DHS may see Covid vaccine clinic, School Choice program to continue

Jan 25, 2021

The Dartmouth High School gym could become a Covid-19 inoculation station, as the town looks to establish clinics for phase two of the state’s vaccine distribution plan set to start in February.

At a Jan. 25 School Committee meeting, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford said that the district has volunteered use of the gym as well as schools’ secretarial staff to help check people in.

“We just felt it’s something we need to have happen,” Gifford said. “Whatever we can do, we will do.” 

Once clinics are established, the superintendent said they will likely take place after school from 4 to 8 p.m., along with “some Saturdays.” 

Gifford added that while there is potential to interfere with scheduled sports games, Athletic Director Andrew Crisafulli has been working to reschedule any games if need be.

“We’ve had Mr. Crisafulli in on all the meetings and we’ve had to keep him calm a little bit,” she joked. “But he’s been very cooperative.”

At the same meeting, the committee voted 3-1 to continue the School Choice program for the 2021-22 school year.

The program allows students from other cities and towns to attend school in Dartmouth, with the student’s home district paying Dartmouth Public Schools a $5,000 tuition payment each year.  

Currently, there are 110 out-of-town students enrolled in the program — 25 of whom are in the Dartmouth High senior class.

As of 2020, the program has generated $1.5 million in funding for Dartmouth schools. In October, School Business Administrator Jim Kiely noted that there was more than $550,000 in the fund from that year’s enrollments.

In the past, the money was used to fund stipends for music and other supplies and it helped fund what grant money did not for the high school's new innovation lab.

The most important investment made with the funds, Kiely said, was in the district’s one-to-one computing initiative that gave every high school student and some middle school students Chromebooks.

“I can’t imagine where we would be in this pandemic if we had not had this program,” he said.