Published in the January 28, 2021 edition.


WAKEFIELD — The school administration this week laid out their plans for using an additional $130,000 in Chapter 70 funds coming to Wakefield as a result of the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).

The act was passed by the legislature and signed by the governor in November of 2019. It is expected to infuse $17 billion into the state’s public schools over the next seven years.

Massachusetts School Districts were initially expected to submit their plans for using SOA funds by last April, Superintendent Doug Lyons told the School Committee this week. But that deadline was extended to January 2021 in order to allow schools to get students back into classrooms and assess their needs in the wake of the pandemic-related shutdowns.

Lyons said that the funds will help identify and address learning loss as a result of the pandemic and will help students catch up.

This week, school administrators outlined for the School Committee the plan that Wakefield is submitting to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. 

Assistant Superintendent Kara Mauro said that the decision was made to focus on needs at the elementary level.

“We will be implementing an after school, online intervention program focused on literacy, math and counseling services to support elementary students,” Mauro said. For grades 1 and 2, the focus will be on literacy, she noted. For students in grades 3 and 4, math will be the focus.

The effort will target students performing in the lowest 20 percent of their class who have not already been referred to a reading specialist or special education support, Mauro explained. Interventions will be based on student data gathered through school-based data teams. Literacy coaches will guide teachers to determine target areas for student groups.

Part of the intervention plan, Mauro added, will include extensive consultation services. Participating students will have regular consultations with classroon teachers and intervention teachers to guide instruction.

At the end of a six-week session, student progress will be reviewed by elementary instruction leaders. At this point, they will be referred for an additional session, referred to the reading specialist or complete their program and resume general education participation.

Mauro said that the elementary instructional leadership group will develop and issue consistent communication regarding student participation. Principals will initiate communication with parents through PTOs regarding this service and student criteria.

“We will communicate as needed with parents throughout the program,” Mauro said. “We anticipate working closely with Wakefield Academy to develop a summer program.”

The School Committee voted to support the plans as presented.