All Around APS

News from the Andover Public School District

Wednesday, February 26, 2020 - vol. 12

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Student's Spotlight- Joey Aronson at Bancroft Elementary

Bancroft Elementary fourth grader Joey Aronson has clear memories of his kindergarten bus driver, Rick Frederickson. “He was always kind and let me sit wherever I wanted,” says Joey. “My stop was the last on his route, and he would spend a lot of time talking with my parents and grandparents at the end of the day. Sometimes, it was so long that the alarm on the bus would beep because the door was open.”


Joey has since had other bus drivers, but he still remembers Rick. Rick passed away in January 2020 after driving generations of Andover students for 45 years. As a tribute to Rick, Joey decided to honor his memory by creating his pinewood derby car as a replica of Rick’s bus for the 2020 Andover Webelos Pack 73 competition.


“The thought just popped into my head when I started to build for the competition,” adds Joey. “I had been thinking about Rick and it just made sense.”


Joey’s bus is impressive in a number of ways. He painted it similar to Rick’s bus, down to the detail of the number 13 (Rick’s number) and added some metal weights to bring the total weight to 5 pounds, which increases the speed during the race.


Joey’s hard work paid off during the competition. Joey was honored for the “Most Creative” pinewood car and took home the trophy for “First Place!” Rick was a dedicated and valued part of the APS community and Joey’s pinewood derby car is such a wonderful tribute. Great job Joey!

Featured Teacher- Kim Lieberman at Wood Hill Middle School

An ad in the local paper brought Kim Lieberman to APS in 1996 and, in June, Kim will retire after 24 years in the district. Kim is a special education instructional assistant at Wood Hill Middle School.


“My goal for our students is to make their day as good as it can be,” says Kim. “Everyone who interacts with a student has the chance to be a bright light, and I know I’m part of a team that can help each student find their success.”


While at Wood Hill, Kim’s three children began leaving for college and she wondered if it might be time to reflect on her own career path. “I realized that I was absolutely using my degree and how lucky I am to be able to work directly with the students,” adds Kim, who holds a master’s degree in social work. “It has been such a joy to work with students and watch them grow.”


In her time at APS, Kim has watched the focus on social emotional learning expand into valuable programs for the students. “I’m fortunate to be in the classroom with students and to coach them as they navigate the social aspects of working with their peers,” notes Kim. “These are life skills and behaviors that are so important for their futures.”


Kim is reflective as she finishes her final year at APS and she is looking forward to traveling and spending more time with her two grandchildren. “I will miss my students,” she says. “It’s always been such a joy to be with them.”

A Student’s Story- Sophie Luo at South Elementary

Sophie Luo is 6 years old and a first grader at South Elementary School. Sophie’s story is shared by her ESL Teacher Sarah Rose.


Sophie is a wonderful student who loves reading, the arts, ice skating, and playing the piano. She has been playing the piano for 1-1/2 years and practices every day! Sophie is fluent in both Chinese and English and is very proud of her Chinese heritage.


Sophie came to school early one morning to share her love of playing the piano with her first grade classroom teacher (Mrs. Faith Goldstein), and her ESL teacher (Mrs. Sarah Rose). She was so excited to share her talents with her teachers. Sophie says, “It makes me happy to play the piano. Sometimes I’m nervous but if I just keep practicing, I get better and better!” Sophie is very proud to play the piano, “When I practice I sound really good.”


Sophie plays the piano with Ms. Mila at Mila Filatova’s Piano Academy. She participated in the Elite International Music Competition and received first place and was invited to play at the Winner’s Recital at Carnegie Hall in NYC on February 23, 2020. This is quite an honor for Sophie and we wish her the best of luck!

Superintendent’s Message- FY21 Budget

On January 30th, the School Committee voted to approve the preliminary budget for the School Department for fiscal year 2021. Unfortunately, we anticipate the next fiscal year to be a challenge for the district with limited funding from state aid and dramatic cost increases in some areas.


In 2019, Massachusetts passed the “Student Opportunity Act,” legislation to address many of the issues that emerged since the initial adoption of the Chapter 70 funding formula of 1993, particularly the underfunding of special education and benefit costs. The state has committed over $1.5 billion in aid to education to all districts in the Commonwealth phased in over the next seven years. The aid will focus primarily on addressing equity issues related to economically disadvantaged students and English language learners. Although we had hoped that the funding would have a broader impact on all community, Andover will be seeing very little of this aid. In fact, we have only received the minimum aid of $30 per student. This will result in approximately $172,000 in new aid, in contrast to the more than $1 million in new aid we received last year.


At the same time, we have had significant cost increases in some areas. In particular, we have seen an increase in special education transportation costs for both students who are served in district and for students in out-of-district placements. In addition, the changes we have to make to our athletic schedule due to EEE has caused a loss in both gate receipts and facility rentals.


