TEWKSBURY – The Tewksbury School Committee met on September 22, 2021 at TMHS. Member Shannon Demos was not present.
Since the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education requires all individuals to wear masks in all school environments, President Keith Sullivan has repeatedly asked all non-masked participants to put on one or to take a free mask.
“We’re not going to conduct our business if people don’t play by the rules,” he said, before suspending the meeting for 16 minutes.
Members of the public who did not obey the rules were removed from the auditorium.
When the meeting resumed, the committee heard a presentation from Bailey Mahoney, TMHS World Languages Teacher, on a travel plan to United States National Parks. Mahoney explained that the six-day trip would take students to Grand Canyon National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, as well as Lake Powell and Red Rock country.
Led by EF Tours, the trip would take place during the April vacation and provide participants with hands-on outdoor activities to learn about the history, geography and culture of the United States, especially in Indigenous communities. . Mahoney described the COVID security and quarantine protocols.
The committee approved the trip.
The committee also heard a presentation from athletic director Ron Drouin on the sports complex of the new elementary school on Pleasant Street. The facility opened on September 1. Drouin pointed out the exterior of the facility, which used rock salvaged from the old Doucette Field field complex. The new building includes an indoor weight room and a turf area, which can be used as a reception area.
The field has been doubled for soccer, field hockey, football and lacrosse; the pitch can also be used for field days, senior evenings and youth sports.
Drouin thanked the city staff and committees, as well as the residents of Tewksbury, for their support of the project.
In the public comments section of the meeting, Tewksbury Teachers Association president and TMHS English teacher Conner Bourgoin, along with many staff wearing “red for ed,” pleaded with the committee to review the recent proposals from the TTA to reach an early contractual agreement for teachers. and aids.
Parent Al Mancini spoke about the city’s priorities for the new sports field, noting that his children do not play sports and will not benefit from the field, and highlighted contract negotiation issues.
“The money we spend on athletics in this city could be better diverted to activities that affect everyone, and everyone goes through the school system. So if the school system is struggling to pay its teachers, maybe it needs to redirect funding to make sure teachers are paid properly, ”he said. “Sport is good, but not everyone does sport. Everyone goes through the school system.
In the Superintendent and Staff report, Superintendent Chris Malone said he had formed a committee to find an interim principal for the North Street Elementary School following the departure of Principal Karen Cronin, who traveled to Lynnfield in as Acting Director of Summer Street School.
Malone thanked teachers, students and staff for successful openness and compliance in mitigating the spread of COVID-19, highlighting the work of the district nursing team. Malone said that among the city’s 12-15 year olds, 55% received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccination (lower than the state average of 66%) and 74% of 16-19 year olds received their first dose.
Malone also said district schools have seen an increase in parent participation in virtual open houses.
Assistant Superintendent Brenda Theriault-Regan shared how thrilled she was to see happy students and staff when the district opened on September 1. She noted that the district received a $ 20,000 grant from the governor’s office to support social / emotional learning programs, including school recovery and service learning at Wynn Middle School.
The district also received an ESSER III grant of $ 2.7 million to spend over the next three years. Theriault-Regan also thanked the students who attended the town’s 9/11 memorial, including the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, the TMHS band and choir, and Project 351 alumnus Mackenzie Hickey, who created a banner of gratitude in honor of the event.
Business manager Dave Libby informed the committee that Tewksbury has not been affected by the nationwide bus driver shortage. He added that a grant for the 21st Century Learning Program at Dewing School has been extended for three years.
Malone shared updates on the construction of the new Pleasant Street Elementary School. The Ryan School parking lot is being refurbished. The main goal for the fall, he said, is to finish the exterior and complete the installation of the windows so that the building is winter-proof and interior construction can take place on time. .
The committee returned to a discussion of the Tewksbury Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Advisory Committee, which was established by the Selectmen Board of Directors and has a mandate to “educate, advocate and celebrate” diversity in the city. Director of Student and Family Support, Karen Baker-O’Brien, will be the Superintendent’s designate, and TMHS Director, Jon Bernard, is working to recruit student members.
While the committee is tasked with selecting a member to serve as a representative, the members postponed the discussion because Demos was not at the meeting.
The council discussed the name of the new Pleasant Street elementary school. Sullivan said members of the public who wish to share their comments can submit information in writing to the committee before its next meeting on October 13. Sullivan said some names under consideration include Center Elementary School, Mico Kaufman Elementary School, Wamesit Elementary School and Pleasant Street Elementary School.
Theriault-Regan shared the dates for the 2021-2022 MCAS tests. She noted that the state as a whole saw an overall drop in ELA and math scores, but said Tewksbury passed 99-100% on the tests. She will look at specific Tewksbury numbers to target areas that need improvement.
The committee discussed a complaint for violation of the law on open assemblies [author’s note: the committee reviewed two open meeting law violation complaints at its August meeting]. Sullivan said some members have already attended open meeting law training virtually and face-to-face training will take place in October. The committee voted to delegate responsibility for responding to the complaint to district attorneys in consultation with Malone.
The next meeting is scheduled for October 13, 2021. The meeting can be viewed on Comcast Channel 22 and Verizon Channel 34. Meetings are open to the public and take place at Tewksbury Memorial High School.