November 9, 2023
Dear NPS Families,
Veterans Day is a U.S. legal holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars. This year, it will occur on Saturday, November 11th. In 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.” Commemorated in many countries as Armistice Day the following year, November 11th became a federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became known as Veterans Day.
For me personally, Veterans Day is a significant day. One of my grandfathers served in Korea and one served in WWII. My father and godfather served in Vietnam. My sister and brother-in-law served in Afghanistan in more recent times.
I want to say thank you to all of our Newton veterans and acknowledge their important service to the city, to the United States, and to our personal freedoms as Americans. Please talk to your children about the reason we pause and do not hold school on this day.
Entry Plan and Upcoming SC Meeting
I look forward to sharing my entry plan findings as your new superintendent on November 20th at our regular School Committee meeting. The meeting will be an important one as it will kick off more strategic planning and visioning work for the district and will serve as a backdrop for our budget season, which begins this month. Also on the agenda is an MCAS analysis and an update on mental health programming and trends for students. Both presentations work in tandem with the entry plan and its findings.
When a new superintendent arrives, her job is to audit, explore, learn and listen. That process will not stop upon the presentation of this plan. My door will always be open to hearing from community members, staff, and students. As a leader, my desire to be transparent and direct about our work and the direction of the district is a way of life. I look forward to continued learning and growing with you as I serve Newton Public School children in partnership with you and our educators.
Progress on Contract Negotiations
It is in the area of partnership with our educators that I would like to update you on negotiations and level-set expectations for work I originally proposed to be done this school year. With regard to negotiations, it is hard for the community to see any progress being made given the wealth of information shared and the nuance of the issues at hand. It is slow progress (slower than I have ever experienced) but here is some good news.
As noted in their next negotiations update (slated for November 20th, but posted here in meeting materials), the School Committee’s most recent proposal for cost of living increase (COLA) rose to 2% for FY24, 2% for FY25, and 3% for FY26 for all units. In addition, the NTA modified its proposal to address some healthcare cost concerns. To move the discussion forward more quickly, there is also a proposal for small group subcommittee negotiations to go back and refine/finalize already agreed or close to agreed upon tentative agreements. We are moving in the right direction, albeit very slowly.
I must address one issue in the negotiations that was shared in a recent set of erroneous communications and on social media. The message implied that there was a proposal to end the benefit of Newton staff enrolling their children in NPS schools, regardless of town/city of residence. This is not true. There is no danger of this traditional, longstanding benefit being taken away. It is beneficial when educators invest in the district in which their own children are educated.
Proposed Work in the District (Vision, Strategic Planning, Grants)
As superintendent, I am hired to accelerate the work of the district, address challenges, and create a vision for the future of education in our schools, while also honoring the past. To push this work forward–the work I was hired to do–I cannot do it without our educators (nor do I want to).
Our educators are currently caught in an un-winnable situation. They want to do everything in their power to serve Newton Public School children, but they also want to work together as a union to protect their financial future and increase respect for the profession of education. (I recall this exact feeling when I was a teacher!)
Given the expected “work to rule” and other protected job actions demanded of Newton educators, they are faced every day with hard choices about what they can and cannot do. Sometimes, this puts them at odds with administrators and with parents of our students, because you (and I) want kids’ lives undisrupted while adults figure this all out. We have had so many years of disruptions for students in recent years! To this end, when it has appeared that the lives and experiences of children will be disrupted, I have given direction to ensure it is not. Top of mind for me is that our students only have their high school life for a short time or they only get to do that 5th grade band experience for one year. This year is special and important to each of our kids and they deserve to have it without disruption.
In some cases, teachers have had to take a public stance to reject the work I have proposed. I expect this rejection to increase until the contract is settled. In particular, three district priority areas that I have spoken publicly about since August are being impacted. They include:
work on the hate crimes and antisemitism curriculum and programs for which we received a $50,000 grant,
community forums on the new literacy program and K-12 mathematics, and
moving ahead with the district’s long-awaited Portrait of a Graduate visioning process.
