District Opens New Central Registration Office & New Enrollment Procedure

The new centralized registration office for the Watertown Public Schools opened this week, and already had dozens of new students enrolling. 

In the past students and parents would go to the school to register, but the Central Registration Office was created in part to make sure that classes in Watertown’s elementary schools do not become overcrowded. Along with the new office, located in the Phillips Building, 30 Common St., the School Committee heard about the flow chart to decide where students will be placed. Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald said the goal is to keep classes between 18-20 students for Pre-K through first grade, 20-22 for grades 2 and 3 and 22-24 for fourth and fifth grades. The placements will be made by the Central Office Team and elementary school principals based on location, siblings and class size, said the District’s Data Manager Lauren Harwood. “The goal is to keep children in their neighborhood schools,” Harwood said.

LETTER: Commentary on Student Placement Decision Process

The Watertown Strong Schools parent group wrote up this summary of the recent School Committee Policy Subcommittee meeting, and added commentary at the end. Unofficial Minutes: Meeting of the Policy Subcommittee on 07/06/2016 – Key Points and Commentary

Note: These are NOT official minutes. Commentary can be found at the bottom of the minutes. Written by: David Stokes

Committee members: Dr. Guido Guidotti, Chair; Liz Yusem; Eileen Hsu-Balzer; Dr. Jean Fitzgerald, Superintendent. Audience members: Donna Ruseckas, Director of Wellness and Extended Services; John Portz, School Committee Chairperson; Lisa Feltner, Town Councilor; David Stokes, WSS; Stephanie Venizelos, Live Well Watertown and WPS Wellness Committee; Laurie McManus, former School Committee member; Charlie Breitrose, Watertown (MA) News; and one other community member.

LETTER: Parents Group Writes About Overcrowding, Enrollment and More

The Watertown Strong Schools parent group followed the School Committee meeting on June 13, which tackled some key issues, such as overcrowding, enrollment projections and where dozens of students were honored. Unofficial Minutes: School Committee Meeting 6/13/16 – Key Points and Commentary

Note: These are NOT official minutes. Commentary can be found at the bottom of the minutes. Written by: Pete Caron, Julie Cotton, Kate Coyne, Alyson Morales, and David Stokes. Committee members: John Portz, Chair; Kendra Foley, Vice-Chair; Guido Guidotti, Secretary; Eileen Hsu-Balzer; Candace Miller; Mark Sideris; Liz Yusem; Dr. Fitzgerald, Superintendent; Charles Kellner, Director, Business Services; and Craig Hardimon, Human Resources Director.

Approved Overcrowding Plan Focuses on Controlling Where New Students Go

The School Committee approved a plan to deal with the overcrowding facing Watertown’s elementary schools next school year. The plan has fewer moves of classes from school to school, but creates less breathing room, so a district registrar will determine where new students are placed. The plan, the third presented by Superintendent Jean Fitzgerald, was approved by the School Committee on Monday night at their second meeting in two weeks. The only class moving out of its school is an Early Steps Integrated Preschool, which moves from Hosmer School to the Phillips Building. Room will also be created by other moves including:
• Combining Learning Support programs at Cunniff into one room
• Making the Computer Room at Lowell into a classroom
In the first plan, all the Early Step classes would have moved to the Phillips, as well as moving PreK classes from Cunniff and Lowell out of their schools along with two Cunniff kindergartens.