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15 Takeaways from the August 16 School Committee Meeting

The Committee voted to return the Trahan property to the town

1. After a moment of silence for Alison Hayes, a Wynn school psychologist who passed away last week of cancer at the age of 51, the meeting continued with recognitions of the TMHS boys track team, which was the Division 4 State runners-up, and Jayani Santos, the All-State girls track champion.

2. Superintendent Brenda Regan began her report by noting that staff will be back on Monday, Aug. 28. All school meals are free again this year. The Tewksbury Police Department ran the Junior Police Academy once again this summer; 220 kids attended over the two weeks.

The Aspen rollover occurred later than usual but earlier than was anticipated for this year. The delay was due to an issue uploading the data for the Center Elementary School to DESE. Alphabest will be back this year for before- and after-school extended day programs. And this summer, 18 teachers, 10 aides, one custodian and one principal support staff were hired.

3. Assistant Superintendent Lori McDermott’s Report focused on summer curriculum work, which was updated and revised. The work on standards-based report cards continued through the summer. There will be professional development on the new cards and a parent session in October.

4. Business Manager Dave Libby had an update on the Heath Brook School flooding and cleanup. During last week’s storm, the rain came down so fast that the drains were overwhelmed and a portion of the school was flooded due to fast-rising water. Luckily there was a summer program in the building at the time, so the situation was caught quickly.

The initial cleanup was all-hands-on-deck as custodians and maintenance staff swept out as much water as possible. Principal Terry Gerrish was on vacation and came home immediately to assess the situation. ServiceMaster was on scene that day to help with the cleanup. The next day, 300 crates were on hand for staff to begin to move classrooms. Insurance will cover the cost of cleanup and required renovations, and the insurance provider will find the vendors needed to complete the repairs and pay them directly. The hope is to have at least the cleanup fully completed before school begins.

5. School Orientations and Tours:

Find a directory of information for parents here, including links to PAC pages and other handy sites.

6. School Committee member reports:

  • Elementary School Building Report: No update since last month, the next meeting is tomorrow.
  • Tewksbury SEPAC: The group had a successful event at the fire department. The next business meeting is Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at TMHS.
  • Wellness Advisory Committee: The next meeting is after school starts.

7. Policy Sub-Committee (all changes can be found in the packet starting on page 27):

Informational Reading:
ECE-TMHS Parking

First Reading:
IJNDD-Facebook and Social Networking Websites

Second & Final Reading:
CM-School District Annual Town Report (unanimously approved)

8. The Committee has updated their ethics and protocols. They had two workshops, one in the spring and one in the summer with MASC in attendance to discuss the changes. The updated form can be found on page 43 of the packet.

9. The school calendar can be found here; please note the slight changes in start and end times for some schools.

10. Libby had an update on bus routes. Schedules are complete on the school end and were given to the bus company at the end of last week. Tewksbury Transit is working on assigning drivers and should have that complete by the end of this week. The schedule should be out early next week at the latest.

11. The Committee next took up the transfer of the North St. and Trahan schools to the town. Regan said the district sees no reason to keep custody of the Trahan school, for the short or long term. In regards to North St., she asked for more time to reflect on that property as there are plans to use it in the fall for sports overflow, including cheer. Regan requested a separate vote for each property. The committee agreed, especially in light of the fact that the Center Elementary School isn’t ready to be used for extracurricular activities yet given ongoing issues with the gym floor.

The committee recommends that the town take ownership of the Trahan property; that passed unanimously. The Select Board and town manager now have to formally receive the property. After that, there will be an article on October Special Town Meeting for the town to vote on.

The committee has postponed the vote on North St. due to the planned fall usage. The matter will be revisited in November.

12. Regan’s contract for the 2023/24 and 2025/26 school years was unanimously approved. Impact to the school budget was discussed in Executive Session.

13. Today was the workshop for district goals. Per Regan, the five district goals established are:

  • Improved process of data-driven decision-making
  • Strengthen instructional support for improved student learning
  • Implementation of the district’s vision of a learner a document, developed through the 22/23 school year.
  • Improve literacy for all all students and all content areas, in all environments, including athletic literacy, reading, writing, and speaking.
  • Responding to the communication needs of the district, staff and families, with an added emphasis on families receiving more communication around their student strengths and needs in the schools.

School Committee goals are:

  • Prioritizing, fulfilling our duty as a committee in supporting the superintendent and district.
  • Reviewing, revising, adding and pruning School Committee policies as advised by the MASC.
  • Improve communication with the community and all stakeholder groups, while also highlighting the good things that our districts are doing, and being transparent around things that aren’t as good
  • Committing to continue building the knowledge of roles in regards to schools systems and governance.

14. In School Committee matters of interest, Chair Bridget Garabedian noted the Sept. 17 Public Safety night at THMS. Member Nick Parsons shared that Tewksbury families and students recently lost a fierce special education advocate, Doreen Healy, to cancer.

15. Future Meetings:

  • 8/17-Elementary School Building Committee
  • 8/8-Policy Sub-Committee
  • 9/6-Wellness Advistoy Commitee
  • 9/20-School Committee meeting
  • 9/21 TSEPAC business meeting
  • 10/11-School Committee meeting
  • 11/15-School Committee meeting
  • 12/6-School Committee meeting

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