Nauset Regional Schools Budget Fits Under Cap Sought by Towns

By: Ed Maroney

The Nauset Regional School Committee approved a budget for next fiscal year that fits under a 2.5 percent increase cap.

ED MARONEY PHOTO

ORLEANS The Nauset Regional School Committee approved an assessment of $25,305,688 last week for the fiscal year beginning July 1, a 2.49 percent increase that “has the potential of meeting the desires of our sending selectmen and finance committees in terms of expectations for the budget,” Superintendent Tom Conrad said March 4.

The budget, which includes expenditures for the middle school, high school, and central office, is separate from those for the elementary schools in Brewster, Eastham, Orleans, and Wellfleet.

Based on enrollment in the regional schools, Brewster will be responsible for about 48.2 percent of costs, Eastham 19.8 percent, Orleans 19.1 percent, and Wellfleet just under 13 percent. The regional enrollment total for fiscal year 2022 is expected to be 1,200 students, one more than this year.

Conrad praised director of finance and operations Giovanna Venditti for “pulling this all together for us (and putting in) a great amount of work in researching a number of issues we had to get on top of.”

This is the last budget Conrad will present to the towns before his retirement in June. On March 3, a joint meeting of the region’s school committees voted unanimously to select The Grenier Company of Orleans to conduct the search for his interim and permanent successors.

“We need to make sure the person doing our search is knowledgeable about our region and the challenges a superintendent would face,” said Orleans School Committee Chair Gail Briere, who reviewed responses to requests for qualifications with regional school committee chair Chris Easley. “There are nine budgets and seven different school committees. It’s the Twilight Zone for many superintendents coming from other systems.”

Briere and Easley recommended hiring Dr. Patricia Grenier, the lead consultant to the system in 2016 when Conrad, then principal of Nauset High, was hired as superintendent. At the time, Grenier was working for the Cape Cod Collaborative’s Center for Executive Search, which also asked to be considered this time around.

A former superintendent of the Barnstable Public Schools, Grenier served as Conrad’s executive coach for three years after she was hired through the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents’ New Superintendent Induction Program. She was employed by the Nauset district during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 school years as a special projects consultant on leadership, training, and learning.

There was initial reluctance among some members about going with someone so close to the Nauset system. “I almost think Grenier would be great to use right now for the interim search,” regional school committee member Josh Stewart said. “We do want someone with a good, solid understanding of Nauset who doesn’t need to be brought up to speed as much. For the full-time position, I would love to cast as wide a net as possible. I want to find the very best educational leader for Nauset if there’s a transformative superintendent out in California or Washington.”

Easley said that Grenier has run the state program for new superintendents for the past five years, during which 250 new superintendents “went through her orientation process, a three-year process. That’s a pretty broad expanse of people and exposure to people.”

Briere saw “a definite advantage to having the same person from the get-go… It would be very beneficial to go with the same person for both searches.”

Easley used the occasion to urge his colleagues to get out the vote March 30 for the Nauset Regional High School building project. “For the future of education on the Cape for years to come, it’s critical we get this across the finish line,” he said. The following night at the regional committee meeting, he read letters of support for the project from the Eastham finance committee and select board. It was noted as well that the building committee is continuing its series of Zoom information presentations on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m

On March 22 at 5 p.m., the Orleans Citizens Forum will host a virtual session on the project covering “the facts about the educational and structural needs” of the school, the costs of renovation, and the impact of school choice. Panelists will represent the building committee, the district, and the Orleans select board and finance committee. Questions can be submitted in advance or during the meeting to info@OrleansCitizensForum. To join the meeting, go to us02web.zoom.us/j/87926980944 or call 646-558-8656.