Committee reviews findings from Athol Superintendent’s entry plan

  • Ehrenworth

News Editor
Published: 5/24/2023 6:46:24 PM
Modified: 5/24/2023 6:43:54 PM

From curriculum updates to staff retention to facility upgrades, a lot of needs were identified through Superintendent Matthew Ehrenworth’s entry plan.

Ehrenworth presented the plan earlier this year. At the AARD School Committee meeting on May 17, he presented the findings of the plan and in June will discuss priorities and how the district will move forward.

The findings covered academics, pupil services, communication and financials, with a number of different needs identified in each category. On the academic side, for example, Ehrenworth said literacy on all grade levels needs to be improved, particularly in the elementary grades. A literacy evaluation process that had been dormant has been restarted and the schools will be working on strategy with Keys to Literacy, which provides literacy professional development across all grade levels. In addition, the district will partner with Focused Schools, which helps designs plans for improvement.

“I want to retire from this district one day confident that we have a system in place where teachers are leading this work because they’re the experts in working with the students and know what needs to be done in the classroom,” he said at the meeting.

Communication was cited as a significant area to improve upon. The updates to the web site and a new district app haven’t been completed, and Ehrenworth cited turnover within the staff as a reason. He added that the technical director is currently part-time, a situation not working out for the community. He hopes to have the web site updated and ready for the next school year in September and spoke of a segment with Athol Orange Television.

“I want to provide opportunities for people to better engage with students,” Ehrenworth said.

On the financial side, the superintendent said the district is in good shape, but some tasks could be merged together under one umbrella to provide improved efficiency. He said this is sometimes the reason people move on to other districts.

“People aren’t always given clear direction as to who does what,” he said.

Ehrenworth stressed that federal COVID-related funds would soon come to a close, and the time is fast coming when decisions will need to be made on any hires made using those funds.

“We need to go into FY25 and have a clear understanding of what staffing we are going to keep, because there will still be remediation and accelerating needs,” he said. “The funding may have gone away, but the impact certainly has not and we need to continue to address that impact.”

Staff retention was also brought up as an issue to address. The district has seen or will soon see new hires, including a pupil services director, a technology director, and a facilities director. The search for a new principal at Athol-Royalston Middle School is soon coming to a close. Ehrenorth said that as these new administrative positions are filled, clear communication is important. He said staff retention has proven a challenge for the district, as people come in, but don’t stay.

“Otherwise, all that happens is frustration and people become demoralized,” he said with regards to the need for better communication. “People say ‘I’m done, this is it, no one listens to me, I don’t have a say in what happens, this is never going to change.’ That can’t happen here.”

Max Bowen can be reached at 413-772-0261, ext. 265 or

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