School Committee Reviews Plans for Innovation Pathways

Reading, MA — On Thursday, Jessica Callanan, Reading Memorial High School (RMHS) Director of Academic Achievement, shared progress that is being made toward implementing Innovation Pathways at RMHS. The program would help connect learners to a broadly defined industry sector that is in demand in the regional and state economy and guide students to relevant post-secondary education and training in those fields. Each pathway is a series of courses designed to continue through a student’s high school career, ending in a capstone class or student internship during their senior year. Callanan is currently meeting with potential industry leaders who might partner with RMHS in the program.

Callanan explained that the program would begin with two pathways: information and advanced manufacturing. The program includes enhanced support from the Guidance Department. The goal is to enroll twenty to twenty-five students in each pathway, with target groups for the program being females and high-needs students. Callanan shared that the state requires Innovation Pathways programs to have an emphasis on equity. Callanan noted that 8.2% of male students at RMHS participate in computer science classes, while only 3.9% of female RMHS students participate in the same courses. She also reported that only 30% of those in the Commonwealth working in science, technology, engineering, and math professions are female. Also of note is that twenty-five percent of the students at RMHS are in the high-needs subgroup.

Callanan explained that she has applied for a $25,000 planning grant for the program, and if the program is awarded designation, there would then be eligibility for additional implementation grants as well. Callahan fielded several questions from committee members related to scheduling, effect on graduation requirements, transportation to internships, and other issues. Many of the solutions to these issues are still being developed. Superintendent of Schools Thomas Milaschewski concluded the report stating, “I am excited by the real-world connections in the school and out of the school.”

Milaschewski also presented his 2022-2023 school year goals which are focused on four primary areas. The first will be to design and publish a multi-year strategic plan by the end of June. The second is to prioritize and address specific district issues such as elementary half-day Fridays, RMHS innovation pathways, middle school literacy curriculum, the continued march toward full-day kindergarten, elementary music, and school schedules at the middle school and high school levels.

Milaschewski’s third goal continues from last year, which is continuing to implement a district strategy for coaching, supporting, and developing principal talent. Finally, Milaschewski will participate in the second year of the superintendent induction program. With Milaschewski’s input, the committee also fleshed out nine focus indicators that will be used for his evaluation this year. The School Committee voted 6-0 to approve the superintendent’s goals and focus indicators for the 2022-2023 school year.

The School Committee gave budget guidance to the administrative team as it prepares the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. School Committee chair Shawn Brandt indicated a desire to continue to see progress towards full-day kindergarten as member Erin Gaffen requested that continued focus on the high school and middle school schedules, as well as middle school literacy, be represented in the budget planning.

The committee reviewed first readings of policies JFABE, Educational Opportunities for Military Children, and JFABF, Educational Opportunities for Children in Foster Care. Both policies will be voted on at the December 1 meeting. The School Committee adjourned to executive session at 9:15pm and returned to regular session at 10:15pm and voted 6-0 not to join a mass action lawsuit with Jule Laboratories.

The School Committee adjourned at 10:20pm.

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