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13 Takeaways from the Oct. 12 School Committee Meeting

1. There was only one speaker at Citizens Forum tonight. Parent Al Mancini pointed out that recently the district had its fourth confidentiality breach affecting special education students since May. Mancini also noted that in the last seven years, there have been innumerable disclosures, and it seems to have become an accepted practice. He stated that he knows no one, including school committee members, wants this to continue. He hopes his speaking up will shine some light on the situation and be the catalyst for change.

2. Brenda Regan gave the Superintendent’s Report, starting by noting that it was PSAT day at TMHS for juniors and sophomores. Seniors were able to spend the day planning for college.

“Freshmen participated in several team building and fostering a sense of belonging activities together,” said Regan.

Also today, the district leadership team was hosted by the Wynn Middle School staff and administration and participated in small-group instructional rounds observing classrooms. The goal of this session was to work toward the district goal of building the instructional leadership team.

Tewksbury Public School leadership is conducting an audit to determine where and how they can improve systems and individual practice in regards to protecting student and staff confidential data. The district has consulted with Steve Smith from K through 12 Privacy Consultants; Smith also works closely with the Student Data Privacy Consortium.

Jay Harding, who will be principal of the new Center Elementary School, has put together an internal Google Classroom to help keep staff updated throughout the move process. Small groups of staff will be able to tour the school later this month.

And finally, Regan mentioned some upcoming district events. On Oct. 23, the National Honor Society and Tewksbury Police Department are hosting a trunk or treat at TMHS. Oct. 29 is the Applefest Craft Fair, also at TMHS, and on Nov. 10 there is a harvest fair at the Ryan Elementary School.

3. Assistant Superintendent Lori McDermott started her report by sharing that Cale Birk was back in the district to work with the PLC (professional learning community) leads. Adviser, author and “imagineer” Birk will check in with teams to help bridge what they’re learning into meaningful work in the classroom.

The district was able to complete the DIBELS screener quickly this year, and having that data allowed reading specialists to start targeted instruction for students.

4. Business Manager Dave Libby’s report opened with an update on the school bus tracking app. It’s currently up and running and there are just under 400 students accessing their accounts, which is 13% of the total student population. The Business Office had only about a dozen emails asking for setup help. Member Rich Russo asked if bus ridership has gone up since last year, and Libby confirmed it had.

5. Regan shared that the district is in a good place in regard to staffing except with the Delta T Group and one-on-one aides.

6. Russo had the Wellness Committee update. Food services has started an after-school snack program for students participating in after-school activities. The committee was assigned a wellness coach to help lead nurse Kelly Constantino and Food Service Director Deb Mugford update the district’s wellness policy and suggest guidelines. Also, the district has a new dietitian to help with gluten-free options for students.

7. The Policy Committee is still reviewing School Committee policies; changes can be found in the packet.

Polices reviewed and adopted with no change, unanimously approved:

  • CE-Administrative Councils, Cabinets and Committees
  • CH-Policy Implementation

Policies for consideration for revision and/or to adopt MASC recommendations:

  • BDG-School Attorney
  • CA-Administration Goals
  • CB-School Cuperintendent
  • CBD-Superintendent’s Contract
  • CBI-Evaluation of the Superintendent
  • CCB-Line and Staff Relations
  • CHA-Development of Procedures
  • CHCA-Approval of Handbooks and Directives
  • CHD-Administrative Policy Absence

Polices for consideration, first reading:

  • BGC-Policy Revision and Review

Policies for consideration, second and final reading, unanimously approved:

  • IMG-Animals in Schools
  • IJOA-Field Trips
  • JJH-Student Travel
  • JJH-R-Student Travel Regulations
  • DD-Funding Proposald & Applicatins
  • DIE-Audits
  • EFC-Free & Reduced Priced Food Services
  • BBA-School Committee Powers and Duties

Policies for consideration to rescind, unanimously approved:

  • CHC-Procedure Dissemination
  • CHCA-E-Approval of Handbooks and Directives
  • CL-Administrative Reports

8. Updated enrollment numbers for the district were shared:

9. Tentative MCAS dates for 2023 have been released and can be found in the link below. Last year’s MCAS results will be mailed home this week. McDermott will have a presentation next month on the district’s results.

She also discussed that she and Regan attended a meeting with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

“Just to review the statewide scores and to talk about, you know, the overall impact,” she said. “What we learned is the pandemic obviously had an effect across the state, whereas we’re still a ways away from recovering from that learning loss.”

However everyone agreed that test scores are not the full picture of the students.

10. Libby laid out the timeline for the FY24 budget, first pointing out that the main focus is salaries, which consume 70% of the budget. Another focus this year will be the opening of the Center Elementary School, with the possible impact to staffing and additional supplies that may need to be purchased.

Libby will meet with Town Manager Richard Montuori in November to discuss a preliminary budget. Other dates of note: On Jan. 11, 2023, there will be a Budget Workshop at TMHS at 6:00 p.m., and the Feb. 8 and March 8 School Committee meetings will include a public hearing. On May 3, 2023, the budget will be presented to Town Meeting.

11. Russo was nominated as delegate to attend the MASC annual business meeting.

12. The meeting ended with some points of interest from Chair Bridget Garabedian. The TMHS guidance department is partnering with Mass Hire and will assist students interested in part-time work. Mass Hire helps with resumes, interview tips and support for high-school students.

The Tewksbury Public Library is partnering with the Wilmington Public Library for a reading challenge. Additional information can be found on the library’s website. Garabedian also is interested in exploring the onboarding process for when new members join the School Committee.

13. Upcoming Meeting dates of note: The Elementary School Building Committee meets tonight. The Policy Sub-Committee meets Oct. 18, the TSEPAC Business Meeting will be Oct. 20 and the Wellness Advisory Committee gathers on Dec. 7. The next School Committee meeting is Nov. 16.

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