Sheriff Koutoujian Speaks in DC About Importance of Pell Grants

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian (third from right) recently participated in a public briefing on the proposed restoration of Pell Grant eligibility for justice-involved individuals hosted by Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration. Pictured from left are Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration Senior Counsel Taryn Merkl; former Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Corrections Rick Raemisch; Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration Executive Director Ronal Serpas; Sheriff Koutoujian; Co-Founder and President of the Formerly Incarcerated College Graduates Dr. Chris Beasley; and Miea Walker, the Criminal Justice Manager of the Policy and Advocacy Division of Forward Justice. The following information was provided by the Middlesex Sheriff’s Office. Peter Koutoujian is a former State Rep who represented parts of Watertown:

Middlesex Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian joined current and former law enforcement leaders for a Capitol Hill briefing Wednesday, September 17, on the importance of restoring Pell Grants and expanding other higher education opportunities for incarcerated students. The event was hosted by Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime & Incarceration, of which Sheriff Koutoujian is a founding member.

Students Welcomed to New Minuteman High School Building

An illustration of what the new Minuteman High School building. The school was completed and opened this fall. The Lexington-based vocational technical school is attended by dozens of Watertown students. The following announcement was provided by Minuteman High School:

An inviting Student Union, a theater outfitted with an impressive array of professional-grade features, and a spacious restaurant with a café, a bakery sales area and a patio that seats two dozen guests are some of the marquee elements in a new school building in Lexington. Although it probably sounds more like a college facility, it’s actually the new, state-of-the-art, visually striking $145 million Minuteman High School, which opened its doors to students for the first time on September 3.

OP-ED: Education Reform Bill Would Provide More Funding

State Sen. Will Brownsberger

The following piece was provided by State Sen. Will Brownsberger, D – Belmont, who also represents Watertown and parts of Boston:

Friday, the legislature’s Education Committee released the Student Opportunity Act, a very significant education reform bill. It is an especially promising bill because the House and Senate leadership teams are already in agreement on all of its details. 

The bill targets more aid to communities with the highest concentrations of low income students, but schools in every community will benefit. The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) computes a budget for each school system in the state, known as the “Foundation Budget.” DESE also computes an amount that the school system should be able to contribute towards that budget. The state then sends the difference between what the community can afford and the Foundation Budget as education aid. Unfortunately, the Foundation Budget computation has not kept up with rising school costs. On average, communities need to spend approximately 30 percent more than the Foundation Budget to run their schools. The poorest communities in the state are unable to spend at that level and are therefore spending much less than the more affluent communities in the state.

Architect Chosen to Design Watertown High School Project

Meet the new architect, same as the old architect. The firm chosen by the Massachusetts School Building Authority’s Design Selection Panel — Ai3 Architects of Wayland — is the same group designing the three elementary school renovation projects in town. The decision, made at a meeting at MSBA headquarters in Boston on Tuesday, pleased Watertown Public Schools officials, said Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston. “We are very, very excited that Ai3 was the top ranked design firm selected to work forward with our high school project,” Galdston said. The panel included 13 members appointed by the MSBA, plus three representatives from Watertown — Galdston, Town Manager Michael Driscoll and Town Council President Mark Sideris.

Superintendent Unveils Goals for Watertown Public Schools

Dede Galdston, current assistant superintendent in Billerica, interviewed for the Watertown Superintendent’s job Monday night. Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston’s goals for 2019-20 include providing more feedback to teachers, working on the school building projects and community more with parents and the community. The School Committee heard the final draft of the goals at the September School Committee meeting. The goals are:

Goal 1 (Student Learning): Fair, Effective Educator Goal Setting, and EvaluationGoal 2 (District Improvement): Effective communication with larger school communityGoal 3 (District Improvement): Building for the Future Elementary and High School ProjectGoal 4 (Equity): Systems and structures that ensure equityGoal 5 (Student Learning): Increase student achievement for all students in the Watertown Public SchoolsGoal 6 (Student Learning): Tiered systems of supportGoal 7 (District Improvement): Shared vision for district improvement

Galdston said she wants to make sure teachers are observed and also get feedback about their performance. “Last year, we focused on educational goal setting which did very well.

Minuteman Head Named Semifinalist for Superintendent of the Year

Minuteman High School Supertinendent-Director Edward Bouquillon has been named semifinalist for superintendent of the year. The following announcement was provided by Minuteman High School:

Dr. Edward A. Bouquillon, who has been Superintendent-Director of Minuteman High School since 2007 and recently presided over the most notable and far-reaching achievement of his tenure there – the opening of a new $145 million Minuteman facility that he ceaselessly advocated for and took more than a decade from inception to completion – was recently chosen as a semi-finalist for the 2019 National Superintendent of the Year Award given by the National Association of School Superintendents (NASS). Dr. Bouquillon was nominated by Ford Spalding, the Dover representative to the Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School District and chair of the Minuteman School Building Committee. The award winner was Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart of Hazelwood School District in Florissant, Missouri. There were three other semi-finalists in addition to Dr. Bouquillon.

Watertown Middle School Expanding Offerings in Sports Programs

Watertown Middle School

Watertown Middle School has a tradition of not cutting players from its after school sports teams, but some sports have attracted many more players than can play in games. The School Committee approved a change to the program to allow more students to participate. The Watertown Athletic Department has come up with a plan to add intramural teams for the most popular sports, as well as adding a few new teams, said Superintendent Dede Galdston. “We looked at various option we can implement to reduce the impact of how many kids we have who want to play middle school sports,” Galdston said. “Currently there is a no cut policy — not a policy, but a practice that has been around for a long time.”

Asbestos Abatement Will be Costly in School Projects, Soil for Foundations in Good Shape

Asbestos was found deep in the walls of Hosmer Elementary School, which will result in higher costs of demolition when the new school is built.

Architects gave the School Building Committee some good news and some bad news with the costs related to hazardous material removal and the grounds where foundations will be built for the upcoming construction projects. In preparation for the construction projects at Watertown’s three elementary schools, architects have been looking at the conditions for demolition of the current schools, and to put in foundations for the new ones. The Bad News

When the schools were examined the schools for hazardous materials some asbestos was found in some hidden places, said Scott Dunlap, project architect for Ai3 Architects. The school with the most was Hosmer Elementary. “What we found at Hosmer we have only seen it a couple times,” Dunlap said, who described a layer of asbestos buffering between the exterior brick wall and the cement blocks inside.