These areas are particularly good examples of the choices teachers have to make these days - the choice to participate in work that is critical to our district and our world OR stay true to the current union work to rule mandate that prohibits participation, in an effort to advance the well-being of the profession as a whole.
From the moment I arrived in Newton, I have had to make choices about forward movement on district goals, protecting students’ right to the education Newton has always provided, and protecting and collaborating with staff. Because I have devoted my whole life to supporting educators as we collectively improve systems to support children, I will not put our educators in difficult situations where they are forced to make impossible choices.
Due to these current district conditions, I need to amend how and when some of the initiatives I had hoped to accomplish this year will be rolled out. For now, I will carry on with our administrators and community partners to work on the initiatives listed above, and others, so that we can set the table to be successful when our NPS educators join us.
I look forward, of course, to the resolution of this contract process so that together with educators, we can make progress on these important initiatives and relieve this added stress on our learning organization.
Native American Heritage Month
November is Native American Heritage Month. National Native American Month started off as an effort to get a day of appreciation and acknowledgment for the unique contributions made by the first Americans for the growth and establishment of the United States. The effort has now resulted in a whole month being celebrated for that purpose.
Happy Veterans Day! On November 11 we honor people who have served in the active military, naval, or air service. There is no school on Friday, November 10, 2023, because of Veterans Day.
Diwali - November 12, 2023
Diwali is the five-day Festival of Lights in the Indian, Hindu, Sikh, and Jains communities that celebrates triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. The holiday is celebrated throughout India, Singapore, and several other South Asian countries as a national holiday. The festival coincides with harvest and new year celebrations. This year, the third day of Diwali, also considered the main day of the festival, falls on Sunday, November 12th. On this day, families gather together for Lakshmi puja, a prayer to Goddess Lakshmi, followed by feasts and firework festivities.
SEPAC Meeting - November 14th
(Note time change!) Join us on Tuesday, November 14th from 7:00-8:00pm in person at the Education Center, 100 Walnut St, Room 304 for a meet and greet with Superintendent Anna Nolin. This will also be an opportunity to learn more about the anti-ableist curriculum NPS is in the process of developing with the NPS community from Superintendent Nolin and Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Casey Ngo-Miller.
NEW DATE - Newton METCO Forum - December 6, 2023
Join us on Wednesday, December 6, 2023 at Newton South for a terrific information session on our METCO program. Newton was a founding member of METCO and we are proud to be one of the biggest programs in the state. Join us to learn more about METCO. Details coming soon.
NPS School Safety Forum Recording and Slides
This past Wednesday, NPS hosted a webinar for community members to learn more about the steps the district takes to ensure schools are safe and healthy environments for students. The event included a presentation from:
Toby Romer, Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Education
Lt. Amanda Hendrickson, Newton Police, Department of Community Services
Sgt. Hagai Brandon, Newton Police, Department of Community Services
Ruth Hoshino, Dir. Newton School Health Services
Lt. Michael White, Newton Fire Department
Superintendent Anna Nolin and Chief John Carmichael also joined the forum
The presentation included information on emergency response plans and drills, as well as other strategies used to ensure safe and healthy school communities.You can view the presentation here:
NPS Safety Presentation (helpful to view together with recording)
To assist us with planning for the coming year, we ask that families with students eligible to enroll in kindergarten in the 2024-25 school year, please complete this short online survey to let us know your plans for your child’s school registration.
Providing this information now helps us to plan for staffing and support in your child’s potential school for the upcoming school year. Even if you will not be registering your child to attend kindergarten in the Newton Public Schools or are unsure, information about your plans is incredibly helpful for our planning for the year ahead.
Below please find a timeline for kindergarten registration:
November 7, 2023: Kindergarten Census Survey open. Please complete.
February 29, 2024: New Kindergarten Parent/Guardian Information Night virtual webinar for all families enrolling a student for the first time in the Newton Public Schools. Links to the webinar will be posted on our kindergarten registration page in late February.
March 1, 2024: Our online registration system will be open for kindergarten registration. Please register your kindergarten-age child by March 22, 2024, so that we can plan staffing and programming for the year ahead.
MSLA Awards in Newton!
