Published in the December 5, 2017 edition.


WAKEFIELD – Wakefield’s seven school principals presented their 2017-2018 “school improvement plans” to the School Committee last week. A school improvement plan is a road map that sets out the changes a school needs to make to improve the level of student achievement and shows how and when these changes will be made.

The format for the presentations was a little different this year than in the past.

Rather than have each principal make a short presentation at the School Committee meeting, this year they presented their improvement plans in a “gallery walk” format prior to the meeting, with each principal creating a display in the superintendent’s conference room as a visual aid in explaining their plans. Committee members spent about 45 minutes perusing and discussing the plans in an informal setting with the principals.

The principals then appeared before the School Committee at their meeting for further discussion and to answer any questions. School Committee members also had each school’s written improvement plan in summary form in their meeting packets.

The principals seated across from the School Committee for the discussion were Doyle Early Childhood Center Principal Shannon Blacker, Greenwood School Principal Deb Collura, Walton School Principal Elaina Byrne, Dolbeare School Principal TJ Liberti, Woodville School principal Michelle Zottoli, Galvin Middle School principal Adam Colantuoni and Wakefield Memorial High School Principal Richard Metropolis.

In her improvement plan, Doyle Early Childhood Center principal Shannon Blacker wants 80 percent of students to be proficient with pre-literacy skills (recognition of uppercase, lowercase and letter sounds, syllables, word families and rhyming) as measured by the common assessments in the “OWL” curriculum. (Opening the World of Learning” is a comprehensive curriculum that covers all domains of early learning.)

Through a system of common assessments teachers will track student progress aided by professional development to assist them in aligning with the OWL curriculum.

The Doyle improvement plans also outlines goals and benchmarks around social/emotional goals for student readiness.

All four elementary school improvement plans set a common goal of having 80 percent of all students demonstrate end-of-year reading proficiency based on the Fountas & Pinnell Benchmark System, with the 20 percent falling below grade level making at least one year of reading growth based on the Fountas & Pinnell system.

All four elementary school improvement plans also set goals around math discourse with a goal of having students be able to communicate and defend mathematical reasoning using manipulatives, drawings, diagrams and/or actions.

With some variations, each elementary plan describes a system of teacher practice as well as benchmarks and systems to measure student progress toward the desired outcomes.

Principal Adam Colontuoni’s improvement plan for the Galvin Middle School seeks to have all students demonstrating growth in writing in response to reading a text, as measured by the common GMS writing rubrics by May of 2018.

Another goal states that all students will demonstrate growth in academic discourse across all content areas as measured by speaking and listening rubrics and the WPS Student Growth Measures by May of 2018.

The Galvin plan sets forth baselines, benchmarks and measurement systems to track student growth in each area.

Principal Richard Metropolis’ improvement plan for Wakefield Memorial High School sets forth goals for student growth associated with writing in response to reading as well as mathematical discourse. The latter involves a student’s ability to discuss and support the solutions to math problems using examples to justify their conclusions and explain the mathematical reasoning used to arrive at those conclusions.

THE WMHS improvement plan also outlines baselines, benchmarks and measurement systems to track student growth.


In other business last week, the School Committee voted to amend the School Department’s Tier One (high priority) capital request list.

School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith explained that the addition of a line item addition to replace 28 gang sink faucets in rest rooms at the Galvin Middle School due to internal corrosion in these faucet assemblies.

Smith referred to a memorandum from Director of Facilities and Transportation Maria Serrao, which explained that the current problems are not related to a previous issue related to water pressure in the school. That issue has been resolved, according to Serrao.

“The current issue is attributable to the actual usage combined with a faucet assembly that is not standing up to the test of time,” Serrao noted in her memo.

Budget and Facilities Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Callanan elaborated that the faucets were purchased in order to meet certain environmental/energy standards when the school was built. But he said that in addition to the corrosion problem, the batteries in the automatic faucets wear out quickly, resulting in excessive maintenance time spent replacing the batteries.

The estimated cost of replacing the 28 faucets with a different type is $28,000.

Smith also told the School Committee that the cost of a capital request to replace phones at the Walton School may be absorbed as part of the upgrade currently going on at the School. If that is the case, those phones will be removed from the capital list.


The School Committee voted to update the Wakefield Public Schools’ Non-Discrimination Statement. Policy Subcommittee Chair Anne Fortier explained that the vote was simply to make the Non-discrimination Statement uniform across all school documents.

The Non-Discrimination Statement reads:

“The Wakefield Public Schools is committed to the prevention of harassment and discrimination based upon race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, limited English proficiency, disability or housing status.”