Superintendent's Update 10/22/21

Superintendent's Update 10/22/21
Posted on 10/22/2021
1st Grade Students at Douglas

Superintendent’s Update

October 21, 2021

In this update:

Job Opportunities

Mascot Screening Subcommittee Update

COVID Public Health Update

COVID Testing Program Update

Equity in Special Education Update

We are awaiting more information from DESE about this and will share more information with you as the year progresses.

Coffee with the Superintendent and School Committee Chair

Job Opportunities

We continue to seek applicants as bus drivers and cafeteria staff and have created incentive packages to recruit and retain these critical staff.  For both positions, we have increased salaries, have signing and referral bonuses, and have instituted retention bonuses payable in December and June.  We would appreciate all of our community sharing these opportunities with interested individuals.  I encourage you to read more about our positions in Transportation and Food Services.

Mascot Screening Subcommittee Update

Last week, we sent information to families and to the broader community through the towns to solicit participants on the school committee subcommittee to name a mascot.  We are currently collecting information from community members interested in participating on the committee.  Community members interested in applying to serve, can do so via the survey link.  The survey for community member participation closes this Sunday, October 24th.   At the same time we are establishing membership on the district-level committee, the high school and junior high school are finalizing their student and staff participation and are preparing to begin in the next week or two.  

COVID Public Health Update

Massachusetts’ 7 day average of COVID-19 cases has risen slightly since two weeks ago from 970 to 1355 cases.  However, the number of new cases is still lower than the high of1891 on September 13.   The 14 day average incidence rate as reported by the state is currently 11.1 for Acton (up from 9.9 two weeks ago) and 12.7 for Boxborough (down from 32.4 two weeks ago). 

In our schools, we have seen a total of 11 positive cases of COVID-19 among students and staff in the last two weeks, and a total of 44 cases this year.  A detailed breakdown by school can be found on our COVID-19 Website.  

We are actively working with the town health departments to plan a vaccination clinic for children ages 5-11 and have received word that we can begin to place orders for vaccines for this age group in anticipation of FDA approval.  We anticipate FDA approval during the first week of November and will communicate with families as we know more.

COVID Testing Program Update

I am pleased to report that as of this week, all of our elementary schools are fully up and running with pooled testing programs.  I want to extend a special thanks to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Dawn Bentley, and our nursing coordinators Joane Chadwick and Diane Spring as well as all of our nurses for getting this program running despite some early challenges.  

Equity in Special Education Update

As we anticipated last spring, we received a finding from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) with regard to the Identification of African American and Black students with communication disabilities.  We shared our concerns about this with you last spring as we discussed implementation of a Multi-Tier System of Support in our elementary schools.  This will require corrective actions including:

  • Review and, if appropriate, revise and publicly communicate revisions to policies, practices, and procedures
  • Reserve 15% of IDEA funds for comprehensive coordinated early intervening services (CCEIS) to address factors contributing to the significant disproportionality. Funds must be used for students ages 3 through grade 12 and for students with or without disabilities
  • Identify and address factors that may be contributing to significant disproportionality
  • Submit Action Plans to DESE in Spring 2022. More information on these action plans will be included in follow-up emails.

We are awaiting more information from DESE about this and will share more information with you as the year progresses.

Coffee with the Superintendent and School Committee Chair

Adam Klein and I hosted our first community coffee this week and had approximately 30 families join us and discussed a variety of topics including mask policies, iReady student results, open houses, digital tools and homework.  I want to thank all of the families who attended and shared the positive experiences and challenges their students have had this year.  Our upcoming coffee dates are:

  • Nov 17 at 7 pm
  • Dec 15 at 8:30 am
  • Jan 12 at 8:30 am
  • Feb 9 at 8:30 am
  • Mar 9 at 8:30 am
  • Apr 6 at 7 pm
  • May 4 at 7 pm
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