Reading Public Schools and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse Featured in Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

 

Reading Public Schools and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse Featured in Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development

Youth Mental Health First Aid Highlighted As a Best Practice

Reading Public Schools and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse and its work to support the whole student is included as an exemplary approach to supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development in a report released last month by a prestigious national commission.

The Aspen Institute National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development’s “From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope” asserts that our nation is at a turning point, understanding that social, emotional, and cognitive development underpins children’s academic learning. This breakthrough understanding about how people learn is fueling a growing movement to educate children as whole people, with social and emotional as well as academic needs, the report says.

Reading Public Schools was highlighted under Recommendation IV, building adult capacity, where District, school, and youth development leaders should provide opportunities for school faculty and staff, families, after-school and youth development professionals, and future professionals still in university pre-service programs to learn to model and teach social, emotional, and cognitive skills to young people across all learning settings, both during and out of school.  In this recommendation, the Reading Public Schools and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse (RCASA) are highlighted in training adults across the community in Youth Mental Health First Aid (YMHFA). An evidence-based, international program, YMHFA trains adults similarly to medical first aid and CPR to identify the signs and symptoms of a young person in distress and to take the appropriate steps in providing aid until further help comes. A common language and expectations regarding typical child development, as well as ways to manage crisis and non-crisis situations, were spread throughout the community.

School Committee member Chuck Robinson states, “I would like to thank the Commission for developing this outstanding report.  As a parent and long-standing School Committee liaison to RCASA, I recognize the collaborative effort of our town and school officials to provide a safe environment for our students.  The Youth Mental Health First Aid Training highlighted in this report as a Reading Public Schools best practice is a very important training for any adult that works with children in our schools and in our community. I am deeply grateful for Executive Director Erica McNamara’s innovative and steady leadership in this effort”

“A Nation at Hope” emphasizes that translating knowledge about how people learn into practice and helping students develop skills like collaboration, empathy, and perseverance requires systemic change. It offers specific actions in research, practice, and policy to fundamentally shift how we teach children, with the understanding that the social, emotional, and cognitive dimensions of learning are mutually reinforcing rather than distinct.

The report recommends taking these key steps:

  • Set a clear vision that broadens the definition of student success to prioritize the whole child.
  • Transform learning settings so they are safe and supportive for all young people.
  • Change instruction to teach students social, emotional, and cognitive skills; embed these skills in academics and school-wide practices.
  • Build adult expertise in child development.
  • Align resources and leverage partners in the community to address the whole child.
  • Forge closer connections between research and practice to generate useful, actionable information for educators.

Drawing on input from more than 200 scientists, youth and parent groups, educators and policymakers, the report seeks to accelerate and strengthen efforts in local communities. These recommendations are especially pertinent as states and communities continue to leverage their increased authority on education policy under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. The report includes specific strategies that schools, districts, and communities can pursue related to each recommendation and examples of places that are engaged in these efforts.

The report also outlines evidence that confirms that supporting students’ social, emotional and academic development has a positive impact on their attendance, test scores, success in college and careers, and overall well-being. This approach also improves students’ feelings about school and makes schools safer.

 

Weekly RPS Newsletter and Superintendent’s Office Times

Good Afternoon,  Reading Public School Community,

I hope you are having a great weekend.  Attached is this week’s Pathways Newsletter.  This week’s edition has the following articles and information:

  • Reading Public Schools and the Reading Coalition Against Substance Abuse Featured in Report from National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development
  • Director of Student Services Update
  • Celebrate Reading’s 375 Birthday!
  • An article from the Marshall Memo titled, Increasing Upstander Behavior To Combat School Bullying.
  • RMHS High Five for This Week
  • Author Tara Sullivan Visits Coolidge
  • Wood End and Killam Celebrate Read Across America
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

The Superintendent Office Times for this week are as follows:

Superintendent Office Times For Upcoming Weeks

3/04   Joshua Eaton                                2:30 – 3:00 p.m.

3/05   Parker                                            7:30 – 8:00 a.m.

3/06   Barrows                                         12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Have a great rest of the weekend and week ahead!

Take care.

Pathways Newsletter V6N23

Celebrate Reading’s 375th Birthday!

Reading 375

Get ready to party, Reading! Our town is turning 375 years old this year, and the Reading375 Committee is busy planning a two-week celebration from May 31 – June 15.  There are more events than we can list, so please LIKE and FOLLOW Reading375 on Facebook to keep up to date.  You can also check out Reading375.com for a list of planned events.  Please like, follow, and share Reading375 on Facebook.  Let’s make our town pride go viral!

