Published February 21, 2019
By JILLIAN STRING
NORTH READING — The School Committee unanimously voted to accept an amendment to the SEEM Collaborative’s Articles of Agreement at its February 11 meeting.
The amendment allows for North Andover Public Schools to become a member district of the collaborative.
“Among my obligations as the district’s representative to the SEEM Collaborative, I need to bring forward to the committee any changes to the Articles of Agreement of the collaborative,” Superintendent Jon Bernard said. “The board voted to allow for the North Andover Public Schools to join the SEEM Collaborative.”
Prior to the vote, School Committee member Mel Webster inquired as to whether or not the addition of North Andover would impact resources for North Reading students.
“Could this possibly impact us in kids not getting into programs at SEEM because we now have another community that’s trying to get kids into SEEM?” Webster asked.
According to Bernard, the addition of another member district will have no impact on current or future students receiving services from the collaborative.
Webster also asked whether or not North Andover will be hosting any programs.
Bernard stated that he was unaware of any programs being hosted by North Andover at this time.
North Reading currently hosts a deaf/hard of hearing program in district that is open to collaborative members for reduced tuition.
According to the Articles of Agreement, the mission of the collaborative is “to cooperatively develop and deliver quality and cost-effective programs and services, consistent with Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 40, Section 4E for students, school districts, partner organizations, and communities.”
Other member districts of the collaborative are Lynnfield, Melrose, Reading, Saugus, Stoneham, Wakefield, Wilmington, Winchester, and Woburn.
Town saved $166,294 in FY19
Bernard also presented the fiscal year 2020 budget for the collaborative.
“There’s no action on the part of the committee tonight. The board of directors, of which, again, I am North Reading’s representative, has already voted the fiscal year 2020 budget for the SEEM Collaborative, but I am required to provide you with a full copy,” Bernard said.
In addition to the full FY20 budget, Bernard provided the committee members with summary documents created by the collaborative highlighting specific information regarding the benefits of membership.
According to the summary document, North Reading currently has six students enrolled at the collaborative and saved $166,294 for FY19 by being a member district.
“The benefits are significant when districts are members, which is why a community like North Andover (is looking) to join,” Bernard said.
The document also notes a 4.24 percent projected tuition increase from FY19 to FY20, which amounts to $10,800 for North Reading.
School Committee member Dyana Boutwell asked how savings are determined.
“What do they use as their benchmark for those comparable programs? It’s not member versus non-member. It’s something external to the SEEM Collaborative, correct?” Boutwell inquired.
Director of Finance and Operations Michael Connelly explained that savings are calculated based upon the tuition costs of other comparable private programs compared to the member tuition costs at the collaborative.
Bernard stated that North Reading pays $5,000 to be a member district of the SEEM Collaborative.
“It’s well worth it,” Bernard said.