The Massachusetts School Library Association has announced the following awards:
Superintendent Dr. Anna Nolin has been awarded the 2023 MSLA Administrator Advocate Award for her work in Natick.
Felicia Quesada Montville of Brown Middle School received the MSLA Virtual Influencer Renewal award
MSLA will honor all 2023 Award Winners at the Massachusetts School Library Association Annual Conference in March 2024.
Disability Advisory Group
The Office of Student Services in Newton Public Schools is soliciting volunteers to serve on a new Disability Advisory Group (DAG). The Disability Advisory Group will advise the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services, Casey Ngo-Miller, and the Office of Student Services, on the following:
programming and services for students with disabilities
the district’s work on anti-ableism
supporting the conditions for learning for all students with disabilities.
DAG shall be composed of 10 members representative of the diverse background and disabilities in our school and city community. It will include NPS staff, parents/caregivers, graduates, and community members. The goal is to create an advisory group that consists of a majority of people with disabilities to ensure perspectives shared are informed by lived experiences.The remaining members should be familiar with lived disability experiences as parents/caregivers or siblings of someone with a disability.
All DAG members must be comfortable with disability advocacy, and be willing to talk about their own lived disability experiences, challenges, or pride, as it relates to the work of the advisory group. The final advisory group will be selected by the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services.
The schematic design for Countryside has been submitted to the Mass School Building Authority. It proposes the first geothermal system for Newton Public Schools which will provide extremely energy efficient heating and cooling for the school. Learn more on the Countryside Project website: https://www.countrysideelementaryschoolproject.com
Please check your MySchoolBucks (MSB) account for any outstanding invoices.
You can pay directly online on MSB (please keep in mind, you are not allowed to use your lunch account balance to pay for invoices.) Check payments are also accepted by mailing your payment with your statement to:
Newton Public Schools
Attn: Business Office
100 Walnut Street
Newtonville, MA 02460
Visit this webpage for additional information about the fee policy and instructions to request a waiver, if needed.
If you have any questions regarding Chromebook invoices, please contact the IT department at 617-559-6190. If you have questions regarding your library or textbooks invoices, please contact your school.
2023-24 Fee Cap Information
Super Cap - $2,000 maximum amount a family pays for all fees combined per school year. (The supercap does not apply to high school parking, the elementary early morning program, or the school lunch program.)
Family Cap - refers to the maximum dollar amount a family pays for any one fee per school year. Varies by fee.
Please see the Fee Letter SY 2023-2024 for more information.
After two years of planning, roadway changes are on deck to make Albemarle Road safer for all
who travel or cross this busy road for schools, the playing fields, the pool and for everyday
travel. Learn more at www.NewtonMA.gov/Albemarle.
Work crews will be out soon to restripe crosswalks, add bike lanes, install new signage and
change parking. Early in 2024, we will be adding speed cushions and flex posts. Work is planned to start on Friday, November 10 and may continue over the weekend. We are timing the work to avoid school hours. No parking will be allowed in work zones.
North and South Fields and Lights
Last week, North and South celebrated beautiful new athletic fields. South debuted its new turf and lights. North debuted new lights on their field. Thank you to the City, NPS Facilities, and all the families and community members who supported these important projects!
Sam Genier - Day Middle School Science Teacher
Samantha (Sam) Genier, 6th Grade Science Teacher at Day, received the Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers 2023 Teacher of the Year Award for Middlesex County.
Marianne McChesney - Newton South Chemistry Teacher
Marianne McChesney, a Chemistry teacher at South received the American Chemical Society's top teaching award:
It was presented on behalf of the Northeast Section of the ACS by Steve Lantos to honor the outstanding contributions that Marianne has made to her students over the past 35+ years teaching chemistry at Newton South.
Stephanie Piantedosi - Newton North Math Teacher, Calculus Project Coordinator
Stephanie Piantedos is the Newton North 2023 Charles Dana Meserve Teacher Award Winner.
The Charles Dana Meserve Award is Newton High School/North High School's oldest student award, dating back to 1923. The award is given to a student that demonstrates a high standard of academic excellence and also made significant contributions to the school community.