RPS Weekly Newsletter and Superintendent Office Times For Upcoming Weeks

Good Morning, Reading Public School Community,

We hope that you are having a great February break.  Attached is this week’s Pathways Newsletter.  This week has the following information and articles:

  • Director of Student Services Update
  • RMHS Students Visit Schneider Electric
  • An Eduopia article on how to teach students to deal with stress
  • An upcoming workshop on how to talk to our kids about inclusion
  • Parent University information
  • An article on effective use of therapy dogs in schools
  • RMHS High Five for the week
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

The Superintendent Office Times for this week are as follows:

Superintendent’s Office Half-Hours this Week

All are welcome

2/26     RMHS    7:00-7:30 a.m.

3/01   Coolidge  7:30-8:00 a.m.

3/04    Joshua Eaton  2:30 – 3:00 p.m.

3/05    Parker  7:30 – 8:00 a.m.

3/06    Barrows  12:30 – 1:00 p.m.

Enjoy the rest of your break and have a great week ahead!

Pathways Newsletter V6N22

Reading Public Schools Newsletter and Superintendent Office Hours for This Week

Good Afternoon, Reading Public School Community,

I hope you are enjoying your weekend.  Attached, please find this week’s version of the Pathways Newsletter.  In this week’s edition, you will discover the following articles and information.

  • RMHS Senior Becomes Published Author
  • Upcoming SEPAC Meeting
  • An Article from Dr. David Walsh on the Teenage Brain:  Risky or Ready to Learn?
  • Did you know?  Resources on Black History Month
  • Teacher Reflection:  Listening to Student Messages
  • National Endowment for Humanities Free Summer Programs
  • Killam Sponsors Community Workshop on March 4th-Talking to Our Kids About Inclusion
  • Parent University
  • RMHS High Five for the Week
  • RISE Global Playday
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

 

Superintendent Office Hours

The Superintendent Office Hours for this week are as follows:

2/13     Killam   12:30-1:30 p.m.

2/15     Wood End  7:30-8:30 a.m.

Have a great rest of the weekend, a great week ahead, and a restful and relaxing vacation!

Pathways Newsletter V6N21

Reading Public School Newsletter for This Week and Superintendent’s Office Hours

Good Morning, Reading Public School Community,

I hope that you are enjoying your weekend, in spite of the cold weather.  Attached is this week’s Pathways Newsletter.  There were some amazing happenings going on in the district this week, which is captured in the newsletter.  This week’s edition contains the following information:

  • Understanding Disability Speaker Inspires Our Middle Schools
  • RMHS Art Students Shine in Scholastic Art and Writing Contest
  • School Committee Approves FY20 Budget
  • Information and Updates from the Office of Learning and Teaching
  • Parent University Information
  • Parker Student Proudly Represents Reading in Project 351
  • Relicensure Information from DESE
  • Talking to Our Kids About Inclusion Workshop
  • RMHS High Five for This Week
  • Killam Geography Bee
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

The Superintendent’s Office Hours for the next 2 weeks are as follows:

2/05     Barrows   7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

2/06     Superintendent’s  Office  5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

2/13     Killam  12:30-1:30 p.m.

2/15     Wood End  7:30-8:30 a.m.

Have a great rest of the weekend, enjoy the game, and have a great week ahead!

Go Patriots!

Pathways Newsletter V6N20

RPS Weekly Newsletter and Superintendent Office Hours

Good Afternoon, Reading Public School Community,

I hope that you are enjoying your weekend.  Attached is this week’s Pathways Newsletter.  This week’s newsletter has the following articles and information:

  • School Committee to vote on FY20 budget on Monday
  • RMHS Students Participate in the Memory Project
  • Killam Teacher to Run for Dana Farber in Boston Marathon
  • An article from Edutopia on the Importance of Self-Care for Administrators
  • Relicensure Information from DESE
  • RMHS High Five for the Week
  • Martin Luther King Day Celebration
  • Coolidge Presents Freaky Friday
  • Middle School Staff and Students Hear Presentation on Anxiety
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

The Superintendent Office Hours for the Next Two Weeks are as follows:

1/28     Joshua Eaton  7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

1/30     Birch Meadow  12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

2/05     Barrows  7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

2/06     Superintendent’s  Office  5:00 – 6:00 p.m.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and week ahead!

pathways newsletter v6n19

Weekly Reading Public School District Newsletter, Sunday Activities and Superintendent’s Office Hours

Good Morning, Reading Public School Community,

I hope all is well and you are enjoying the long weekend.  Attached, please find a copy of this week’s Pathways Newsletter.  This week’s newsletter contains the following stories and information:

