The School Committee met all the new teachers in the district at their August 28 meeting. The annual event, held at the outset of the meeting, is considered by several members of the committee as a highlight of the year. Each building principal presented the new staff in their building, highlighting the education and qualifications of each person. Vice Chair Elaine Webb commented that she was impressed with the new staff, having lost count at twenty-five master’s degrees earned by the group. In all thirty-four teachers, specialists, nurses, and school counselors were introduced. “Welcome and thank you for coming to Reading,” added chair Chuck Robinson.
Significant time at the meeting was given to administrative staff reporting on what had been accomplished over the seventy-one days since school ended last June. Superintendent of Schools John Doherty focused on the district response to the incidences of swastika graffiti found at the high school last spring. Doherty met with Jewish members of the community, initiated training for administrators from the Anti-Defamation League, and reviewed high school curriculum for a course called Diverse Voices that seniors take each year. The district was also awarded an MVP grant from the New England Patriots to be used for anti-violence training for high school athletes. There was another incident on August 21 which is still under investigation.
Doherty also mentioned painting and other maintenance at the various school buildings this summer, including replacement of the concrete pad at the entrance to Wood End School. Water tests have been performed at Joshua Eaton, RISE, and the district offices, with no lead problems discovered. Killam School will use bottled water again this year. “We are over-testing the water in regards to state recommendations,” Doherty mentioned.
Assistant Superintendent Craig Martin highlighted purchase and implementation of the new science curriculum over the summer. This included training, expansion of the program in kindergarten through second grade classrooms and purchase of new technology in the high school physics labs. Board member Gary Nihan wanted to make sure that how the extra $150,000 granted by Town Meeting for the curriculum was spent will be clearly spelled out for the community. Martin assured Nihan that it will be. Martin also reported on several professional development opportunities offered during the summer for teachers and staff. A “Parent University” is being planned for October 21.
Reading Community Television Board of Directors President Kathi Crook and Executive Director Philip Rushworth made their annual report to the committee. RCTV is again providing high school television courses this year after a nine year hiatus. The instructor, and a new studio and control room in the high school media center, has been provided by RCTV. The hope is that this will lead to increased sports and school event coverage. The after-school Rocket Interactive Video Club will continue, as well as the internship program.
The committee had a first reading of a revised Religious and Ethnic Accommodations policy and discussed the budget calendar for the FY 2019 budget. Budget books should be ready for review by the end of December. The committee adjourned to Executive Session at 9:50pm.