May10, 2021, Submitted by Kerry Ni, Chair of the Hingham School Committee
The School Committee thanks all voters at Town Meeting for your unanimous support of the School Department budget for FY ‘22. You invested in a budget that will meet the needs of all students and help them recover from the learning loss caused by a once-in-a-lifetime global pandemic. We especially want to thank our colleagues on the Advisory Committee and Select Board, the Town and School Department administration, and the HPS parents for their assistance and engagement in a thoughtful budget process during this extremely challenging year.
Our students were dismissed from school on March 12, 2020 as usual, and overnight lost the structure and many of the social connections on which they rely. Accordingly, when we started this year’s budget process with the Advisory Committee and Select Board, we focused on two areas where students were most impacted: academic achievement and social/emotional health and skills. Additionally, we knew that it was crucial to address our persistent academic achievement gap between all Hingham students and our high needs students, which was greatly exacerbated by the pandemic. From a School Department perspective, ensuring that our students recover from the pandemic’s disruption means that we will need people: tutors, teachers, counselors, administrators, and support staff. We recognize that this is a significant investment in our students and our schools.
The budget approved by Town Meeting will provide the necessary supports and services to help our students recover. It will allow us to intervene early, which research unequivocally shows is the most effective way to remediate struggling students, rather than allowing students to fall even further behind requiring more aggressive and expensive intervention. Additionally, the tiered system of academic support that the School Department will build will benefit the district and our town for years to come.
We do understand that increasing personnel is an investment and, like any sound investment, carries risks: if we are unable to continue funding these new hires, we will have very difficult decisions to make next year. We are committed to ensuring that every dollar spent is used efficiently and effectively. To that end, the School Department and Committee will initiate a five year strategic plan very soon. A focus of the planning process will be how to best use the resources we have to ensure manageable growth. This process will involve the entire community, and we hope you will participate.
The School Committee takes our responsibility seriously. We appreciate that you entrusted us to propose a fiscally responsible budget that meets the needs of all of our students and enables them to recover from the unprecedented disruption to their education. We have thoughtfully examined and considered each and every new and pre-existing budget item and will continue to do so.
Over the years, the Town of Hingham has benefited greatly from the reputation of our schools. The word “Schools” is even incorporated in the town seal. We value education, we value community, and we value our children. Thank you for voting in favor of a budget that supports these values. We are committed to working together to find an appropriate financial path forward that adequately supports all of our Town services.
Kerry Ni, Chair, Hingham School Committee