At the 6/2 School Committee meeting, Superintendent Dan Gutekanst presented updates on developments around the COVID-19 pandemic and preparation for the upcoming Town Meeting. Results from two recent surveys about remote learning, a schedule of graduation events, and the proposed budget for 2021 are included in the meeting packet, as well as the Sunita L. Williams School Improvement Plan.
School Committee Comments
Andrea Longo Carter made a statement about the death of George Floyd and subsequent protests and riots. Aidan Michelow offered the student’s perspective on the issue. More information on the NPS’s commitment to equity is available at www.needham.k12.ma.us/equity.
Dr. Dan Gutekanst added his perspective on the recent social and racial developments. He said that schools are offering resources to students who might want to better understand the issue.
COVID-19 Health Emergency: School Update
Dr. Gutekanst presented data from recent surveys of NPS staff and High Rock students, Federal CARES Act & Funding priorities, Reopening School Advisory Committee update and NHS graduation plans.
Survey results from NPS staff on remote learning (589 staff members responded; 51% of total) were shared.
The majority of respondents found it at least somewhat difficult to work from home. Keeping a regular schedule, childcare, collaboration with other staff and social distractions were identified as the biggest challenges of working remotely.
The majority felt that NPS will make the rights decisions to manage through the crises.
A student survey from High Rock was also shared.
Both surveys are available online.
NPS has received $81,000 for summer programs through the Federal CARES Act & Funding priorities.
The Town of Needham hopes to receive $2.7 million through federal funding, and NPS may be able to claim about $900,000 for distance learning, PPE and health safety supplies, accelerated telework.
The Reopening School Advisory Committee, co-chaired by Dr. Gutekanst, Longo Carter and Matt Spengler, has met once and will meet again in a week or so. They are supporting district leaders responsible for managing a safe and healthy learning environment for all students.
Events to Celebrate the Class of 2020:
Senior Awards Ceremony — Wednesday, June 3 Watch on the Needham Channel and YouTube
Cap and gown pickup — Friday, June 5 Seniors pickup cap and gown, and will also be cheered on by NHS staff.
Graduation class video — Friday, June 5, 5pm A graduation video with speeches and performances from Class of 2020 will be shown on YouTube and Needham Channel,
Community parade — Sunday, June 7 Seniors will ride in a parade that will leave TripAdvisor and end at NHS.
Diploma ceremony and senior send-off — July 28, 5pm Seniors, in cap and gown, will have their name called, cross the stage, and receive their diploma. The ceremony will end with traditional moving of the tassels, and will be followed by a BBQ and games for the students.
Town Meeting Preparation Update
Dr. Gutekanst said that the budget is the only major issue related to the school that remains on the warrant for Town Meeting. The budget packet is available online.
He is preparing a presentation for Town Meeting members that he hopes to share later this week to provide additional information and updates to the original budget document.
The new budget includes requests for COVID-19 related items.
Longo Carter pointed out that there are two other NPS-related items on the warrant as well: Article 21 provides funds for capital improvements, including furniture, equipment, and technology for schools. Article 23 will appropriate funds for Mitchell School restroom upgrades.
School Committee Comments
Connie Barr is feeling for students and teachers that cannot be together because she misses that human element at SC meetings.
Anne Gulati explained that newly elected Town Meeting members will be receiving the proposed budget via mail by the end of the week.