  • Martin Luther King Celebration on Monday at 9:30 a.m. in the RMHS Performing Arts Center
  • An inspirational story from Wood End Teacher Marian Nihan on “Never underestimate the extent of your impact on your students.”
  • An Overview of the FY20 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget by Cost Center
  • An article from the Marshall Memo on Respect for Physical Education
  • Information from our School Nutrition Department for families who have been impacted by the Federal Government Shutdown
  • Information from the Office of Learning and Teaching regarding SEI Course Availability, and K-5 Science Curriculum Guides
  • A free workshop being sponsored by the YMCA on Talking to Our Kids About Inclusion
  • RMHS High Fives for this Week
  • Parker Geography Bee
  • Stepping Stones
  • Blazing Trails

Sunday Activities

Due to the impending snowstorm, all Sunday activities have been cancelled.  The Coolidge show, “Freaky Friday”, has moved its Sunday show to 2:00 p.m. on Saturday at the RMHS Endslow Performing Arts Center.  We will be making a determination today on Monday activities, including the Martin Luther King Celebration.

Superintendent Office Hours

The Superintendent Office Hours for the upcoming 2 weeks are as follows:

1/22     Coolidge   7:00 – 8:00 a.m.

1/28     Joshua Eaton   7:30 – 8:30 a.m.

1/30     Birch Meadow    12:30 – 1:30 p.m.

Have a great rest of the weekend and week ahead!

pathways newsletter v6n18

Coolidge Play Performance Rescheduled From Sunday to Saturday

‘Due to weather concerns for Sunday 1/20, the 2pm performance of ‘Freaky Friday’ will be rescheduled to Saturday 1/19 at 2pm. All tickets have been migrated from the Sunday matinee to the Saturday matinee. If you cannot make this performance and need to exchange your tickets, please e-mail CoolidgeDramaTickets@gmail.com. Please note: exchanging tickets is a manual process done through a ticketing agency and is not a simply process. Ticket exchanges may take up to 24 hours to complete.’

Superintendent’s Message Regarding the FY20 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget

I respectfully present to the School Committee and the Greater Reading Community the FY20 Superintendent’s Recommended Budget of $46,467,348 representing an increase of $1,607,073 or 3.6% over the FY19 budget.  Copies of both the Superintendent’s Recommended Budget and the MUNIS Accounting Ledger can be found at the Reading Public School website located here.  The increases are broken down by non-accommodated costs (all costs except special education out of district transportation and tuition and one community priority) which increased by 3.25% over the FY19 Budget and accommodated costs (special education out of district transportation and tuition and one community priority) which increased by 6.55% over the FY19 Budget.

This recommended budget aligns with the budget guidance that we received from the Reading Finance Committee on October 10, 2018 and subsequent discussions with the Town Manager and Town Accountant.  The Finance Committee’s recommended guidance is based on an analysis of current and future town revenue and expense projections of the Community.

Since the last Superintendent’s budget message one year ago, there have been significant fiscal changes in our district, most of it has been positive.  For the first time in my ten years developing and recommending budgets, I do not have to focus my introductory budget message on the funding challenges facing our school district.  This is because our most positive change, which has impacted the entire community, was the community support last April of a proposition 2 ½ override ballot question which restored and retained teaching positions, added curriculum materials, replaced outdated and aged technology, increased professional development and training, and provided additional curriculum and special education supports for teachers.  Because of this additional financial support, foreign language and additional language arts classes have continued at our middle schools, class sizes have been reduced at our elementary schools, and our high school is now able to offer more course sections, additional electives and Advanced Placement Courses for all students.  We are grateful of the work that was done by our community, town, and school leaders who worked together to accomplish this significant achievement.  I want to recognize the work of “Yes for Reading” under the leadership of Erin Gaffen and Michelle Sanphy for building the infrastructure and grass roots support necessary for this monumental task.  In addition, I want to thank Town Manager Bob LeLacheur and Town Accountant Sharon Angstrom for their leadership and the Select Board and School Committee for their commitment and support toward the override.  I also want to thank Chief Financial Officer Gail Dowd for the countless hours that she put in developing two budgets for last year’s cycle and her commitment to the detail necessary to explain the budget story to the community.  This was truly a team effort and the outcome would not have been possible without everyone working together.