Given the town’s reduced revenue projection for the next fiscal year, the Town Manager recommended and the School Committee accepted a 3.86% increase for the School Department. The School Committee voted to approve $89,246,700 as the preliminary budget for FY2021 with small additions of staffing in special education and buses to begin reducing the number of second runs. The district looks forward to working with the town’s Finance Committee, the Select Board, the Town Manager and the community as we move through the budget approval process.


Andover is a strong community and I look forward to your input and support as we continue the process to providing our students with the best education and experience at APS.


Shelley Berman

Superintendent

APS Community News

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AHS’s Ralph Bledsoe Honored at the State House

Earlier this month, State Representative Frank A. Moran (D-Lawrence, Andover, and Methuen) joined the Massachusetts Black and Latino Legislative Caucus for the annual Black Excellence on the Hill event to celebrate Black History Month. Legislators were able to nominate influential community members within their respective districts to honor at the event. This year, Representative Frank Moran was proud to nominate Ralph Bledsoe of the Town of Andover for his profound civic engagement through his work with the congregation of Andover Baptist Church and the students of Andover High School. In honor of Black History Month, Ralph has delivered Dr. Martin Luther King’s. “I Have a Dream” speech to students and staff during H-Blocks at the high school.


Ralph was joined at the event by his daughter, Naomi Bledsoe. Naomi is a Juvenile Diversion Specialist for the Franklin/Hampshire County District Attorney's Office, where she develops programs for "At-Risk" youth.

Boston Gay Men’s Chorus to Perform at Wood Hill Middle School

On March 5th, Boston Gay Men’s Chorus will preview their new show Born This Way at Wood Hill Middle School. The show is based on the award-winning children’s book A Peacock Amongst Pigeons and will feature of repertoire of diverse, contemporary music. The show is about accepting differences and believing in oneself. It is our great privilege to have our Middle School A Cappella groups to serve as an opening act for this group and to sing in tandem the closing number “Everything Possible.”


The Boston Gay Men’s Chorus is an internationally-recognized choral group that recently celebrated its 35th anniversary. Over 200 members strong, this group’s mission is to create “musical experiences to inspire change, build community and celebrate differences.” For years, BGMC has partnered with schools, non-profits, and organizations to share their voice and inspire people of all ages.


Tickets for the event are free and are available here. We encourage ticket reservations in advance, however tickets will also be available at the door. The event will be co-sponsored with the Andover High School Gender and Sexuality Alliance and donations will be accepted to support the mission and work of their group.

APS Hosts Screening of Like- March 3rd at 7PM

LIKE is an IndieFlix Original documentary that explores the impact of social media on our lives and the effects of technology on the brain. Social media is a tool. Social platforms are a place to connect, share, and care … but is that what's really happening?


Andover Public Schools will hold a special screening of the documentary on Tuesday, March 3, 2020 at 7:00 pm at the Collins Center, 100 Shawsheen Road, Andover to open up a dialogue between local families, community leaders and experts.


The event will feature a viewing of the 56-minute film, followed by an informative panel discussion, led by Joanne Najarian, Director of Digital Learning for Andover Public Schools and Joe Yarid, Director of School Social Work. This is a free event, open to APS parents, guardians, students and community members. To reserve your tickets, click here. To learn more about the movie go to thelikemovie.com

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West Middle School Cause Day

West Middle School students celebrated Cause Day on February 14th. The Cause Day program provides an opportunity for an educational fundraising event that is truly all-inclusive and validating experience for every student. The students raised $5,129 dollars for 28 different charities this year. Each student is encouraged to raise awareness and funding for the specific charity they feel passionate about. It promotes charitable giving and empowers students to take action at the community level while it creates a culture of compassion and empathy at every age.

Hot off the Presses- Access- Ability

Office of Student Services Releases Fall 2019 Issue of Access-Ability featuring Social Work Program Coordinator Joe Yarid and Luna! In case you missed it, the issue is available here.

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Shawsheen Preschool Open House

Shawsheen preschool will be holding an Open House for prospective parents for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year on Friday, March 6, 2020 from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. We invite you to join and learn about the program and meet the staff.


Shawsheen is also making appointments for screenings and tours on Friday, March 27, 2020 or Friday, May 1, 2020 for September 2020 enrollment in the half or full day programs. For additional information about the program and tuition rates, please check our website or call the school office. Please wait until successful completion of a screening before completing the on-line registration forms.

School Committee Informal Forums for 2020!

The School Committee welcomes the community to join us for an informal forum on the top floor of Memorial Hall Library on Tuesday, March 3rd at 7 PM.


These forums have no set agenda, and the community is welcome to drop in at any time to speak with two members of the School Committee on any topics related to our schools.


Because these session are attended by only two School Committee members, they allow an interactive dialogue outside of the Open Meeting Law legal parameters. Issues raised at the forum that might require further discussion with the entire School Committee will be communicated during a regular business meeting.


Additional dates & times for 2020:


  • Wednesday April 8th at 9:30 AM
  • Saturday May 9th at 9:30 AM
  • Tuesday June 9th at 7 PM