Superintendent's Newsletter

December 2019

Happy New Year, New Decade, and New Schools!

I wish you and your families a Happy New Year and welcome our new decade: the 2020s. The Watertown Public Schools will undergo significant changes in this new decade with four new or fully renovated schools- Lowell, Hosmer, Cunniff, and WHS- along with substantial improvements at WMS.

Beginning this summer, we will break ground for our new Hosmer Elementary School, and preparations are underway for ensuring a smooth transition during the construction period. Our architects, Ai3, are close to completing the construction documents for all three elementary schools, and we will soon be procuring the necessary construction services to begin the work. As currently planned, our elementary school building projects should be done within the next five years, if not sooner. A recent development is that we have decided to have full composting at all of our elementary schools, which will help our gardens and the broader environment. At each of our elementary schools, we are aiming to be as close to "Net Zero" as possible, with solar panels and other sustainable features being included in the design.

The High School is moving through the Feasibility Study process, which begins with the development of the Educational Program. Over the course of three visioning sessions held in November and December, 50+ people came together to envision what the goals and priorities are for the new high school. From this visioning process, the School Department will articulate the Educational Program, which is then presented to the Massachusetts School Building Authority. The Educational Program helps to establish the scope of offerings in the new high school, which then drives both the school design and the funding from the MSBA. Upon the completion of the Feasibility Study and Schematic Design, we will know where the high school will be located and what the design will be. These steps may be completed by February of 2021, with a funding vote taking place a few months later.

As for WMS, most of our Capital Improvement Program recommendations over the next five years are for improvements at the middle school. We are well on our way to replacing all of the flooring in the original building and just finished painting many surfaces during vacation. We are exploring the possibility of having air conditioning installed in the cafeteria and perhaps in classrooms over the next three years, and are making much-needed improvements to both the boy's and girl's locker rooms. This past summer, we made a substantial classroom furniture purchase and have equipped many rooms with interactive projectors. Although WMS is not part of the building projects as of yet, we are committed to making the necessary enhancements to ensure a dynamic and joyful education environment over the coming years.

In addition to the changes in the buildings, we are currently in the process of hiring a high school principal. After seven successful years as the high school principal, Shirley Lundberg will be retiring at the end of the year. We will be holding a Parent Focus Group on January 13 at 6:00 in the WHS Lecture Hall to solicit input from our WPS community about the qualities and characteristics that our next WHS Principal should have. All are welcome to attend and provide feedback.

I hope you had a restful and enjoyable December break, and we look forward to welcoming our students back this Thursday. Please read on to learn about several upcoming events that may be of interest to you in the coming month.

Farm to School Initiative- News from our F2S Advisory Group

Watertown’s district-wide “School Gardens Advisory Group” has now become our “Farm to School Advisory Group”. Farm to School (F2S) is a national initiative designed by the USDA (US Department of Agriculture) to focus on creating a healthy school food environment and help people understand more fully where their food comes from. Watertown's F2S team attended a retreat in October with 7 other school districts in Massachusetts and each district made an action plan. Our F2S team's plan overview is to develop “a robust collaboration between our classrooms, our cafeterias and our community that educates, engages and empowers students and families to positively interact with food and the environment”.

In our school gardens, we have a good start. We already harvest a number of school garden vegetables for use in our cafeterias and for classroom activities. This fall, for example, we harvested potatoes. Food Service Director Brandon Rabbitt (F2S team member) cooked some of our potatoes to serve in one cafeteria and Hosmer 4th graders cooked some in their classroom. They were able to cook and taste 2 kinds of potatoes they’d grown, choosing their favorite variety to be planted next year. Stay tuned for more Farm to School activities in the spring!!

-Judy Fallows, WPS Garden Coordinator

Superintendent's Coffees

I will be holding the January Superintendent's Coffee on January 13. The Coffee is a time when people can learn about what's happening in the district, ask questions, or provide feedback about your experiences with our schools. The Coffee is held in the Phillips Administration Building, 30 Common Street, Room 301, either at 9:00 am or at 7:00 pm.

Dates for future coffees:

February 24* (the evening Coffee will be held at Watertown Middle School at 6:00)

March 30

April 27

May 25

June 8


Upcoming Events

Watertown High School Building Project Community Forum #2

Tuesday, Jan. 21st 2020 at 6:30-8pm

Watertown High School Lecture Hall

The Watertown High School School Building Committee (SBC) invites you to a community forum to discuss educational visioning and preliminary options for the High School Building Project. This is an opportunity for community members to learn about 21st century education and share their thoughts about the future of secondary education in Watertown. It will also provide an opportunity for community input on conceptual options and potential sites for the new high school at a very early stage of the project.

Any members of the Watertown community are encouraged to attend and learn about the initial planning regarding the high school building project. Our architects from Ai3, the Owner's Project Manager, and members of the School Building Committee will be in attendance to share and update the community about the Visioning sessions and the Feasibility Study. You are welcome to contribute to the conversation and make your voice heard as we envision the future of high school education in Watertown.

For more information, please see the flyer.

You are Invited: Undocumented and Unafraid: Lessons from a Dreamer

Thursday, Jan. 16th 2020 at 6-8pm

68 Waverley Avenue

Watertown, MA

Please join us for an evening with Gaby Pacheco, an undocumented student activist who marched 1500 miles from Florida to D.C. in the 2010 Trail of Dreams. Her courage + perseverance led to the passage of DACA. She was also the first undocumented Latina to testify for Congress. Her story reminds us that Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolence is still being used effectively today. + A SPECIAL PERFORMANCE BY THE WATERTOWN MIDDLE SCHOOL CHORUS

Dinner and Child Care Provided

(Please RSVP using this link)

Click here for more information.

Watertown's Annual Unity Breakfast

Monday, Jan. 20th 2020 at 9-11am

25 Bigelow Avenue

Watertown, MA

On Monday, January 20, 2020 Watertown will celebrate its twentieth Unity Breakfast on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The event brings together hundreds of people, representing Watertown’s diverse population, to remember Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man who devoted his life to ending prejudice and racism in our country.

The Unity Breakfast has become a Watertown tradition, drawing over 400 guests. The program includes a timely keynote speaker, lively music and dance, essays and art projects by Watertown middle and high school students, and the presentation of the Unity Award to Watertown individuals or community organizations that have demonstrated outstanding community service to the town.

This year's keynote speaker is Jonathan Lewis, Senior Level Kingian Non-Violence Trainer, Positive Peace Warrior Network. Over the years Mr. Lewis has exposed thousands of community leaders to the Kingian Nonviolence philosophy. He has worked closely with Dr. Bernard Lafayette, the longtime civil rights activist and organizer, and colleague of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the Founding Director of the Positive Peace Warrior Network, dedicated to institutionalizing Kingian Nonviolence, and was instrumental in bringing Kingian non-violence training to Watertown in 2016.

The doors open at 8:15 am, breakfast is served from 8:30 – 9:00 am, and the program will take place from 9:00 – 11:00 a.m. Food is provided by the Deluxe Town Diner. Child care will be provided for pre-schoolers. Tickets are $10 (children 12 and under free) and may be purchased at the door or online at (fees apply).

For information call 617-794-0483 or email .