Reading MA — By a vote of 5-0, the School Committee approved the school year calendar for the 2023-2024 on Thursday. The first school day for students grades 1-12 will be August 30. Preschool and Kindergarten students will have orientation on August 30-31, with school starting for those students on September 5.
While several members praised the look and composition of the calendar, concern was expressed about the later-than-usual date for elementary parent conferences, which are scheduled for early December. School Committee member Erin Gaffen agreed with the notion that parents should be made aware of any difficulties a student faces prior to conferences but indicated that this does not always occur. Gaffen also shared frustration with the lack of scheduled conferences for middle school parents. “The demand is there for families,” Gaffen urged.Reading-Public-Schools-2023-2024-CALENDAR
Members also appreciated a new staggered release schedule for early release days, allowing parents to pick up children at the different levels at different times.
Director of Human Resources Michelle Roach reported that there are currently sixteen open positions in the district, including twelve paraeducators and two teachers. She anticipates ten teacher retirements at the end of the school year and three staff resignations. Plans are being made to hire the five elementary assistant principals accounted for in the proposed Fiscal Year 2024 budget and a Director for the RISE program.Human-resorces-update-230316
Superintendent of Schools Thomas Milaschewski reported that K-8 STEM director Heather Leonard had accepted a position in the Manchester-Essex School District and will be leaving at the end of the year. Milaschewski praised Leonard’s ten years in the district, stating, “She is leaving behind a good legacy.”
Roach also reported an improving, but still concerning, substitute fill rate of 51.9% for the first seven months of the school year. Milaschewski noted, “[Finding substitutes] is a major challenge for every district I have talked to.”
The School Committee accepted a plan by Milaschewski to involve members in developing the district strategic plan. One committee member will sit on the working groups for each of the four strategic areas in the plan, and two will be on the team reviewing the plan as a whole. School Committee chair Shawn Brandt shared that he views these as liaison assignments and will make appointments to the groups in the coming days.
Director of Finance Susan Bottan projects that the district will have an end-of-year balance of $350,000, similar to what was projected after the first quarter. This projected amount will be after the district prepays out-of-district tuitions of $980,000. The district is on track to meet all its financial obligations.
Bottan also noted that the principals are looking for ways to use student activity revolving funds by the end of the year and that the district has yet to be successful in contacting representatives of the classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 to disperse funds raised by those classes. She reported that unclaimed funds would be placed in an account to help students who cannot afford activities.
The committee voted 5-0 to amend policies GBA, Equal Opportunity Employment; DA, Fiscal Management Goals; DB, Annual Budget; DBC, Budget Deadline, and Schedules; DBD, Budget Planning; DBG, Budget Adoption Procedures; DBJ, Budget Transfer Authority; and DD, Grants, Proposals, and Special Reports. Most of the changes aligned the policies to changes recommended by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees and the town charter and bylaws. These include notification in the press at budget time regarding the Superintendent’s proposed budget and the inclusion of the policy that the vote of the School Committee on the annual budget request will occur only after a public hearing.
The School Committee adjourned at 9:20 pm.