School Committee Meeting Summary

October 14, 2021

Walpole High School Student Report

Grace R., Walpole High School student representative to the School Committee, was present at the School Committee Meeting. Grace reported as follows:
  • The past couple of weeks have been busy at the high school!
  • Last Thursday and Friday grades 9-11 had picture day.
  • Progress reports were sent out last week to each student, marking the halfway point of the first term.
  • Yesterday, sophomores and juniors took part in the PSATS. The freshman went to all their classes for the day as usual and sophomore and juniors joined them for the last two blocks. Seniors had the opportunity to use the day for college application work.
  • Last week students and teachers were introduced to ClassWise. Teachers use ClassWise to monitor students’ Chromebook activity but also share websites and tabs.
  • Fall sports are just over halfway through their seasons and have seen great success. Notably, the field hockey team remains undefeated with 11 wins.
  • Support at games among students has been big this fall, especially for the football games where there has been a loud student section for both home and away games.
  • Winter sports registration is now open.
  • Clubs are in full swing at the high school! There are several new clubs including the Investment Club, Women’s Self Defense Club, and Trivia Club.
  • The Community Service Club and Green Team partnered to pick up trash around the school.
  • Tri-M held a coat drive this past week to distribute winter coats to families in need. On October 24, The UNICEF Club is planning a trunk or treat for kids in the community to collect candy and play games.
  • Student Council elected freshmen representatives. All classes are now represented. There is a lot planned for the coming weeks including fall cleanup for families around Walpole and the Wall of Hope to raise money for breast cancer awareness. A candy drive is planned for October 30.

New Business

1. Jesenia Castro - DEI/METCO Update - Ms. Castro updated the School Committee on the METCO Program as well as on the diversity, equity, and inclusion goals for Walpole Public Schools. These goals are based on the continued development of a Walpole Equity Task Force to include stakeholders across the District. Ms. Castro discussed her next steps including meeting and partnering with district leadership, teaching staff, School Committee members, the Town of Walpole Administration, Police, Fire, and clergy for the purpose of collaborating and aligning the equity, inclusion, and diversity goals. Ms. Castro is working to build relationships with the Walpole community. She is also in the process of exploring further Professional Development opportunities.


2. Student Activity Accounts Update - Mr. Friscia provided the School Committee a summary of all student activity funds and balances to date.


3. Vote on Town Meeting Articles - The School Committee voted to approve Town Meeting Article 13 which is the transfer of money from Free Cash for the reimbursement of Medicaid receipts and high school parking fees. The Committee further voted to approve Article 14 requesting that Town Meeting authorize the borrowing and appropriation of a sum of money to construct a new middle school. This is subject to the approval of a debt exclusion by the voters of Walpole on November 2nd.

OLD BUSINESS

1. Covid 19 Update - Dr. Gough and School Nurse Leader Kathi Garvin provided the School Committee with recent COVID positivity rates and student/staff vaccination rates.


2. School Committee Meeting Start Time - The School Committee voted to change Policy BE (School Committee Meetings) to remove the start time as it was agreed that School Committee Meetings will now begin at 6:45 p.m. instead of the current 7:30 p.m.

Middle School Building Project

Mr. Breen discussed the upcoming October 19th Community Forum at Bird Middle School regarding the combined new middle school project. Several presentations have been held and each forum continues to provide additional information based on questions asked at previous forums. He encourages people to attend as it’s important to become informed of all aspects of this project. A tour of the Bird Middle School facility will be held before this forum, beginning at 6:15 p.m. This presentation will be recorded and past presentations can be viewed on the Walpole Middle School page here. Town Meeting is being held Saturday, October 23rd. Town Meeting Members will be asked to vote to authorize the Town to borrow money to construct a new combined middle school. The residents of Walpole will be voting on November 2nd on a debt exclusion to fund the proposed middle school.


Mrs. Gallivan commented that she believes that the middle school is one of the most important projects that will happen for our school district. She stated that we have been working on this for a very long time (since 2013) and on November 2nd it is going to be in the hands of the local voters. She wants to make sure that people understand that the School Committee and School Building Committee are available to answer any and all questions. The best way to become an informed voter is to attend the Forum on Tuesday night. If someone is unable to attend, she reminded the community that it is going to be taped and will be available through local media and the middle school project webpage. She mentioned that if people are unavailable to vote on November 2nd, early voting is an option, and absentee voting is also a possibility. Finally, she mentioned that this project has been carefully vetted both from an educational and from a financial point of view. Walpole qualifies to receive $37 million from the state to fund this school.

SUPERINTENDENT REPORT

  • Dr. Gough provided information regarding her goals for the 2021-2022 school year, which included student learning, district, and professional practice. These goals are aligned with the District’s Strategic Plan.

  • The School Committee was provided with an October 1 enrollment report.

  • Dr. Gough reminded the School Committee about the school meal supply chain disruptions. School nutrition programs across the state and the nation are currently faced with unprecedented shortages of food and packaging materials, massive delays or cancellations of deliveries, and department labor shortages. As a result, quick substitutions may have to be made to our menu(s) based upon what we are able to acquire. We know that this affects students, and we are doing our best to provide updates about menu changes when possible as soon as we identify an issue. Maria Hall, Food Service Director, and her team are doing an excellent job of managing the situation.

  • Free breakfast and lunch will continue throughout the school year and participation helps our program stay strong.

  • Open Houses were in-person this year. There was a change in the elementary open house format in order to provide families with more of a curriculum focus. Principals received a lot of positive feedback, which will help with future planning.

  • Parent-teacher conferences are approaching. This year, schools are offering parents an option of in-person or remote conferences.

  • Prior to the November 2nd Townwide vote, there will be one more community forum to provide information about the new combined middle school. The presentation will be held at Bird Middle School on Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00 pm. There will be an optional tour held prior to the meeting at 6:15 pm. There will also be an opportunity to ask questions. Please visit the project website for more information. Have a question? Emails can be sent to middleschoolproject@walpole.k12.ma.us.