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Grey Matters, January 29, 2018; Volume 6, Number 21

posted Jan 28, 2018, 5:43 AM by Andrew Shen

Hi Everyone,

The United States Air Force just announced that Boeing has been awarded a contract to replace two of the refrigerator units in Air Force One, and the cost for this work will be at the bargain basement price of $24 million.  This news made me feel much better about the $3,000 I recently requested for next year to replace worn carpeting with tiles in some of our classrooms, and also makes me wonder if I should have been a bit more ambitious in my requests and made a pitch for constructing a heated canopy above the drop-off area in the Junior High parking lot.  As I mentioned last week, our District’s efforts to provide a clear and transparent story and budget proposal for the following school year culminates in Budget Saturday where we deliver a daylong presentation to the School Committee and members of the community and community boards (like Finance committees),

and participate in a series of question and answer periods.  Budget Saturday took place this past weekend and if for some strange reason you were a little reluctant to spend seven hours on Saturday with us to discuss debt service, enrollment projections, capital planning, and staffing needs, but would still be interested in perusing the information that was shared, you can view the presentation slides (all 177 of them) by clicking here.  To be sure, a good deal of what is shared on these slides requires, or at least would greatly benefit from, context and explanation that was included during the presentation.  There are also things like “Circuit Breaker” and “E&D” and “Regional Transportation Reimbursement” that are not exactly terms and concepts that most discuss around the dinner table, but still play an important role in how we craft an operating budget.  Nevertheless, I think most can still develop an appreciation for the areas of focus and priorities that we’ve established for next year, along with the parameters and obligations that must be considered.  You’ll also likely recognize a few of the drivers for the proposed budget, including a shift to single tier busing at the elementary level, and the change in start times for the Junior High and High School.  Our leadership team certainly feels like we’ve designed a proposal for next year that is thoughtful and responsible, and responsive to the needs in front of us. As residents and taxpayers in Acton and Boxborough, each of you will ultimately have to determine if you feel that the budget we’ve proposed is one that you can support (with your tax dollars), and in the best interest of the students and the community.  The next step in the process is for the School Committee to hold a Budget Hearing on February 15 to take an official vote on the proposed budget, and then residents weigh in with their votes at their respective town meetings in April (Acton) and May (Boxborough).

This is a reminder to 7th grade families that we will be finishing our Signs of Suicide (SOS) lesson and screening tool to 7th grade teams this week.  The lesson will be delivered tomorrow (Monday) to 7 Green students, and then to 7 Blue students on Wednesday the 31st. Remember that the Eliot Community Human Services will conduct a suicide prevention workshop for members of our adult community on Monday, January 29 from 6:30pm to 8:30pm (tomorrow), also in our Junior High Library.  QPR - Question, Persuade and Refer is a community-wide program that teachers the warning signs of suicide and an effective emergency response. If you are interested in attending, please contact Dr. Deborah Garfield at  

Last week RJ Grey joined a few of our fellow AB schools in collecting compostables and recyclables, and drastically reducing trash generated during our lunch periods.  Our student Green Team led the #GreyGoesGreen charge and many of them are serving as student coaches who guide their peers on how to sort their lunch items into compostables and recyclables.  Accompanying this change is a switch by our Food Services Department to new compostable trays, which is a first for our District.  Many thanks to Jeanne Bouchard, Kate Crosby, and Kirsten Nelson for their leadership, and to our Green Team students whose commitment to this effort is the only reason last week was a success.  

Finally, a story that has gained traction nationally is the surge in cases of the flu this season.  Unfortunately, some of the spotlight on this issue is because of the number of fatalities attributed to the flu, especially of young people and the elderly. In Massachusetts, flu activity has surged to record highs and the metro Boston area actually has the highest percentage of reported cases within the Commonwealth.  Along with encouraging all of you to consider the medical community’s strong push about getting a flu shot, I want to emphasize the importance of putting your child’s health above any worries that your child and/or you might have about missing school.  I appreciate that concerns about falling behind with work can produce some bouts of anxiety and worry.  We’ll make it work.  If you find yourself in a situation where your child has missed a few days of school, please reach out to your counselor and we can develop a plan to work with teachers on how to manage what has been missed.

Have a great week, everyone.