TEWKSBURY — The Tewksbury School Board met on April 13, 2022 at TMHS. All members were present.
Following the annual municipal elections on April 2, the committee reorganized. Bridget Garabedian was named chair and Keith Sullivan was chosen as vice-chair. New member Kayla Biagioni-Smith was chosen as clerk, following the tradition of nominating the best voter in the last election for the position.
The committee held a minute’s silence for former North Street manager Angela D. Kimble, who died last month at the age of 54. Kimble joined North Street in 2009 and served as a director for 10 years. She most recently worked as the Special Education Coordinator at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams.
The committee hosted Post Commander Vinnie Oliva of VFW Post 8164 to recognize the students for their award-winning essays on patriotism. Ryan School student Olivia Jensen and Wynn Middle School student Katelyn Murphy won the Patriot’s Pen contest, and TMHS student Brooke Bunyan won the Voice of Democracy contest.
The committee hosted TMHS DECA team members and Councilor James Sullivan to celebrate recent victories at the Massachusetts State Career Development Conference. Four students qualified for the DECA International Competition in Georgia: Mia Gaglione and Ava Gilligan won for their presentation in the Project Management Community Giving category, and John Regolino and Michael Sullivan won for their presentation in the Business Law and Ethics Team category Decision Making.
Jack Stadtman was recognized for being the first member in TMHS DECA history to be a four-year state qualifier; Stadtman was also recognized for serving two years as a TMHS student representative on the committee and gave his latest update.
District Director of Special Education, Rick Pelletier, gave a presentation on dyslexia services. In response to the state’s Dyslexia Act of 2018, the district is working to create literacy and instructional materials to support special education students with a particular focus on developing special education.
Pelletier’s goal is to “strengthen capacities for interprofessional collaborative practice in order to improve the quality of educational services for students with dyslexia and/or developmental language disorders”.
Through a grant-funded collaboration with speech-language pathologists at Massachusetts General Hospital, the district developed a staff survey to inform a strategic plan. The district seeks to develop a common understanding of evidence-based assessment practices.
Pelletier sees opportunities for more active training in the areas of oral and written language development, and wants to address basic knowledge and misconceptions about speech disorders.
Acting Superintendent Brenda Thériault-Regan reported that central offices moved from Central School to the former fire hall; a new directory has been put online and the old building is being cleaned up. The area will be fenced off during the summer for demolition, but teachers will still have access to Ryan School during the summer; the site will be ready for the fall without disrupting bus lanes or parking at the Ryan, and an occupancy permit for the new elementary school and central offices is expected to be issued in November.
Theriault-Regan has called for volunteers for the annual PAC All Night Long Graduation Celebration. She also encouraged high school students in grades 10-12 interested in health careers to apply for the Museum of Public Health outbreak! summer program, with discussions and workshops with public health experts and students.
Theriault-Regan shared that district coaches recently participated in the Attorney General’s virtual call to action to address hate and bias in school sports. She also thanked the IT team and district staff for successfully facilitating the MCAS tests.
Finally, Thériault-Regan informed residents that the district’s annual art exhibit will be held at the TMHS on May 6 and 7, along with the annual orchestra and choir concerts.
Business manager Dave Libby said the city’s mandate was released ahead of the town meeting; future changes may be made through future budget transfers. The committee voted to approve the $70 million school budget.
The committee discussed a complaint about the Open Meetings Act last summer, in which the attorney general’s office found the committee had not violated the Open Meetings Act. Sullivan said the committee should look at the district’s costs of rulings on complaints and requests for public records, which he called “exorbitant.”
“It’s time, money and resources that we take away from our best administrators,” he said, adding that the district should consider hiring someone to handle the requests. “It’s a waste of time and resources.”
Member Nick Parsons disagreed with Sullivan’s assessment and suggested the committee examine its own transparency practices to reduce the need for public records requests.
“What do we do [as a committee] to solve the problems of these parties? he asked, citing the demands as “an outlet [for residents] express themselves because another is not available to them.
The committee voted to approve textbook changes for TMHS, the Wynn and the Ryan; the manuals will be posted on the district website with dynamic links. The committee also voted to approve the 2022-2023 enrollment periods and to set the last day of school for Tuesday, June 21, 2022.
The committee voted not to participate in the school choice program and voted to appoint Keith Sullivan and former committee member Shannon Demos to represent the school committee on the elementary school building committee pending approval. from the administration board.
The committee discussed an Innovation Pathways grant from the Ministry of Elementary and Secondary Education; the $15,000 must be expended by June 30 to support the district’s engineering journey. The district partners with UMass Lowell to offer a camp program aimed at exposing students to career paths in engineering.
The next meeting is scheduled for May 11, 2022. The meeting can be viewed on Comcast Channel 22 and Verizon Channel 34.