During their freshman year in college the Meserve student award winners nominate teachers who made a significant impact on them as a student. The Meserve Teacher Award recipient is then selected by the Charles Dana Meserve Award Board of Trustees.
Aidan Wright's nomination for Ms. Piantedosi states:
She taught me to be confident in myself. I remember being on the verge of tears after the first test of the year; I was the last person left in the room and felt so frustrated and defeated. Mrs. Piantedosi noticed this and encouraged me to attend the Calculus Project help sessions after school. Attending these sessions and getting help from her made me feel seen and helped me improve so much at math. I definitely have Mrs. Piantedosi to thank for instilling me with a confidence that helped me navigate the rest of my time at North and excel in all my classes.
Newton North Athletic Department
Newton North was selected to receive the 2023 MIAA District 7 Sportsmanship Award. North was selected by its peers in District 7 of the MIAA. They will be honored at the MIAA Sportsmanship Summit at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough on Thursday, November 9, 2023.
Enrollment Open at NECP
Openings at Newton South Preschool
The Newton South Preschool program has openings for the 2024-2025 school year. If you are looking for a high quality preschool program or if you know someone who is, please reach out.
Here is our New Parent Packet, which contains information about our program, an application and links to our website and Facebook page.
Full and Part-Time Educators
Become an NPS Substitute!
NPS is in need of substitutes. NPS is in need of substitutes - both classroom teacher and other support roles. The district will provide training to help applicants understand the expectations and feel comfortable in the role. Opportunities to shadow teachers, as well as relevant training, will be provided prior to assignment.
Apply online at: Precision Substitute Services (our substitute staffing agency.) You can also call: Sandra Andrade at 617-245-8575. Your application will require a CORI check, which can be done through NPS in our Human Resources Department.
School Nurses Needed
We need School Nurses! Join the City of Newton Health and Human Services Team as a School Nurse to support the health and well-being of Newton Public School (NPS) students. The City is hiring full-time and part-time Nurses. School Nurses work during the school year, have summers off, and follow the NPS school year calendar. Substitute School Nurses (part-time) work as needed, with a minimum commitment of ten (10) hours per week.
To learn more and to apply, click on the link below or scan the QR code.
UOD Meet the Author/Family Book Event
Featuring author Natalie Lloyd and her children’s book Hummingbird
Wednesday November 15 at 7:00 PM
Cabot Elementary School (Cafeteria)
From the New York Times bestselling author of A Snicker of Magic and six other award-winning children’s books, Hummingbird is a heartfelt story about a girl with her trusty, snazzy wheelchair who refuses to let her brittle bone disease stand in the way of adventure. Hummingbird is A Schneider Family Book Award Honor Book, given to this middle grade novel for excellence in portraying the disability experience.
From School Library Journal: “Olive [the heroine] is developed beautifully as a main character, giving elementary and middle school readers plenty to relate to and love. This magical and heartening novel will keep readers engaged until the end. A perfect fit for fans of realistic fiction and fantasy alike.”
There will be plenty of time for Q&A with author Natalie Lloyd (who, like her heroine, has brittle bone disease).
Children accompanied by an adult, parents/caregivers, librarians, teachers and all who love books and reading are welcome to join us!
Author talk and book reading from 7:00-8:00 pm, followed by book signing. Hummingbird will be available for purchase.
Advance registration required. Register here (donation of $10 for adults requested, children and educators free): Hummingbird Book Event Registration - Understanding Our Differences
Event details and about the author: Events - Understanding Our Differences
Email with questions or to request accommodations: info@UnderstandingOurDifferences.org
Community Health Survey
We want to hear from YOU! Take the MA Community Health Survey and make your voice heard to help build a healthier community. We want Newton residents to take the survey so that the needs and priorities of the Newton community show up in the data. Survey results will be used to improve programs, make decisions about funding and resources, and support policies to improve health inequities. The survey is available in 11 languages, easy to take, and anonymous.
Community Resource Night: November 29, 2023
Join the Newton Coalition for Community Wellness for an overdose training including FREE Narcan and Fentanyl Test Strips, connection to local support and substance use resources, and to honor those we’ve lost.
Wednesday November 29th
7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church (258 Concord Street, Newton, MA 02462)