We must continue to fix our deteriorated elementary school buildings, making them right-sized for present day teaching and learning standards, while adding capacity for flexibility and enrollment increases.
Angier is nearing completion, Zervas construction is about to begin, and Cabot planning is well underway. Our newly acquired Aquinas School offers critical solutions to building conditions and overcrowding issues on the north side of Newton. The Angier project is on time and on budget, modeling the project management we must bring to every subsequent school building project.
Newton’s Student Assignment process relieves our overcrowded schools by shifting enrollments to schools with available capacity. This effort must be carried out with sensitivity to student safety, sound traffic management, and neighborhood cohesion.
Student Achievement and Student Support
We must continue to focus on maintaining excellence in our schools which means attending to both academic and social support needs for all of Newton’s students.
Academically, we must finish the alignment of our curriculum with the Common Core, strengthen writing and literacy programming, and continue to make advancements in closing the achievement gap.
Socially, we’ve recently introduced Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) programming across all grade levels, developed and expanded the highly regarded Signs of Suicide program within high school and middle school, deepened our relationship with Riverside Mental Health Services and Newton Cares, continued to cull and act upon information from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, implemented periodic homework free weekends, and more.
These are stressful times. We must do all we can to help our students thrive in this environment.
It is critical that we improve two-way communication between the School Committee/NPS and both the parent and non-parent communities, our Aldermen, PTOs, Neighborhood Area Councils, and other important community groups. Tools should include postings to the NPS website, taking stakeholder surveys, using social media, visiting with PTOs and school councils, reaching out to other community groups, and having a presence at community events including village days and local fairs.
To communicate with you best, we need frequent opportunities to listen to citizens’ ideas while using effective methods to share NPS practices and initiatives with you. We must approach School Committee communications with the assumption that they can always be improved.