SCHOOL COMMITTEE NEWS: 5 MORE Things That Happened At Last Week’s Meeting

WILMINGTON, MA – Below are FIVE MORE things that happened at the Wilmington School Committee Meeting on Wednesday, September 13, 2017.

#1) School Committee members discussed the recently announced cancellation of the 8th Grade Field Trip to Washington, DC after longtime organizers chose to step away due, in large part, to an increasing amount of unreasonable and abusive complaints from parents.

Mixed Feelings

“I have mixed feelings about this whole situation,” said School Committee member Manny Mulas, a sentiment that many 8th grade parents appear to share.

“There’s a minority of parents that caused these wonderful teachers to step away.  But there’s also a majority of parents and a majority of students that enjoy and want to take part in the trip,” stressed Mulas.

“I can’t stand the fact that everyone is going on Facebook without any knowledge of what really happened.  It’s awful how people put information out there that’s not really the truth,” added Mulas. “At the same time, I have an 8th grader that is terribly upset that she’s not going to take part in this, and so am I.”

Mulas requested the issue be discussed at the next School Committee Meeting, and that parents be permitted to speak.

“A lot of parents have questions. Those questions were not answered at the meeting yesterday [held by Interim Principal Kevin Welch immediately prior to the Middle School Open House]. Parents left with even more questions.” said Mulas.  “I would ask that we allow the parents to ask questions [at our next meeting] and I think it’s fair to the community that we answer their questions.”

Some Parents’ Use Of Social Media Is Out Of Control

“Social media has gotten out of control,” observed School Committee Vice Chair Julie Broussard. “There’s so much information out there.  There’s accusations at all different levels. This is not who Wilmington is.”

“It’s really just got to stop. Stop with the online [criticism],” continued Broussard. “Go to the source. If the issue isn’t resolved, bounce it up [the chain of command]. Let’s have a discussion face-to-face like adults… Based on some of the comments I’ve read, some of these adults sound like spoiled children.”

How About A THANK YOU To The Organizers & Chaperones?

“The teachers need to hear, from the administration, that they’ve done the right things all these years and they’ve done an excellent job,” stressed School Committee veteran Peggy Kane.  “You’re moving right on as if they did something wrong. They did nothing wrong… It’s totally unfair that you’re moving right over this.”

“I think the School Committee needs to send a thank you letter for everything the organizers have done,” continued Kane. “That’s the #1 priority for tonight – a thank you to the organizers — something to acknowledge what Missy & Lynda have done for the community.”

Kane noted that teachers have paid, out of their own pockets, for students who couldn’t afford the trip.  She also thanked the nurses for their integral role in the trip’s success.

Kane, like her colleagues, was also disappointed with how some parents reacted on social media to news of the trip’s cancellation.

“It’s a shame how some people are using Facebook. It’s a disgrace…. We ought to be embarrassed…. We’re so much better than this as a community,” said Kane.

Other Avenues To Communicate Besides Social Media

School Committee member Jennifer Bryson asked parents that, when they have a concern, to follow the district’s Chain of Command. Bryson recommended that parents get involved with their child’s school’s Parent Advisory Council or School Advisory Council, where they’ll have opportunities to interact with principals and vice principals on a regular basis. She also reminded parents they can reach out individually to School Committee members or speak in front of the entire board during the ‘public comments’ section of a School Committee Meeting.

Chair Agrees To Letter & Discussion At Next Meeting

“Emotions are running high on this topic,” noted School Committee Chair Steve Bjork. “We’ll have some clear answers and alternatives at our next public meeting.”

“We owe [the organizers and chaperones] a great debt of gratitude,” Bjork would later add in response to Kane’s comments.  Bjork agreed that the Committee should send a letter of thanks to organizers Missy Simmons & Lynda Spinazola.

#2) North Intermediate Principal Christine McMenimen introduced Kyla Kelley to the School Committee. Last spring, as a 5th grader, Kelley was the recipient of the first annual North Star Award. Voted on by the entire North staff, the award goes to the student who best exemplifies leadership, kindness, respect, commitment to learning, and responsibility.

“She’s going to be a great leader,” added McMenimen, who described Kyla as a “renaissance woman,” noting she’s a poet, writer, musician and “an all around kind and humble young woman.”

Kyla is now a 6th grader at Wilmington Middle School. Her plaque, meanwhile, now hangs in the North’s lobby.

Kyla’s parents, Tom & Crystal, and brother Griffin, were in the audience to support Kyla.

#3) WHS Junior Joe Wilson was introduced to the School Committee as its new Student Representative for the school year. He’ll issue a monthly report on high school happenings to committee members.

Wilson discussed the Freshmen Orientation, Activities Fair, DECA Assignment Notebooks Fundraiser, WHS Lamplighters Drama Guild’s fall production of Rumors, 9/11 Committee’s September 11 presentations, Homecoming Dance, student collections for Hurricane Harvey & Irma victims, and the WHS Football team’s season opening victory over Shawsheen Tech.

“Thank you for your presentation,” replied School Committee Chair Steve Bjork.  “We look forward to working with you all year.”

#4) Interim Superintendent Paul Ruggiero announced that Wilmington and eight other school districts with the SEEM Collaborative are applying for a RADAR (Resources Allocation and District Action Reports) grant through the Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education.

According to the DESE’s website:

The main priority for the grant program is to help improve district resource allocation practices, specifically supporting districts to:

  • Examine and question resource allocation in more depth, using data available in districts along with tools provided by the Department, particularly Resource Allocation and District Action Reports (RADAR)
  • Make meaningful changes in resource allocation to support best practices and district improvement strategies
  • Measure the impact of resource shifts on the desired outcomes. Grantees will be paired with an action research partner who will help gather data, measure impact, and report results.

Wilmington Director of Student Support Services Alice Brown-LeGrand and Wilmington Assistant Superintendent Sean Gallagher will serve on the working group to help put the grant proposal together.  The grant application is due in mid-October.

#5) There were no subcommittee reports aside from a “housekeeping” revision to the contact information pages in the School Committee Handbook. There were no public comments. The School Committee will next meet on Wednesday, September 27 at 7pm, followed by Wednesday, October 11 at 7pm.

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