SC Meeting: August 22, 2019

SC met on August 22nd at the new Sunita L. Williams School. Guidelines for the FY2020-21 Budget were discussed, and Julie Muse-Fisher was appointed Interim Executive Director of Special Education. Following the meeting, SC members toured the new school.


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Superintendent Updates

  • Sunita Williams School — While the town’s efforts are appreciated, Dr. Gutekanst expressed concerns about building maintenance. He suggested a possible fix to the PA system among other issues around building and facilities maintenance. Dr. Gutekanst has also met with neighbors who have shared their concerns around noise and lights at night.

  • Memorial Field — The work is not complete, so some adjustments will need to be made for upcoming field games.

  • The High School is up for accreditation again in 2020. The accreditation team will meet with SC on Sunday, 5/3/20. Principal Aaron Sicotte will provide more information at later date.

  • Enrollment for kindergarten in currently 10% below predicted, though this could increase through the end of August. Mitchell is likely to have about 16 students per class and overall average would be 21-22


Budget Guidelines


The budget consists of two main components :

  • Providing Level Service - Contractual Obligations - State/Regulatory Mandates - Enrollment Increases

  • Making Program Improvements

The budget will reflect School Committee Priorities, including:

  • Portrait of a Needham Graduate work

  • Attracting and retaining qualified staff: - Proposal for salary increase for new teacher hires - Anticipate adjustments to Specialized Resources caseloads - Professional Development offerings

A committee member raised the question of Student-Teacher Ratio and there was discussion around why and how the DESE metric should not be used as a standalone for Needham schools.



Appointment of Interim Executive Director of Special Education


SC cited to appoint Julie Muse-Fisher to the interim position. She has a background in both law and special education, and has worked previously for Boston and Wellesley school districts. More information about Ms. Muse-Fisher is available in the meeting packet.


Staffing Update:

  • 120 new hires

  • One part-time teaching position is now open

  • Seven TA positions are open



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