August 23, 2023
- Message from the Superintendent
- Student Contact Information and Permissions
- Fall 2023 Health Information (including COVID)
- K-12 Attendance and Absence Procedures
- 1:1 Technology Program - ATTN: 6-12 Families
- Early Morning Program (Before School Childcare)
- 2023-24 Food Services Updates
- Free and Reduced Meal Applications
- Financial Assistance and Fee Information
- Back to School Nights
- Newton Community Education
Dear NPS Community,
It is with great excitement and anticipation that I welcome you back to the 2023-24 school year! No doubt you, like I, have noticed an uptick in your email from the district and your student’s school(s) over the past few days. As a teacher, I remember feeling excited to meet my new team of kids but also sad that the change of pace summer affords was about to end!
Beyond spending time with my family this summer (see photos below!,) I prioritized getting the chance to learn as much about Newton and Newton Schools as I could before school began. I’m on pace to attend 34 Newton family barbeques/meet-and-greets and counting!
What have I learned so far?
There is a deep care for the Newton schools in all parts of the community.
Family involvement and the desire to be involved and informed is strong!
People are hungry for more get togethers and time to re-know the schools and each other post-pandemic
People are very concerned about school food and I have met with the lunch vendor to ask them up their game and provide more delicious, culturally diverse, and exciting dishes for our young people to eat at school.
My understanding of the Newton community grows every day and I feel rejuvenated and energized by this process. This energy and passion is also fueled by my meetings with NPS staff - 160 and counting. As you already know, you have so many dedicated folks working on behalf of your children every day.
So here is what I know for sure - NPS is ready to be back in action as the hub of community!
Here are just a few of the ways we will be responding to your needs and offering opportunities for engagement this school year:
A public engagement process around the development of the Profile of a Newton Graduate
Development of strategic planning committees to jumpstart the development of our NPS strategic plan.
Creation of a data dashboard to increase transparency around how our students are doing and how are schools are performing
Publishing of curriculum guides and information across grade levels so families have an understanding of what is happening in our classrooms
Transitions are Always An Opportunity
As we start the new school year, it’s a great time to chat with your child(ren) about getting back into school and the routines your family will enact in order to set students up for success in this school year. Here’s a couple of tips from me as both an experienced educator and parent of two.
Start talking about heading back–help students forecast what they may be excited about and worried about. Walk them through the possible day, wake ups, bus rides, walk to school, where are the bathrooms in the school, what will after school look like? What activities do they hope they will do? Won’t do?
If you haven’t visited the building and your school is advertising visit days–go! Getting a visual on things is always important.
Talk to them about how caring and thoughtful their teachers are. Teachers and principals spend a LOT of time in the first few weeks of school helping students find rooms, get used to new schedules and routines…find the closest bathroom. The kids don’t have to have everything figured out right away.
Talk to yourself as a parent about not having to have everything figured out on day 1. Reach out to your child’s teacher or school principal if you’re encountering confusion or an issue after a week or so of school has passed.
Here’s a helpful communication guide to help you understand how to address potential needs throughout the school year.
Know that the start of school and learning all the new routines, people and subjects can be exhausting. Kids may be super-tired (adults, too). They may come home and be a puddle of emotions and tiredness at the end of day. It will be ok.
Start to transition to school bedtime and wake up routines now–don’t wait until the week school starts.
If your young person is overly anxious and the worries persist, please reach out to school staff. We can help!
More Coming Soon!
In the coming days I’ll be sharing updates from our summer work. In general, staff met all summer to revise curriculum, talk about consistency in grading, how to handle AI technology and GPT chat!
We have also begun to create new curriculum, leadership, and study experiences across the elementary, middle and high school experiences that seek to give students more tools to combat isolation and exclusion in our community. This is a work in progress that will include a curriculum, program and course development refresh on disability education (thank you SEPAC representatives for working with us!) and curriculum work to address the uptick in anti-Semitic activity in our region and in MA as a whole. Updates to the community will come on a regular basis on this important work.
These are just a few initial ideas based upon what I have learned so far. There is much more to come and I look forward to meeting you out and about over these next few months.
Please login now to Aspen to update your student’s contact information and permissions. This review must be done every year so that the district has accurate and up-to-date information on addresses, emergency contacts, health records, etc. It is also critical to review the permissions for the 2023-2024 school to indicate preference on utilizing and releasing student information and photos. Please update all records and permissions by Friday, September 29th. See below for directions.
As we return to school it’s important to note that COVID-19 is still circulating in the community. Please do your part to keep our community healthy by following this advice:
Stay up to date on your COVID vaccine (up to date means you have received the current bivalent vaccine)
Stay home and test if you have COVID symptoms
Wash/sanitize your hands regularly
New COVID-19 vaccines are expected sometime in Fall 2023. Newton HHS will be partnering with the Holtzman Medical Group to offer COVID vaccine clinics. More information will be shared once the vaccine is available. For more detailed information regarding COVID vaccination visit mass.gov/CovidVaccine or review the COVID-19 Vaccination Recommendation Infographic.
