Published in the January 11, 2016 edition.


WAKEFIELD — School Superintendent Dr. Kim Smith presented her “State of the Schools and Budget Forum” for parents last Thursday evening.

Smith reviewed the fiscal year 2017 budget timeline and presented a mid-year report on the Wakefield Public Schools (WPS) Instructional Strategy. She also discussed what she saw as the district’s emerging priorities.

According to her budget timeline, capital requests were approved by the School Committee and submitted to the town in November. In December, faculty and staff feedback sessions were held in all of the schools. Also in December, principals and directors were to present school and district needs.

The school budget will be presented to the School Committee on Feb. 23, according to Smith’s timeline, followed by budget information/feedback sessions in March. A public hearing on the budget will be held on March 8, and the School Committee is expected to vote on the budget on March 22.

In April, the school budget will be presented to the selectmen and the Finance Committee before going to a vote at Annual Town Meeting in May.

Smith talked about the Doyle Early Childhood Center and the newly instituted full-day, tuition-free kindergarten.

She reviewed the Wakefield Public Schools Instructional Strategy and its cornerstones of “quality teaching, rigorous curriculum and individualized student learning.”

Smith said that “quality teaching” included investing in educators by providing quality coaching and in-district opportunities to earn state-required 15 professional development points in teaching students with disabilities and English language learners.

She discussed having a standards-aligned, common curriculum and assessments across grade levels. She talked about investing in materials and resources for teaching phonics, math and writing. She discussed an “expansive use of technology” involving Chromebooks and “bring your own devices” at the high school.

Smith talked about developing more inclusive schools and individualizing instruction to meet the needs of all learners. She discussed fostering student growth through ongoing analysis of student work and performance data. She talked about providing students with multiple means of access, expression and engagement as well as STEAM enrichment.

Smith discussed a three-tiered system of support for students’ academic learning and social/emotional learning.

Smith said that the FY 2017 budget will be driven by the WPS instructional strategy and would offer an opportunity to add or repurpose resources. She said that the budget would include the voices of staff, parents and the community and would be be fiscally responsible while reflecting what the Wakefield public schools need in order to “continue on a trajectory of excellence.”

Smith also outlined what she called “emerging needs.”

Those needs include: a  Math Coach for each K-4 school;  Specialists housed in each K-4 school; 5-12 Curriculum Coordinators for Social Studies and World Language;  Student intervention help in classrooms provided by highly qualified intervention teacher;  English language learning intervention for increasing number of students, and ELL support for teachers.

Smith identified the following curriculum related needs: Expand print and digital reading and literacy resources in classrooms, book rooms and libraries; improved technology integration through classroom support and training;  increase Computer Science and Engineering curriculum;  Replenish classroom furniture;  Mounted projectors for every classroom.

According to Smith’s presentation, emerging needs related to student learning include: Additional social/emotional/ behavioral support for students;  More instructional time with students;  Time, in addition to professional learning communities, for teacher common planning;  Data specialist who can synthesize student performances into charts, graphs or reports for teachers prior to their PLC team meetings.

Smith was happy with the response Thursday night.

“I was pleased at the turnout of parents and the great discussions we had about their children’s school experiences and priorities for the FY’17 budget,” she said.

Smith is expected to expand on her “State of the Schools” report at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.