At the 1/22 School Committee meeting principals Tamatha Bibbo and Jessica Downey presented proposed changes to the Middle School Program of Studies, and the School Committee voted to approve the FY20 budget recommendation.
Middle School Program of Studies
A full description was provided in writing to School Committee, but principals Bibbo and Downey used their time to highlight three proposed changes to the program next year:
Community Service Learning Based on best practices and feedback from the Pollard community, the program will be extended over both school years (7th and 8th) and require students to complete a total of 10 hours over two years. Previously the requirement had been 6 CSL hours completed only in 8th grade.
Math Based on recent feedback regarding clarity and transparency of the program, the description has been altered and expanded, now including separate descriptions for Math 6, Math 7, Math 7 Accelerated, Math 8, and Math 8 Accelerated. Additionally, they are embarking on a review of the program as a whole and anticipate further changes in the future once the study is complete.
World Languages French and Mandarin will both be offered in 7th grade, instead of French and 6th and Mandarin in 8th. This change is a result of a year-long study of programming and a desire to increase opportunities for students to study a level 1 language over a 2-year span prior to entering high school. The change will bring Needham's offerings more in line with neighboring communities.
Following the presentation, SC members expressed their support for the changes. There was discussion around the new Accelerated Math track, now in its third year, with some members sharing concerns about the program in its current form. The School Committee will vote on the proposed program of studies at its next meeting.
FY20 Budget Discussion and Vote
For the first time in many years — possibly ever! — the budget request remained unchanged from the original proposal presented by Dr. Gutekanst in December. There was a brief discussion to follow up on comments and questions that were raised at the Public Hearing, which had strong turnout from the community in support of Full Day Kindergarten. Some parents had expressed concern over whether Full Day K would in fact be implemented, and Chair Aaron Pressman pointed out that the vote at this meeting represented the final decision, since Town Meeting only votes to approve the overall operating budget, not specific line items. The FY20 budget recommendation was approved by a unanimous vote.