Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

News from Newton Public Schools

FY2020 Budget proposal hot off the presses

News from the Superintendent

A Periodic Update from David Fleishman

The Newton Public Schools have a long history of supporting the Fine & Performing Arts. We are fortunate we have been able to maintain and expand our offerings in recent years. I wanted to take a moment to share with you the breadth and depth of our programs and to emphasize our ongoing commitment to arts education in the district.

I have always been so impressed with the work that goes on in the fine arts programs in our high schools. Our students, with guidance from a skilled and dedicated faculty, often take on complex and challenging contemporary societal issues on stage, in the visual arts, and in multiple other arenas. In my experience, what makes Newton particularly unique is our student-led productions at this level. Students have the opportunity to develop a production or exhibit from start to finish, providing a deeper and more profound learning experience. Our high school programs also provide students with the opportunity to compete, to travel and perform with other students across the country, and to learn from artists who make a living in the fine arts.

As with all of our curriculum areas, our fine arts program establishes building blocks in the early grades that then allow students to pursue program areas of most interest to them in the later grades. In elementary school, that means students have specialized instruction in music and art class, coupled with the opportunity to take lessons in a string or band instrument. In middle school, we have aligned our programs across all four schools so that students sample the fine arts through elective programming. They also may choose to augment their in-school experience with after school enrichment programs.

As a district, we will continue to support the programming and experiences in our fine arts department. I hope that you have the opportunity to enjoy some of the many shows, exhibits, and performances that take place in our schools and community throughout the year.

A Focus on Jazz

The Fine & Performing Arts Departments of Newton North and Newton South High Schools continue to thrive while exploring new paths of expansion and improvement. One area of growth is within the jazz programs. Both schools achieved superior ratings at the Berklee Jazz Festival and were ranked as top five in the nation. The Newton South Jazz Ensemble earned one of three coveted spots in the national 11th Annual Mingus High School Competition & Festival in New York. South was one of a dozen ensembles in total that performed in the competition over February vacation. In addition, through the Lilian Radlo Resident Artist Program, the Jazz-hers initiative has been implemented. Jazz-hers brings in a series of guest artists to show female leaders in roles typically held by males. Finally, students in the jazz program at North will take a trip to New Orleans this April to experience jazz in the home city of the world famous jazz festival.

Music is just one of the many opportunities for students to participate in the fine and performing arts at Newton North and Newton South. For more information on the programs offered at both schools, follow these links (North and South).

Middle School Theater and Music

Our middle schools are getting ready for a very busy spring with more than 350 students participating in theater productions across all four schools. Mary Poppins, Newsies, 42nd St. Jr., and Shrek the Musical have or will be performed over the next month. We are proud of the robust theater programs at each of our middle schools, which allow students to explore onstage performance as well as set, lighting, and costume design, among other technical theater aspects. This year, students at Bigelow are also taking on the challenge of writing, designing, and creating a show for their community. Many students across the district will also have the opportunity to perform at the upcoming Massachusetts Middle School Drama Festival. New opportunities, new challenges, and new areas of exploration are the ways in which our middle school drama programs stay strong and inspire students to continue to be involved into their high school years.

Elementary Integrated Arts Program

In our elementary schools, we begin our arts education program by providing students with a variety of different art experiences. Students participate in art and music classes weekly and also have the opportunity to try an instrument through our band and orchestra programs. Recently, Memorial Spaulding art teacher Alexandra Etscovitz was named the Massachusetts Elementary Arts Educator of the Year by the MA Arts Education Association. She was recognized for her work with fellow M-S educators in integrating the arts throughout the curriculum. You can read more about her work here. Because many of our teachers are always looking for new arts opportunities, our students often participate in unique art projects. For example, at Cabot this year, the Student Council participated in Snapshots of Joy, a program of the Finding One’s Voice foundation. You can see their photographs and learn more about the program here.

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

This update is for the 2/11/2019 Newton School Committee meeting:

Superintendent Update

New Business

  • Mary Eich, Assistant Superintendent for Teaching and Learning, was joined by Steven Rattendi, Director of IT, to present an Update on Information Technology and Libraries.   This included an overview of the department, as well as information on database management, the new 1:1 laptop initiative in the high schools, network infrastructure, and G (Google) Suite Expansion.
  • Liam Hurley, Chief Financial Officer, and Julie Kirrane, Director of Business and Planning, presented an FY19 Fiscal and Operations Update showing NPS in good fiscal health.
  • Liam Hurley and Julie Kirrane also presented the Facilities Update, which included information regarding the Cabot School Building Project, the Lincoln-Eliot/NECP School Building Projects, the Cabot and Horace Mann School moves, the MSBA Accelerated Repair Program, the Lincoln-Eliot Heating and Building Envelope Project, 225 Nevada Street (Carr) improvements. They also provided updates on heating issues, the Franklin Kindergarten wing, and the revised plans for solar panels at Brown Middle School. 
  • We reviewed the System-wide goals for 2018 – 2019 followed by a mid-year check in on the Superintendent’s Goals.

Old Business

Consent Agenda

Next Meeting

Our next meeting is a special meeting on Monday March 4 at 5:30 p.m. This meeting with include a discussion of NPS’ use of academic data, as well as votes on the Countryside Statement of Interest to the MSBA and the Brown solar panels. While there is no public comment at special meetings, you can always reach us by email or phone.

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.

Sincerely,
The Newton School Committee

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

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.