At its August 29 meeting the Reading School Committee had it annual presentation of the new teachers in the district. The principal of each school introduced the new teachers to the committee and shared a little of each new arrival’s background and education. The newcomers were greeted warmly by the members of the committee. “We welcome you to a community that supports our schools.” Chair Jeanne Barowski commented. She thanked the principals for their work in the hiring process and getting everything ready for the school year to start on Wednesday.
The committee also heard a presentation given by Superintendent of Schools, Dr. John Doherty, about all the activity that has taken place this summer to prepare for the beginning of school. He highlighted what had been done to maintain the school buildings, then focused on what had happened regarding the discovery of lead in the drinking water in a few of the schools last spring. He highlighted Killam School as being the school with the greatest difficulties. Given that the belief was that the faucets were the issue, 47 fixtures in the building were replaced. The system was also completely flushed. Subsequent testing on August 7 determined that fixtures were not the only problem. It is possible that solder used in the plumbing may be where the lead concern comes from. The cost of replacement could be well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For this school year at Killam, all classroom sinks have been labeled as “Hand wash only” and all hallway bubblers have been turned off. Five-gallon bottled spring water dispensers have been placed throughout the building for student and staff use. Food preparation sinks in the kitchen were found be be satisfactory. New testing was done on August 22, but results will not be ready before the beginning of school on Wednesday.
Mr. Craig Martin, Assistant Superintendent for Learning and Teaching, updated the committee on the several opportunities teachers had for professional development over the summer, including the International Conference on Literacy, which was held in Boston. He also spoke about the implementation of the new district science curriculum. Dr. Doherty updated the committee on enrollment numbers, highlighting that all elementary classrooms will fall within the enrollment guidelines given by the committee. He mentioned that RMHS had twenty new enrollments this year, a few coming from private schools, and some are new residents to Reading.