Superintendent's Newsletter

February 12, 2021

Welcome!

To translate this newsletter, click on it then use the link to the right.


Para traduzir este boletim, clique nele e use o link à direita.

Para traducir este boletín, haga clic en él y luego use el enlace a la derecha.

لترجمة هذه الرسالة من المدرسة ، اضغط عليها ثم استخدم الرابط الموجود على اليمين.

Այս տեղեկագիրը թարգմանելու համար կտտացրեք այն, ապա օգտագործեք աջ կողմում գտնվող հղումը:

Чтобы перевести этот бюллетень, нажмите на него, затем воспользуйтесь ссылкой справа.

Bu bülteni çevirmek için üzerine tıklayın ve ardından sağdaki bağlantıyı kullanın.

To all of the members of our strong Watertown Community:


There is a reason that we have a break in February and I recognize that this year, more than ever, having this week-long break is essential for our health and well-being, providing us with the opportunity to recharge before we head into spring. It may be a snowy break, so perhaps we will see many snow people on the front lawns when we head back into school. It was quite the treat to see Ms. Tan's kindergarteners sledding on the small slope at the Hosmer this morning-perhaps there will be more sledding tracks in the coming days.


In my journeys to all of the buildings these past few days, I have seen remarkable teaching and learning going on, and our students who are in-person are engaged, attentive, safe, and happy! And I also enjoyed seeing some of our "zoomers" who were live-streaming into their classes from home at the middle school and the high school level. Even with the curves that this year has thrown all of us, we are all learning and growing during our pandemic school experience.


Our Leadership Team is in the process of developing our goals, initiatives, and action plans for next year, building off of the District's existing District Improvement Strategy. Next year will be the final year of our four-year improvement strategy cycle, and our emphasis will be on how best to meet all of our students where they are at next fall. Our team has clearly identified a need to leverage the amazing skills and adaptations that our students and teachers have learned this year, and that we should continue using the tools that bring our community together in ways we may not have imagined in February 2020.


At the last School Committee meeting, I reviewed a portion of the survey data that we gathered from our families, students, and staff last month. One of my favorite data points is that 94% of students in grades 3-5 feel very or somewhat successful, and 74% of our students in middle school and high school feel very or somewhat successful. Attached you can find the full presentation with additional data points from the survey. Overall, the general sense is that we are doing our best in the midst of a global pandemic.


Wishing you an enjoyable February break,


Dede Galdston, Ed.D.

Scenes From Our Schools

Ongoing Equity Work in WPS: The Hiring of our Director of Equity and Inclusion

The Watertown Public Schools is currently seeking highly qualified candidates to apply for the position of Director of Equity and Inclusion. The selection of a district-level administrator, such as the Director of Equity and Inclusion, is one of the most important decisions that a superintendent can make, and as always, I will employ a thorough and transparent process.


The process will be comprehensive and ensure the candidates for consideration bring the requisite skills, experiences, characteristics, and understanding of the high expectations we have for this role. Please see the schedule below for information about the process.


The Director of Equity and Inclusion will develop and implement the District's strategic diversity and equity objective aligned with the District’s mission and long-range plans. This person will serve as a catalyst to leverage best practices and resources to promote a culture of inclusion and belonging in the Watertown Public Schools where individuals from all racial and ethnic identities, ages, nationalities, social and economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, religious, political and ideological perspectives, and physical and mental abilities are able to thrive.


We are assembling a Screening Committee to assist in the search process whose charge will be to review applications, interview candidates, and recommend candidates to the Superintendent as finalists for the position. As part of this process, the Screening Committee will consider the feedback that is received from the focus group meetings (students, staff, parents).


We will be holding a Focus Group for any WPS staff, parents, students, or community members who are interested in providing their hopes, dreams, and ideas for this position via Zoom on Tuesday, February 23 at 3:15 pm. As this is a new position for the Watertown Public Schools, we greatly appreciate your input and will share your feedback with both the Focus Group and the successful candidate as part of their entry. As part of this process, the Screening Committee will consider the feedback that is received from the focus group meeting. If you are unable to attend the focus group, you are welcome to offer your thoughts via this FORM.


