Reading, MA — As part of his report to the School Committee on February 17, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Milaschewski updated the committee on the progress being made toward his fourth goal of supporting, coaching, and developing leaders, specifically the district’s principals. Milaschewski highlighted that this is “not a one-year goal” as he outlined the activities that have been taking place.
The purpose behind the goal, as shared by Milachewski, is that “Highly effective principals raise the achievement of typical students by between two to seven months of learning.” Milaschewski continued to share that a four-pronged approach is being used to advance this goal: one-on-one coaching, leadership meetings, which focus on operations, monthly curriculum meetings, and bi-weekly meetings focused on teaching and learning. The purpose of having an operations-focused meeting is so that operations do not “invade” the other meetings.
Milachewski shared a vision of a collaborative process with group problem solving that is focused on teaching and learning where individual support and in-the-moment coaching are expected and appreciated. “Good principal leadership really matters,” Milaschewski declared.
School Committee member Shawn Brandt praised the approach, indicating that this type of leadership was “one of the key reasons we hired [Milaschewski].” Member Chuck Robinson agreed, stating that he is pleased that Milaschewski is “creating investment” in the principals.
Continuing his report, Milaschewski also laid out his findings as he has started to integrate himself into his new role. He listed several strengths of the district, including its staff, the community, and the district’s extra-curricular program. “The staff takes great pride in their work,” and “the town is passionate about education,” Milaschewski commented. “Extra-curriculars absolutely set this district apart,” he exclaimed.
The superintendent also noted areas of challenge and growth. “None of these should be a surprise to you,” Milachewski commented. These areas include structuring schools to emerge from the pandemic, recruitment and retention of staff, especially staff that reflect the community’s diversity, and issues of access. This area includes full-day kindergarten, enrichment activities in the elementary and middle school levels, dual enrollment offerings at middle school math pathways, RMHS, and expansion of the METCO program.
“We have a chance to raise the academic bar,” Milaschewski proclaimed. “We are a district with solid outcomes . . . we have work to do to be a high-performing district,” he concluded. Robinson echoed the concerns, adding that extending the assistant principal program to elementary schools would aid principals in being able to focus on teaching and learning. Brandt pointed out that funding could be a limiting factor in growth as well.
The School Committee appointed Brandt and Chair Thomas Wise to the Select Board’s American Rescue Plan Act Advisory Committee. It voted 6-0 to transfer funds within its budget and voted 6-0 to declare 174 smart boards and 168 projectors as surplus. Replacements will be installed during Winter Vacation. Director of Finance Susan Botten reported that she projects a $442,000 budget balance in Fiscal Year 2022 and that her team is looking for ways to use that balance before the end of the fiscal year.
The School Committee adjourned at 10:55 pm.