School Committee Meeting Summary

May 28, 2020

Per Governor Baker's order suspending certain provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c.30A sec. 20, the public is not be allowed to physically access this School Committee meeting. Members of the Public will be able to view this meeting on Walpole Media Cable Access the following day. Citizens with a question or comment should email We will do our best to get back to you as soon as possible.

All votes taken by the School Committee in a remote participation meeting are done via roll call.

To view the full recorded meeting, click here.

Student Report

Scotty C., Walpole High School (WHS) Student Representative to the School Committee (SC), gave a report remotely to the SC. Scotty reported that:

  • Right now, many students are frustrated with some of the effects of COVID 19 including no sports, not seeing friends or family, and the difficulties of online learning.
  • WHS faculty has done a good job adjusting to these changes and implementing the coursework online, however, it is still challenging for students to keep up with all of their assignments.
  • WHS also had Advanced Placement testing last week and the week before. It was definitely an interesting experience taking the tests online, however, most students, including Scotty, say that the tests were easier this year in comparison with other years.
  • The senior class of 2020 had their last day of classes last Thursday and there will be a drive by car parade to celebrate them on June 7th at 4.
  • With the cancellation of spring sports, Scotty said many students are still practicing sports just to get out of the house. He has been running and is pretty sure he has seen half the SC while running around town.
  • Scotty said thank you for everything that the SC and administration does for the schools, especially during this difficult time and said he would happily take any questions.

New Business

Superintendent Evaluation - Mr. Buckley summarized the superintendent evaluation for the four Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) evaluation standards as follows:

1. Instructional Leadership: Proficient

2. Management and Operations: Proficient

3. Family and Community Engagement: Exemplary

4. Professional Culture: Proficient

Dr. Gough's overall rating is Proficient. The SC indicated that Dr. Gough has embraced many challenges and overall it was a great first year. The SC believes Dr. Gough to be an asset to the District and are grateful for her leadership.

Preliminary Bullying Report - Dr. Gough reported that two years ago a commitment was made to be more transparent with both allegations of bullying and confirmed bullying cases. She reported that thus far, there were 40 bullying allegations, three cases confirmed. Of those 40 allegations, 73% resulted in safety plans. Assistant Superintendent Mr. Hahn reminded the SC and community that in order for an allegation to be considered bullying, it has to be repetitive, have power imbalance, and be a form of harassment. However, Dr. Gough and Mr. Hahn stressed that regardless of confirmed bullying, all allegations are taken seriously.

FY '21 Budget - Dr. Gough indicated that budget adjustments have been made to the proposed FY '21 budget in order to close the gap between the SC recommended budget and the Town Administrator recommended budget. These adjustments include removing new requested staff hires, freezing spending, furloughing 118 staff, and attrition. We will continue to work with the Town Administrator's office throughout this process and are grateful to them and the Walpole boards/committees.

Superintendent Report

Dr. Gough reported that:

  • We know that many families are concerned about the potential loss of learning as a result of the pandemic and the transition to remote learning. While we are confident that our teachers are creating a positive learning experience for our students and ensuring academic enrichment and growth, WPS has been working to develop a summer program to meet the varied needs of our students.

  • We are excited to offer a new program for our K-8 students this summer. The WPS Summer Learning Program will provide grade-level teaching and support in a remote setting at no cost to interested families. The program will include approximately 3-5 hours of instruction per week with qualified staff blending live digital meetings with independent work time. This will be a great opportunity for students to continue developing their skills and help them prepare for a strong start in September while having some fun along the way. The program will run from July 7 - July 30 and is open to all students currently in grades K-8. Building principals will be sending signup information in the coming days with contact information for potential questions.

  • The high school will still be offering several summer enrichment opportunities in addition to their summer school program. More information about the high school offerings will be communicated to families in the coming weeks.

  • There are still many questions about the opening of school. Relative to the fall reopening guidelines, we are awaiting guidance from the Governor, Department of Public Health or the Commissioner of Education. The reopening work will be shared when we have far more certainty. Be assured that planning for next year is in the process now.

