School Committee Letter to the Community – 2/26/2021

Dear Community,

As part of our efforts to increase communication between the school committee, parents, other town boards, and the larger Worthington community, we’re reaching out to share news about some of the school committee’s recent activities.

As winter deepens we still find ourselves managing the effects of COVID-19 on our school as well as our community.   As cases arise within the school community we are utilizing our school nurse along with Worthington’s Board of Health to contact trace and follow our protocols.  School was shifted to remote learning for 10 days at the end of January, and without skipping a beat teachers and students continued teaching and learning.  Students returned to in-person learning on 2/4/21.  We are happy to report in-school transmission does not appear to be happening.

The state education commissioner has put forth pool testing protocols for 6 weeks of free weekly asymptomatic testing and reporting for students and staff, however after much debate the school committee has decided not to move forward with the offer, as in order to be effective we’d need 80% participation from the faculty and children, along with a much deeper community spread to be a useful tool for mitigation.

In December, the school committee developed district goals with the Superintendent.  We chose to focus on several areas including equitable educational practices.  Given that 50% of our student population is considered “high needs”* by the state, we have begun conversations with stakeholders, reached out to experts, and allocated funding in the upcoming budget for training focused on improving the district’s ability to reach all learners equitably.

During the fall and early winter we negotiated new salary contracts for the faculty and superintendent, and have been drafting a budget for FY22.  This budget includes a new tuition contract with Hampshire Regional School District for our secondary students and support for our preschool and enrichment program, both integral to the success of our school district.

Our role for the community is to represent the interests of students, families, community members, and taxpayers in the management of our school district.  To that end, we welcome all community members to join our meetings and share with us your thoughts about how we can best serve the community.  Our regular meetings are the second Thursday of each month at 6:30pm and are currently held remotely on Zoom.  On April 8, the annual School Budget Hearing will be held at 6:30pm, prior to the regular School Committee meeting. Any additional meetings will be announced through the town calendar.  All spring 2021 meetings will be at this link:

https://zoom.us/j/92159901144?pwd=S3l5d0UxVjM4dEdBQ3R1ZEphYXlBUT09

In service,
Worthington School Committee

Amanda Brooks-Clemeno
Pam Thompson
Alison Todd, Chair
Cai Walkowiak
Susan Warner

*high needs as defined by DESE is an aggregation of students with disabilities, economically disadvantaged students and English Language Learners

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