June marks the end of another school year for Needham's students and teachers. Even as the school year has been winding down, the School Committee has been busy discussing key issues for the Needham community. This newsletter provides an update on two of those issues -- rebuilding the Hillside School and full-day kindergarten -- as well as a few other items.
As we prepare for summer, CNS would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those in the Needham Public Schools -- the teachers, administrators and support staff -- who work tirelessly on behalf of Needham's students. We wish you all a restful summer and look forward to welcoming you back in September!
TONIGHT - Meeting about Hillside Feasibility Study
The Permanent Public Building Committee (PPBC) and the School Committee are holding a joint public meeting to update Needham residents and parents about the status of the Hillside School feasibility study and to allow community members the opportunity to participate in discussions and planning around a possible new school in Needham.
At this meeting, Dore & Whittier Architects will review the work done to date, including alternative site studies. We encourage all community members to attend the meeting to learn more, especially parents of young children who will be entering the schools in the next 5 years.
More information about planning for new a new Hillside Elementary school is available here.
Full-Day Kindergarten Study
On June 16th, the Full-Day Kindergarten Study and Planning Committee presented their findings to the School Committee. Highlights of this report include:
Most towns in Massachusetts offer at least some full-day kindergarten.
115 of 121 rising kindergarten parents responding to a survey prefer full-day kindergarten.
Full-day kindergarten offers academic benefits, a smoother transition from preschool into first grade and benefits for special education.
Most schools could accommodate a full-day program. Given Hillside's current space constraints, alternative sites may need to be considered.
An FAQ based on the report is available here, as well as the Committee's presentation to the School Committee.
Town Meeting Update
In May, Town Meeting approved the Town of Needham's operating budget for the fiscal year starting July 1st, including $61.3 million for the Needham Public Schools, as well as an appropriation for the Minuteman Regional High School.
Town Meeting also approved $150,000 to fund a design and engineering study of a 2,500 square foot cafeteria expansion at Needham High School.
In addition to expanding the cafeteria at Needham High, Superintendent Gutekanst and the School Committee plan to work with the Town Finance Committee and other Town boards to address the need for additional classroom space. The high school administration reports that class sizes and programming are affected by the space crunch, and the School Committee hopes to bring this issue before Town Meeting in the next year. Additional information about space needs at NHS can be found in Superintendent Gutekanst's blog.
NHS Interim Principal & School Committee Vacancy
As of July 1st,Joe Barnes will become Needham High School's interim principal, serving for one year while a search is conducted for a permanent principal. Dr. Barnes brings extensive experience to this position, having formerly served as Principal of Pollard Middle School. In addition to many years as an educator and administrator, Dr. Barnes has served on the Needham School Committee for the last 8 years.
In accepting this position, Dr. Barnes resigned from the School Committee and the Selectmen and School Committee are developing a plan to fill his vacant seat until next year's Town election.
CNS extends a heartfelt thank you to Lara Meisner and Janet Desaulniers. Both are stepping down after years of thoughtful and dedicated service. Best wishes to you both! Joining CNS next year is Ronit Velde. We look forward to working with Ronit in the coming year!
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