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12 Takeaways from the June 8 School Committee Meeting

1. The meeting began with recognitions. This year, the following 12 Tewksbury Public School Employees are retiring; they share 261 collective years serving Tewksbury students.

  • Gail Bliss ( District Wide OT) 28 years
  • Mary Abbot (Dewing ESP Aide) 15 years
  • Deborah Brewin (Heath Brook 2nd grade Teacher) 25 years
  • Rosemary Coughlin (Heath Brook Case Manager) 15 years
  • Donna DePierro (Heath Brook ESP Aide) 20 years
  • Mary Kapust (Health Brook ESP Aide) 16 years
  • Donna Sacramone-Greene (Heath Brook Kindergarten Teacher) 24 years
  • Mary Ellen Zier (Health Brook ESP Aide) 26 years
  • Robin Reading (Ryan 6th Grade Teacher) 24 years
  • James Pringle (Wynn 8th Grade Teacher) 22 years
  • Patrick McAndrews (TMHS Special Education Teacher) 25 years
  • Catherine Stack (TMHS English Teacher) 21 years

Next, volunteers were recognized by school principals.

Photo: Pictured above are Wynn and TMHS PAC members Carolyn Gaglione, John Stanton, Lori Carriere, Debra Contardi and Christine Paquette.

Dewing Elementary School

  • Jen Delaney
  • Molly Ginsburg
  • Maggie Madden
  • Tracy Torra
  • Val Ashe
  • Travis Nevers
  • Juzar Shakir

Trahan Elementary School

  • Judi Boyson

Ryan Elementary School

  • Paige Impink
  • Stephanie Kinnon

TMHS

  • Lori Carriere
  • Carolyn Gaglione

Heath Brook Trahan PAC

  • Anna Kaiser
  • Michelle Robertson
  • Kim Nadeau
  • Jennifer Foley
  • Maureen Ruscio
  • Megan Lewis

North St. Elementary School

  • Andrea Hooper
  • Lauren Wagstaff
  • Maggie Madden

Wynn Middle School

  • Christine Paquette
  • Debra Contradi
  • Debbie Johnson
  • John Stanton

2. TMHS Update: New School Committee student representative Rania Elouahi was on hand to provide an update on what’s happening at TMHS. Elouahi shared that a new school council was elected in March and has been settling into their new positions. They’re currently planning a club fair and freshman orientation as well as a cultural fair, which would entail people wearing cultural outfits to help spread awareness and allow people to see the variety of cultures we have in the school.

The TMHS Theater Company announced next year’s shows. In the fall they’ll perform Radium Girls, winter will be A Grand Night for Singing and the spring musical will be Beauty and the Beast.

3. TMHS assistant principal Michelle Dick spoke about Senior Projects. These projects allow students to take skills they’ve learned over the years and use them in real life during the last quarter of their schooling. Some kids worked at a law firm, some did some carpentry, others worked in mechanical and nursing. There were also students who opted to do research projects.

“We had 197 out of 226 seniors” participate in the senior project, said Dick. She also noted that the school had a new partnership with the Tewksbury Police Department.

Brian Gouthro, who coordinates with students to make sure they have sponsors outside or within the school and holds them accountable for their projects, was on hand to showcase some of the completed projects. Examples are a display about the benefits about being a bilingual student and a crochet project that will be displayed at the Tewksbury Public Library.

4. TSEPAC representatives gave an end-of-year update. Dina Mancini and Maureen Castiglione began with the purpose of a special education PAC. These groups are public bodies that serve as an adviser to the school committee as it pertains to the education and safety of students with disabilities. In addition, the SEPAC has a duty to meet regularly with school officials to participate in planning, development and evaluation of district special education programs.

The Tewksbury SEPAC had set three goals for this year and met all three: To increase community engagement, to have professional and transparent communication and to provide parent support and advocacy. The group will be at the upcoming bike rodeo, and their last business meeting of the year is June 16. To see the whole presentation, including pictures of events, see the School Committee packet.

