Acton-Boxborough Schools Embrace Equity, Tackle Absenteeism

In an effort to address chronic absenteeism and prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), the Acton-Boxborough Regional School Committee engaged in discussions surrounding educational strategies and district initiatives. The committee paid close attention to the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) plan, which aims to close achievement gaps among students, and the transition from the Acton Health Insurance Trust to the Massachusetts Interlocal Insurance Association health benefits Trust. The committee also celebrated student achievements and recognized the significance of cultural events and holidays.

The committee meeting featured a focus on the SOA plan, which is designed to inject new funding into the educational system to close disparities in student achievement. The plan targets early literacy gaps, particularly among students who are black, Hispanic, economically disadvantaged, have IEPs, or are multilingual learners.

The committee members delved into the frequency of the SOA plan submission and the data sources informing the plan. A discussion arose regarding the evolving nature of absenteeism, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the necessity for expanded data collection to better comprehend the reasons behind student absences. The committee expressed a keen interest in understanding the various factors contributing to chronic absenteeism and the effectiveness of the strategies developed to combat it.

In parallel, discussions on DEI highlighted the district’s strategic plan to create a sense of belonging for all students. The committee stressed the importance of cultural responsiveness in teaching and the need to understand students’ cultural backgrounds to promote effective learning. The presentation by the director for diversity, equity, and inclusion, along with culture-responsive teacher leaders, emphasized the role of educators in recognizing and responding positively to students’ cultural displays of learning.


Additionally, the committee acknowledged the challenges of implementing culturally responsive teaching practices. One member voiced skepticism about the ability to teach empathy to adults, pointing out that not all teachers may effectively connect with students from diverse backgrounds. The necessity for administrative support in helping educators develop self-awareness and cultural understanding was discussed, as was the balance between students’ emotional health and educators’ acceptance of training.

The meeting also touched upon the hierarchical nature of culture and the importance of breaking the cycle of placing certain cultures above others. It was noted that recognizing the value of all cultures and educating teachers to address biases and promote equitable treatment is essential. The educators involved in DEI work shared their personal motivations and the significance of support and compensation for their efforts.

Beyond the discussions on absenteeism and DEI, the committee recognized student achievements, including the Science Olympiad team’s first-place win, students’ recognition in the Regeneron Science competition, the drama team’s advancement in a statewide festival, and the championships won by the high school girls basketball and girls gymnastics teams. A fifth-grade student’s top-five finish in the National Association of Teachers of Singing contest was also celebrated.


Further, the committee praised the Acton-Boxborough United Way Resource Center and AB Exchange for their support to the community, providing a space for residents to learn about community resources and offering essential items to visitors. The success of the Resource Center and the positive impact it has had on the community were highlighted.

In terms of the health insurance transition, the committee discussed the financial aspects and the upcoming dissolution of the Acton Health Insurance Trust. A vote was taken to approve the withdrawal from the trust and transition to the new trust, with a memorandum of understanding with the unions regarding this transition.

Finally, the committee discussed their communication goal update, exploring various methods to enhance community engagement, including reaching out through local publications, social media, and possibly using yard signs to promote office hours.


Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Peter Light
School Board Officials:
Adam Klein, Rebeccah Wilson, Liz Fowlks, Benjamin Bloomenthal, Tori Campbell, Lakshmi Kaja, Ginny Kremer (Attorney), Vikram Parikh, Leela Ramachandran, Yanxin Schmidt, Andrew Schwartz

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