  • Diplomas will be conferred on June 7 starting at 12:00 p.m. followed by a car procession parade at 4:00 p.m. The WHS Seniors will have a designated time of arrival (organized by neighborhoods). A photographer will also be there to take pictures of each senior as he/she walks across the stage. The event will be streamed live. Seniors are welcome to decorate their cars as they drive the escorted parade route. We thank the fire and police departments and the Board of Health for their guidance and support. We also thank the many people who have put together a meaningful, memorable, and safe graduation. Mr. Imbush mentioned in his correspondence we are holding the July 24th date for a possible senior celebration based on what we know at that point.

  • Dr. Gough wished a special congratulations to our National Honor Society inductees and current senior members. Co-advisors, Laura Kay and Elizabeth Albertelly, created a wonderful virtual NHS Induction Ceremony. Our NHS students truly represent the 4 pillars of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. In addition, the ceremony recognized some incredible teachers, coaches, and mentors as each senior spoke briefly about a special educator who impacted their life. We would have preferred to recognize these students and educators in person, but we are grateful for the work involved in creating this beautiful virtual ceremony. Click here to view this virtual ceremony.

Old Business/Subcommittee Activity

MSBA Update - The Designer Selection Panel met on May 19th to review and consider the twelve applications that the Town received in response to the Designer Services Request for Services (RFS). We are pleased to report that the Designer Selection Panel voted 12-2 to recommend Tappe Architects as the Designer for the Middle School Project.

During the review process, Tappe distinguished itself from the rest of the group among Walpole’s panel members and among the Designer Selection Panel. Their package detailed fiscally solid designs listed a history of low change order rates, the proposed team had been with the firm for a long time, and their package addressed the RFS points well including current site concerns.

Subcommittee Reports - A Budget Workshop was held on May 20, 2020. A summary of this workshop was provided in the FY '21 Budget Update above. A Superintendent Evaluation Subcommittee was held on May 21, 2020. The Subcommittee discussed the Superintendent's formative evaluation which is also summarized above.

Citizens Comments

The following citizens comments were received via email:

Citizen Wendy Nossal commented on graduation survey questions and summer availability. Questions were asked regarding the senior celebration on July 24, car parade logistics, and the allocation of class dues.

Citizen Kerry O’Keefe provided comments about the impacts Covid-19 has had on the Senior Class and the loss of not having a traditional graduation. She asked the School Committee to consider postponing the June graduation date.

Response to Citizen Comments

Chairman Buckley reiterated the responsibilities of the SC are (1) budget, (2) policies and (3) hire/evaluate the Superintendent. He also said he has spoken to many citizens/parents and he knows this is disappointing in this backdrop of a global pandemic. He thinks the decision of Dr. Gough and Mr. Imbusch, in conjunction with the Board of Health, to create the graduation event is admirable. While this is the purview of the Administration, we as a SC support their decision. He said that we have to be mindful of people with health concerns in participating in this event. The matter is settled and we know some people won’t like this decision. A tremendous amount of planning and input went into this decision.

Mrs. Gallivan clarified the event will take place on Sunday, June 7 starting at noon. A car parade is planned for 4:00 p.m. that same day. She too is disappointed but it’s important for people to know this decision was not made hastily. It is the opposite. All options were given serious consideration. All of us would love to be able to give kids a memorable experience. This relies on so many factors that are not in our control. This has been a difficult decision. The Class of 2020 deserve a greater send-off. Our senior students are an amazing group of kids. It is a source of pride on graduation day and especially our military students. We thank them sincerely for their service to our country. She encouraged the community to line the parade group and cheer them on.

Mrs. Syrek commented that she knows this is difficult for everyone. She said the SC would rather be holding the meeting in person rather than Zoom. The fact that we found a way to confer diploma’s is great. It is not what we would all want.

I Believe - WHS Camerata Digital Choir