WILMINGTON — At their meeting last Wednesday evening, the school committee reviewed the budget hearing and presentations from Wilmington High School student representative Angelyn Ciampa and principal Linda Peters.
Briefly sharing some highlights of the proposed budget for 2023, the superintendent, Dr. Glenn Brand, referenced the projected enrollment of 2,757 students. Some of the expenses he listed included curriculum, technology updates, transportation, extracurriculars, and allowances. They are reportedly looking to hire three more staff members: a student support services team chair, a special education teacher and a school counsellor. The total recommended budget is $45,935,465, an increase of 2.5% over this year.
An audience member asked the committee if the proposed salary included honoring the district teachers’ contract. School committee chair Dr. Jenn Bryson simply said it was their best estimate of the salary commitments they will have to meet next year.
WHS student Angelyn Ciampa named all sorts of activities that take place in high school, from senior winter sports nights to Model UN debates and the robotics team competition. She mentioned the Junior and Senior prom dates of April 8 and May 13 respectively. She also said the women’s lacrosse team is worried about not having a coach and seniors are looking for other ways to find scholarships besides Naviance.
Bryson asked how Ciampa got her information, and she explained that she looked at flyers around school and on social media. MJ Byrnes came up with the idea of bringing back high school club window displays.
In a public comment, resident Jeffrey Cohen claimed Wilmington teachers promoted a twisted agenda for political gain by speaking out about victims of police shootings, as well as the use of diversity, equity and diversity. inclusion as goals.
Other residents have shown their support for the end of the mask mandate and the teachers’ ongoing negotiation. They talked about their own children’s speech and socialization issues. A few comments raised issues at Wilmington schools, including classes eating lunch on the North Intermediate School gymnasium floor.
WHS Director Linda Peters gave presentations on updates to the high school curriculum and the proposed seminar for first-year students. New courses included Introduction to Programming, Web Design, Digital Literacy, Applied Digital Skills, Marine Science, French 1, Italian 1, US History from a Point of View Global, Algebra 1 with Honors and Physics AP. She also mentioned other changes like realigning health classes and requiring all 9th graders to take biology classes.
David Ragsdale noted an error he detected in the course descriptions. The committee approved the updates as presented.
For the first-year seminars, Peters explained that these would be led by program team leaders, advisors and administrators. They would also add guest speakers, including high school students. This would be a requirement for all 9th graders. Some options for topics she mentioned were social-emotional skills, visioning a graduate workshop, and a civics project. She hoped to start planning this year and roll it out in 2023.
The committee liked the idea, but they weren’t sure it would require a full 84 minutes. Peters proposed either changing the timetable as part of the curriculum review or using half of the current W2 block.
In the superintendent’s report, Brand noted that he shared the WPS 2020-2021 performance report, an update on the college program review, special items on the town meeting terms of reference, and the budget of SEEM’s 2023 financial year.
He also reminded the committee of the condition of the Wildwood Street School and the great opportunity the city has to participate in the MSBA process. He pointed to demonstrating the school’s current status as the reason Wilmington was invited to the program. In the eligibility period, they only have a certain number of days to procure the $1.2 million for a feasibility study, that’s why they need all possible support for the assembly March 8 special. He explained that they will not be able to move forward and the opportunity will end without the support of the community.
Ragsdale provided the context that the Wildwood school came to Brand’s attention as soon as he started in that role, but they weren’t able to apply for the MSBA until the following year and then their acceptance was delayed in 2020.
Brand said the board of health recently visited the school and are responding to concerns that have been raised.
“We don’t have the space, without impacting other schools, to relocate all of Wildwood’s staff, students and programs,” he said.
However, he assured residents that the building was still safe to occupy and would not be used if that changed.
The committee agreed on the importance of garnering community support for the special town hall meeting on March 8th.
The next school committee meeting will take place on March 9 at 7 p.m.