.m. to noon, on Saturday, October 29, 2011 at Norwell Middle School. There will be games, crafts, prizes, snacks and, of course, a costume parade. Admission price is $3 per child.

Norwell Cole School Haunted Wacky Woods

The annual Haunted Wacky Woods is a fun family favorite! Wear a costume and take a stroll through the woods at Cole School on Saturday, October 29, 2011 from 3:00 to 5:30 pm. ( rain date October 30, 2 to 4 p.m.) The cost is $3 per child (parents/caregivers are free!) Come paint a pumpkin, enter a raffle, play a game, enjoy a snack, and walk through the Haunted Wacky Woods at Cole School if you dare!

Halloween Howl at Norwell SSNSC

Join the South Shore Natural Science Center for some “ghoulish glee and a not too scary night of family fun” on Saturday, October 29, 2011 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wear a costume and bring a pumpkin to carve. Partake in festive activities including crafts, live animal presentations, and a walk through the decorated “Spooky Woods” and EcoZone museum. Pre-registration is requested. Visit www.ssnsc.org.

Norwell High’s Cross Country Team Hosts Races

The Norwell High School Cross-Country Team is hosting youth cross-country races at the Norwell High School track on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 1, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. Runners will be divided into two races: those 8 years old and under will run 1 mile; those 9 years old and over will run 2 miles. Registration begins at 1:00 p.m. followed by the first race promptly at 1:30 p.m. The entry fee is $5 per runner. Proceeds will benefit the Norwell High School Cross-Country program.

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Rolling Ahead with Norwell’s Bike Path

NorwellNorwell Purchases Land for Bike Path

The first phase of Norwell’s new bike pathway is nearly complete with the purchase of a parcel of land, assessed and purchased by the town at a cost of $3,900. The 2.5 acres sit between Cushing Hill Road and the Norwell Middle School, and is the last piece needed to link existing town-owned properties.

The Need for a Bike Path in Norwell

The town of Norwell has been tossing around the idea of a bike path for quite some time. With few sidewalks and designated walk ways in town, a bike path seemed like both a practical and positive suggestion, creating natural links throughout town for both commuting and leisure. A Norwell Pathway Committee formed in 2008 to study the feasibility of creating paths throughout Norwell, and to survey residents on their preferences and recommendations. The Committee ultimately secured $700,000 from community preservation to start the process.

Phase One of the Norwell Bike Path

The first phase of the Norwell Bike Path carves out a trail connecting the Norwell Middle School to Norwell High School. Rather than biking or walking along Main Street, students can utilize the 8-ft wide paved path to traverse town. The town planner is in the beginning stages of the projects, however, the required permits have been granted, a consultant has been hired, and the project will be open for bid in a few weeks.

The Vision for the Norwell Bike Path

Based on town and resident interest, the Norwell Pathway Committee is hoping this is just the start of a criss-crossing path all over town. The possibilities of connecting Norris Reservation by path to Scituate, as well links from Norwell into Hanover or to the Greenbush Station are all being vetted. It’s just the start of a new era of biking, running, and walking in Norwell.

 

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Norwell Public Schools Then and Now

NorwellNeighborhood Schoolhouses, the Genesis of Norwell Public Schools

As Norwell settles into a new school year, and talk continues to swirl about school budget concerns for the coming years, it’s interesting to think of a time not that long ago when the town was dotted with neighborhood schoolhouses.

Norwell’s Neighborhood Schools

At one point early in Norwell’s history there were seven districts nestled around town to serve various sections of the community. The challenges of transportation made it practical to set up district schoolhouses close to home for children and teachers. The schoolhouses had one teacher and children from all grades in one room. While the schools were the property of the town of Norwell, all maintenance and heating was the responsibility of the district.

Where Are the Norwell Schoolhouses?

NorwellWhile the schoolhouses have been out of use for one hundred years, some buildings remain around town. District Number One at 164 Washington Street at the corner of Oak Street, was built in 1850 for the children of Ridge Hill, but is now used commercially. The schoolhouse in District Number Three was in the Mount Blue area of Norwell at the junction of Grove and School Streets. The building was later moved to Hingham. District Number Two’s schoolhouse later became the Norwell Grange seen on Main Street near South Street.

Norwell Updates the Education System

In 1866 Norwell made some major changes to the school system. The town created a school committee, electing three members who determined curriculum for the entire school system, chose textbooks, and monitored instruction in the classroom. In 1888 the town opened Norwell’s first public high school on the second floor of the Norwell Grange, and graduated its first class in 1891.

The Roots of Norwell High School

However, the high school had growing pains. State laws in 1898 required high schools in Massachusetts to prepare students for college and scientific institutions, as well as lessons in culture. With a staff of just two or three, Norwell High School offered subjects such as Latin and higher math and chemistry during alternate years. The principal at the time felt that it was more important to prepare pupils for life in rural Norwell, and rallied to banish the subject of Latin. By 1918 Norwell High School broadened its course load, and introduced higher learning in the classrooms.

