Published in the January 12, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD — When it comes to “full inclusion” of special education students, Wakefield Public Schools have consistently exceeded the state average, according to Director of Special Education Lyn O’Neil. “Full inclusion” is an educational practice in which all students with disabilities receive their total education within the regular education classroom.

O’Neill reviewed the district’s “Inclusive Schools Strategy” with the School Committee this week. She began with a quote from the Department of Education’s Massachusetts Playbook.

“In Massachusetts, a student with a Learning Disability in a full inclusion placement is five times as likely to graduate on time as one who is placed in a substantially separate setting.”

O’Neil compared the rates of full inclusion of Wakefield special needs students with the rates statewide since the 2012-2013 school year in which Wakefield’s rate of full inclusion was 68 percent compared to the state average of 59.7 percent.

In the 2013-2014 school year, Wakefield’s rate of full inclusion was 68 percent compared to 61 percent statewide. In 2014-2015, Wakefield had a full-inclusion rate of 67 percent compared to 60.5 in the state.

Statewide numbers were not available for 2015-2016, but Wakefield’s rate of full inclusion of special education students continued to rise, reaching 71 percent last year, O’Neill said.

At the Galvin Middle School, O’Neil said, the number of special education students receiving instruction outside of the regular classroom has steadily decreased. In 2014-2015 44 percent of special needs students received instruction outside of the regular classroom. In the current school year, that rate is just 28 percent, according to O’Neil.

That trend has coincided with an improved performance on standardized tests.

“Galvin’s PARCC scores significantly improved within the special education subgroup,” O’Neil told the school Committee, “in one category almost tripling their scores according to the accountability data reports.”

O’Neil reviewed how the Wakefield Public Schools approach individualized student instruction.

Wakefield has strived to maintain an appropriate continuum of services throughout the district in a thoughtful manner throughout the last three years,” O’Neil said. “With collective planning and a strong vision, most of our students are receiving what they need in a general education classroom, in front of highly qualified, content certified educators.

“Since the 2014-2015 school year, student groupings continue to be analyzed to ensure appropriate services and settings, focused on full inclusion first for all Wakefield Public School students,” O’Neil said.


School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith updated the School Committee on the results of the Walton School Feasibility Study performed by Tappe Architects.

It will cost between $5 million and $5.5 million to address the space needs at the Walton and bring kindergarten back to the school. Currently, kindergarten pupils from the Walton neighborhood are bussed to the Woodville School.

Smith outlined a timetable that could bring a proposal to fund the Walton work to a vote as soon as the May 2017 Annual Town Meeting.

The proposal would demolish the modular classrooms on the site and replace them with a pre-engineered metal building that is structurally separated from the existing building. This addition would create a new gymnasium, kitchen, art classroom and bathrooms along with storage space.

Also proposed are mostly non-structural renovations to the existing building, including reconfiguring existing spaces and upgrades to mechanical, electrical, fire protection and plumbing systems.

Smith said that the improvements would bring kindergarten back to the Walton and create equity with all the other K-4 schools by adding a viable library/media center. It would provide a full-size cafeteria/gym and get food carts out of the hallways. It would create a more secure entrance to the school and bring the building up to code.

Addressing the question of why the Walton work took precedence over Greenwood School, Smith said that there were no compelling space or safety issues at the Greenwood School, although there are handicap accessibility issues and an aging HVAC system.


The School Committee approved the 2017-2018 Wakefield Memorial High School Course of Studies as presented and reviewed by Director of Guidance A.J. Beebe and WMHS principal Richard Metropolis.


The School Committee also approved the acceptance of the following gifts:

• $7,594.28 from the Youth Basketball Clinic. (The funds were raised from Basketball Clinics held in July and August 2016.)

• $75.00 from Lueders Environmental, Inc. Lawn Care and Plant Company for the School Department to use as it deems appropriate.

• $96.70 from Bhushan R. Kulkarni to the Greenwood School Technology Program. The donation is part of the State Street Matching Gift Program.