School Committee Meeting Summary

September 30, 2021

Moment of Silence

The School Committee Meeting began with a moment of silence in honor of Robert A. Cento. Mr. Cento was not only a graduate of Walpole High School (1949), but also a 37-year employee in the Walpole Public Schools as a teacher, guidance counselor, and principal of East Junior High School (now Bird Middle School). Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family.

RECOGNITION

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) challenged students to create posters and essays about water conservation. Winners were honored at a ceremony last spring. Fisher School student Jiya Sonchhatra placed 2nd in the State for the poster she created. The School Committee recognized her impressive accomplishment.

Walpole High School Student Report

Scotty C., Walpole High School student representative to the School Committee was present at the School Committee Meeting. Scotty gave a report as follows:
  • The high school has been very busy these past weeks.
  • All of Walpole’s sports teams have been competing hard in the first few games of the season. Girls’ soccer is 1-6 but they hope to improve their record in the coming weeks. Boys’ soccer is 2-2-3 after yesterday's game. Field hockey is undefeated and hopes to continue its winning streak. Volleyball has a record of 1-5 but hopes to bounce back with a win Thursday at Elm. Swim Team is 2-3 and hopes to get a 500 record with their meet next week. After a disappointing loss for both the girls and boys XC teams Wednesday, both teams hope to improve their records of 1-6 and 2-5 respectively in their next meet on Wednesday. Football has a record of 1-2. They play tomorrow at home where they hope to even out their record.
  • The National Honor Society, Green Team, and Community Service Clubs collaborated after school on Thursday to clean up the grounds.
  • Many of Walpole High School’s signature clubs, as well as some new clubs, have started up again these past weeks. Some clubs include the Spanish Club, Math Team, Investment Club, RAK club, student council, jazz band, trivia club, yearbook club, community service club, National Honor Society, Best Buddies, PM club, Art club, speech and debate, film, photography club, no book book club, Unicef club, and Green Team. Scotty indicated he believes that the extracurricular activities at Walpole High School are one of the best aspects of our school, which is why he is pleased to report that the club activities are returning back to normal.
  • As students begin another year of classes, he is continually inspired by countless amazing educators at the high school, who push students to be their best selves and grow, as both a person and a student. He appreciates all of the work they have done this year to get the schools ready for another year of learning. He is excited about all of the opportunities that this year has to offer.

New Business

1. Extended Day Update - Mr. Clifford began by praising the great work and efforts of his entire Extended Day team. In a year where many surrounding schools and towns, either canceled their Extended Day program or reduced their offerings, Walpole was able to keep all programs open and fully operational all year. Additionally, they were able to develop the remote day program to help supervise both Walpole students and the children of many Walpole teachers. He fully believes that all Extended Day staff exceeded expectations and wanted to take a moment to greatly appreciate his team for all the work they've done.


Many updates have been made, including transitioning both registration and building processes to online systems. Mr. Clifford also spoke about how they have become more responsive to the changing needs of our families. He and Mr. Friscia also updated the Extended Day budget to make sure the program is staying financially solid while also investing in updates and new programming. Currently, enrollment numbers are solid.


He has developed staff leadership roles to support both staff engagement and retention. There are also six high school students working for the Program this year and there are plans to continue to formalize a high school assistant program. Collaboration with other Walpole Public Schools departments such as School Nutrition, Athletics, and high school clubs is also being explored.


Mr. Clifford described the adjustments that have allowed for more differentiated programming. He also highlighted the Healthy Competition program which is designed to build a habit of long-lasting healthy choices in our children. The Extended Day Program strives to foster student growth. Visit the Extended Day webpage for more information here.


2. Re-Appoint Representative To Walpole Media TV Committee - The School Committee unanimously voted to re-appoint Kristen Syrek to serve on the Walpole Media TV Committee.


3. School Committee Meeting Start Time - A discussion was held regarding the possibility of starting School Committee Meetings up to 45 minutes earlier. The Committee discussed a 6:45 p.m. or 7:00 p.m. start time. Currently, meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Thursday of each month. The Committee asked that any community member/parent who would like to provide input, send an email to the School Committee at schoolcommittee@walpole.k12.ma.us. Community input is always appreciated and valued.

OLD BUSINESS

1. Covid Update - Dr. Gough and School Nurse Leader Kathi Garvin provided a COVID-19 Update including vaccination updates, Walpole Department of Health updates, and the Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) updated mask requirement. Dr. Gough thanked Kathi Garvin for her tireless efforts on behalf of all students and staff of Walpole. DESE Commissioner Riley announced that the mask requirement will be in place until at least November 1. The Commissioner will review the requirement in the near future and revise it as necessary. However, as of October 15 if a school demonstrates a vaccination rate of 80% of the vaccinated individuals, then that school would no longer be subject to the mask requirement. Whether or not a district avails itself to the 80% vaccination rate, the School Committee in collaboration with local health officials will re-visit and/or vote to update the Mask Policy (EBCFA). If and when one of our schools reaches the 80% threshold, we must submit an attestation form to DESE for approval, they will respond within two business days. In order to prepare for this at any given level, this district is in the process of having district employees demonstrate proof of vaccination. The Test and Stay program has been successful. It is another mitigation factor to keep our students safe in school and continue our priority of in-person learning.

SUPERINTENDENT REPORT

  • In addition to the COVID and Middle School Building Project updates, Dr. Gough reported that she and Assistant Superintendent Mr. Hahn have been out to all schools meeting with and staff. She noted that it is great to observe learning centers back in action where students can be engaged in individualized, hands-on instruction. Dr. Gough noted the many upcoming events in the next two weeks. Please check your student's school calendars.
  • The Fales, Leach, Rogers, and Kunde Scholarship is available from October 1 through Monday, November 1, 2021. The application can be found here as well as at the Superintendent's Office. Awards shall be to Walpole High School graduates attending a four-year accredited college. Students are eligible for scholarships each of their four years.

Middle School Building Project

Dr. Gough and Bryan Jarvis (Compass Project Management) gave a full update on the middle school building project. They reviewed all aspects to date of this project, including cost and taxpayer implications. The full report can be viewed here beginning at time marker 55:35.


The Community is strongly encouraged to get and stay involved. The School Building Committee is always willing to answer any questions. Emails can be sent to middleschoolproject@walpole.k12.ma.us. The next Community Forum is scheduled for Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00 p.m. at Bird Middle School. An optional tour will be held before that Forum beginning at 6:15 p.m.