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SC Meeting: May 19, 2020

At the 5/19 School Committee meeting, the Co-Chairs of SEPAC presented feedback on remote learning from families of special education students. There were also updates on summer instruction and planning for reopening. The Eliot School Improvement Plan was included in the meeting packet.

Public Hearing and Vote on School Choice:

Members of the community had the opportunity to offer their comments on the School Choice Program, which allows non-residents to attend the Needham public school of their choosing. After no comments, the SC voted unanimously to not participate in the school choice program.

SC Comments

  • SEPAC presented awards to 13 NPS staff members. More information about each recipient can be found on the SEPAC website.

  • The Education Collaborative (TEC) celebrated this year's graduating seniors

  • Negotiations subcommittee has tentative agreements with Units C & D

Superintendent's Comments

  • Recognition of six NPS employees who are retiring: Dan Daitch, Susan Kalish, Paula Kelly, Susan Rains, Karen Smith, Nancy Solari

SEPAC Update

Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) Co-Chairs Jenn Sheck-Kahn and Christianne Bayliss joined SC to present their annual update. This year the discussion focused on sharing feedback and questions from SEPAC families around remote learning:

  • The results shared indicated that it is going well for some families, but there are families and students that are struggling, and often it is our most vulnerable population that does not have the means or will not reach out for help.

  • Some kids love the independence, especially ones with social challenges because they aren’t experiencing all of the challenges of being with peers. A lot of kids are also enjoying learning about all of the new technology. Parents appreciate the communication from administration and faculty: surveys, coffees, Zoom meetings.

  • Some kids with Executive Function issues are struggling to stay organized and keep up with the work. There is fear that kids are falling behind in social skills and handwriting. Preschool families/lower grades find remote learning difficult and are often making up their own curriculum. Some kids are feeling socially isolated. Partner activities can be hard for a lot of kids if the partnerships are not pre-assigned. Relationships between some parents/teachers seem to be deteriorating.

  • Parents have questions about Extended School Year (ESY), and expressed concern about school refusal issues when kids return to school.

Response to Covid-19 Health Emergency: School Updates

General updates:

  • Plans being developed for students to access buildings to collect belongings.

  • Needham Graduation will be Sunday June 7, plans still being finalized.

  • Needham received $81,000 from the CARES Act, some of which will be used for Summer Bridge program (below)

Summer services:

  • ESY will still be available for eligible special education students — planning to run the same programs using a remote model. Eligibility criteria has not changed.

  • NCE Program Skills and Thrills and all Summer Explorations classes have been cancelled.

  • NPS Summer Bridge Program will be for K-5 students who need to continue to work on math and literacy skills. Students will be recommended by teachers and coaches, and the program is free. Students will use Lexia for literacy and Freckle for math.

  • Lexia and Freckle will be available for all students to use next year. These are great systems that can be used in the classroom and remotely from home. The data can be used to inform instruction.

School Reopening:

  • 30 member statewide task force has been established, which includes Needham Fire Chief Condon and will provide valuable guidance to the town.

  • Needham Covid-19 Planning & Advisory Committee will provide feedback and advice as we think about reopening and support district leaders who are responsible for managing the learning environment for students. The committee consists of 19 members — public health officials, community members, School Committee reps, students, parents, staff — and their first meeting will be May 20.

NEF Grants

Needham Education Foundation submitted four Spring Grant Awards totaling $22,301, which were unanimously approved with much gratitude. More information on the grants can be found on the NEF website:

  • Google Virtual Reality Expeditions Kit — All Elementary

  • Imagination Playground Medium Blocks Set — Sunita Williams

  • Pollard Middle School African Dream Program — Pollard

  • Grow Racks at NHS — Needham High School


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