School Committee Gives Milaschewski High Grades in Review

Reading, MA — By a vote of 5-0, the School Committee approved Superintendent Thomas Milaschewski’s annual summative review on Thursday night. School Committee chair Thomas Wise reminded the committee that the review, Milaschewski’s first in Reading, was based on focused indicators regarding Milaschewski’s transition into the position previously agreed upon by the members.

Wise shared that the committee commended Milaschewski in a number of areas, including educational leadership, communication, shift in culture, and collaboration. Wise also commented that Milaschewski has a strong aptitude in “willingness to let your leaders fly.” Wise continued, noting that “even those [committee members] who graded more conservatively, all had positive comments.” Wise noted that this is the strongest School Committee review of a superintendent since the early 2000s.

“You’ve had an extraordinarily strong start,” Wise added. “This is just the beginning of a long road.” 

Milaschewski thanked the committee for his review and for the individual conversations with committee members regarding it. He was also quick to praise his administrative team as well as all the educational leaders at the building level. “I am truly humbled by this,” Milaschewski stated.

The School Committee opened the meeting with the annual recognition of teachers and staff in the district who have reached milestones in their career, including achieving professional status, ten, twenty, and thirty years of service, as well as those who are retiring. “One of the hallmarks of the Reading Public Schools is the great staff,” Milaschewski commented. 

Milaschewski closed the ceremony by presenting those who received the district’s first Distinguished Faculty Awards. These educators were nominated by peers, students, and parents and were selected by district leadership. The five recipients were: Jamie Benger at Reading Memorial High School, Christine Crocker at Barrows Elementary School, Anne Manna at Joshua Eaton Elementary School, Tim McIntire at Reading Memorial High School, and Andrew Spinali at Parker Middle School. Milaschewski also announced the first Distinguished Leadership Award recipient as Director of Nursing, Mary Giuliana. “I have been humbled and inspired by the work of educators across our district,” Milaschewski concluded.

Dr. Jerome McKibbon, of McKibbon Demographic Research presented a Population and Enrollment forecast study prepared for the ten years from 2022to 2032. McKibbon shared his research which suggested that enrollment will decrease over the next five years partially due to increased numbers of “empty-nesters” retaining their homes for a more extended period of time. This trend is bolstered by the region’s low number of elderly housing units. After this period, McKibbon believes that there will be steady increases in enrollment as those same empty nesters choose to sell their homes as they reach their mid to late seventies in age, and younger families with school-aged children move into the district. 

McKibbon noted that the sales of existing homes would be the driving factor in enrollment growth in Reading in the coming years. Between 2022 and 2027, the forecast is for twenty-nine fewer students than are in the district today, with an increase of 132 students from 2026 to 2032. The School Committee plans to use the information as it determines the future uses of its buildings in the district and as it prepares for the replacement of Killam Elementary School.

The School Committee voted 5-0 to accept $119,748 in funding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to accelerate the implementation of the new Illustrative Math curriculum in the district. This new effort started in grades three through six this year and will be launched in grades Kindergarten through two next year. The funds will be used for educators’ written materials, licenses, and professional development.

Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, Sarah Hardy presented her teaching and learning update for the end of the year. The presentation’s focus was to preview priority focus areas for the upcoming school year. These include enhanced professional development tools and systems for all district educators, including para-professionals, continued curriculum review, and a look into the high school instructional program.

At the high school, Hardy suggested possible review of the schedule, equitable access to course pathways, and better utilization of the department heads as educational experts in their fields. She also highlighted the new RMHS Director of Academic Achievement, who will help steer the effort.

School Committee member Carla Nazaaro questioned whether or not the review at the high school would include revisiting the start time. Milaschewski suggested that looking at start times in the district as a whole was a better approach. Wise cautioned Hardy to include parents in the discussion regarding schedulingl as a way to gain a complete view of the effort. 

The School Committee also discussed the makeup of the School Building Committee, which, per the Town Bylaws, will be appointed by a committee made up of the Town Moderator and the chairs of the Select Board and the School Committee. The discussion centered around whether or not to have two members of the School Committee as voting members or one School Committee member and one staff member of the Killam Elementary School as voting members. The Killam principal, Sarah Leveque, has already been identified to serve as a non-voting member. 

After a few rounds of discussion, it was concluded that there would be two members of the School Committee as voting members on the committee, with a member of the Killam staff as a non-voting member. This would allow Leveque to pick the best-qualified person to serve without having to be concerned about residency in Reading, as would be required for the person to be a voting member of the School Building Committee.

The School Committee also voted 5-0 to accept a memorandum of agreement with the paraprofessional union, adding Juneteenth as a recognized holiday. This brings this agreement into alignment with the other school district unions.

The School Committee adjourned at 10:35pm.

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