After a Delay, School Committee Adopts Goals for Watertown Schools

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The School Committee appointed Dr. John Brackett as the interim superintendent for the rest of the school year.

Charlie Breitrose

Interim Superintendent John Brackett advised that the School Committee to take a different approach when making their goals next year.

After months of contemplation and delays due to changes in the district, the School Committee adopted the district’s Goals and Priorities at Monday night’s School Committee meeting.

The Watertown Public School’s three strategic goals are: Support High Academic Achievement, Foster the Capacity for Life-Long Learning and Promote Local and Global Citizenship.

The goals normally come out early in the school year, but School Committee Chairman John Portz said there have been some delays this year.

“The process started in August. It started as goals for the superintendent, but then we we had a transition,” Portz said, referring to Jean Fitzgerald’s sudden retirement in October. “It was put on the back burner.”

With the hiring of Interim Superintendent John Brackett, the district went to work on the goals again.

Brackett said the next time the School Committee creates goals, members might want to change the way they structure goals.

“In the future, you might want to think about putting priority on measurable outcomes, such as closing the achievement gap, as opposed to (the goals being) action steps,” Brackett said.

He referred to implementing the Foreign Language in Elementary Schools as an action step, rather than a measurable goal. That is one of the academic goals, along with Global Competency, and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (also known by the acronym STEAM).

Some goals might need clarification, even for the teachers and other staff.

“We want to make sure all faculty understand what Global Competency is,” Brackett said. According to the district goals, Global Competency is understanding the world around us, recognizing perspectives, communicating to diverse audiences and taking action.

Looking at the STEAM goal, Brackett said because it involves so many different subjects at all grade levels, the district needs someone who will “champion this moving forward.” And by the end of the school year administrators, principals and key teachers will decide on areas of improvement or each element of STEAM.

The district also has several operational goals, including completing the School Facilities Master Plan, enrollment balance in classrooms across the district and communication.

School Committee member Eileen Hsu-Balzer received a letter from the New England Association of School and Colleges about the Watertown High School accreditation. It put the school on warning for the state of the school building and facilities.

“Thee are 19 specific issues related to the physical plant,” Hsu-Balzer said. “We were placed on warning for that situation.”

The district must submit a plan by September 2017 for addressing the issues, said Hsu-Balzer, and she suggested this be one of the goals for the year.

One goal that has dropped off the list is reading, noted School Committee member Candace Miller.

“If you are going to move the needle forward for all students, reading is one of the (areas to look at),” Miller said.

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