School Committee Approves Salary Increase for Superintendent

The Winthrop School Committee met on Monday, Oct. 25 in the Harvey Hearing Room of Town Hall, where it approved a new superintendent contract and received an update on enrollment.

Superintendent Contract

The School Committee approved a newly updated contract for school superintendent, which includes a salary increase. The current four-year agreement, which expires June 30, 2020, pays $179,000. The new contract would begin July 1, 2022, and would increase the salary to $191,000.

A study of 14 towns and cities across the Commonwealth revealed that the Winthrop superintendent was the lowest paid. These communities were all the same in terms of school enrollment. Even with the increase, the Winthrop superintendent will still be among the lowest earners in the group.

The new agreement also makes other changes, such as allowing the superintendent to enroll in the town’s healthcare like other town employees.

The committee thanked Supt. Lisa Howard, who is in her fifth year in the position, for the extra work she put in during the height of the pandemic, which included working nights, weekends and vacations.

“COVID threw us a loop, but that hasn’t stopped us from moving forward,” she told the committee. “I look forward to the next five years to continue this good work.”

Enrollment

School enrollment sits at 1,906. As of Oct. 1, 61 students were enrolled in the vocational school, and seven in Essex North Shore Agricultural & Technical School. The district is waiting on statistics regarding how many Winthrop children attend outside charter schools. Last year, that number was 21, costing the town $322K.

No Winthrop children have elected to attend in-person public schools in other towns this year. Last year, 10 of them chose to attend one of the two virtual schools recognized by the state and the Dept. of Education. The cost to the town was $461K. Enrollment in virtual school is expected to be lower this year.

Accreditation

High school administrators met with the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) on Oct. 5 to discuss the school’s strengths and weaknesses. The high school is excelling in technology education, staff-to-student ratios, professional development and curriculum development. It identified the need to work toward a collective vision of what optimal learning looks like. The district plans to incorporate NEASC’s feedback into its strategic plan.

General Updates

To date, there has been no in-school spread of the coronavirus. Students are diligently wearing masks and attempting to socially distance when possible. Tests are available for students and staff members who are experiencing symptoms or who have come in contact with a COVID-positive individual.

A study showed that 52 percent of all Winthrop students qualify for free or reduced lunch. That number is likely to increase as parental outreach continues.

The district met with the Transportation Safety Advisory Commission last week to discuss the need for crossing guards. After an unsuccessful recruitment attempt, the district will work with an outside agency that specializes in placing crossing guards in communities.

On Nov. 2, district staff will attend a full-day of professional development alongside educators from Chelsea, Everett, Malden and Revere. The regional training will focus on diversity, equity and inclusion in the classroom, and will feature a number of expert speakers.

The district is in early stages of budget planning and identifying funding sources for the next school year, a lot which will come in the form of grants.

The district is currently looking to fill a number of positions, including crossing guards, lunch monitors, athletic positions, and ELL/ESP teachers.

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