Published in the August 14, 2015 edition


WAKEFIELD — The generosity and community engagement of yet another Wakefield business was literally on display at this week’s meeting of the Wakefield School Committee.

The Advocator Group donated to the School Department 14 backpacks filled with supplies to be distributed to students who need them for the 2015-2016 school year.

With home offices on Edgewater Drive, the Advocator Group is a nationwide advocacy organization dedicated to helping individuals apply for and obtain Social Security Disability Insurance. In addition, the company helps Medicare beneficiaries navigate the complexities of their health insurance options in order to identify the ideal coverage based on their unique needs.

Melissa Prudente, Janet Moynihan and Courtney Scott from the Advocator Group were on hand to present the colorful backpacks, which remained on display throughout Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.

“As our core mission is advocacy,” Prudente said, “community service is near and dear to our hearts.”

School Department Business manager Michael Pfifferling explained that each of the school principals were contacted and asked to identify two or three high-need students by gender and grade-level only (no names). Pfifferling then passed that information on to Moynihan.

Pfifferling noted that this was not the first time that the Advocator Group’s altruism has benefitted the School Department. The company has donated surplus supplies to the schools in the past, he said.

The School Committee also accepted with gratitude a number of other donations this week, including: $19,000 from the Wakefield Music Boosters for instruments and a sound system for the Wakefield Marching Band; $5,000 from The Savings Bank for the Lego Robotics pilot program for 4th grade students; $500 from the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office to support school-sponsored post-prom events; and a gift from the Walton PTO for picnic tables.


The School Committee this week heard a presentation from Town Counsel Thomas Mullen on the Open Meeting Law. Mullen focused on recent changes to the law and also reviewed procedural requirements related to meeting posting, meeting minutes, quorums and executive sessions.


The committee approved the hiring of additional personnel made possible by a $40,000 increase in Title I funding. Superintendent of Schools Dr. Kim Smith proposed using those additional funds to hire a half-time literacy coach for the Doyle Early Childhood Center and a literacy coach/reading specialist at the Galvin Middle School. Smith also proposed adding a stipend position for a Mental Health Coordinator for the Wakefield Public Schools. Smith said that by restructuring the Title I grant the School Department would be able to cover any remaining costs above the $40,000 increase.


The School Committee authorized Pfifferling to enter into a technology lease in the amount of $87,000 (already in the budget) for 38 replacement projectors at the Woodville, Dolbeare and Walton schools, 130 replacement laptop/desktop computers for Wakefield High School and 50 additional BYOD devices for WHS plus two carts.


Smith reported that she had hired Gerrilyn Trafficante as Assistant Principal of Student Services at the Dolbeare School and Anne Zernicke as Assistant Principal of Student Services at Woodville School. She also said that Jeffrey Boyd had been hired as the new Wakefield Academy Director. Boyd is Galvin Middle School teacher.


The School Committee approved the 2015-2016 Student-Parent Handbook.