The Reading School Committee (SC) of Reading Public Schools (RPS) is meeting on September 7, 2023. The meeting is being held at 7pm at the Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) library and will be broadcast by RCTV and will be accessible via zoom. Links to watch are listed below as well as the agenda and packet.
It is a lengthy packet, but nearly all of the length is the full text (including tracked changes) of the RMHS handbook, including multiple updates, many required by law.
RMHS Handbook Approval/Changes
( P. 15-157 of packet)
This handbook approval is an annual requirement by the state and thus the packet includes the full text in tracked changes mode. The summary of the changes is on p. 16-16 of the packet. These changes were approved by the RMHS school council (of which I am a member) on 8/30/2023. Because I was part of the group that approved the proposed changes, I am extremely familiar with them and can offer assurance that these are all beneficial and/or neutral in impact. Most of the changes are self-evident from the change itself, such as removing outdated information, fixing errors, etc. The following might be of the most interest to RMHS students and their parents/guardians/caregivers:
- SUSPENSIONS: RMHS handbook has many changes, especially in code of conduct, that remove all references to “suspension” and change to “disciplinary consequences and/or interventions” – as explained in the packet (and to us on school council), the state/DESE want to discourage suspensions as much as possible, and laws already have been changed on this, so the RMHS handbook needed to be revised in accordance with the state-level changes.
- VALEDICTORIAN/SALUTATORIAN AND GRADUATION SPEAKERS: The section on academic honors and graduation speakers was the subject of significant school council discussion and an important (and hopefully helpful) clarification was made regarding selection of valedictorian/salutatorian: “Traditionally, both the valedictorian and salutatorian give a speech at the graduation ceremony. In the event of a GPA tie valedictorian and salutatorian will be determined out to the one hundredth.” Before this, the handbook did not state what happens in the case of a tie. The school council also discussed what would happen in the case of a tie to the hundredth – no final resolution was reached, but in that instance perhaps there might be two valedictorians or two salutatorians. Also, it was made very clear that this does not mandate that Valedictorian and/or Salutatorian must give a speech (e.g., if a given student does not want to), and this does not preclude other students from speaking, as well).
- SENIOR FINAL EXAM EXEMPTION: – This was changed to reflect that an average to be exempt from the final, i.e., a B average (average of 83-86) should be over all 4 quarters, instead of just through 3rd quarter.
(packet pages 158-171)
This presentation is not unlike that given to other boards in town, but the focus of this presentation appears to be potential impact on the schools from a potential change in zoning., noting that impact on schools was a top “write in” concern on Reading’s townwide MBTA community survey.
- An interesting fact shown on slide 168 is that RPS school enrollment n umbers have decreased 10.3% or 435 students from 2017-2022. If they had gone back to 2012 it would show an even greater decline (in 2012 RPS had 4477 students; in 2022, RPS had 3846, a decline of 631 students, or 10-year decline of 14.09%).
- P. 167 is a key slide on this, because it shows a circle defining the region where Reading is required to increase zoning density, where that circle is overlayed onto the boundaries of Reading’s elementary school districts and its middle school districts.
- As p. 167 shows, for elementary schools, the region of required increased density impacts, in nearly equal parts, Joshua Eaton, Barrows, and Killam, with only a very slight impact (looks like 10% or less of the region) on Birch Meadow and zero impact on Wood End.
- Regarding middle school impact, the high-density region appears to be nearly 90% Parker, with only a very small portion being Coolidge (roughly the same portion that also would be Birch Meadow for elementary).
Draft Superintendent Goals
(p. 174-176 of packet)
Note that these are two-year goals, because in its 8/10/2023 meeting, the SC voted that Dr. Milaschewski will have a summative review every two years with a formative review at the one-year mark between summative reviews. These packet pages list the goals but here are some highlights:
- STUDENT LEARNING GOALS:
- By end of this school year, meet all DESE-determined MCAS achievement and growth targets at all schools and levels (based on September 2024 MCAS data)By end of NEXT school year, increase planned participation in advanced courses at RMHS (AP/Dual-Enrollment) by 10% for all students and 18% for certain DESE subgroups
- By end of NEXT school year, increase enrollment in RMHS innovation pathways to 150 students
- DISTRICT IMPROVEMENT GOALS
- By January 2024, design/publish new secondary (gr. 6-12) math pathways, including establishment of a committee which will finalize recommendations by 11/30/2023
- Develop data systems and practices to assess progress towards targets in district strategic plan and drive district/school interventions and supports – has benchmarks in 2024 and 2025
- Continue implementation of a district strategy for coaching, supporting, and developing principal talent, including a clear focus on data driven improvement (no specific benchmarks/dates listed)
- PROFESSIONAL PRACTIC GOALS
- Develop skills in strategy development, data analysis, equity, and instructional leadership by actively engaging in the third year of the New Superintendent Induction Program – no specific benchmarks/timelines
SC Meeting Management
This agenda item appears to relate to how best to run SC meetings, including some time limits on presentations, as well as ensuring that packet materials are ready 48 hours before SC meeting and including liaison and subcommittee reports in the packet. I have seen SC meetings during the FY23 year where certain presentations and/or topics ran way over the allotted time, causing other important SC agenda items to be pushed to a future meeting, so this appears to be an appropriate topic.
HOW TO WATCH THIS MEETING
The RCTV YouTube live stream link is:
You can also watch via Xfinity channel 99 or Verizon channel 32.
In addition, you can join the meeting (or watch) via the Zoom link here:
Meeting ID: 836 5702 1146
One tap mobile +16469313860,,83657021146# US