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9 Takeaways from the May 11 School Committee Meeting

TMHS Athletic Director Ron Drouin was on hand for sports recognitions. First was the TMHS hockey team, which won the MIAA Division II Massachusetts all-state championship. The district also had three students named Boston Herald/Boston Globe All-Scholastics: Carrina Barron for volleyball, Alex Arbogast for indoor track and Jessica Driscoll for hockey.

The TMHS Robotics Team was also on hand to do a demonstration. The team competes in two events a year, and if they do well, they qualify for the national championship, which they have done. The robots are fully built by the students, and they are given only six weeks to design and build their bot after finding out what the challenge is. Tewksbury had a team of only eight students competing against teams of 85 students, so their qualification is especially impressive.

There was only one speaker at citizens forum. Robert Hanley discussed the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) goals he must set at his own job. He wanted to see how you can apply this same standard to Social Emotional Learning (SEL). Hanley decided to do some research into SEL through an internet search, and the first link he found was from the Connecticut Educational Association website, which per Hanley says, “Social emotional learning goals do not need to be smart or quantitative in nature; the requirement for a standardized indicator has been waived for this year. Both indicators may be non standardized.”

Therefore, he says, “If you apply the SMART acronym to these goals the entire philosophy becomes nebulous and unscientific.” Which leads to his concern “that as we spend more time, thought and resources on SEL, we inevitably spend less time, thought and resource on traditional academics, which give our children the building blocks they need in order to tackle cultural, nuanced social issues when they reached an age of maturity.”

Up next was the superintendent report from newly appointed superintendent Brenda Regan. Regan shared that two Ryan students had moved on to the National Invention Convention after winning at the state level. Three district teachers were granted course vouchers at Merrimack College due to their mentoring work with new teachers.

The application for the Ginsburg family award is out, and the Polimeno family award will be coming. The Patriot Pen and Voice of Democracy topics have been announced. The National Park trip was “awesome,” per TMHS principal Bernard. The 38th annual art show was last week, and the artwork was amazing. And last was the announcement that Heath Brook Principal Felicia Cenanovic will be the new district director of literacy.

More information about all of these updates can be found in the School Committee packet.

At the last meeting, business manager Dave Libby was asked about the cost of legal fees stemming from public records requests and open meeting law (OML) complaints. Libby shared that in calendar year 2020, there were nine public records requests at a cost of $750, and one OML complaint, costing $125. In 2021 there were 61 public record requests that cost $10,713 and 12 OML complaints costing $2,250. And in 2022, there were 23 public record requests billed at $2,329 and six OML complaints for a cost of $875. These have cumulatively cost the district a total of $17, 042. And, these numbers are just the legal fees and do not take into account the time staff spent on these requests , which is taken away from other tasks.

In his update Libby also shared that in the last school year, there were 624 students in the free/reduced lunch program. That’s up to 762 this year.

There were multiple subcommittee reports. Keith Sullivan shared that the new Center school is still on time and on budget and said the committee will be adding a Board of Health member. On May 19, the Tewksbury Special Education PAC will hold its annual elections, and on May 20, there is a family event at Strongwater Farm. The TSEPAC also thanks families for writing teacher appreciation cards; more than 100 were sent to staff.

The policy review committee has four meetings upcoming and will look at all polices because it’s been a while since they met. The assignments for 2022 were shared and are as follows:

  • Collective Bargaining, Custodians: Nick Parsons and Rick Russo
  • Collective Bargaining, Educational Support Personnel: Bridget Garabedian and Keith Sullivan
  • Collective Bargaining, Food Service: Keith Sullivan and Rich Russo
  • Collective Bargaining, Nurses: Keith Sullivan and Kayla Biagioni-Smith
  • Collective Bargaining, Secretaries: Bridget Garabedian and Kayla Biagioni-Smith
  • Collective Bargaining, TAG: Nick Parsons and Rich Russo
  • Collective Bargaining, TTA: Bridget Garabedian and Keith Sullivan
  • Elementary School Building Committee: Keith Sullivan
  • Policy Subcommittee: Bridget Garabedian and Keith Sullivan
  • TSEPAC: Nick Parsons and Kayla Biagioni-Smith
  • Wellness Advisory Committee: Keith Sullivan and Kayla Biagioni-Smith
  • North and Trahan School Reuse Committee: Kayla Biagioni-Smith

Chair Bridget Garabedian addressed a previously filed open meeting law complaint that was filed on March 8 in regards to the February 9 School Committee meeting. The basis of the complaint was that then-chair Keith Sullivan violated open meeting laws when he whispered to both Nick Parson and Bridget Garabedian during the meeting. This complaint was reviewed by the Attorney General’s office, which found that the open meeting law was not violated. More information about the compliant and the AG’s finding can be found in the school committee packet.

There were a few topics addressed under new business. The Pre-K through 4th grade handbook was updated. The committee voted to allow the superintendent to make changes as needed, especially in light of the new school opening

The schedule for next year’s School Committee has been put together.

Business Manager Dave Libby had a quick budget update. The total budget for next year has not changed, but money has been moved between salaries, operating expenses and capital outlays.

More information about all of these topics can be found in the School Committee packet.

A notice was shared in regard to changes in the standards for the 2026-2029 MCAS. Public comments on the policy charge are being solicited through June 3, 2022. The current policy can be found here, and the proposed changes are below. Written comments on the proposed amendment may be submitted by mail to: Student Assessment Office, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148, by fax to: 781-338-3630 or by e-mail to: mcas@doe.mass.edu 

And last were miscellaneous school updates. On May 21, the Dewing, North St., Heath Brook and Trahan PACs are running a Savers Fundrive. Soft goods can be dropped off in the Heath Brook parking lot from 9 a.m.-1 p.m., and the proceeds will be donation to local charity. The Dewing and North St. have a Boosterthon Fun Run coming up as well as a zoo field trip. The PACs are working on a last day of school event with officer Jennie Welch; more details to come on that.

Two Tewksbury students placed 6th at the DECA International competition. A thanks to the Beautification Committee for cleaning up school grounds on town clean up day. The TMHS Theater production of Mamma Mia was fantastic. There will be a summer theater program. And the Wynn theater program play won a gold medal at their festival.

The full meeting can be found on YouTube here.

The next School Committee meeting is June 8th

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