School Committee Meeting Summary

November 18, 2021

Moment of Silence

The meeting began with a moment of silence in memory of Mary Ann Boragine, who passed away peacefully on Sunday, November 7, 2021. Mary Ann was a graduate of Walpole High School Class of 1948. Mary Ann worked in the main office of Walpole High School for 20 years and then in the Superintendent's Office, retiring after 27 years of dedicated service to the students of Walpole. Heartfelt condolences are conveyed to Mary Ann's family.

RECOGNITION

In early March, the Walpole Cultural Council kicked off its first writing contest, Walpole Writes. The town-wide writing contest was open to all Walpole residents and non-resident students of Walpole Public Schools. Categories included Short Story, Poem, and Memoir for four different age groups – elementary, middle school, high school, and adult. The Walpole Public School winners are listed below by category. The School Committee was happy to recognize these talented individuals. The School Committee and Administration is proud of all of the winners in this contest! Be sure to see the Walpole Cultural Council video recording of all contest winners here.


Elementary – Short Story

Madeleine Smith "The Story of Daisy Greenbrooke"

Ryan Girdhar "Bunny the Laundry Boy"

Angela Joji "Eliza's Dream"

Elementary – Poem

Adriana Torres "A Little Green Seed" (See Johnson Middle School podcast here)

Leah DeBoer "The Turtle I Met"

Kari Cabral "He Made Us"

Middle School – Short Story

Nirjara Akkole "Unreachable Stars"

Isha Venkatesh "Tinker" and "Ember"

Middle School – Poem

Nirjara Akkole "First Sight Perception"

Kaylee Ebb "Bullying, BE GONE!"

Middle School – Memoir

Nirjara Akkole "Hidden Scars"

High School – Short Story

Sahithi Gollakota "Serenity"

High School – Poem

Sarah Van der Linden "Sometimes I Crave Significance"

Margaret Singer "New Ragnarok"

Walpole High School Student Report

Colin M., Walpole High School student representative to the School Committee, was present at the School Committee Meeting. Colin gave a report as follows:


  • The first term came to an end on Monday, November 8th.

  • Last week the high school started the alternative Wednesday schedule which now includes an intervention period for students to get help from their teachers. Last week over 300 students signed up to meet with teachers during this intervention period.

  • Parent-Teacher Conferences began last night at Walpole High School. The second conference date is Monday, November 22nd. These conferences will be held both virtual and in-person.

  • Two weeks ago, the Student Council hosted a successful Annual Fall Yard Cleanup.

  • The Drama Club hosted Seussical The Musical this past weekend.

  • The Community Service Club is accepting monetary donations for the Walpole Food Pantry through November 19th. Paper products, canned, and non-perishable goods are also being accepted.

  • This week is Spirit Week at the high school and students have been enjoying it.

  • Best Buddies is holding a Friendsgiving tomorrow, November 19th, after school.

  • Fall sports have found success this season: Girl’s Soccer made it to the second round in tournament play, Field Hockey advances to the finals this Saturday, Cheer moves on to states next weekend, Boys and Girls Cross Country competed in the divisional championship meet this past weekend, Boys Soccer made it one round in the playoffs, and Football will play their final game in Weymouth on Thanksgiving Day.

New Business

1. MCAS Presentation - Assistant Superintendent Bill Hahn presented 2021 MCAS results. Mr. Hahn's presentation can be accessed here (at time marker 39:00).


2. FY '23 Budget Timetable - The FY '23 Budget Timetable was presented to the School Committee. Public Budget Hearings are scheduled for January 11 (Goods and Services), January 18 (Personnel) and, if needed, January 20, 2022.


