The Reading School Committee heard a presentation at its meeting on May 8 regarding improving communication with students, parents and the community at large. Highlighted were a series of tools that the district has been using over the past year to enhance its outreach to these important groups. These enhancements were made after a communications audit in 2014, and changes in this area have been a part of the Reading Public Schools District Improvement Plan.
The school department has been utilizing blogs, a new webpage, social media outlets, and a new online management system to help get its message to the varied groups it is targeting. There are two weekly blogs that are posted on Sunday evenings. The first, The Journey, is directed toward school department staff and can only be seen with a login. The second, called Pathways, is for entire the community and highlights weekly insights into the school department. Pathways can be found at www.reading.k12.ma.us. When a new blog is uploaded, it is also posted on Facebook and Twitter. Interested members of the community can sign up to receive email updates as to when a new entry has been posted. The blogs have received over 363,000 hits in the last several months.
A majority of the presentation focused on the new cloud-based integrated management system that has been implemented by the schools. In this system, teachers can post homework, lesson plans, and other classroom information. Parents, using a login, can see their students’ information including grades, missing and upcoming assignments, attendance and other classroom notifications. Teachers can use the system for their gradebook, attendance submission, and plan book. Administrators are able to gain access to all of a student’s information in one single location. Once the year is over, information is archived using the same software. The system has allowed for a smoother online course selection process at the high school.
Future plans for increased communications include a series of “infomercials” on RCTV, a Parent University in the fall and an upcoming Communications Advisory Council.
The school committee reviewed plans for the superintendent’s annual review, and set dates for submissions from its members. Each member submits a written review, then has a one-on-one meeting to go over the review with the superintendent. Once changes are made, these are compiled into a longer report. The review will be finalized by June 19. The committee also voted 6-0 to not participate in school choice due to enrollment restrictions. The school committee adjourned to executive session at 9:45 p.m.