School Committee Meeting Summary
August 25, 2022
Moment of Silence
A moment of silence was held for two former Walpole Public School employees.
Caroline Taber Kiessling of East Walpole, MA recently passed away. Caroline taught school in Walpole for nearly 40 years where she touched the lives of many 3rd graders (and their parents) during her tenure. She also worked at the election polls for the Town of Walpole. The School Committee extends their heartfelt condolences to Caroline Kiessling's family.
Former Walpole Public Schools Van Driver Steve Vose passed away late last week. He began his work with WPS as a Special Education Van Driver when the program began in 2012. Shortly thereafter, Steve served as the Fleet Coordinator overseeing van maintenance, van safety, assumed on call responsibilities, as well as continued driving as a substitute driver. Retiring in 2016, he formed friendships with drivers, monitors, and many others. Steve Vose will be missed.
1. School Opening - Dr. Gough and Dr. Hahn, provided insight regarding the opening of schools. They are excited to welcome back our students and staff to the 2022-2023 school year. This week, over 40 new Walpole Public School staff participated in their week-long orientation. School offices opened on August 23rd. All staff will report back on Monday, August 29th. Students in grades 1-12 will report to school on Wednesday, August 31st, and on Tuesday, September 6th, we welcome back our PreK and Kindergarten students. Links to start and end times as well as the 2022-2023 school year calendar were provided.
2. Student Activity Fund Update - Mr. Friscia provided the School Committee with a summary of all student activity funds and balances to date.
3. Wellness Policy: First Reading - The School Committee was provided with a marked Wellness Policy as a first reading.
4. Subcommittee Assignments - A list of all School Committee Subcommittee assignments was provided in the event any member wishes to change into or out of a subcommittee.
Over the summer, we continued to receive updates from DESE and the Health Department. DESE and DPH issued a joint memo with COVID information for the upcoming school year that aligns with the new CDC guidance released last week. This upcoming school year, school districts will focus their COVID mitigation strategies towards vulnerable and symptomatic individuals, while minimizing the need for more restrictive districtwide COVID policies. Other than the health offices, there is no longer a masking mandate in schools. As always, any individual who wishes to continue to mask, including those who face higher risk from COVID19, should be supported in that choice. Masks will be made available at all schools. Surveillance testing of asymptomatic individuals, contact tracing, and test-to-stay testing in schools have also ended. Our schools still have the capability to test symptomatic students and staff. Free COVID-19 vaccination clinics for everyone 6 months of age and older are available around the state. Please read this letter from our Head Nurse, Linda Anderson, regarding isolation and quarantine guidelines.
There have been a lot of advancements this summer. The new middle school project is moving forward, and construction updates can be found here. A portion of the elementary media centers are being transformed into STEM labs for our new STEM teachers. There have also been multiple meetings with our project manager and design team regarding the Walpole High School renovation. In between all of the summer interviewing, our curriculum work continued. Last, but certainly not least, due to perseverance and a sustainable seven year plan, the incoming class of Kindergartners will be the first non-tuition class!
We are also pleased to share that Massachusetts will continue to fund free school meals for all students, regardless of household income, under the one-year expansion of a free federal school lunch program. The state’s budgetary commitment will ensure that students who would not otherwise qualify for free school meals, continue to have access to free lunch and breakfast. Click HERE for more information on WPS Nutrition program
The hiring process has been extremely busy this summer and we are excited about the talented educators who are joining the WPS community. We are still in need of Education Support Professionals and Teacher Aides. Please contact Laurie Sylvia, HR Coordinator @ email@example.com or 508-660-7200 ext. 5273 to apply.
Annual Walpole Road Race: On September 5, the Walpole XC & Track Boosters will be hosting the 49th Annual Walpole Road Race at Walpole High School. It is one of the oldest road races in the area (one year younger than Falmouth), and the event includes a Youth Mile, 5K, and 10K race. Register online today at www.walpoleroadrace.org.
Middle School Building Project
Mr. Breen provided an update as to the Bird Middle School project. Mr. Breen indicated the School Building Committee has met to discuss and vote regarding value engineering. Value Engineering is performed to keep the project within budget. He also mentioned that traffic patterns at Bird Middle School have changed and that Mr. Connor has emailed parents to alert them to the changes. The community is encouraged to reach out to the Middle School Project team with any questions or comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and to visit the middle school project webpage here.
High School Renovation Information
Mr. Ahern provided an update with regard to the high school renovation project. He indicated options are being reviewed and the community will be informed of options in the future.