School Committee Wraps Up FY25 Budget, Approves 2024-25 School Calendar

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By Kendra Foley
Chair, Watertown School Committee

It has been a busy month for the Watertown School Committee as we wrap up the FY25 budget process. In the last three meetings, our board has heard a number of important presentations, voted on policy changes, and celebrated major accomplishments.

We have come to an agreement with Superintendent Galdston on a 4-year contract extension through 2028. Dr. Galdston has been an excellent leader for Watertown, bringing expertise, commitment and stability. We are thrilled to have her leading the Watertown Public Schools for another four years. We are also excited by the addition of new Assistant Superintendent Emilys Peña, who joins us officially this summer, and the return of Dr. Theresa McGuinness as the new principal at the Early Steps School.

With the budget process wrapping up, Dr. Galdston presented her FY25 Recommended Budget. This budget totals $59,599,263, representing a 3.5% increase from FY24. We encourage you to take a look at the FY25 Budget Book, which highlights our spending plan for each school and many of the accomplishments of the past year. The Budget Book also includes a line item listing of each position in Watertown Public Schools.

We approved the 2024-2025 school year calendar. School will begin on Tuesday, September 3, 2024 with the last day of school (with no snow days) tentatively set for Monday, June 16, 2025. If all five snow days are used, the final day of school will be Tuesday, June 24, 2025.

The School Committee approved adding a 2-year World Language graduation requirement at Watertown High School. This aligns WHS with Masscore standards used by Massachusetts state colleges and universities for admission.The requirement will begin for the class of 2028.

We heard a variety of presentations, including on math gains and additional extension opportunities at Watertown Middle Schoolschool nutrition and the dramatic increase in participation as a result of universal school meals, and DEIB goals for next year. We also heard about the happenings at the Early Steps School in advance of our no-cost Pre-K program rolling out for Watertown 4-year-olds this fall.

The district has gone through a year-long pilot to select a new literacy program at the elementary level. Thank you to the 1st and 4th grade teachers who have led this work. The new program – Wit and Wisdom – will be introduced to students this fall. With the shift, we have a surplus of literacy materials from the former literacy program that includes Lucy Calkins and Words Their Way. We voted to list these items as a surplus so they can potentially be moved to another district,

We held the first reading on some potential changes to our library and technology policies. Most notably, this proposed new language outlines step-by-step how the district would approach reconsideration of library materials in the event a Watertown school community member raises concerns about a book or other materials.

Over the last month, we have had two amazing theater performances by our talented students. The WHS theater program put on an incredible performance of the musical Working in early March and the WMS theater program presented Annie Jr. last week. Both shows were fabulous! The WHS Robotics team won a gold metal at the Greater Boston District competition, qualifying them for the New England Championship. They ended with their highest ever rank in New England and their best robot performance. And, we had an incredibly successful wrestling season this winter, led by longtime wrestling coach, Kevin Russo. Three Watertown wrestlers – Tessa Master, Tommy Dicker and Brady Gleason – were league all stars. Brady was a sectional champion; Tommy was a sectional champion and state finalist; and Tessa won an All-State title and placed third in the New England Interscholastic Wrestling Championship. Congratulations to all!

The Watertown School Committee wishes you a safe and happy April vacation.

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