Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

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

School Committee Update

Dear Friends,

Welcome back to school!  We hope you had a great summer and the school year has started off well for you.

This update is for the 09/04/2018 Newton School Committee meeting:

  • Superintendent Fleishman welcomed our 2018 – 2019 School Committee Student Representatives:  Nayeth Lopez-Lopez, Maya Matthews, Serena Jampel, Cristian Gaines, Lucy Chae and Ross Halpern
  • Superintendent Fleishman thanked our Custodial, Administrative and Transportation teams for a successful first day of school.
  • Superintendent Fleishman honored the life of Tony Bibbo, longtime friend of NPS, who recently passed away.
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve the contracts with the  NPS Custodian’s Association and Newton Educational Secretaries Association.
  • The NPS administrative team presented a second look at our 2018 – 2019 System-Wide goals.  Notable additions are several curriculum changes including expansion of Investigations 3 Math curriculum in elementary, introduction of Illustrative Math curriculum in middle schools, and several updates to our science and social studies curriculum.
  • Superintendent David Fleishman presented  his 2018 – 2019 Superintendent Goals.
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve the 2018 – 2019 School Committee Calendar and Agenda Items
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve several policy additions and updates including JFABE (Military Childen), JFABF (Foster Care) and JRA (School Records)
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve a new private school in Newton called Fusion Academy.  It is important to note that this vote is required by law and is not an endorsement of the school.
  • The School Committee unanimously voted to approve amended School Committee meeting minutes.

Next Meeting:

  • September 17th @7PM: Capital Improvement Plan, Update, Vote: Superintendent’s Assessment, Vote: Systemwide Goals

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

Welcome Back from the Superintendent

August 29, 2018

Dear Families,

I hope you have enjoyed the summer. It is a great pleasure to welcome both our returning families and those new to our schools.

The start of a school year is a wonderful time for anyone involved in education because it allows us to develop new goals, build new relationships and embark upon new challenges. At the same time, I recognize that these transitions bring about mixed emotions for both students and families. One of my children reminded me of this several years ago at this time when he asked me “why can’t summer go on forever?”

Summer is an important time for adult learning in Newton and the conference we hosted for our educators this summer was one that made me proud. The conference featured Newton faculty and administrators facilitating training sessions for their colleagues on a range of important topics related to both the academic and social and emotional aspects of race and student achievement. The conference was one example of the professional learning that occurs over the summer and I am proud that we have the expertise amongst our own staff to take on these important goals, which also include updating and improving our curriculum based on new standards and student learning styles.

While we recognize that a skilled and dedicated teacher is the most important ingredient to high quality student learning, we also know that effective use of technology has the potential to support the work of students and teachers. In that spirit, we will expand the one-to-one technology pilot from last year and provide a Chromebook to all 10th grade students this year. We are hopeful that this initiative will provide our faculty with greater opportunities to use technology to enhance learning in class and to ensure that all students have access to technology at home. After this year, we hope to extend this initiative to all high school grade levels.

It is essential that we work with families to create school communities that are inclusive, supportive, and healthy environments for our students to learn and grow. As a school district, it is our job to educate your child, but also to provide you with resources to help you and your student navigate complex issues. Last year, we held a very successful parent workshop on “Living in a Smartphone World.” It was clear to us that this was a topic of significant interest to families that warrants further exploration by our district. Again, this year, we will hold a community forum and we will be looking for your input on issues that are most relevant to you and your family.

One of the most important parts of my job is to be in our schools on a regular basis working with staff and students. Together with School Committee members, and working closely with our PTOs, I will again visit each of our 22 schools to speak with you about district initiatives and listen to your ideas, questions, and concerns. Using social media, it is our hope to expand the dialogue and conversation this year to share more about all the good work happening in our district and to hear from you about the information and resources that are important to you. You can find us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. You may also sign up for regular updates from our School Committee here.

Our partnership with you and the larger Newton community is critical to our success. Please accept my best wishes for a wonderful school year.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent
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You may also view a video welcome from the superintendent.

Letter from the Superintendent

August 20th, 2018

Dear Newton Public School Families,

As part of our district’s commitment to creating welcoming, supportive, and safe communities for all, we have worked together over the past year with Families Organizing for Racial Justice (FORJ), a parent-led group in Newton. It is our hope to provide interested families with opportunities, information, and resources to become better equipped to address issues of race, culture, and identity with their children. Last year, the work was focused in our elementary schools and this year will expand to our middle and high schools.

To facilitate this effort, we are working with Amy Behrens, a FORJ Leader, diversity educator, and parent coach and Gloria Pascual, a seasoned community leader in Boston and Framingham, who will be the FORJ Co-Coordinators for 2018-2019. They, and a diverse set of parent leaders, will continue supporting parent volunteers from all Newton schools to help them:

· Identify needs and action plans specific to their schools

· Create opportunities, through events and activities, for face-to-face conversations and dialogue

· Provide families with valuable information, tools, and resources

Amy and Gloria will work in concert with PTOs and existing school groups to develop personalized programs for each school community. The work will rely on volunteers interested in engaging their schools on issues of race, culture, and identity. Please sign up here https://goo.gl/forms/ZBa8uQTcKkUeLXHC2 OR email Amy at amy@amybehrens.com to be placed on the mailing list for information about upcoming meetings.

The first FORJ meeting of the year will be on Tuesday, October 2nd 7:30-9pm at the Angier Elementary School, 1697 Beacon St, Waban, MA 02468, accessible by the Waban T stop on the Green D Line.

We are eager to continue expanding this partnership with families this school year. I hope that you will consider getting involved.

Sincerely,

David Fleishman
Superintendent

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 to a open houses at Central High School located at 100 Walnut Street and the Harbor Program on the campus of Newton South High School. The facilities for both programs are in renovated spaces as of September 2018. Directors and faculty of both programs discussed how the renovated spaces have made a positive impact on addressing student needs. Central High School, as described by the NPS website, is a small, highly structured, therapeutic setting with a behavior management system built into the school day. The Harbor Program, previously known as the High School Stabilization Program, is a short term program for students in crisis. This program allows students to continue their courses of study with additional clinical supports.

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.

Sincerely,

Newton School Committee

schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us

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