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Addressing probation


Southbridge planning as Bay Path reaccredited



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This pile of rocks and graded clear-cut, formerly a forest, mark where some of the new Southbridge Middle/High School athletic fields will be when the project’s complete in 2012. Maureen Doyle. (click for larger version)
December 14, 2010
CHARLTON — When Bay Path Vocational Technical High School received its 2010 accreditation report from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges recently, Superintendent David Papagni was quite pleased with what he found.

"I was here for the last one 10 years ago, and believe me, this one was much better," he told his School Committee's last meeting. "… They're very pleased with the climate of the school."

The 10-year stamp of approval does not mean Bay Path is "home free," by any means. Besides urging self-reviews and other things periodically, the 81-page report details a very long list of things the agency recommends the school do to maintain its accreditation over the next few years. Many of them involve physical changes to the school that will be incorporated into the renovation/expansion project now in the feasibility study phase.

Several nearby schools might be able to take some tips from Bay Path. Southbridge, David Prouty and Uxbridge are all under probation (Bay Path was not) and face similar building projects as part of restoring their status.

"The Visiting Committee understands the tremendous challenge current trends in education, difficult financial times, and daunting issues surrounding the school infrastructure pose for Bay Path Regional Vocational Technical High School," the report states. "Further, state mandated testing and the constant challenges of changing workplace skills and expectations force a continuous need to make hard decisions within time and budgetary boundaries. However, the Visiting Committee saw a determined school; focused, organized and committed to using logic, data, collaboration and good common sense to ensure the best possible experience for the students at Bay Path."

The visiting committee, a group of volunteer teachers and administrators from other districts who toured the school for several days this spring, found a lot to like about Bay Path, commending the school for dozens of things. A random sampling of them includes the variety of student groups, its way of reviewing goals and progress, the 2005 creation of the principal's job, public outreach and efforts to increase enrollment, the existence of a good advisory committee and active night school, community use of the property, investing in the various "green energy" projects, and many references to creativity in the curriculum, high expectations, and "the palpable improvement in overall leadership and school-wide vision."

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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