5. Tewksbury Food & Nutrition director Deb Mugford gave an end-of-year update for the food services department. This year, the department served 115,334 free breakfasts and 335,428 free lunches. Mugford notes these numbers do not include any purchased items, like second lunches, a la carte items and snacks provided to Alphabest. These numbers represent a 30% increase in breakfast participation since 2019, the last year students paid for breakfast.

Currently, the district has 23% income eligibility for free and reduced-price lunches. Mugford shared that this number is lower than previous years due to families not completing free and reduced-price lunch forms while school meals are still free. The department is prepared to send out a letter to families if the free school lunch bills currently pending are not passed. As of now, the federal government has not extended waivers for free school meals. However there is a pending bill at the federal level, the Support Kids Not Red Tape Act, and at the state level, An Act Relative to Universal Free Meals, which is being championed by Project Bread and is pending in the Massachusetts legislature.

6. The Dewing Elementary School received a $12,000 grant from the Corning Foundation to create a STEAM lab. The grant was for materials for K-2 Science units with a STEAM alignment. With this money, the school purchased Museum of Science “Engineering is Elementary” kits, a hydroponic indoor farm, and Keva planks and challenges. Principal Gerrish shared that both Corning volunteers and parents spent an entire Saturday unpacking boxes and assembling materials. The Corning Foundation looks forward to continuing its relationship with the Tewksbury Public Schools.

7. Superintendent Brenda Regan had multiple updates. Current Trahan Elementary School principal Jay Harding will be the new Center Elementary School principal, current Dewing Elementary School principal Terry Gerrish will become the new Heath Brook principal, North St. interim principal Pernima DeMorais will be leaving at the end of the school year to take a position at Quabbin Regional High School, and Dewing Elementary assistant principal Alexis Boswoth will stay on at the Dewing. The district is still working out the details of her position.

Interviews for a new assistant superintendent to replace Regan will begin next week. She shared that 21 qualified candidates applied, and five or six were highly qualified. There will be an update in July on this position.

The district recently had Seal of Biliteracy awards, and 19 students were recognized. At Scholarship and Award Ceremony night, 123 students were awarded $170,000 in scholarships. Two Ryan students, Brennan Howell and Evelyn Goldstein, attended the National Invention Convention in Michigan, and while the students didn’t place, they had a great time. They wish to thank the Ryan PAC, the Tewksbury Credit Union and Well Water Connections for their donations to make the trip possible.

The TMHS Robotics team, the Tewksbury Titans, participated in a battle event this weekend. Team 1474 placed at 28 out of 64 teams and won a judges’ award, called the “Phantom Fighter.”

8. Dave Libby had some updates from the Business Office. There will be a 20,000 square foot resurfacing of the Wynn Middle School roof. A new security vestibule is coming to the Dewing Elementary School lobby, including a minor expansion of the offices to move the nurse back to the front office area. The district is looking at reorganizing resources back into individual schools and away from the TMHS Copy Center. The district recently received its end of year audit, and there were no findings.

9. There were a few committee reports. The old Center School has been fully torn down in less time than anticipated, and the next Elementary School Building Committee meeting is June 9. The TSEPAC is looking to fill some PAL (parent at large) spots. The Wellness Committee’s next meeting is June 15.

The Policy Committee is starting to update and make clarifications to existing polices; this month the Committee shared updates to Public Comments at School Committee Meetings, School Committee Legislative Program, Meal Charge Policy, Guidelines for Public Comments and Free & Reduced Priced Food Services policies. All changes can be found in the School Committee packet.

10. Summer reading information is available on the district’s website.

11. Nick Parsons was re-appointed to the Tewksbury Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

12. All employee subcontacts have been finalized including a two-year contract for Superintendent Brenda Regan.

The full meeting can be viewed on TewksburyTV. The next School Committee meeting is July 20, 2022.

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