Details of the screening process include:


Staff, Parent, Student Focus Group Meeting

  • Zoom on Tuesday, February 23 at 3:15 pm


Organizational Screening Committee Meeting

  • Wednesday, February 24, 4:00pm - 5:00pm


Interviews

  • Tuesday, March 2, 4:00pm - 7:00pm

  • Friday, March 5, 4:00pm - 7:00pm


Finalist Interviews with Superintendent

  • Tuesday, March 9, 6:00pm - 9:00pm


Screening/Interview Committee Membership (16)

  • Members can serve in two roles; e.g. a parent can also be a teacher


Search Coordinators: Assistant Superintendent and Principal

  • 2 Educators (Elementary/Secondary)

  • 2 Principals/Assistant Principals (Elementary/Secondary)

  • 2 Students

  • 2 Parents

  • 1 Counselor or mental health provider

  • 1 Support Staff (IA, food service, custodian, admin assistant)

  • 1 Coordinator

  • Assistant Superintendent

  • Human Resources Director

  • 1 School Committee member

  • 1 Community member (potentially from ABC, BGC, or Wayside)


Selecting a Director of Equity and Inclusion is an important opportunity for the entire community. If you are interested in serving on the Director of Equity and Inclusion Screening Committee, please forward a letter of interest via email to Kenneth Storlazzi, WPS Human Resources Director, at kenneth.storlazzi@watertown.k12.ma.us no later than Sunday, February 21. Anyone interested in applying for the position can find the posting on SchoolSpring, job ID# 3438338.

COVID-19: Student Testing, Mask Update, and Traveling Out of State

Given the low numbers of COVID-19 cases currently in our schools and that February Break usually does not entail large gatherings, we will continue with our hybrid learning model on Monday, February 22.


COVID-19 Testing: We are very thrilled to have approximately 70-75% of students participating in our COVID-19 testing! As of two weeks ago, students in grades 2 and up are able to self-swab making the process very efficient. If a student needs assistance, the nurses are right there to help. Please note that student testing not only helps protect our students, families, and staff, but it also helps the larger Watertown community. If you haven't already signed up for pooled testing, all of the necessary information can be found at this link. Also, all student-athletes participating in WPS athletics are required to participate in weekly testing.


Double masking: There has been a recommendation to double mask to protect against the Coronavirus. Please feel free to do so, and as a reminder, the masks that were provided by the District with the school's logos have a filter pocket which would be a great way to get an extra layer of protection. You can easily insert a coffee filter or a paper towel into the filter pocket. If you need additional masks, please reach out to your principal.


Traveling out of state: If your family travels outside of Massachusetts over February break, or at any time for that matter, your family must quarantine for 14 days unless your child(ren) has a negative PCR test. All states with the exception of Hawaii are considered high risk at this time. More guidance about the travel restrictions can be found here. This order applies to day trips out of state as well. There are several free and low-cost testing options in our area, including the free testing being offered by the Town of Watertown.


**If you or a member of your household has tested positive for COVID-19 or is in the process of being tested due to exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, please keep your child home and contact the school nurse.

The Building for the Future Project continues its forward progress, with the Cunniff getting some finishing touches on the outside and the Hosmer is in the process of being "buttoned up." The School Building Committee toured the Cunniff on January 20 and we are very thrilled at the progress that is being made on its interior.


The School Building Committee met on February 3 to discuss feedback from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA, Watertown's grant partner) on the preferred design option for the new Watertown High School. Currently, the preferred option involves a new academic building on the Phillips site with significant programming on the current site, connected by a pedestrian bridge. The MSBA has asked for more study regarding efficiency in square footage for the educational programming plan, and more on a one-site option including swing space, cost, and construction implications.


The next School Building Committee Meeting will take place on Wednesday, Feb 17, at 6:00 pm. The agenda will focus on the elementary projects, with a presentation and recommendation for the furniture, fixtures, and equipment for the three elementary schools and an update as to the completion dates for the Cunniff and the Hosmer. If you are interested in learning more about the building projects, please visit the main Building For the Future website. For specific information about the high school project, you can visit the WHS project website. Have a question? Send it to highschoolproject@watertown.k12.ma.us


These certainly are exciting times for the future of education in Watertown!

School Nutrition Meal Distribution - February 16 12-2 pm

The WPS School Nutrition Department will be distributing free meals on Tuesday, February 16, out of the high school parking lot from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm. Any family can pick up seven day's worth of breakfasts and lunches for their children. Please take full advantage of this program, as we are receiving federal funds through the end of the school year to provide meals to any family who can benefit from the program.

Upcoming Events

Watertown School Building Committee Meeting

Wednesday, Feb. 17th, 6pm

This is an online event.

Please see the agenda for information about the meeting.


Link to the Zoom Meeting: https://www.watertown.k12.ma.us/building_for_the_future/meeting_info

Superintendent's Coffee

Wednesday, Feb. 24th, 9am

This is an online event.

The Superintendent will be holding her February Coffee on Wednesday, February 24 at both 9:00 am and 7:00. Please use the same Zoom link for both Coffee times:


https://watertown-k12-ma-us.zoom.us/j/91362886187