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12 Takeaways from the Nov. 16 School Committee Meeting

The School Committee met last night without member Keith Sullivan.

1. First up were recognitions: Student John Baker was the Commended Student by the 2023 National Merit Scholarship Program. Marissa Toutpuissant was recipient of the NAARA Scholar by the 2022 National African Recognition Award. And Rafael Beluco was recognized as the NHRA Scholar by the 2022 National Hispanic Recognition Award.

2. Student Council Representative Rania Elouahi started with sports updates. The girls volleyball team is going to finals. The swim team recently competed at MIT and had multiple individual and team wins. Both the field hockey and football teams made it to playoffs.

Nov. 10 was an 8th grade step up day, where students could explore the clubs available at TMHS. The TMHS Theater Company put on Radium Girls last month and will be having tryouts for the winter show, A Grand Night for Singing, soon. The International club will be volunteering at the Jingle Bell run, handing out water. Last night was the yearly DECA fashion show, a fundraiser for the Meghan McCarthy Research Fund, which raises money for cancer research at Dana Farber. Parent/teacher conference are November 17. And lastly, Tuesday is the powder puff football game.

3. An English Language Education update was presented by Kathy Henry, Karen Baker-O’Brien and Karen Hodgson. Currently there are seven full staff members, one for each building. The process starts with the DESE Access Test, taken by students for whom English is not their first language every January. This test will give the child a score, which will be the basis of the services they receive weekly.

There are currently 150 students under the ELL (English Language Learner) umbrella; 81 are considered FELL (Former English Language Learners). In the district there are 47 unique languages being spoken at home, the two most common being Portuguese and Spanish. Now that the district has more than 100 students enrolled in the program, they are able to start a PAC and can access Title III funding.

4. Assistant Superintendent Lori McDermott gave a 2022 Spring MCAS update, which had some positives. Tewksbury is performing above the state level in English, Math and Science, and while fewer students were meeting proficiency standards, most were still showing a year’s worth of growth in the results.

Students in high school partially meeting expectations don’t need to retake the test to graduate, but those on the lower end of that category will need an EPP (educational proficiency plan) so that teachers may address the standards areas where students are not meeting expectations. McDermott did note that very few 10th graders do not pass the test.

There will be a focus on early literacy and early numeracy, with continued implementation of new math curriculum at K-4. And there has been a successful adoption implementation of the Haggerty finance program and foundation Honors Program. The district is also aware that testing is only one piece of whole child.

“We’re participating in paving the way for proficiency for all students, including those with dyslexia,” said McDermott, who added that she and other staff are taking a 45-hour course for interdisciplinary teams.

5. Superintendent Brenda Regan’s report began with some athletic recognitions. This week seniors could sign letters of intent to play division 1 or division 2 collegiate sports. Samantha Ryan, Karina Barron and Amanda Ogden were the first to sign their letters.

Healthy snacks are now available for sale after school for students. The district was awarded a $100,000 DESE after school and out of school (ASOS) time grant. These funds will pay for the Penguin Pride Program, a Wynn Middle School after school program and a summer credit recovery program at THMS and the Wynn.

Recycling is back at TMHS as the district continues to strive to be greener.

6. McDermott shared that many elementary schools are having parent engagement events this week, with the goal of giving parents a little window into the student day. Some schools are also having students write thank you notes.

McDermott was at the TMHS Veteran’s Day ceremony and said it was an emotional event that was well done. The keynote speaker was General Allen Pepin, a Tewksbury alum.

7. Business manager Dave Libby’s update mostly covered the new Center Elementary School. Many milestones have been hit recently, as discussed at the last ESBC meeting. In summary, on Oct. 28, the building reached substantial completion. On Nov. 11 there was a teacher workshop where they had move meetings with Trahan, North St., Heath Brook and Dewing 2nd grade staff. And on Nov. 2, central administration held a meeting to discuss their move.

There is ongoing training on building systems with maintenance and custodial staff. The bus routes have been drafted, and furniture and fixtures are arriving every day. Technologies are being installed and tested.

On November 14 the first moving materials were delivered for staff moving out of TMHS and the fire station. The town took over insurance for the building on the 11th. Today, head of maintenance Jon Marchand received the keys.

Central office staff, special ed, food services and instructional coaches will be moving in on Nov. 28. Library materials from the elementary schools will be moved on the 29th.

Libby will begin work on the budget after everyone is moved in and settled.

8. Nick Parsons shared that the Tewksbury SEPAC had an event on Nov. 3 at the Tewksbury Police Department where children could see and develop some familiarity with officers’ vehicles. They are also working on getting information from Project Lifesaver.

9. The policy subcommittee reviewed and adopted two policies with no change; both were unanimously approved:

  • EBAB-Pest Management
  • EEAEA-Bus Driver Examination and Training

These policies for consideration for revision or to adopt MASC recommendation were unanimously approved to move forward to second reading:

  • EB-Safety Program
  • EBB-First Aid
  • EBC-Emergency Plans
  • EBCD-emergency Closings
  • EC-Buildings and Grounds Mamagement
  • ECA-Buildingins and Grounds Security
  • ECAC-Vandalism
  • EDC-Authorized Use of School-Owned Materials
  • EEA-Student Transportation Services
  • EEAA-Walkers and Riders
  • EEAE-School Bus Safety Program
  • EEAEB-Drug and Alcohol Testing for School Bus andf COmmercail Vehicle Drivers
  • EEAG-Student Transportation in Private Vehicles
  • EEAJ-Motor Vehicle Idling on School Grounds

Policies for consideration for revision on final reading, unanimously approved:

  • BDG-School Attorney
  • CA-Administration Goals
  • CB-School Superintendent
  • 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-Administration in Policy Absence

Policy for consideration for revision on second and final reading, unanimously approved:

  • BGC-Policy Revision and Review

Policies for consideration to rescind, unanimously approved:

  • EBCBA-Fire Drills in Schools
  • EEAAEC-R-Student Conduct on Buses

10. Massachusetts 4th graders participated in the Massachusetts National Assessment of Educational Progress and scored the highest of any state in English and second highest in math.

11. There are recommendations before the committee to name key areas in the Center Elementary School to commemorate the Trahan and North St. schools. The committtee is considering naming the media center the “Trahan Library Media Center.” There are two potential choices for the North St. First would be naming the new gym after the school; the other is to potentially name the hallway that leads to the library media center “North Street.”

12. The Committee scheduled some upcoming meetings:

  • School Committee, 12/7
  • Elementary School Building Committee, 12/8
  • TSEPAC Business Meeting, 1/19
  • Wellness Advisory Committee, 12/7
Julie Naughton
Julie Naughton

Julie likes coffee and covers education and all things concerning the Tewksbury Public Schools, along with other topics, for the Carnation. Contact her at: attn Julie N.

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