School Committee Meeting Summary

February 27, 2020

Official Meeting Minutes

Minutes are published when approved and voted on by School Committee. Click here for official Meeting Minutes.

The Great Kindness Challenge

The Great Kindness Challenge is a positive and proactive bullying prevention initiative that Elm, Boyden, OPR and Fisher participated in the week of January 27th to January 31st in order to continue to create a culture of kindness. One Week, One Checklist, Infinite Happiness!

The national “Do Something” Kindness & Justice Challenge is designed to inspire young people to perform Acts of Kindness (helping others) and Justice (standing up for what’s right) in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Children were encouraged to perform “Acts of Kindness.” Paper “hands” were sent home. Students (or parents) were encouraged to write descriptions of positive deeds on the hands and return them to school. Teachers and other staff may choose to award a Helping Hand to deserving individuals. The “hands” were displayed in the school’s lobbies.

This is an important opportunity to help children develop positive attitudes about helping others and standing up for what is right, as well as reinforce the legacy of Martin Luther King.

All of the elementary schools are to be commended for undertaking and excelling at this challenge.

Elm Street School students were recognized for SOARing above and beyond expectations at during the The Great Kindness Challenge week.

Fisher School 5th grade students were also recognized to highlight their many thoughtful random kindness acts at school, home and in the community.

Walpole High School Student Report

Brendan M., Walpole High School (WHS) Student Representative to the School Committee (SC), gave a full report on the academic, athletic and extracurricular activities at WHS. Brendan reported that:

  • WHS winter sports team seasons are wrapping up, or already have wrapped up and are now into playoffs. The boys track and field team finished the regular season 5-0 and placed second in the divisional championship, then went on to have some successes at all-states last weekend. Girls track finished at 4-1 with many great postseason performances. Girls basketball is sitting at 10-6 as of now, close to the postseason. Boys basketball is sitting at 2-20, towards the end of the regular season. Girls and boys hockey are both starting playoffs, with the boys game Thursday at 7. Wrestling brought many wins in the postseason such as in sectionals with many great performances.
  • Student Council, along with administration, are in the process of planning a service day for the high school, which is set for April 17th. This day will give students the ability to team up with teachers and run service projects across the town of Walpole. The purpose of the day is to give back to the community.
  • Student Council is once again planning a blood drive which will happen in a few months, giving students an opportunity to donate blood.
  • Once again, March Prideness is going to occur at WHS! This month will consist of teachers recognizing students for showing any of the PRIDE core values within WHS, and this will culminate at the end of the month with the homeroom who has received the most PRIDE tickets getting a prize. March Prideness had such a great response last year from the students, and the PRIDE committee is hoping to bring the same energy this year!
  • It is a busy time for clubs at WHS as well! Best Buddies is holding a kick-ball and ice cream social Friday after school. Before school break, the Speech and Debate Team participated at Harvard for a national circuit competition, where they were able to compete against some of the best in the country. The Math Team is preparing for playoffs and completing their problem sets for the upcoming matches. Dance company is preparing this year’s show, which will happen at WHS on March 27th and 28th. The Random Acts of Kindness Club have also been spreading joy throughout the high school with positive notes among other things. Our WHS Mock Trial team will be competing at Clark University in the MassBar Mock Trial playoffs this Sunday for the first time in school history! Brendan is excited for this since he's been on the team since freshman year and had never imagined being able to make it to playoffs.

Safe Relationships

Safe Relationships: Marie Doherty, WHS Adjustment Counselor, attended the SC Meeting with WHS Senior Chris R. to discuss an overview of the DOVE* program that teaches students about signs of an abusive and/or unhealthy relationship. This program educates students to recognize signs of an abusive relationship and where to get help if needed. Ms. Doherty and Chris talked about the insight they had gained from this Program. Chris also gave an overview of the training he's received from DOVE which prepared him for the in-class presentations.

