School Budget Vote, iPads & Other News
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During this unprecedented winter, CNS would like to thank Superintendent Gutekanst, Needham's Public Facilities department and the Needham Public Schools staff who assist with snow removal and maintenance at our school buildings for their great efforts to keep our schools open and safe for all.


This newsletter provides updates on some of the many issues Needham's School Committee has been addressing in recent weeks, most notably, next year's school operating budget and the 1:1 Personalized Learning Initiative in middle school. 

3/6/15: In This Issue
FY16 School Budget Vote
Middle School iPads
School Rebuilding Projects
School Committee Updates
Town Election Update
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FY 2016 School Budget Vote

On January 29th, the School Committee voted on the FY16 school operating budget. This budget calls for $61.5 million for the schools, an increase of $3.5 million (6.1%) over this year. However, there is still work being done on next year's budget before a final number will be presented to, and voted on, by Town Meeting in May. A presentation and detailed information on the School Committee's voted budget is available on the NPS website.


At the end of February, Needham's Finance Committee had to make cuts to the operating budgets submitted by the Town Manager and the School Committee due to higher than anticipated health insurance costs for all Town and School employees. The reduction for the schools is $47,621 to be made at the discretion of the Superintendent and School Committee.  


Also impacting this year's budget are further cuts to the METCO budget recently announced by Governor Baker. Superintendent Gutekanst will need to determine how these cuts will impact Needham's METCO Program, an especially difficult task in the middle of the budget year. Recently, Superintendent Gutekanst published a commentary on the need to adequately fund the METCO program on his blog.


1:1 Personalized Learning (iPads) in Middle School

At its March 3rd meeting, the School Committee  voiced  support for the 1:1 Personalized Learning Initiative at the middle school level and indicated a significant change in how 1:1 devices (iPads) will likely be funded going forward. 


Needham's current 1:1 program utilizes a "Bring Your Own Device" funding mechanism. Going forward, the Needham Public Schools intends to provide district-owned devices for students. The School Committee indicated its strong support for this change at its March 3rd meeting, and the specific funding details for this change  are still being worked out. It is expected families will still have the option to purchase their own iPad device for use at school if they wish. Based on projections, NPS should be able to fund the devices within its capital allotment from the Town for the next two budget years, however,  starting  in FY18, additional funds would be needed to continue providing devices as part of this program. 

Information about the proposed changes, including some of the findings related to the 1:1 initiative from the School Committee's Technology Transition sub-committee, is  available online in the School Committee Packet for March 3rd.

School Rebuilding Projects

Needham is currently in the early stages of a partnership with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to renovate or rebuild the Hillside Elementary School. During a recent meeting of the MSBA's Designer Selection Committee on March 4th, Dore and Whittier was chosen as the design firm for the Hillside feasibility study that will get underway this spring.


At its meeting on March 3rd, the School Committee discussed a plan to submit Statements of Interest (SOIs) for future rebuilding projects at Mitchell Elementary School and Pollard Middle School. The SOIs represent the first step in a potential partnership with with the MBSA and will require support from the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen.


School Committee Updates
Below are some highlights from recent School Committee meetings.

Middle School Math Curriculum Changes 
Starting in September and continuing for the next two school years there will be changes made to the middle school math curriculum to align Needham's program of study more closely with Common Core requirements, and to increase the vertical integration of the middle and high school math programs. 

School  Committee  Open House March 21st
On Saturday, March 21st from 9:00 - 10:30 am at Pollard Middle School, the School Committee invites community members to its semi-annual Open House. This is a great opportunity to meet School Committee members in an informal setting and to share with them any questions or concerns you may have.

During the Open House, several Pollard students will be available to speak about how iPads are being used as part of the 7th and 8th grade curriculums. 

Town Election Update

Needham's Annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 14th. School Committee Members Heidi Black and Susan Neckes are both running unopposed for re-election. 

Town Meeting Races
Town Meeting Members play a crucial role in town government because most decisions, including the  school  budget and other Town expenditures, must be approved by Town Meeting. This year there are several contested Town Meeting races, as well as one precinct with an insufficient number of candidates.


Do you live in Precinct C?

There is 1 open seat for Town Meeting in Precinct C. If you'd like to be a part of Town Meeting, please consider organizing a write-in campaign by asking registered voters in Precinct C to write your name and address on the ballot. 


Do you live in Precincts B, D, E, F, H or J? 

Town Meeting races in each of the precincts above are contested so please take some time to consider the candidates prior to election day.


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