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SC Meeting: October 3, 2023

At the October 3 School Committee meeting, there was a discussion of the 2023 Family Survey Results, the FY2025-2029 Draft Capital Improvement Plan Requests, and the Superintendent's 2023-2024 Goals.

Superintendent’s Comments

NHS National Merit Commended Students were named and recognized.

2023 Family Survey Results

Diane Simmons, Director of Strategic Planning and Community Engagement spoke about the 2023 Family Survey Results.

  • Full details of the results can be found in the Packet

  • Data has been collected biennially starting in 2001 and annually since the pandemic, to recognize the importance of feedback from families to both celebrate strengths in the district and respond to areas that need attention.

  • There was a 24.5% response rate for families, with representation from all schools and grades. Demographics of those who responded closely resembled the demographics of the student population based on race, those who receive special education services, and English language learners.

  • Overall results showed the lowest percentage of favorable results in regards to Academic Standards and the highest percentage of favorable results related to School Climate.

  • 2023 Survey results aligned with 2022 results

  • Favorable responses on Academic Standards are considerably higher at the secondary level.

  • Many responses were favorable with regard to aligning with the competencies of The Portrait of a Needham Graduate

  • Cultural Awareness: differences in favorable responses were seen based on race and location of where family lives (61% favorable among Needham families, 33% among Boston families)

  • Infrastructure: areas for improvement included Extra-curricular programs and Nutrition Services

  • This survey allowed the district to assess where we are in terms of the strategic plan so it can build on targeted action plans. They will plan to continue to measure progress again in the spring of 2024 with input from families, students, and staff.

  • There was a robust discussion and many questions asked by the School Committee following the presentation.

FY2025-2029 Draft Capital Improvement Plan Requests

Presented by Dan Gutekanst, Superintendent and Anne Gulati, Asst. Superintendent for Finance & Operations

  • As part of the budget development process, the school administration has discussed and identified capital items for submission.

  • The capital list has been developed in collaboration with school and town staff members.

  • The School Committee will be asked to vote on the Capital Improvement Plan requests at a subsequent meeting.

  • Four facilities projects were presented:

    • Theatrical Lighting and Sound upgrades for Newman, Pollard, and NHS auditoriums, which are new projects based on the Feasibility Design Study.

    • A project to complete updates to the Newman preschool playground which is a re-visioned project to install a shade shelter, update climbing equipment, and replace the poured-in-place surface. The estimated cost of the new design requires additional funding from Town Meeting.

    • Two alternative placeholder requests for Pollard and High Rock renovation projects under the C1a (MSBA partners with town to help offset the cost of Pollard and Mitchell renovations) and D1a (MSBA provides funding for MItchell only, Pollard renovation would be done with local funds only) Master Plan program options

  • Equipment requests for copiers, Technology equipment, vehicles, NHS Fitness Center Equipment replacement (new request), and furniture.

  • Some of the costs initially presented are expected to be lower in actuality.

  • Several School Committee members asked for an expedited timeline to implement some of the upgrades to the Theatrical Lighting and Sound for Newman and NHS.

  • School Committee will vote on Capital Improvement Plan at the next meeting, and if approved it will then be presented to the town very soon thereafter.

Superintendent’s 2023-2024 Goals

Dr. Gutekanst presented his goals for the academic year:

Professional Practice Goals

  • Provide training and leadership growth, support community understanding and engagement, and coordinate and facilitate the use of data to inform instruction, policy development, and plans for student, staff, and school needs

  • Highlight the implementation of the Portrait of a Needham Graduate strategic priorities and action steps

Student Learning

  • Ensuring Principals demonstrate progress toward achieving their School Improvement Plans and address disproportionate academic and discipline outcomes among all students, especially students most impacted by historical learning gaps

  • Discipline: assessing the percentage of students who were disciplined (which only refers to being suspended) based on race and special education status

  • Academic standards: over time more students are enrolling in advanced courses and those students are taking more advanced classes per year

District Improvement

  • Promote active communication and engagement with family and community groups to ensure equitable, safe, healthy, and academically rigorous school and learning environments

  • Facilitate and coordinate successful planning for the District’s Facilities Master Plan and School Administration building and renovation projects and guide the development of a re-envisioned and restructured School/Town IT program

  • Support the successful implementation of the Social & Emotional/Mental Health Framework, and ensure efforts to increase the diversity of the staff are successful

Action Item : Approve Disposal of Equipment

Upon recommendation of the Superintendent, the Needham School Committee approved the disposal of equipment via auction on October 24, 2023 as submitted.

School Committee Comments

  • Michael Greis spoke about the recent Great Hall Performance Foundation concert and the success some of the former members have had.

  • Michael O’Brien thanked families and community members who came out to Harvest Fair last weekend.

  • Elizabeth Lee reiterated that the School Committee wants to hear from members of the community, and they can reach out via the School Committee’s email or during the Public Comment portion of the School Committee meetings.

The next School Committee Meeting will be October 17 at 6:30pm.


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