The latest announcements from the PTO Council and NPS...

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

This update is for the 1/14/2019 Newton School Committee meeting:

First, Did you know that the School Committee includes terrific student representatives from both high schools?  Please check out the bio for our 2018 – 2019 student representatives.

Superintendent Update

  • Starting in the Fall of 2019, the NPS IT department will be rolling out a Gmail platform to replace the current First Class System used by NPS staff.
  • Oak Hill Middle School has started a Girls Who Code group. So far the group has had a huge turnout with over 50 young women joining mini-lessons on Friday afternoons.

New Business

  • Mary Eich, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, was joined by Jennifer Shore, Curriculum Coordinator for K-8 Mathematics, to present an Elementary Math Update.  This included a deep history of math curriculum and a detailed look at the year-long decision making process that led to the adoption of the “Investigations 3” math program in our elementary schools. This historical review was accompanied by a presentation demonstrating how “Investigations 3” works, why it was chosen, and how NPS will be tracking its success.
  • Members of the Equity Committee, including PTO Council Co-President Christine Dutt and School Committee Member Kathy Shields, presented a brief update on the activities of the Equity Committee.  Originally the committee had a goal of presenting a final recommendation to the School Committee about the possibility of pooling some PTO funds by April of 2019.  However, they have requested more time in order to thoroughly collect public feedback.  We will receive an update in April.
  • School Committee member Margaret Albright presented suggested revision to two policies: Public Comment and Naming Schools.  Members of the School Committee suggested further editing.

Consent Agenda

Next Meeting

January 28 at 7:00 p.m.: Elementary Principal Update, Enrollment Planning and Class Size Report, Mid-Year Superintendent Assessment, Mid-Year SC Calendar Review, EDCO Update

We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee). Additionally, if you are interested in watching an SC meeting from home or a recorded meeting, you can obtain access via www.newtv.org.

As always, we are very happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us at schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us.

Sincerely,

The Newton School Committee

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

This update is for the 12/10/2018 Newton School Committee meeting:

  • Students from the Beijing Jinshan School Exchange Program introduced themselves, shared something they have enjoyed during their visit, and presented the School Committee with a beautiful gift scroll.
  • Toby Romer, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education, was joined by high school principals Joel Stembridge and Henry Turner to present an update to the high school schedule initiative. The presentation featured three potential schedules, all of which had common elements including the inclusion of flexible learning time, longer class blocks, longer lunches and the ability to start the day later but still end by 3PM.  A key takeaway was that the proposed learning time would be on par with our peer districts. He also explained that a traffic consultant has been hired to study the traffic impact of start times at elementary, middle, and high schools and to make a recommendation for adjustments that would allow a later high school start time. The School Committee’s target date for implementation of a later start time is September 2020.
  • Mary Eich, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, was joined by Katy Hogue, District Student Data Manager, to present the results of the MCAS 2018 student testing.  Overall, Newton students performed at a much higher level than the state average.  The presentation did pay close attention to a persistent achievement gap impacting several minority student groups, as well as the incongruous results of the middle school science test.
  • As part of our Facilities Update, Bill Ferguson, Co-Director of Sustainability for the City of Newton, presented Phase 3 plans for installing solar panels on several NPS owned properties including the parking lots at Mason Rice, Bigelow, Oak Hill, Memorial-Spaulding and Brown.  These efforts would save $5 million over the course of 20 years.  The School Committee voted unanimously to approve the installation of the solar panels.
  • Liam Hurley, CFO, reviewed the second FY19 Fiscal and Operations Update, which projected a positive balance of $722,000.
  • The scheduled consent agenda included several items, all of which were voted unanimous approval:

Next Meeting:

January 14 @7PM: EDCO Update, Elementary Math Update, Equity Committee Update

We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee). Additionally, if you are interested in watching an SC meeting from home or a recorded meeting, you can obtain access via www.newtv.org.

As always, we are very happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us via the email address below.

Have a safe and fun December break, wonderful holidays, and a happy new year!

Sincerely,

The Newton School Committee

An Invitation to a Special Event on Sat. Dec. 1st

Dear Newton Families,

For the past few years, the Newton Public Schools have hosted the Newton Family Conference – a conference for Black/African-American and Latino/Hispanic families to provide opportunities for learning, connection, and discussion. Because the event has been so informative and helpful, this year we are expanding it to invite ALL NPS families.

We postponed last spring’s conference to this fall and now I am pleased to invite you to the 2018 Newton Family Conference to be held on Saturday, December 1st from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at Newton North High School. The goal of the Newton Family Conference is to build relationships between families of color and white families within the district; advance dialogue around issues of race, culture, and identity; and create opportunities for families within NPS to meet each other. The Family Conference is one way in which the Newton Public School District is seeking to create culturally responsive school communities with equity and excellence for all.

Participants at the conference will attend workshops on “Courageous Conversations About Race” facilitated by NPS trained facilitators. These sessions will be similar to the workshops in which Newton faculty and staff are participating. In addition, we will offer sessions at the conference that will provide parents with ideas and strategies for talking to their children about race. Our goal is for you to partner with us as we strive to make our Newton school community welcoming and inclusive to all students and families.

To facilitate your participation, limited childcare, provided by Newton classroom aides and high school students, will be available for children in grades K-5. Please RSVP at: https://2018familyconference.eventbrite.com. Workshop online selection forms will be emailed by November 5th to those that RSVP.

I hope you will consider attending what should be an excellent conference.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent

Letter from the Superintendent

September 17, 2018

Dear Newton Community:

For the past seven years, the Newton Public Schools have been the target of outside groups claiming anti-Israel bias in our history curriculum. These baseless claims, often reliant upon materials and documents taken out of context, are misleading and only serve to denigrate the hard work and professionalism of our skilled and dedicated faculty.

In recent months, the attacks have grown increasingly and unjustly personal. Our history teachers have been singled out, harassed and subjected to harsh and unfair criticism in the media and online. As a result, there is growing concern among our faculty about teaching controversial topics. Should these attacks continue, we worry it will jeopardize our ability to expose students to diverse opinions and to teach them about controversial issues that require open minds and critical thought.

We stand behind our faculty members, who are guided by the mission and values of the Newton Public Schools and their professional judgment. Whether it is the history of the Middle East or contemporary American politics, they are committed to engaging students around complex and challenging issues in a responsible, intellectual and balanced way.

In every class, our teachers work to ensure that students learn to separate fact from opinion, discern between different points of view, challenge their own thinking and that of their peers, and develop evidence-based opinions through study and the testing of ideas. They also provide space for students to actively listen, particularly to those voices in the minority – whether it be political, racial, ethnic, religious, or gender.

As always, we encourage our families to bring any questions about curriculum to their child’s teacher or department head. Information and teaching materials are always available to families and our administrators and faculty are happy to discuss them. For more information on teaching controversial topics in the Newton Public Schools, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions on our website.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent of Schools

Mayor’s Update

We need your help.

The City of Newton’s recycling contains 18 percent contamination. Contractually, the City is required to have a contamination rate of less than 10 percent. As a result, the City was charged $6,120 in fines last month and we have paid $65,611 in fines so far in 2018. This is a direct impact Newton is facing due to the global recycling markets downturn you may have heard about this year.

The City of Newton is embarking on a focused initiative to educate our residents and lower our contamination rate. We received a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to fund a robust education campaign, help us inspect what’s in the recycling carts and to communicate that information to residents.

Beginning next week, on Monday, October 1, we will be performing curbside inspections of residential recycling carts. Continue reading