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SC Meeting: October 2, 2019

The October 2nd School Committee meeting included the performance of the Needham High School Chorale, an update from the Transportation Department and a review of the Capital Plan for the period of 2021 – 2025.

Student Performance

Superintendent Gutekanst introduced the Needham High School Chorale who has traditionally performed during the first meeting of the year. The Chorale could not come to the September 2019 meeting. The Chorale sang The Star Spangled Banner and the arrangement titled, “You Are the New Day.“

School Committee Comments

All members of the School Committee wore something blue in support of a group of students and staff at the High School who wore blue on Wednesday, Sept 25 to stand against hate and bigotry. Aiden Michelow, the Needham High School Junior who is non-voting member of the SC, shared blue bracelets with SC members.

Superintendent’s Comments

Dr. Gutekanst invited Needham residents to sign up for Smart911, a new online service that allows subscribers to receive alerts that affect the Town. For example, the Town sent an alert about EEE and their spraying schedule through this service.

Discussion Items

SC approved the Unit A Contract Memorandum of Understanding unanimously. Town Manager Kate Patrick also voted to approve the MOU. Highlights of the contract include:

  • Created a new-parent leave of 10 days for all families.

  • Number of sick days is now ten.

  • Agreed to create an exploratory committee for Special Education led by the NEA (Needham Education Association) and Mary Lammi. The committee would focus on answering the following questions: What are the changing needs of our students and what are the changing needs in our practice? How do we better use our resources to serve our students?

FY20 Transportation Update

Shane Marchand, Director of Transportation, provided data regarding the ridership.

  • More families registered by the deadline to receive bus service. There has been a 14% increase in registration from 1,488 last school year to 1,691 students registered this school year.

  • There were 35 students in the wait list. This year there are only 4 students in the wait list for the morning. There are none for the afternoon service.

  • Overall, there are 2,179 students receiving bus service which fall under the following categories:. - Regular education status: 1,908. - Transported from Boston: 118. - Special Education: 146, 70 of which are Out of District.

  • There have been a couple of buses struggling to get to Newman on time. Starting October 2, a change in the routes was implemented. The METCO program is running smoothly. Afternoon transportation is running smoothly. There have been minor delays at the Sunita Williams and the High School that have been addressed.

  • Buses are at capacity and very evenly distributed. Average of 61 rider in the middle school and high school.

  • Special Ed vans had a successful program in the summer.

  • The late bus started on September 17th. This year we started with 40 to 50 students. Delays occurred in the first week, which have been addressed.

  • The annual school meeting for van and bus drivers was held on August 22. Participants received a handbook with policies and procedures, school calendars, and route information. Also, meetings are held every other month for Needham drivers and third-party vendors such as Locomotion. The next meeting will include a presentation by the Director of Health Services, Barbara Singer, and someone from Special Ed to provide sensitivity training.

Dr. Gutekanst commended Shane for his work. He shared Shane’s twitter handle, @NeedhamPSTrans, and invited viewers to follow Shane to receive up to date information about any bus delays.

FY2021-2025 Draft Capital Improvement Plan Requests

Anne Gulati, Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations, provided a brief assessment of the five-year capital plan.

The proposed Capital Improvement Plan is considered a “status quo request” as it is similar to prior year submissions. The breakdown is as follows:

School Committee Comments

Matt Spangler attended the back to school night sessions at Mitchell and the High School. He thanked the staff for staying late and hosting two great events.


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