Figure 1 provides an update on the override funding and Figure 2 reconciles the original FY19 budget as approved by the School Committee to the final budget approved by Town Meeting.

override2

Figure 2:  Override Allocation By Cost Center in FY19 Budget

override slide

The Superintendent’s Recommended FY20 budget, includes funding to primarily address the following financial drivers:

  • Funding of all contractual step and COLA increases for represented (based upon successful negotiation of all contracts for 3-year period) and non-represented employees.
  • Increase in known out of district special education tuition and transportation expenses due to increased rates, and types of placements.
  • Curriculum Updates in Social Studies to align with new Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks.
  • Increase in athletic, regular day mandatory, and homeless transportation per transportation contract and an increased number of homeless students.
  • Anticipated increase in contractual cleaning services for RMHS (contract is in final year of 3-year agreement).
  • Renewal of software programs and maintenance programs based on three-year renewal cycle and completion of capital projects.
  • The net addition of 2.95 FTE Special Education Paraeducators, 3.5 FTE Special Education Teachers, 1.2 FTE Regular Education Teachers, and 0.6 FTE Districtwide Coach due to current and anticipated indistrict special education needs, programmatic needs and elementary enrollment needs.  The breakdown is as follows:

 

o    0.61 FTE Special Education Program Paraeducator at Birch Meadow (Hired in FY19)

o    0.76 FTE Special Education Program Paraeducator at RISE (Hired in FY19)

o    1.50 FTE Special Education Program Teacher at Coolidge (Hired in FY19)

o    0.70 FTE Special Education Teacher at Wood End (Hired in FY19)

o    0.30 FTE Special Education Teacher at Killam (Hired in FY19)

o    0.43 FTE Special Education Paraeducator (Anticipated for FY20)

o    0.30 FTE Special Education Paraeducator (Anticipated for FY20)

o    0.85 FTE Special Education Program Paraeducator (Anticipated for FY20)

o   1.0 FTE Special Education Program Teacher (Anticipated for FY20)

o   1.2 FTE Kindergarten and Grade 1 teachers at Killam and Wood End (Anticipated for FY20)

o   0.60 FTE Behavioral Health Coach (Funded as a Community Priority for FY20).  Position is currently funded in the School Climate Transformation grant which is ending this year.

In addition, we are closely monitoring our revolving accounts and are recommending the following adjustments to those accounts (see Figure 3) in the FY20 budget totaling a net overall increase of $62,000.  Refer to Figure 34 and 35 in the budget book for a more detailed description of these accounts.

override 3

Not included in this budget are funds for potential settlements, unknown student placements and unanticipated enrollment increases or extraordinary special education costs related to out of district placement tuition, transportation, or other services as required by a student’s individualized education plan.  We are closely tracking additional potential cost increases throughout the remainder of the current fiscal year including legal, consultation and program costs that we anticipate may occur later in the year as decisions are made regarding individual students.  These potential additional costs are not currently included in the Superintendent’s Recommended FY20 budget as the timing and amounts are not known with certainty.  As a result, we have made a conscious decision to budget less for out of district special education tuition and transportation than we normally would.  We are having discussions with the Town Manager and the leadership of the Finance Committee of these potential increases.  It is most likely we will need to ask for additional funding from April or November Town Meeting for FY19 and/or FY20 in this area.

In addition to the above financial drivers, the FY20 budget strives to help address our District Improvement Plan and other areas.  During FY20 (2019-20 school year), we will begin a new District Improvement Plan which will most likely focus on some or all the following areas:

•        Focus on equity and access for all students

•        School Safety (Physical and Psychological)

•        Closing the achievement gap

•        Social Emotional Learning

•        Addressing the capital needs (school security, educational, programmatic and athletic space) of our schools

This budget also prioritizes maintaining adequate class sizes of 18 to 22 students in kindergarten through Grade 2, maintaining the middle school interdisciplinary model, and addressing the results of the RMHS NEASC Self-study.

In Closing

In conclusion, we are grateful for the financial and community support that we have received and as a result, our district will be able to provide the necessary resources to stay focused on the academic, social, emotional, and behavioral well-being of our students.  The Superintendent’s Recommended FY20 budget reflects those priorities.  While we are proud of the fact that we are a district that is on the forefront in many areas, we have challenges that lie ahead, including addressing the needs of our students with disabilities, educational space needs and improving the social and emotional well-being of our students.   We are proud of the work that our teachers and administrators do every day to improve teaching and learning in our district.  In addition, we have enthusiastic and respectful students who arrive to school every day eager to learn.  This is a testament to our parents and our community who value the importance of education and the role that it needs to play in a community.   There is no question that a major indicator of the quality of life for everyone in a community can be measured by the quality of its schools and by a community’s commitment to its children.  In this way, the quality of a school district affects every single person in a community, and the Town of Reading is no exception.

We appreciate the support that we have received from the community in the past and we look forward to working with the School Committee and town officials during this budget process.