*DOVE (DOmestic Violence Ended), was founded in 1978 and has expanded from a crisis hotline to a multi-service organization providing comprehensive direct services and support for victims of dating and domestic violence, as well as their children. DOVE works specifically with adults, teens, and children who have been abused, emotionally and financially, as well as physically and sexually. DOVE’s services include crisis intervention, danger assessment and safety planning, supportive counseling, emergency shelter, legal advocacy and representation, and community outreach, education, and training. DOVE remains the only domestic violence shelter and community-based service provider based in Norfolk County, and also serves the greater South Shore. DOVE strives to educate individuals, families and the community at-large to help change the societal conditions that allow domestic violence to persist. Their efforts address the isolation and vulnerability faced by victims of domestic violence and the enormous emotional, psychological, and financial toll violence takes on victims, their children, and the community. More information and resources can be located here.

Business Items

Out of State Field Trips: The School Committee approved two out of state field trips for the WHS Robotics Team. We wish them well in their upcoming competitions!

Strategic Plan Goal 1 Update: Principal Ruggiero and Principal Bemiss provided the School Committee with an update to Goal 1 of the Strategic Plan.

FY '21 Budget; Fees: After a budget workshop and a discussion about fees, The SC determined a fee increase is necessary. The last fee increases were five years ago and the SC voted to increase fees as follows:

  • Breakfast/Lunch Fees will increase by $0.25
  • Bus transportation fees will increase to $300 per pupil, per year; $325 late fee; Family Cap will be $600 with a late fee family cap of $650.
  • Extended Day rates will increase by 3%
  • WHS Parking will increase to $225 per year

MSBA: Dr. Gough reminded the SC that the MSBA voted to appoint Compass Project Management, Inc. to be the Owner's Project Management (OPM) firm. Appointing an OPM is the critical first step of this process. We look forward to working with Compass on this project. More information can also be found on the MSBA School Building Project webpage by clicking here.

Superintendent Report

Dr. Gough reported that:

  • This week was spent on budget work, building visits, and MSBA/Middle School project work.
  • The Walpole Coalition of Drug and Alcohol Awareness met this past Tuesday. Going forward the Coalition Meetings will be held on the last Tuesday of each month. A reminder that the Coalition is sponsoring an Annual Video/Poster Contest and the deadline is Wednesday, March 4th. The voting for this contest will take place the week of March 9th and the awards night will be on Tuesday, March 24th at 7:00 p.m. in the Murphy Room of the Council on Aging.
  • Monday, March 2nd is the National Read Across America day, also known as Dr. Seuss Day. It is a yearly observance held on the school day that is nearest to March 2nd, Dr. Seuss birthday. Assistant Superintendent Hahn and Dr. Gough are looking forward to being guest readers at the Elm Street School.

Healthy Resolution as a RESPECful School District

The SC adopted a Healthy Resolution as a RESPECTful School District as follows:

A Resolution to Designate Walpole Public Schools as a “RESPECTful School District”

WHEREAS, the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence - in partnership with the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Massachusetts State Legislature - has recommended increased support for awareness and prevention efforts, with the goal of reducing the number of individuals who experience sexual assault and domestic violence in their lives.

WHEREAS, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts developed a public awareness and prevention campaign, “RESPECTfully,” highlighting healthy relationships for Massachusetts youth aged 12-18.

WHEREAS, it is important to educate youth about the value of respect and characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships.

WHEREAS, the key message of the “RESPECTfully” campaign is that everyone deserves respect, honesty, and open communication.

WHEREAS, youth-serving individuals and organizations can encourage parents and caregivers to be aware of the signs of unhealthy behaviors, educate youth on what respect looks like, and have clear conversations about consent.

WHEREAS, parents and caregivers can help lower the risk for teens experiencing unhealthy or abusive relationships by having open, honest, non-judgmental and continuous conversations with youth about respect in friendships and romantic relationships.

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the Walpole School Committee designate Walpole Public Schools a “RESPECTful School District” in support of “RESPECTfully,” the Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ public awareness and prevention campaign.

Citizen's Comments

Doug Shea, Finance Committee Member, asked for clarification on how the SC reviews the school budget. Chairman Buckley explained that the process begins in early December when the SC initially meets with administration and leadership to talk about needs and priorities of the school district. The school Leadership also meet individually with the Superintendent and School Business Administrator to review their full budget requests. State and Federal revenue projections are examined closely. Several budget meetings are held between the Superintendent and Town Administrator. Public Budget Hearings are held in January and the SC and Administration then meet with the Finance Committee to present the budget. The process culminates with a vote at Spring Town Meeting on the projected budget.