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SC Meeting: October 18, 2022

At the October 18 School Committee Meeting there was a NHS Student Advisory to the School Committee Report, an update on the Emery Grover Project, October 2022 Special Town Meeting Preparation, and a discussion of the DESE Comprehensive District Review Report.

School Committee Chair and Subcommittee Updates

  • Mike O’Brien shared that he participated in the Minuteman School Subcommittee Meeting and received updates from their new superintendent regarding enrollment and the new building. 39 students from Needham are at Minuteman, and the school will send representatives to Pollard to introduce the program to the students.

Superintendent’s Comments

  • Sunita Williams Physical Education Teacher Rob Tatro hosted professors from University of Tokyo and Bridgewater State and was able to connect students at Sunita Williams with elementary students in Japan using “Class Cloud.” Students from both schools were able to share ideas about health and well-being.

Needham High School Student Advisory to School Committee Report

6 members of the High School Student Council, representing all 4 grades, were present to provide updates.

Class Updates

  • 10th Grade: The class is finalizing a fall festival on October 22 for kids in K to 5th grade, which will have a haunted house, tattoos, pumpkin decorating, and student council members dressed up in costume. The class is excited to be getting into the swing of things with new classes and fall activities.

  • 11th Grade: The junior class is thinking ahead about both the Junior Harbor cruise and Senior field day for next year. They are working to continue fundraising with upcoming restaurant partnerships, bake sales, and merchandise sales, and are also working on coming up with some new and unique fundraisers. The annual costume contest will be on October 31 and will hopefully unite and create class spirit. Many juniors also took the PSAT on October 15.

  • 12th Grade: Seniors held a senior shirt T-shirt design contest, with 2 alternate designs being chosen. On October 6 they held Field Day which featured eight teams competing in capture the flag, relay races, dance-offs, and much more.

  • At-Large Updates on the Start of School: The school year is off to a good start and feels much more normal than the last several years. The first-years were recently integrated into the student council as a whole, and they have started to understand their roles and responsibilities.

  • Events: Homecoming took place on October 7 with a Neon/Glow Theme. Students are excited to be returning back to more normal activities that bring lots of school spirit, like Friday night football games and other fall sporting events. On the most recent half day the Oracle was held in the cafeteria, allowing students to see all the clubs and activities that are available. The student council is currently preparing for their next event, Bonfire, which will be held on November 27th.

Student Concerns

  • Attendance Policy: Students are adjusting to a more strict enforcement of the attendance policy, in comparison to what was allowed during Covid. The official policy is not new but is being more rigorously enforced, which has been difficult for some students, and the Student Council is keeping tabs on this.

  • Parking: Another concern that was addressed is the flow of traffic out of the upper Senior parking lot. Since there is only one exit for cars, some students are forced to wait for 10 or more minutes to allow for the flow of pedestrians leaving the building. Students suggested possibly adding a crossing guard at this location to help with the flow of traffic and pedestrians and will discuss the issue with Mr. Sicotte.

Emery Grover Project Update/October 2022 Special Town Meeting Preparation

  • A Special Town Meeting is scheduled for October 24, 2022. Article 10 requests approval for excess funds needed for the Emery Grover Project. Final bids have been received and a contractor has been selected pending approval. Town Meeting is asked to provide an excess $2.725 million to allow the project to proceed. This amount includes contingency funds, and any excess will be put towards future town projects.

  • An FAQ document will be sent to Town Meeting Members to address some common questions and concerns.

  • The Finance Committee has voted to support this proposal and the Select Board has yet to vote but is projected to support it; the PPBC has met and voted to award the contract pending approval by Town Meeting.

Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Comprehensive District Review Report September 2022

  • DESE, via an outside group (American Institutes of Research), conducted a comprehensive review of the district in January 2022. Only 3 communities have published reports right now: Bellingham, Andover, and Needham. There is no obligation for the district to report back to DESE or respond to the issues or goals that were presented, but the district will use the report as a guide to help address areas for growth to align with the district’s strategic plan.

  • The report is posted on DESE website, in the Packet, and will be on the district website.

  • Dr. Gutekanst highlighted areas of strength and areas for growth found in the report. More details regarding areas assessed can be found in the Packet.

  • When addressing areas for growth that were raised, the district will take into consideration DESE’s recommendations within the constructs of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate.

Action Item

Vote to Support October 2022 Special Town Meeting Article 10: Appropriate for Emery Grover Renovation Supplement - unanimously approved.

School Committee Comments:

  • A group of Needham parents is planning a town-wide Multicultural Fair in Needham in March 2023, more information to come.

  • Connie Barr did a walk through the Foster Property that will come up in Town Meeting; lots of acreage of land for a fairly reasonable price that she hopes will be supported.

  • Tickets are on sale for “The Addams Family” which will take place at the High School 10/28-10/30, produced by Students Acting to Make a Difference, and profits will benefit Circle of Hope.

The next School Committee Meeting is November 1, 2022 at 6:30pm.


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