Category Archives: From Newton Public Schools

Newton PTO Council 2019-02-15 08:53:45

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.

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

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