Norwell High School Today

During the first half of the twentieth century Norwell High School grew, moving down to where the Norwell Town Offices now sit. The rural town promoted school attendance and school work, slowly winning over residents, and instilling ideals of valued education. Over the last fifty years the education system has flourished, becoming a system that consistently scores well within the state.

Norwell Schools Face Challenges

Norwell residents are urged to learn more about the challenges facing Norwell Public Schools. Residents are invited to attend a public education forum titled, “Tomorrow’s Schools Today” on Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Norwell Middle School Cafetorium. Open to all Norwell residents, the evening is designed to offer insight into the state of the Norwell Public Schools today and the goals for tomorrow.

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Norwell School Budget Faces “Critical” Concern

Norwell Schools Facing Challenges

The Norwell School Department is outlining the needs for fiscal year 2013 and setting priorities early on so that parents and residents can discuss the many challenges the town’s education system is facing. The school budget has been a controversial topic for decades, but the Norwell School Committee is underscoring the urgency of current school needs, calling 2013 priorities “must-haves,” not a “wish list.” Norwell School Superintendent Dr. Donald Beaudette met with members of the Norwell School Committee, the Board of Selectmen and Advisory Board on Wednesday, September 14 for a preliminary discussion of the fiscal year 2013 budget. The cuts in spending are catching up to Norwell Public School system, leaving residents to decide what they are willing to spend for the quality of Norwell Schools.

NorwellOvercrowding at Norwell Elementary Schools

According to the Norwell School Committee, over the past few years Norwell elementary schools, William G. Vinal School and Grace F. Cole School, have seen a rise in student enrollment, as well as cuts in teacher spending. The budget hasn’t allowed the school to replace positions left from retired teachers, leaving classrooms to consolidate. Class sizes are big, often more than 25 students, sometimes over 30, as the school curriculum transitions from MCAS mandates to federally-mandated national standards known as Common Core. According to the Norwell School Committee, 95% off the school districts in Massachusetts have a better student-to-teacher ratio than Norwell. School enrollment has grown by almost 20%, an additional 320 students in Norwell’s schools, while teacher and staff numbers have not changed due to budget constraints. With the development of new homes such as the Wildcat Hill development with 46 new residences, teachers, parents and students are facing an even greater jump in enrollment in the Cole School district in the coming years.

 

NorwellCritical Point for Norwell Middle and High School

According to the Norwell School Committee, while Norwell Middle School and Norwell High School are dealing with the same problem of a growing student population, the issue cannot be resolved with larger class sizes. The solution would be to add teachers and sections to accommodate the number of students taking the subject. The limited of number of sections available currently leaves students to fill their schedules with studies. The elimination or non-renewal of teacher positions equates to the removal of a subject offering for students. Based on the resource planning report submitted by the Norwell School Committee, an additional 20 FTEs (full-time equivalent) will be needed for fiscal year ’13, which comes at an estimated cost of $1,160,000. They consider these positions ”a must-have if you want to offer the same level of service we offer at our schools.” Without adding more teachers and sections for students, the Norwell school system may have to reduce graduation requirements for Norwell High School, which currently requires four years of mathematics, science and social studies, in addition to four years of English, plus three years of foreign language. A reduction in high school requirements in Norwell could have serious implications for students applying to college.

 A Decline in Spending in Norwell Schools

Norwell has limited school spending over the last few years. According to the Department of Revenue, in 2000, 58% of the Norwell town budget was spent on the school operating budget. In 2010, Norwell spent 49% on the school operating budget. Norwell’s per pupil spending is in the bottom quarter of the state, $2,200 per student less than the state average. A decade ago Norwell was in the top quarter. The spending on student education in Norwell has decreased, MCAS numbers have slipped a bit, as well as Norwell’s ranking in state school districts.

The Relationship Between Norwell Real Estate and Norwell Schools

Norwell attracts home buyers because of its reputation as a great family community with an excellent school system. Norwell has some of the best teachers in the state and dedicated principals. But, without an adequate school budget and resources it will be more and more difficult, until finally impossible to maintain a quality level of education. And the quality of Norwell’s school system is closely related to Norwell’s real estate market and home prices. Simply put, Norwell home values and real estate activity depend on the school system.

Next Steps for Norwell Residents

Norwell residents are urged to take a look at Norwell school budget concerns and learn more about the challenges facing Norwell Public Schools. Residents are invited to attend a public education forum titled, “Tomorrow’s Schools Today” on Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Norwell Middle School Cafetorium. Open to all Norwell residents, the evening is designed to offer insight into the state of the Norwell Public Schools today and the goals for tomorrow.

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Norwell Residents Invited to Public Education Forum

NorwellNorwell Public Schools hosting a public education forum

The forum titled, “Tomorrow’s Schools Today” on Thursday, October 6, 2011, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Norwell Middle School Cafetorium. Open to all Norwell residents the evening is designed to offer insight into the state of the Norwell Public Schools today and the goals for tomorrow. For those looking to sell or buy a home in Norwell, the conversation will be particularly important as home prices and sales depend so much on education and the school system in Norwell.

