Reformation by Consolidation

Sandwich Public Schools Master Plan
Sandwich, Massachusetts

For years, the town of Sandwich had been experiencing a steady decline in student enrollment, due largely to a shift from year-round to seasonal residents. The Town initially hired SMMA to conduct a facility assessment study of its K-8 Henry T. Wing School, an aging building originally constructed in 1927, with numerous subsequent additions. Our study concluded with the determination that upgrading the Wing School would not be cost-effective, whereupon the Superintendent requested that SMMA provide an Educational Master Plan for the District.

In 2012, the Sandwich School District comprised three K-8 schools and one high school. The desire for a more engaging middle school curriculum, coupled with the prospect of closing the Wing School, thereby leaving the District with only two K-8 facilities, contributed to SMMA’s decision to propose a grade-structure reorganization. The K-8 model had been in place for many years, and the suggestion of change initially encountered resistance. However, the enrollment decline was undeniable, and its effects included: 

  • Reductions in elective offerings at both the middle and high school levels, producing concerns over relevance and student engagement
  • Attrition of teaching personnel, which contributed to the reduced course offerings, perpetuating a vicious cycle with no simple fix
  • Underutilized facilities, leading to excessive operational and maintenance costs

To combat these problems, SMMA undertook a community-based Visioning process and compiled detailed analyses of the curricula and educational-delivery models. The information gathered allowed Sandwich to begin thinking about its schools in a new way, and ultimately resulted in the District restructuring its grade configurations to provide more relevant curriculum using more engaging .delivery models.

 

SMMA’s Educational Master Plan solution consisted of the following measures:

  • Realigning Grades, changing the elementary schools to a K-6 model, and adopting Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) curriculum for grades 7 & 8
  • Consolidating Facilities, moving grades K-6 to the two newer schools and transitioning grades 7 & 8 to the underutilized high school building, which, in the process, created a "school within a school" for the middle-schoolers, giving them access to the shared, more sophisticated technology environments available in the high school.
  • Changing Curricula and Delivery, with the middle school shifting to interdisciplinary (STEM) project-based learning (PBL), the high school moving to interdisciplinary PBL, and both realizing modest increases in course offerings
 
As a result of SMMA’s recommendations, the Town opened the STEM middle school (grades 7 & 8) in September 2014 and closed the Wing School, which it plans to repurpose, in June 2015. The K-6 elementary schools were consolidated to the two more contemporary schools in September 2015.