Updates Dominate School Committee Meeting

Reading, MA — After Superintendent John Doherty announced his decision to leave the Reading Public Schools when his contract expires at the end of June 2021, several updates on various topics were presented to the School Committee on May 28. Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning Christine Kelly shared regarding a survey submitted on the 28th to teachers, students, and parents regarding the progress made during remote learning. Her department is also in the process of determining what curriculum pacing may look like next year while continuing work on planned curriculum updates in social studies, foreign language, and algebra one.

Doherty reported on recent developments that may lead to a late July or early August graduation for seniors. He also passed along information that the grade nine science MCAS, canceled due to the COVID-19 situation, will be replaced by a transcript review in which students will be required to have a passing grade in a science course. Grade ten students whose MCAS exams were canceled will participate in make-up exams during the late fall or early winter of their junior years. Doherty also shared that any reopening plan for schools in the fall is likely to have “significant” personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements. He expects more guidance from the state by mid-June.

Maria Morgan from the Special Education Parents Advisory Council (SEPAC) shared goals and highlights of the organization from the past year. Goals included additional outreach, updates to online presence, and continued support for families. Looking ahead, SEPAC plans to continue to determine how it can offer support in the “new normal” for parents and families.

Human Resources Director Jennifer Allard presented a personnel update for the second and third quarters. In that time there have been 6.09 full-time equivalents hired, all in budgeted roles. Director of Finance Gail Dowd, in her report, stated that she currently anticipates a $355,000 surplus for the current fiscal year. These savings are mostly due to decreased overtime, unfilled positions, and decreased transportation needs. Dowd did share that some of the anticipated surplus will be used to make purchases towards known expenses next year, including the possible purchase of PPE needed to open school next fall. The School Committee voted 6-0 to approve two line item transfers totaling $85,000 as well as some reduction in offsets.

The School Committee also voted 6-0 to approve renegotiated transportation contracts with North Suburban Transportation and North Reading Transportation that reflect a reduction in services. The new contracts will allow the companies to be ready to offer services when required while recognizing the lack of services provided over the final three months of the school year. It also keeps next year’s rates for transportation services at the same level as those of this year.

The School Committee voted 6-0 to accept the first reading of its social media policies and adjourned at 10:30 pm.

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