The following information came from the Watertown Library:
As the school year winds down, there’s a lot to look forward to! Watertown Free Public Library’s annual summer reading program begins when the academic year ends. We’re here to help keep your student’s reading on track.
How To Participate
Open the Challenge Card and print it from home. Challenge Cards are also available in the Children’s Room.Read!
Superintendent Dede Galdston introduced the School Committee to two new assistant principals and an administrator who will focus on using technology in education. The new assistant principals will be working at Watertown Middle School and Lowell Elementary School, while the district also filled the administrative position is known as the Coordinator of Digital Learning and Libraries. The middle school’s new assistant principal, Susan Carle, is returning to the area after working in the Midwest. She has been the assistant principal at Northwest Middle School in Chicago since 2016, Galdston said. Prior to that she was an instructional support leader and resident principal.
The WPS Parent’s Action Group was formed in order to assess the impact of Watertown Public School (WPS) policies, including school closures, on Watertown families.
We are extraordinarily privileged to live in a school district which cares about social equity and our little group of parents seeks to aid the school district in understanding the needs and realities of Watertown families through, among other things, innovative and nimble data analysis.
The survey issued this week in relation to the WPS early closures is part of a broader project concerning accountability and transparency for the school district in making decisions that may disparately affect families. The ultimate goal of these inquiries is to both understand the impact of decisions on families, as well as to imagine creative possibilities for supporting families. Preliminary Report
Heat-Related Early School Closure Family Impact Study
Dr. Lisa Lucile Owens
January 8, 2021
WPS Parent’s Action Committee
While our survey addressing the family impacts of the recent early school closures is still open and gathering data, this communication shares some preliminary data. On June 7 and 8, 2021, the Watertown Public School (WPS) district, as well as a number of other suburban school districts in eastern Massachusetts closed schools in the afternoons due to temperatures which reached 94 degrees Fahrenheit. This closure was first communicated to parents past 9:00 PM the night before the initial closure. As mask mandates at WPS schools are still in place, and the schools lack sufficient air conditioning, the school district made the decision to close school in the afternoon for all students.
The Watertown Public Schools will offer free summer school in 2021, including both programs for students needing to make up credits or improve skills, and those looking to learn something new this summer. The district will use funds received to assist during the COVID-19 Pandemic to provide most of the programs free of cost, this year. Assistant Superintendent Theresa McGuinness said that the Watertown Public Schools are focusing on getting students back into the groove after the past two school years were impacted by the Pandemic. “This summer and into the fall we are prioritizing relationships, re-socialization and healthy human connections as we plan for both academics and social-emotional wellness for our students through enriching supportive programming,” McGuinness said. For students in PreK to eighth grade who need to boost their academics, the focus will be on literacy and math, McGuinness said, while in the high school grades emphasis will be placed on credit recovery in English, math, science and social studies.
The Watertown School Budget for the 2021-22 school year includes an additional fourth grade teacher, additional custodians for the new elementary schools and someone to help with the district’s technology. Superintendent Dede Galdston presented the $53.75 million Fiscal Year 2022 budget to the School Committee Monday night, and the Committee will make a vote on Thursday to approve the budget. It will then be presented to the Town Council later in April as part of the FY22 Town Budget. The budget includes 3.5 percent increase in funds from the town, or $1.81 million. To provide a level-service budget, the same level of services in FY22 as the prior year, will cost $53.53 million, Galdston said, leaving $216,157 in funds for additional positions or programs. Much of the increase will be used on salary increases, additional pay for teachers who moved up a step, and increases to deal with enrollment increases.
Watertown Superintendent Dede Galdston announced the selection of the district’s first Director of Equity & Inclusion. The School Committee approved the creation of the position in December following racial bullying incidents that took place at Watertown Middle School in the fall, which led to a highly attended meeting of parents calling for action. Galdston included the following statement in her Superintendent Newsletter:
Introducing Our New Director of Equity & Inclusion
It gives me great pleasure to announce that Dr. Kimberlee Henry was selected as our new Director of Equity & Inclusion for the 2021-2022 school year and beyond. Dr. Henry is a strategic and creative leader who is dedicated to advancing the District’s equity work in this leadership role to help Watertown Public schools become an anti-racist and anti-biased school system. Dr. Henry’s background in public schools as a teacher and principal at both the elementary and secondary levels, and present role as the Principal at the STEM Academy in Lowell, MA have provided her with extensive experiences to take forward in her new role.
The following information was provided by the Watertown Youth Coalition:
A Town Hall Meeting about the wellbeing of Watertown’s Youth will be held on March 31 at 6:30 p.m.
The event is hosted by the Watertown Youth Coalition and Wayside Youth and Family Support Network in partnership with Watertown Community Foundation & Watertown Public Schools. Register by visiting: https://zoom.us/…/tJEtduyoqD0oE9H8HoibNMWq1ZZ3dJlwxx7f
The following letter was sent by a group of Watertown parents called WPS Parents for Moving School Forward:
While school districts across Massachusetts are presenting their communities with joyous plans to return elementary students to school full time by the state required date of April 5 or earlier, Watertown is setting itself up to again lag behind in providing students access to public school. Our community has been informed of a plan that would put elementary students in school for only half days starting April 5 until an eventual return to full time April 26. As this approach is contrary to the back to school full time by April 5 mandate that the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has recently announced, WPS is now in the process of asking DESE is this is allowable. As best as we can understand, WPS is arguing to DESE that if we do half days for most of April, but regular full days for the rest of the year after that, then over the full 10 weeks remaining we will end up with an average that meets the state minimum hourly per-day requirements and therefore should be permitted to delay full time return. Whether DESE allows this or not, it is a bad choice for the students of Watertown.