School Officials Detail Reasons for MCAS Improvement, Areas of Concern

Watertown Middle School teachers and staff have a plan in place to raise the MCAS scores at the school after a poor performance in 2018. Monday night, the School Committee heard about the strategies being used in the Watertown Schools that led to improvements for the town’s schools on the 2019 MCAS test. The Watertown Schools have made an effort to use data to drive lessons and to address weaknesses in classrooms and even for individual students, said Theresa McGuinness, the district’s Assistant Superintendent for Teaching, Learning & Assessment. “Student performance data is used to identify areas of strength and areas of opportunity, as a district, grade level, cohort and individual in English Language Arts (ELA), mathematics, and science,” McGuinness said. She added that the MCAS data is used in conjunction with other assessment tools used in the Watertown Schools.

Watertown School Recognized for MCAS Results, No Schools Require Intervention

Hosmer Elementary School in Watertown. The State recognized a Watertown School for its results on the 2019 MCAS test, and Watertown Middle School improved its scores enough so that it will no longer be under special scrutiny by state officials. Superintendent Dede Galdston gave an overview of the Watertown Public Schools’ results on the statewide standardized test at Monday’s School Committee meeting. “We did very well on the exams,” Galdston said. “I am very proud of the work that was done last year, and we will no longer require assistance or intervention (from the state).”

What It Would Take For Watertown to Have Net Zero Energy Schools

An example of a solar array canopy with a timber frame in a parking lot. They can be made of other materials, including metal. Architects showed the School Building Committee what it would take to make Watertown’s new elementary schools net zero — so the campus would generate enough energy to cover the electricity used to run the building. Watertown will be building two new elementary schools — at Cunniff and Hosmer — and school officials seek to make them not only green schools, but are looking at possibly making them net zero schools. Wednesday night, architect Scott Dunlap of Ai3 Architects, told the committee overseeing the project that the energy would be generated by photovoltaic (PV) solar panels.

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.

Architects Discuss School Gardens, Playgrounds & Outside Learning Spaces

A drawing showing the outdoor learning space outside Lowell Elementary School. The amenities surrounding Watertown’s three elementary schools after they are rebuilt or renovated are taking shape, but the School Building Committee and others have some concerns about handicap accessibility, deliveries and more. The designers of the town’s three elementary schools, Ai3 Architects, showed the School Building Committee details of the plans for the playgrounds, outdoor learning spaces, school gardens and even delivery areas at the Aug. 21 meeting. Gardens & Outdoor Learning Areas

The designers are working with teachers, staff and the district’s School Garden Coordinator, Judy Fallows, to help design the school gardens.

Committee Overseeing School Projects Concerned with Rising Construction Costs

A view of the most recent design of the new Hosmer Elementary School. Members of the School Building Committee worry about controlling the costs in Watertown’s three elementary school building projects in a climate with a competitive construction industry and international tariff wars. The projects include brand new schools at Hosmer and Cunniff elementary schools and a major renovation and addition at Lowell Elementary School. At least one member was bothered that Watertown may have missed an opportunity to keep the projects on budget using an alternative to the typical construction model. The design firm, Ai3 Architects, have nearly completed the design development phase (the second of three major phases before construction) and the costs are currently being estimated.

Design of Watertown’s Elementary Schools Taking Shape

A view of the approved addition to Lowell School, seen on the right, which has tall windows, including on the corners. The designs of Watertown’s three elementary school projects solidified Wednesday night, with the School Building Committee selecting its preferred options for Lowell School, and they got previews of the two new schools at Hosmer and Cunniff. While the Hosmer and Cunniff schools will get brand new schools, Lowell School will undergo a major renovation, plus a large addition will be made to the east side of the building. This area will include the library/media center. The look of the addition to the Lowell School was the big sticking point at the Committee’s previous meeting, with members splitting evenly over the two choices.

Energy Efficiency, Sustainability Goals for Watertown’s New Schools

A rendering of what the new Hosmer Elementary School could look like. The School Building Committee affirmed its commitment to making Watertown’s new elementary schools energy efficient and built in sustainable ways. The committee that is overseeing the school projects at Hosmer, Cunniff and Lowell elementary schools voted unanimously on June 19 to approve sustainability goals for the project. Architect Scott Dunlap from Ai3 also discussed some details of the design and ways they can be efficient and sustainable. The Sustainability Subcommittee of the School Building Committee presented the proposed goal, which called for striving for Net Zero buildings and to reach LEED Gold standards for the sustainability of the projects at the two new school buildings (Cunniff and Hosmer), while efforts would be made to make the Lowell energy efficient and sustainable.