By Kendra Foley
School Committee Chair
The 2023-2024 school year is underway in Watertown and we hope you are having a good start to your year.
Our year began with exciting news, as the Hosmer Elementary School was honored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education as a School of Recognition. Hosmer was only one of 66 schools in the state to earn this title as part of DESE’s release of MCAS data and accountability metrics. Our district as a whole also earned high marks from the state. You can read more about the recognition in Ms. Moulton’s newsletter to the Hosmer community.
Watertown High School was also recognized for strong academic achievement, earning a place on the College Board’s AP School Honor Roll with a Silver Distinction.
“The AP School Honor Roll recognizes schools that have done outstanding work to welcome more students into AP courses and support them on the path to college success.” College Board
Our district is working hard to open up opportunities and support all students as they challenge themselves academically. This is a testament to those efforts.
With the start of the new year comes significant changes for our district, perhaps none bigger than the move out of the old high school and into the temporary space at Moxley Field. We are pleased to report that there has been a smooth transition into the new building. You can see pictures and learn a little more about the new setup in this presentation from our September meeting.
We also learned about the activities over summer break for staff and students alike. Dr. Theresa McGuinness detailed some of the professional development opportunities for staff in recent months and summer program coordinators Rick Saunders and Deb Cornelius shared highlights from the Summer Success and Summer Explorations programs for elementary school children. You can find that presentation here.
In July of this year, Watertown officially joined the LABBB Collaborative. The mission of LABBBW Collaborative, (Lexington, Arlington, Burlington, Belmont, Bedford, and Watertown) is “to jointly conduct educational programs and/or services for Member Districts and non-member districts in a cost-effective manner, increase educational opportunities of children ages 3-22 and to improve education outcomes for students.” LABBBW provides programming in the following areas: intensive educational programming, therapeutic programming, vocational programming, consultation services, related services, and recreational programming for students with disabilities at 11 sites located within the member districts. Additionally, LABBBW provides professional development opportunities, including job-alike groups for special education professionals. This is an exciting opportunity for Watertown and a great resource to provide excellent opportunities for our students.
The Committee voted to approve a 2.5% annual compensation increase for Dr. Galdston, in addition to a market adjustment based on her performance evaluation as well as a review of similar communities. With Dr. Galdston’s contract expiring next June, our Committee also voted to begin negotiations with the Superintendent for a successor contract.
Also approved were Dr. Galdston’s goals for the 2023-2024 school year as well as the updates to the wellness policy discussed at the August meeting.
We heard an overview of – and approved – the annual 8th grade field trip to Washington DC, which takes place in early June 2024. 8th grade students and families will be receiving communication about this trip throughout the year. This is an exciting annual opportunity that aligns nicely with our civics curriculum for 8th graders.
The public got their first peek at the newly renovated Lowell Elementary School this week (it’s spectacular) and students move in on October 11th. Congratulations!
The next School Committee meeting will be Monday, October 23 at 7:00 PM. The dates and agendas for 2023/2024 School Committee meetings can be found here.