Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

News from Newton Public Schools

Emergency Text Messages

A note from the Newton Public Schools:

The Newton Public Schools has implemented an emergency text messaging system. In the event of an emergency, NPS will alert you via text on your cell phone. Please note that this system will ONLY be used for emergencies, including weather-related school closings or delays. It will not be used to share information about regular school events or operations.

To receive emergency text messages, you MUST opt-in to receive text messages. You can do this by logging into Aspen and selecting “yes” in the drop-down box below your cell phone number in the contact information section.

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

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

We hope that the school year has started off well for you.

This update is for the 09/17/2018 Newton School Committee meeting:

  • Liam Hurley, Chief Financial & Administrative Officer, was joined by Julie Kirrane, Director of Business and Planning, and Sean Manion, Director of Finance to present the FY18 Final Fiscal and Operational Report. In summary, FY18 ended with a small surplus and a healthy carryover to help this year’s budget. Our first look at the FY19 Fiscal and Operational Report will take place in October.
  • Liam Hurley and Julie Kirrane were joined by David Stickney, Director of Facilities, to present an update on our summer facilities work, as well as the FY19 Update to the Long-Range Plan and the Capital Improvement Plan. A notable takeaway was the incredible amount of work done over the summer.  Over 250 projects were completed in 34 days, a testament to the Public Buildings and Facilities teams’ great efforts.  Another key discussion point was the revised long-range facilities timeline. The time estimates for projects were extended based on recent experience, and project order has been updated based on conditions and enrollment pressures.  The next major school projects will be Lincoln-Eliot and the NECP (150 Jackson St), Countryside, Ward, and Franklin.  Discussion included ideas of smaller projects at Ward and Franklin that could help improve living conditions at these buildings while they await their major renovations.
  • Stephen Marshall, Grants & Business Analyst, presented a list of grant awards and gifts.  The School Committee votes unanimously to accept these donations.
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve the Superintendent’s Assessment, the FY19 Systemwide GoalsMinutes for 9-4-2018, the FY19 School Committee Goals, and Anping Shen as our new MASC/MASS Conference Delegate.

Next Meeting:

  • October 1st @7PM: High School Start Time Update, Full Day Kindergarten Discussion, Student Assignment Working Group Discussion, MASS/MASC Resolutions Discussion.

Reminder:

We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/Page/2227). 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
schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us