School Committee hears updates on new curriculum, roof project

By Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed | Sep 21, 2016
Photo by: Zarrin Tasnim Ahmed Business manager Michael MacMillan presents updates on the John W. Decas Elementary School boiler and roof replacements.

Wareham High School is closer to offering an advanced, more rigorous curriculum as it makes strides towards earning its International Baccalaureate certification with the training of staff and upcoming implementation of the program.

“Currently, we are preparing for our final authorization for the diploma program for the Oct. 1 deadline and anticipating the IB team to visit us in the December or January timeframe,” said Ashley Yates-Paquin, the program's coordinator. She spoke at the School Committee's Sept. 21 meeting.

The International Baccalaureate organization was founded in 1968, and offers an advanced academic track for students at 3,500 different IB-certified schools in 145 countries. The system aims to allow students to take more responsibility of what they learn by engaging them in their own interests.

Yates-Paquin said an implementation program starts Nov. 8 with a full staff in-house workshop led by two practicing International Baccalaureate consultants. Individual content-based workshops for the department heads will follow.

The implementation will take place over the next two years.

“I’m happy to announce that we have trained 12 staff members and they are prepared to run the program and all nine required courses at the start of next year,” said Yates-Paquin.

The high school was chosen as an International Baccalaureate Candidate School in February and has taken measures since then to fulfill the requirements for authorization.

Many of the teachers have already implemented International Baccalaureate practices in the curriculum, said Yates-Paquin.

Brett McSherry, a student, explained what she found different in her English class this year compared to previous English classes.

Though she had a long list, she shared some of the reasons, including class discussions and oral presentations as being different from writing essays.

McSherry said she enjoyed that the curriculum was more challenging, encouraged critical thinking and allowed for the expressing of opinions.

Decas boiler and roof repair

Business Manager Michael MacMillan announced that Wareham Public Schools has hired Nadeau Construction to carry out the boiler and roof repairs at John W. Decas Elementary School.

The current 46-year-old roof will be repaired and the 45-year-old boilers at Decas will be replaced, thanks to a vote at the Spring Town Meeting that allowed officials to borrow up to $2.4 million for the improvements.

Nadeau Construction is asking for $1,165,300 for the project, which comes significantly under-budget.

“It's reassuring news, but we're not confident yet,” said MacMillan.

He described it as a “complicated” project that included solving problems such as providing temporary heat for students as the boilers are replaced.

Comments (15)
Posted by: Spherebreaker | Sep 22, 2016 06:13

Let me solve your complicated problem, replace the boiler in the summer. Why do things need to be made so complicated when taxpayer dollars are being used?

Posted by: brazz | Sep 22, 2016 09:03

If they can do it for the bid price, then it doesn't matter how "complicated" it is. Also the state will cover 70% of the cost as stated in the other article.

Posted by: Spherebreaker | Sep 22, 2016 11:24

And where does the State get its money? What would the bid be if work was done without having to worry about temporary heat? It seems that this job has been made more complicated then it has to be.  

Posted by: Knocked for six | Sep 22, 2016 14:11

This project should have been started 7-1 without question. Forget that the construction company may have been able to come in on or under budget by how about the disruption to staff and students?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 23, 2016 13:31

Temporary heat can be done but it is expensive...thousands!  Portable trailer mounted boilers get located outdoors and are temporarily piped into the system.  It's a big deal considering fuel source, etc.  Usually done for emergencies such as an unexpected boiler failure.  Insurance usually pays when it's an emergency.  Decas is not an emergency...just poor project management.  Like Sphere said, replace boilers in the non-heating season. 

Posted by: totellthetruth | Sep 23, 2016 20:07

No need for temporary boilers! Schedule all the commitee meetings during the day. There's enough hot air in those meetings to heat the whole Town.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 23, 2016 21:12

Are the 45 year old Decas School roof and boilers being "replaced" or "repaired?"


The above article refers to "boiler and roof replacements" at the Decas.


A March 31, 2016 Wareham Week article titled, "Decas Elementary School receives $1.6 million for roof and boilers" references roof reparation and boiler replacement in one paragraph and "repairing the roof and upgrading the boiler system" in another paragraph.


Repair a 45 year old roof, the average life of which is 20 years? Is this why the bid came in at less than half of the $2.4 million allocated by town meeting?


If Town Meeting allocated $2.4 million, and only half of that amount is used for the Decas, what happens to the remaining unused portion of money that was allocated?

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 09:51

Still wondering, are the 45 year old Decas School roof and boilers being "replaced" or "repaired?" WW article (March 2016) refers to $1.6 million being received for roof repairs. This article refers to "roof replacement." Are the Decas School's 45 year old roofs being repaired or replaced?




Posted by: Matthew Bernat | Sep 28, 2016 10:35

Hi Andrea,

The school's business manager got back to me last night regarding the repaired vs. replaced question. The roofs will be "repaired" meaning there won't be a brand new roof. As for the money, Town Meeting authorized the school to borrow up to $2.4 million. With the bids coming in low the school will just borrow what it needs to get the job done.

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 28, 2016 19:53

Andrea & Matthew, I can help clarify because that is still misleading.  The entire roof will not be replaced.  That is because the entire roof consists of structural members, sheathing, possibly insulation, and the waterproof outer part.  The waterproof outer part is likely a rubber membrane on Decas.  The term "new roof"  or "replaced roof" implies that just the waterproof outer part will be replaced.  Same as with the asphalt shingles on a house.  To repair a roof implies that some kind of sealing product like tar, sealant, or other goop be applied to patch bad spots.  I hope that isn't what they are doing!  We better not be getting duped with goop!     

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 28, 2016 20:04

Now, for the boilers.  The two boilers at Decas belong in a museum.  I think that only one still functions.  They look like something out of a Freddy Kruger movie.  I cannot imagine repairing them.  It is possible to just replace the "burner" part of a newer boiler.  Sort of like replacing the engine in a car.  That is often done to improve efficiency or switch fuels. I cannot imagine that can be done on those boilers because they are so bad.  Complete replacement is the only feasible option at Decas.  It would be like putting a new engine in an old beat up car that has 300,000 miles.  The rest of the car is still junk.  Makes no sense.  But I'll be the first one to say that a lot of things make no sense around here.  We can only hope that the both entire boilers are being replaced.        

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 20:16

Thanks for the clarification Matthew.

Posted by: Andrea Smith | Sep 28, 2016 20:17

Wareham By the Sea - Having read Matthew's clarification, does it sound to you like we're being duped with goop?

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 28, 2016 20:34

Andrea, He wrote:  The roofs will be "repaired" meaning there won't be a brand new roof.  That means patched with sealing product like tar, sealant, or other goop.  That is not good.  I would at least expect an entire new rubber membrane for the dollars that are being mentioned.  Normally one refers to that new membrane as a "new roof".  I am concerned.    

Posted by: Wareham By The Sea | Sep 28, 2016 20:53

I would need to see our bid spec. and the contractor's proposal to know for sure.  There is still a lot of room for ambiguity when it comes to roofing terms and what is meant by a "new roof".  The differences are so significant so it is really important to know for sure what was asked for and what is being done.   



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