Following False Alarms Watertown Schools to Hold Emergency Drills, Also Seek to Improve Communication System

After a series of false alarms in the security systems at Watertown’s new schools, the district plans to hold drills for the students, and will look for ways to avoid more incidents in the future. The Watertown Public Schools opened two brand new elementary schools, a third underwent a major renovation and expansion, and students at the high school have a new, temporary home. The new buildings also have new technology, including a multi-hazard notification system, said Superintendent Dede Galdston. All four new schools have had false alarms, she said, some due to wiring and other when the panic button was pressed by mistake. “We want to make sure people understand that these happen and that we will do to prevent that from happening again,” Galdston said.

Rates of Alcohol & Drug Use Down for Watertown Students, But Depression & Stress Has Risen

The rate of alcohol and marijuana is dropping for Watertown students, according to a survey by the Watertown Youth Coalition, but school officials have concerns about use among certain groups, as well as the feeling of depression and not having trusted adults with whom they can speak. For the past three decades, the Watertown Youth Coalition has monitored the well-being of Watertown students by tracking the use of alcohol and drugs, and rates of depression and stress. In November, the WYC reported the results of the 2023 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, which was taken by 424 Watertown Middle School students and 591 from Watertown High School. At the high school 18 percent of students reported they had consumed alcohol over the previous 30 days, down from 23 percent in 2021 and 32 percent in 2017. The middle school went from 4 percent in 2021 to 3 percent in 2023.

Watertown Schools Receive Recognition, Superintendent Gets Raise & More

By Kendra FoleySchool 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.

Enrollment Up at All Levels in Watertown Schools, Especially at the High School

Enrollment is up at Watertown High School, despite moving into the temporary location at PFC Ricard Moxley Field. (Courtesy by City of Watertown)

Watertown’s schools are growing at all levels, and some classes at two elementary schools are near or at capacity, Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee. The biggest growth, however, is at the secondary level. Typically, School officials wait until September to provide the first enrollment report to the School Committee, Galdston said, but she wanted to inform members before school started incase they receive questions about it. “Our enrollment is up,” Galdston said.

Rising Special Education Costs Contribute to $1 Million Shortfall for FY24 Watertown School Budget

The Watertown Public Schools face a shortfall of around $1 million for the 2023-24 school year (Fiscal Year 2024), due in part to a large increase in the cost of special education. Monday night the School Committee heard the FY24 preliminary budget presentation from School administrators, who said the Watertown Public School’s level-services budget faces a significant deficit. This budget would provide the same level of services and programs available to students during the current school year, though it might require additional staff to provide the service due to increased enrollment in a certain grade or in a particular program, said Heidi Perkins, the WPS Director of Finance and Operations. The Watertown Schools will receive a 3.5 percent increase from the City over the FY23 budget, or $2.84 million, which would make the FY24 budget $55.64 million. The amount needed to cover a level-services budget is $58.47 million, as of Jan.

Several Watertown Students Injured in School Bus Accident

A school bus carrying Watertown Public School students collided with a vehicle on Belmont Street on Oct. 19, 2022. Several students suffered minor injuries. Multiple students went to hospital after suffering injuries when a school bus carrying Watertown elementary school student got into an accident on Belmont Street on Wednesday morning. The bus had been carrying 44 students to the Lowell West campus at the former St.

Parents, Students Wanted for School District Improvement Strategy Committee

The following announcement was provided by the Watertown Public Schools:

The Watertown Public Schools is forming a District Improvement Strategy 2.0 Development Team, “the Strategy Team”, whose charge is to create a multi-year District Improvement Strategy, as a successor to the current Strategy that was established in 2018. The team will develop a clearly articulated improvement strategy that emanates from the District’s mission, vision, and core values. Once these have been established, the team will determine the necessary initiatives and action plans to attain the objectives and set measurable benchmarks to monitor progress. The development of this strategy is an iterative process that will involve input and feedback from the School Committee, the District’s Leadership Team, parents, students, WPS faculty and staff, and WPS community members throughout the months. Watertown Public Schools is looking for broad representation of stakeholders on the Strategy Team 2.0, representing all schools and serving in a variety of roles.

Watertown Schools See Influx of Students at Elementary, High School Levels

Charlie BreitroseThe new school building at Cunniff Elementary School, along with the new Hosmer School have seen an increase of enrollment this fall. Watertown High School has also grown. More students arrived at the Watertown Public Schools than expected this fall, requiring the addition of some new classes, teachers and support staff. Superintendent Dede Galdston told the School Committee on Monday that she believes the district’s new schools are part of the draw. The 2022-23 school year is the first that students will spend the whole year in the new Cunniff and Hosmer elementary school buildings.