SCHOOL COMMITTEE PREVIEW – READING SCHOOL COMMITTEE TO MEET TONIGHT 9/15/2022; WILL VOTE ON KILLAM WARRANT ARTICLE, DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLAN, and DISTRICT HANDBOOK
The Reading School Committee (SC) is meeting this evening, and will include four votes and related discussions for these votes.
The meeting is being held at 7pm at the Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) library and will be broadcast by RCTV and also be accessible via zoom information below.
DETAILS ABOUT THE MEETING.
The agenda (shown below) primarily is focused on four formal votes:
— two related to the article for town meeting requesting $2.2 million for the feasibility study on Killam (one for the warrant article itself, one for the related introduction to the warrant article, which both will appear, eventually, in the November 2022 town meeting warrant)
—One related to approving a new District Handbook (more below), which will form the basis of the handbooks for each respective school handbook
—One related to approving the new District Strategic Plan (more below)
There also appear to be some other votes which happen typically, including accepting donations, making a declaration of surplus property, and approving minutes of past meetings. There is a brief note on Surplus Property near the end of this post.
EXTENDED DAY SALARY DISCUSSION
One topic to be discussed will be a presentation by extended day director Chris Nelson on, “rationale, cost, and anticipated impact of a change in the hourly wage for Extended Day staff members, which consists of Site Coordinators and Extended Day Teachers.” The packet indicates that the last wage increase issued to Extended Day staff members was in 2012. However, the packet at present does not include any further information on this presentation.
The proposed warrant article and introduction are on pages 20-23 of the packet and are included below. For the most part, the warrant article and introduction repeat what was discussed at the 9/8/2022 SC meeting regarding Killam, except on one point – whether the scope of the feasibility study would include moving the RISE preschool into Killam and expanding it.
Author’s note: It was confusing to this author why the warrant article and/or introduction do not mention or indicate that the latest MSBA submissions from Reading Public Schools (RPS) may include having a feasibility study having a scope that includes looking into whether the entire RISE preschool possibly can be moved into Killam (as discussed extensively at the last SC meeting). After emailing the SC chair about this, he clarified that the warrant article language is very specific as per MSBA requirements and has been vetted by legal and cannot be changed. As for the introduction, the SC chair stated that “acknowledging some of the district-wide benefits that could occur as a result of this project is a good idea as part of our Town Meeting discussion.” My correspondence with the SC and the SC chair response should appear in an updated packet later today or possibly a future packet, as is done with all SC correspondence.
DISTRICT STRATEGIC PLAN
Pages 25-30 of the packet related to the district strategic plan, which will be the subject of an SC vote this evening. The memo at page 25 (included below), summarizes the process that led to the plan. The plan is somewhat high level, with three specific goals and associated sub goals:
Strategic Objective 1: Supportive and Safe Learning Environment
- Build a shared understanding about sense of belonging and identify common indicators to measure progress
- Review and implement practices, systems, and staffing models that foster inclusive environments
- Create, refine and align safety centered processes and protocols
Strategic Objective 2: Coherent Instructional Systems
- Calibrate district-wide rigorous instructional practices
- Ensure high quality curriculum materials
- Create a comprehensive assessment system district-wide
Strategic Objective 3: School Operations
- Evaluate and improve identified school and district level operational departments and systems
- Leverage and optimize all resources including staffing, time on learning, and funding
The packet pages provide a bit more detail on what the above-listed objectives and goals translate to in terms of everyday practices. For example, the sub goal of “ensure high quality curriculum materials” includes further action steps of: Inventory RPS adopted high-quality curriculum materials and establish expectations for use; Organize collaborative teams to identify areas of curriculum need and make plan for procurement and vertical Pre K-12 alignment; Formalize and publish curriculum review, adoption process, and monitor implementation.
You can review these packet pages to see similar details on the other action steps and information on the goals.
Pages 30-70 comprise the bulk of the packet, and include the new District Handbook as well as an introductory memo (see below) on the District handbook. The introductory memo (shown below) provides more clarification on the issue of the terminology of “parent/guardian” vs. “parent/caregiver”, which was the subject of extensive discussion at the 8/29/2022 SC meeting. Going forward, the district will use the term “parent/guardian,” in accordance with recommendation of legal counsel. The introductory memo explains, “The legal definition of caregiver falls under Mass. Gen. Law c. 201F §: “’Caregiver”, an adult with whom a minor resides.” Given that is not the definition that we are intending, we cannot use it interchangeably with parent/guardian, as every adult with whom a minor child resides is not necessarily the child’s parent or legal guardian.”
The district handbook has much in common with many of the school handbooks that each school has, but is intended to provide “consistency in handbook policies and procedures in several critical areas,” as well as, “to calibrate on the areas that should be consistent across schools and which areas can remain specific and unique to each school community,” as the intro memo notes. Each school council will work to remove the sections in the school-specific handbooks that are covered in the District Handbook.
The intro memo notes also that more work is needed in the future on these handbooks. For example, RPS and the SC “must determine whether code of conduct would best be covered within the District Handbook or school-specific handbooks.” In addition, RPS is “committed to developing a handbook specific to athletics.”
SURPLUS PROPERTY NOTE:
Regarding the “surplus property” – the packet lists hundreds of “student companion” enVision math books in Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2, all with publication dates of 2018. It appears that “student companion” books are workbooks, not the actual textbooks. It would be surprising if it included actual textbooks, seeing as the new textbooks for Algebra 1 and Geometry were first put in use rather recently, I believe during the 20-21 school year, per my best understanding. I am not sure if all classes in Algebra 2 are using Envision at all – both my high schoolers have taken honors Algebra 2 (one during 20-21, one currently), and neither received any books by enVision. Those books might be in use for college prep (CP) level Algebra 2, however. Thus, it appears that his surplus may, in fact, be workbooks the district apparently purchased but did not use, instead of a wholesale change in curriculum. I hope to ask about that during the meeting. Hopefully, the district can resell or return them to recoup some costs, if they are unused and relatively new.
HOW TO WATCH THIS MEETING
The RCTV YouTube live stream link to watch the meeting is here. You can also watch via Xfinity channel 99 or Verizon channel 32.
The zoom link to join the meeting is here: https://readingpsma.zoom.us/j/83657021146
DOCUMENTS FOR THIS MEETING: