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School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

This update is for the 05/30/2018 Newton School Committee meeting:

With over 1800 views, our first School Committee “Virtual Office Hours” was a huge success.  We held our second one last night and you can view the video on the district Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/newtonps.

  • To start, we held a public meeting and voted unanimously to decline participation in the Massachusetts School Choice program. To clarify, this is not related to school choice for Newton residents within the district. The School Choice program allows students from outside of Newton to apply to attend Newton Public Schools. It is a statewide program in which districts can choose to participate or not. This public meeting and vote is required by law and it is a decision that must be reaffirmed annually.
  • Toby Romer and Mary Eich were joined by Interim IT Director Tom Gwin, to provide an update on the One Student/One Device Pilot.  The pilot will continue next year when, starting in January, Chromebooks are planned to be distributed to the entire 10th grade at Newton North and Newton South. To learn more about the program and to view the presentation to the School Committee, visit: www.newton.k12.ma.us/laptop.
  • Members of the Equity Committee presented an update to the Equity Guidelines.  Most notable changes to the guidelines were a lowered per pupil spending cap of $80 and the formation of a Working Group to consider pooled PTO funds.
  • We had a chance to recognize Newton Public School students including:
    • Our Newton School Committee student representatives, Brooke Hackel, Michael Ryter and Max Teszler, all who are graduating this year.
    • The Newton North Graphic Design students who participated in the project to redesign the district logo: Arthur Dutra, Liam MacIntyre, Mia Patriacca, Emma Nephtali, Li Shandross and Grant Yee. A special thank you to Li Shandross for designing the logo chosen for district use.
  • Lastly, we unanimously voted to relocate the Horace Mann Elementary School to 225 Nevada Street, currently the site of the Carr Building, in September 2019. This was the official vote to affirm the long-term facilities plan we have been using.

Upcoming Meetings:

  • June 11th @7PM: Year-End Reports: Superintendent’s Goals and Systemwide Goals, Student Assignment Working Group (SAWG) Recommendation, Student Services Update, Vote: EDCO Board Member.
  • June 18th @7PM: SEPAC Update, High School Start Time Update, Fiscal and Operational Update and Facilities Update, Discussion of Superintendent’s Assessment.

We hope you have found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/domain/69). 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 wonderful week!

Sincerely,

The Newton School Committee

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

This update is for the 03/26/2018 and 04/02/2018 Newton School Committee meetings, as well as additional information about recent program open houses:

1). At both 3/26 and 4/2 meetings, the main topic was the 2018-2019 proposed budget. The question and answer periods were relatively short as we had covered quite a bit of ground at our previous budget meetings (see previous newsletters). The meeting ended with a unanimous straw vote supporting the budget proposal.

2). At the 3/26 meeting we discussed a draft revision of the policy: Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use for Students. The impetus for the new draft was the new requirement for SBIRT (Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment) screening. SBIRT is an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce, and prevent problematic use, abuse, and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs This is a verbal screening for students in grades 7 and 9. A number of revisions were suggested and a final draft will be proposed at an upcoming meeting.

3). School Committee Members were invited Continue reading

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

We, your Newton School Committee, are writing to provide you with an update on the happenings within the School Committee.

This update is for the SC meeting which occurred on 03/19/2018:

This meeting was the first in several meetings aimed at reviewing the Superintendent’s Proposed 2018 – 2019 budget. A helpful tool to use when looking over the budget book is the Superintendent’s Budget Presentation. According to the presentation, the goals of the budget proposal are:

“To continue the forward momentum toward achieving key system goals and preserve the programs and supports we have built over the last several years, while addressing growing high school enrollment, our largest elementary and middle schools, and the increasing social and emotional needs of students.”

There are no major cuts, and the budget proposal supports some program improvements.

Please note, we will have a public hearing at 6:30pm on April 2nd and look forward to hearing your thoughts. You are also welcome to speak at public comment Monday, March 26th.

Here are some key takeaways from the March 19th meeting:

  • Assistant Principal positions are being added to Franklin, Mason-Rice and Angier.
  • Reduction of 2 elementary classrooms/teachers based on enrollment declines. Class sizes will not increase.
  • Addition of 0.5 Full Time Employee (FTE) at Day (Student Services administrator) and 0.5 FTE at Oak Hill (teacher)
  • Five full-time teachers are being added to our High Schools due to enrollment increases.
  • An additional 0.5 FTE math coach and purchase of materials to support the rollout of the new elementary math curriculum, Investigations 3.0, to all grade levels.
  • One-time funds are being used to purchase 1,000 Chromebooks to be added to the current high school supply.

