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February 2018

How the Budget Adds Up to Student Success

Superintendent Dr. Marty Semmel

For any organized group to be effective it must develop and implement a budget. The budget document simply identifies the priorities of the organization. The Plymouth Public Schools takes the responsibility of developing a well-conceived and well-articulated budget as one of its highest priorities. Our first responsibility is to the students and families we serve. The community should be proud of the opportunities our students receive throughout their 13 years of education. From Kindergarten (and often Pre-K) to high school graduation we, like our families, invest a great deal of blood, sweat, and tears into helping our students grow into strong, productive, community-minded young men and women. Over 80% of our students choose to attend two-year and four-year colleges and universities upon graduating from Terryville High School. We know that college may not be right for all students, which is why we work with individuals and families to help identify alternative, yet very successful, paths. As a school system, we budget our resources to build the knowledge and skills necessary for all students to have access to college after high school. We recognize that some folks will never make that choice while others may choose college years down the road. By preparing all students for the opportunity to go to college, we ensure that our students have as many choices as possible.

Our dedication to prioritizing spending has resulted in positive changes in many areas. In the academic arena, we have seen some very significant gains in our achievement scores over the past few years. Our State Assessment scores are on the rise as greater percentages of students become proficient and advanced on these demanding assessments. We also have close to a third of our 8th graders taking Algebra I and 42% of students finishing Spanish I before they leave middle school. In addition, since the 14-15 school year we have more than doubled (45 to 101) the number of students who are engaged in the rigorous work of an Advanced Placement (AP) course. We added AP English during the 17-18 school year for our Juniors and next year we are planning for an AP Government and Politics class that will be offered to mostly Sophomores. These opportunities stretch our students’ ability to think and provides them with challenging course work that prepares them for future experiences.

While academic achievement is very important, our budget prioritizes other factors that make up a quality education. Our system focuses on educating the whole child. Just like with academics, we consider ourselves partners with our families when it comes to non-academic topics. We help our students understand how to be physically fit, be socially responsible, be accountable to goals and time, and work well independently or with a group. We embed these skills into our curriculum throughout the K-12 experience. One of our most recent efforts has been to help students understand personal finance. With credit card debt in America reaching over one trillion dollars, it is important to make sure our students understand how the power of good financial decisions early in life can work for them. Of course, one should never forget about the power of the Arts on our students. Our students have the opportunity to participate in multiple performance activities like band, choir, and theatre as well as the ability to create 2-D and 3-D art. The creative mind is powerful and the Arts provide a wonderful environment to create, explore, and learn.

Given the challenges of the town and state budget, the Board of Education and my team have worked hard to develop a budget with essentially no increase for the coming school year, while still maintaining the priorities of our school system. As a district, we already spend over $2,400 less per student than the median cost across the State of CT. As you can see, the budget is so much more than simply columns and rows of information and it is our goal to have those rows and columns add up to happy, healthy, and productive kids and young adults!

For more detailed information on the 2018-2019 BOE budget, please head to 2018-2019 Budget information on our website: https://www.plymouth.k12.ct.us/board_of_education/budget_information 
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