WILMINGTON — The School Committee received a number of updates regarding everything from the high school schedule to personnel to the winter sports season at their meeting last Wednesday night. Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand invited Wilmington High School Principal Linda Peters to introduce possible changes to the hybrid model schedule at the high school.
Giving some context, Brand explained that the small number of remote students at the high school proved to be a complicating factor for creating a schedule for this year. Peters said they’ve only had 16 in-person days so far this year. The issues she said they’ve found are limited time dedicated to students in cohort C along with long periods of asynchronous work in all cohorts.
She said that the intent with the schedule is to make necessary changes to increase synchronous time for all cohorts. This refers to time when the teachers are present teaching their students with everyone watching and learning at the same time.
She added that they think the proposed changes will increase consistency in the curriculum. The two options would be sent out to teachers and staff for feedback before they move forward to making schedule changes.
When M. J. Byrnes asked about a timeline, Peters mentioned that they could talk about it during the upcoming CIT day and come back from Christmas break with a new schedule. While she couldn’t say too much before officially telling all of her staff, she could say that in-person time may be reduced so that there can be more synchronous time for students at home.
Jay Samaha took time to thank Peters for her work, which she said that she and everyone involved is happy to do.
“It’s in the students’ best interest,” she continued.
Brand also confirmed that this wouldn’t require reopening the Memorandum Of Agreement with the Wilmington Teachers’ Association, which was finally settled in June after a long negotiation period.
The next update regarded personnel in the district. While 30-40 current staff are on leave, Brand said that they’ve been working hard to continue to fill these open positions.
“In some circumstances we are competing with other districts.”
That said, he’s seen great and continuous progress in terms of hiring.
Brand then introduced Athletic Director Mia Muzio to share an interscholastic athletics update. She explained that the MIAA Board of Directors approved sports-specific modifications for the winter season to start on Dec. 14 with basketball, ice hockey, and swim and dive offered in Wilmington.
Indoor track has been moved to the “fall 2” season from the end of February to the end of April, while wrestling, cheerleading, and dance will be moved to the spring season from the end of April to early July.
Some of the other decisions made by the league that she listed included no spectators permitted in attendance for the winter season, no swinging from one level to another like moving from junior varsity to varsity, and similar types of practice and game limitations that fall sports had.
The committee voted in favor of approving the winter season with basketball, ice hockey, and swim and dive, which Muzio said is a cooperative with North Reading High School.
They next moved onto an updated version of the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan that the board had approved last year, as Brand said it seemed time to return to work that was started.
“I’ve taken a serious and hopefully realistic view,” he said, in terms of updating the due dates and expectations.
He doesn’t think this will take away from the top priority right now of maintaining operations but only add to progress for the district.
David Ragsdale said that he’s glad to be getting back to this plan and looking for opportunities to keep moving forward. The committee agreed that the upcoming series in January for caregivers would be an avenue to seek feedback about where parents and students are struggling.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Elliott shared quickly about the upcoming Curriculum Improvement Time day this Wednesday. She mentioned that they’ll focus on curriculum mapping, technology, and social-emotional learning, along with whatever is needed for each department. Students will have an early release day that day with no afternoon asynchronous work.
They next took a second look at the new Superintendent Goals proposed at the previous meeting. These are to look closely at the WHS program and the vision of a graduate, to reconsider the WMS program, structure, and organization, and to find preferred building and grade level configurations for elementary schools. These were edited to create a connection to the strategic plan.
Byrnes asked Dr. Brand to share his recent memo from the MSBA regarding their six applications for new buildings, which only said that the decision wouldn’t be made until early spring or summer 2021. She also wondered whether part of the motion made for approving the goals could cover switching the superintendent evaluations to a two-year timeline, but they instead wanted to save that proposition for another meeting.
They unanimously approved the goals.
The only subcommittee report came from Jo Newhouse as a reminder for the upcoming SEPAC meeting this Thursday, Dec. 10. The next School Committee meeting will be on Dec. 16 at 7 p.m. in the WHS media room.