Upcoming Budget Meetings:
March 22 @7:00 p.m.: Special School Committee Meeting, Budget Review: Student Services and Non-Instructional Areas
March 26 @7:00 p.m.: Regular School Committee Meeting, Straw Vote: FY19 School Budget
April 2 @6:30 p.m.: Public Hearing, Discussion: 2018-19 School Budget
April 9, @7:00 p.m.: Regular School Committee Meeting, Discussion and Vote: FY19 Budget

We hope you have found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/domain/69). 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 eager to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Please feel free to contact us via the information below.

Sincerely,
The Newton School Committee

March 24th Newton Family Conference Postponement

Dear NPS Community,

On Monday night at the School Committee meeting, I shared with the community that the district is postponing the Family Conference scheduled for Saturday, March 24th. A new date has not yet been set, but we aim to reschedule the event in Fall 2018.

We are disappointed to postpone the conference as it has been such a valuable experience for participants in previous years. However, there are March for Our Lives events in Boston and across the country now occurring that afternoon and some of our facilitators and participants would like to attend. In order to have a successful conference, it is essential that we have the right facilitators there to share information and guide the conversations.

The Newton Family Conference is one way in which the Newton Public School District is seeking to create culturally responsive school communities. While the conference is postponed for now, our work with faculty and staff around Courageous Conversations on Race will continue, as laid out in our six-year plan. Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ) will also continue to support parent/family groups as they seek to explore issues of race in their individual schools.

We look forward to continuing this work through the end of the year and hope that we will see you next fall at the Family Conference.

Sincerely,
David Fleishman

Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Newton Community,

I write to you with great sadness as our nation faces yet another tragedy in our school buildings. Our hearts go out to our fellow educators and all the students and families in Parkland, Florida. It is incomprehensible that these tragedies continue to occur and an important reminder that we must be prepared.

The Newton Public Schools have many systems in place to ensure that our schools are safe. Research demonstrates that some of the most important safety work we do is the support of the social and emotional health of our students. We know that it is most important for students to feel connected to their school community and supported by their peers, teachers, and other trusted adults. When we create connections and support, faculty and staff can more effectively address student needs or concerns when they arise. Some of the social and emotional initiatives we have in place include:

  • Signs of Suicide (SOS) curriculum and screenings of 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students
  • School connectedness surveys now conducted regularly at all levels
  • Responsive school/home and other social/emotional support programs
  • Anti-bullying programs and reporting system
  • Mental health professionals, including psychologists, counselors, or social workers in all buildings
  • Close partnerships with City of Newton Health and Human Services department and outside agencies

In addition to the social and emotional efforts, we do have robust safety and security systems and protocols in place to create secure buildings. We work very closely with our city partners on prevention, preparedness and response to a wide range of scenarios. In addition, we are currently working with an outside security expert to revise all our emergency protocols, which are aligned with current best practices in school safety and Massachusetts state guidelines. We expect these new protocols to be finalized this spring and implemented next fall.

The following is a list of some (not all) of the current systems we have in place in our district and our schools:

  • District-wide safety team that meets regularly to review, assess, and modify safety and crisis response protocols and procedures. The team is comprised of district, mental health, fire, police, and health department personnel
  • Building-based crisis teams focused on crisis prevention, preparedness and response at the school level
  • Close partnership with police and fire departments to ensure rapid and coordinated emergency response
  • Regular practice of emergency procedures, including lockdowns and shelter-in-place protocols
  • Emergency radios in all schools with direct connection to first responders

In light of the Florida tragedy, all of our district and building-based teams will be thoroughly reviewing safety procedures at their next meeting. In addition, Newton North and Newton South are identifying ways in which they can make security enhancements. We engage in this work knowing that these buildings were designed to be open campus environments in accordance with our educational philosophy. In doing so, we will be looking at procedures used at our neighboring high schools that also maintain an open campus.

We will continue to be vigilant in implementing our social and emotional support programs as well as reviewing and modifying our safety and security procedures and protocols. It is important that we partner with you in this endeavor and ask that if you see anything that is a safety concern, please do not hesitate to contact a teacher, counselor, or administrator.

Thank you for your understanding and support during these troubling times.

Sincerely,
David Fleishman