Norwell Schools: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Presented by the Norwell School Committee and Leadership Team the discussion will focus on what’s happening in today’s Norwell Public Schools. While the core establishments of school such as a teacher-led classroom, science projects, math tests, and essays have stayed the same, today’s classrooms, curriculum and expectations are vastly different from forty, thirty, twenty, even just ten years ago.

Reading, equations and other complex content and skills are designed to be mastered at an earlier age and are tested by state and federally mandated exams. With the advent of technology, there are other tools and resources that change the dynamic of how students learn. Expectations are high for both students and teachers. Curriculum has become more advanced while the focus has increasing turned to addressing the needs of each individual student to ensure that the entire class of twenty, twenty-five, sometimes thirty students is “getting” the concept.

Take A Peak Under The Hood With Inside Look at Norwell Schools

Fortunately Norwell’s approach to education is working. Massachusetts ranks high for public schools nationally and Norwell ranks high among the towns in Massachusetts. In fact Norwell Schools compare favorably to highest ranking countries such as Singapore, Korea, and Finland. But the scores and rank are not accidental. Norwell residents are invited to see how the town is moving forward to continue to achieve these results. Attend the public education forum and “peak under the hood” of our schools. Experience what it’s like to sit in an elementary, middle and high school classroom, and participate in lessons, and maybe even take a quiz!

Engage, Converse and Give Your Opinion About the Norwell Public Schools

Attendees will also have the opportunity to share their views on how we can help all students meet 21st Century Learning Expectations.  Engage in a conversation about how the schools are performing, preparing students for the future, and resources. Your opinion matters and the Norwell School Committee is interested in hearing everyone’s thoughts. The Public Education Forum on October 6 will be the first of several opportunities this year for the community and School Committee to engage in open, two-way communication about our joint effort to provide 21st Century Schools for Our 21st Century Students.

For more information about the Public Education Forum on October 6 please visit the Norwell Schools web site.

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Norwell Race Honors Lives Lost on 9/11

Norwell is remembering those lost and recognizing the brave men and women that serve our country with the first 9-11 Memorial Shadow Run Race. Shadow Run Race is an organization that develops healthy and spirited races throughout the United States. Organized by Matt Hagan, a Special Operations Medic and paratrooper, and other veterans, Shadow Run Race raises money for those serving in the military as well as first responders. Norwell’s 9-11 Memorial Shadow Run Race consists of a 9.11K race, a 5K race, a 1K race for kids ages 6 to 9, and a 500-meter run for kids under age 5. Runners and walkers will be competing for the best time with participants in Norwell as well as across the country and overseas. Members of the military stationed at bases will be partaking in the 9-11 Memorial Shadow Run Race as well.

The race begins Sunday, September 11, 2011 at Norwell High School, 18 South Street, Norwell. Packet pick-up opens at 6 a.m. with the 9-11 Remembrance Ceremony starting at 8 a.m. The Disabled Warrior Wheelchair begins at 8:30 a.m., the 9.11K starts at 8:35 a.m., the 5K starts at 8:45 a.m., and the 5K walk starts at 8:55 a.m. The children’s 1K Fun Shadow Run commences at 9:05 a.m. with the Little Heroes Shadow Run 500m run starting at 9:15 a.m. The cost for participants is $25 for adults and $10 for the children’s races. Proceeds benefit the Veterans in Service organization, the Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial, and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

For more information about the 9-11 Memorial Shadow Run Race events, visit www.shadowrunrace.com

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Annual Corn Festival in Norwell

Time to celebrate the fall harvest with the Annual Corn Festival at the South Shore Natural Science Center. The family event will be held Saturday, September 17, 2011 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a rain date of Sunday, September 18, 2011. A South Shore tradition for 35 years, the festival features hayrides, sack races, animals for petting from local 4H Clubs, local musical acts including the Norwell High School Jazz Band, demonstrations from local crafters including weavers, Nantucket Basket makers and woodturners. True to its name, the Corn Festival also offers edible corn-related delights such as popcorn, corn-on-the-cob, corn muffins and homemade corn chowder in its Kernel’s Kitchen. Admission for non-members is $5 for adults and $3 for children with a maximum of $20 per family. Proceeds from the festival go toward enhancing and expanding the science center’s environmental education programs. For more information call the South Shore Natural Science Center at 781-659-2559 or visit www.ssnsc.org.

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Norwell’s Countdown To The School Year

We are just mere weeks away from Wednesday, September 7, the first day of school for Norwell Public Schools. Parents, students and teachers are preparing for the big day, the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Whether you’ve just moved into Norwell or have been in town for years, here are a few helpful links to make the transition easier.

Norwell Public Schools Quick Links:

 

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