3. ARPA Funds - Mr. Friscia and Mr. Buckley discussed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding with respect to the District.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Dr. Gough and Nurse Kathi Garvin provided a COVID update. The most recent COVID-19 data for Walpole shows a 3.46% positivity rate. There were 9 positive cases last week and as of yesterday, 13 positive cases have been reported. Cases are updated every weekend and can be found on the WPS COVID Data Dashboard, which also includes the Massachusetts Weekly Public Health Report. As a reminder, DESE Commissioner Jeff Riley extended the mandatory indoor mask mandate for all Massachusetts schools through January 15. Commissioner Riley is allowing districts to implement a mask removal option for any school that can demonstrate an 80% vaccination rate of all staff and students. The current vaccination rate at the middle schools is 48% and the high school is 80%. A waiver will be submitted to DESE for approval to lift the requirement for vaccinated individuals to wear masks indoors. Once the waiver is granted, local school boards make the determination for their districts. At this time, there is no change to our policy. In conjunction with the Walpole Health Department, we will continue to review our local data. Currently DESE has received 23 waiver requests and has approved 13.

Dr. Gough shared examples of various support and enrichment provided during the WHS Wednesday intervention schedule. This intervention schedule allows for students to obtain extra help in classes where they may need additional assistance from staff. Students may also use this time for homework, make-up exams, work on a group project, and counselor seminars. Grade level presentations/assemblies may also occur during this time avoiding disruptions during the school day.

Dr. Gough is continuing school visits, walking through classrooms and speaking with staff and students. She reminded the School Committee that one of the important goals for the Leadership Team is to increase presence in classrooms. She realizes there are many competing interests and priorities, but instructional leadership and leadership that supports the development of teaching and learning is at the core of the profession and must be a top priority.

In the coming weeks, Dr. Gough will be meeting various clubs to touch base with students to see what went well during the first few months of the school year and where they may need additional support.

Please be reminded that next week, due to Thanksgiving, there is an early release day on the 24th, and no school on the 25th and 26th.

Middle School Building Project

On Tuesday, November 2, the Town of Walpole voted “YES” on Question #1 to construct and furnish a new grade 6 - 8 combined middle school at the current Bird Middle School location. The Tappé design team will be confirming all schematic design programming decisions as they begin the Design Development (DD) Phase. In this phase, Tappé will produce high level designs for all of the major disciplines: architectural; structural; civil; and mechanical (i.e. HVAC, electrical, plumbing, technology, and security), adding the first level of detail to the previous schematic level of plans, renderings, and narratives. A 100% DD estimate is targeted for April 2022. The Walpole School Building Committee will meet throughout the Design Phase, and Community Forums will be held at design milestones to present project updates. For the duration of the project, the project website will be updated regularly and questions or concerns can be submitted at middleschoolproject@walpole.k12.ma.us.


The School Committee remarked that a debt of gratitude is owed to the community, school and town administration, Select Board, Finance Committee, Compass Project Management, Tappé Architects, and the entire School Building Committee. Everyone has worked hard, provided support, and thoughtfully presented the necessary information.

Subcommittee Report

School Committee Representative to the Master Plan Committee, Mrs. Denitzio, provided an update. The role of the Master Plan Committee is to facilitate balance and coordination between the various elements of the Plan ensuring Walpole develops as a viable community environmentally, recreationally, educationally, and commercially well into the future. Mrs. Denitzio indicated the first community forum regarding a Walpole Master Plan was held at Walpole High School earlier this week. There was a strong turnout with many community members who participated in small group discussions. Discussions revolved around the future vision of Walpole, what is liked about our town, what should be preserved, what might be missing, and future items to be addressed. The conversations were very productive with many ideas and visions shared. She remarked that it was wonderful to see all neighbors coming together.

Residents can participate through a visioning survey which will be available November 18, 2021 through Thursday, December 2, 2021. Survey information can be found on the Master Plan website.

In addition to the survey, the committee has created a virtual public forum through Miro Board. Residents are able to respond to questions covered in the survey but in a similar format to the in-person community forum that took place on November 17, 2021.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Patrick Deschenes at pdeschenes@walpole-ma.gov or Fiona Coughlan at fiona@barrettplanningllc.com.