Reading, MA — As a part of his final update of the school year, Superintendent of Schools John Doherty explained plans to use the federal Esser grants to the School Committee. The grants, which are expected to total over $1million, are intended to support the reopening and safe operations of the schools.
Doherty explained that the grant money will be spread over two years and will support items such as an adjustment counselor for the elementary schools, additional team chairs for the elementary schools, tutors at the elementary and middle school levels, and the Project Wayfinder curriculum for grade ten students. Doherty shared that incoming Superintendent Tomas Milachewski was involved in the decision-making process. Once the grants expire, the new positions will need to be evaluated to determine if they will continue to be funded.
“We will have to get to work to figure out how to keep [the new positions] in a couple of years,” School Committee member Chuck Robinson observed.
School Committee chair Thomas Wise indicated that several of the additions have been under discussion for several years, “The adjustment counselor is a phenomenal addition,” Wise exclaimed. He also indicated his belief that the team chairs would be an investment that could save resources in the long run as students needing services may be retained in the district.
Doherty continued to share accomplishments from the past school year. He highlighted that all of the year one goals of the district improvement plan had been accomplished. Implementation of infrastructure for security updates had been achieved early due to increased access to schools during the pandemic. In addition, the district implemented pool testing for the virus, a vaccination plan, food distribution, and more diverse hiring practices. Over 1,000 laptops and 40 hotspots were distributed to students and families during the year. Doherty also mentioned that 18 School Committee policies were reviewed, revised, and approved.
Doherty thanked parents, teachers, custodians, secretaries, food service staff, nurses, and administration for all they accomplished and for all the flexibility they showed during the year. Wise was quick to commend Doherty for his leadership during the year of challenges. “Thank you for the effort you put in, the time you put in,” Wise said to Doherty. “You were always there, trying to figure it all out,” he concluded.
The School Committee adjourned to executive session at 7:05 pm.