Chelsea Superintendent Looks Ahead to New School Year

While most Chelsea students are just getting into the swing of enjoying their summer break, there is little rest for school administrators. Earlier this week, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Almi Abeyta reflected on the past school year and looked ahead to the coming school year. Of course, the biggest challenge any superintendent has had to handle over the past three school years has been dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. Abeyta came on board as the new superintendent in January of 2020, and on March 13 of that year, the first schools were shut down because of the pandemic. Hard to believe, but the 2022-23 school year will be the fourth school year where there will be at least some shadow of dealing with the pandemic. But Abeyta said she sees hopeful signs on that front. “This is the first summer where we are not having to negotiate a memorandum of understanding for reopening with the teachers’ union,” she said. “We are looking forward to the students having a normal start to the school year.” For the first time in a long time, there is also no current mask mandate in the schools. “We lifted the mask mandate for summer school; for the first time, masks are optional,” said Abeyta. “We hope to be mask optional when school starts and we hope to focus on meeting the needs of our students.” Looking back on the past school year, one particular point of pride is the graduating class of 2022. “We had 312 graduates this year, which is the same amount we had pre-pandemic,” Abeyta said. “I’m very excited that we graduated a large class, with over $5 million in scholarships and awards and students are attending over 76 different colleges and trade schools.” Abeyta said she is also proud of the work has done expanding its summer school and after-school programming, including its partnership with UPenn on an after-school program. Another highlight of the past year has been the emphasis on family and community engagement in the district. Zoom was one of the necessities of life during the pandemic, but Abeyta said it has shown its continued usefulness as a tool to increase parent engagement. “We have a very active parent community, and one of the most active is at the high school, which we have been able to curate with Zoom,” Abeyta said. The district also continues its equity and diversity work, recruiting teachers through its pathways programs and diversifying the teacher and staff workforce. That equity work will continue in the coming school year, Abeyta said, as the district brings an equity roadshow to the schools in the district to highlight the recent district equity audit on work on the district’s strategic plan. “There is a huge focus on belonging and our mission statement that we welcome and educate all,” said Abeyta. “That is a huge theme, and we are also doing deep work to build relationships with our students.” She said there are other indications that the school year should get off to a smoother start for students on August 31. “We are hoping that we are not going to begin the school year with a bus shortage,” said Abeyta. “Our district was one of the ones that brought in the National Guard last year.”

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