Contact your primary care provider if you have questions about your vaccine status.
If you have symptoms of COVID-19, please stay home and test. Guidance for individuals who test positive hasn’t changed: stay home and isolate for at least 5 days. You may return to school after day 5 if your symptoms are better and you are fever-free. You should wear a mask through day 10. You may return to school on day 6 without a mask if you test negative on day 5 or later. Please notify your school nurse if your child has tested positive for COVID-19.
People who are exposed to COVID-19 are not required to stay home as long as they have no symptoms. Those who can mask should do so until Day 10, and it is recommended that they test on Day 6 after the exposure.
The best way to prevent getting the flu is to get your annual flu shot. HHS will be offering free community clinics for adults and children in the Fall. More information will be shared in the coming weeks. Information on HHS clinics, other locations to get vaccinated, and general flu information is also available online at newtonma.gov/flu.
We have updated and clarified our K-12 student attendance and absence procedures to ensure alignment across levels and compliance with school committee and state guidance. This document includes clarification on absences that are considered excused and unexcused. It also includes an FAQ to answer common questions. Find it here: Student Attendance and Absence Procedures.
Every student in grades 6-10 in the Newton Public Schools is issued a Chromebook as part of the 1:1 Technology Program. Students in grades 11-12 have the option of bringing their own device or using an NPS issued device. If you have questions about your student bringing their own device, please reach out to the high school.
The Chromebook is for use both in school and at home. Entering 6th graders are provided with a Chromebook they will use for the length of time they are in middle school. Entering 9th graders are provided with a Chromebook they will use for the length of time they are in high school. Devices are kept by the student over the summer.
Chromebooks are issued in September. To issue your student a Chromebook, and for those who have not yet completed the form, please do the following:
Sign the Chromebook Loan Agreement - please read and agree to the Chromebook Loan Agreement. This can be done online via our Aspen Portal. Printable and translated copies are also available. We will not issue devices to students in grades 6 and 9 until the loan agreement is signed. Please also review with your child.
Consider Opting-In to the NPS Chromebook Repair Fund - Families are responsible for the cost of damages to Chromebook devices. We encourage you to sign up for our Optional Chromebook Repair Fund. For $25 per year, all accidental damage to the device, including screen cracks, liquid spills, damages from dropping, etc. will be covered. Sign-up and payment for the Chromebook Repair Fund is done through the MySchoolBucks Portal.
In addition, we encourage you to examine some of the resources on Online Safety and Digital Citizenship posted on our website, and engage your children in conversations on these topics on a regular basis.
More information about the 1:1 Device program can be found on the NPS 1:1 Technology Overview Page.
Newton Public Schools will again offer the Early Morning Program for students in Grades K through 5 in each of the elementary schools. The program is designed to provide families the opportunity to bring their children to school prior to the beginning of the regularly scheduled school day. Within the program, each elementary school will offer supervised before school care from 7:20 a.m. until 8:10 a.m. when the school day begins.
NPS students in Grades K through 5 in each of the elementary schools can attend.
Starting September 11, 2023
7:20 a.m. until 8:10 a.m. (when the school day begins.)
Sign up for 1-5 days a week for the whole school year
Drop-ins are not allowed
Register your student online through MySchoolBucks.com.
*Please note: registration is not confirmed until the NPS Business Office approves your request. Registration is not guaranteed. The Early Morning Program is offered based upon available space, which is determined by the number of staff available at each school.
Massachusetts will again provide universally-free meals for students in the 2023-24 school year. Please note the following:
The FIRST breakfast and lunch are free each day
Please note that first meals are free for all students. However, second meals and a la carte items must be paid for with cash or with MySchool Bucks.
Paid Meal Pricing for Second Meals
The student charge for second meals is $5.25 for elementary students and $5.50 for middle and high school students.
How to use MySchoolBucks
Please create or check your family MySchoolBucks lunch account to ensure there are funds available if your child purchases a second meal or a la carte items (middle and high school only).
The district cannot allow negative balances in student accounts. Please ensure that your student's account has funds to purchase second meals or a la carte foods if you choose to allow this option for your student.
All student meals must be processed at the register
All student meals must have their meal scanned at the Point of Sale register - even though the first meals are free. This is necessary so that Newton receives the accurate federal and state revenue to operate the program.
Student ID barcode cards will be provided for all K-5 students, which will be waiting for them at school on the first day of school. The cards will remain at school, and each school will determine how the kids will access their cards each day.
Please encourage students to be patient as they wait in line and to be kind to the Food Services team!
Direct Certification for Free and Reduced Meals
Families who are determined eligible for free or reduced-price meals through Direct Certification (state process) will receive a letter from NPS stating their benefit eligibility. Notification letters will be sent via email to the main household contact/s on file in Aspen for each eligible student the week of 8/21 and then as new eligibility may be identified. Please check your Junk/Spam folder to ensure receipt of this email.
Reference the Food Services tab on the NPS website to see how Free and Reduced-Price Eligibility is determined through Direct Certification.
NOTE - Students with free or reduced-price status are still obligated to pay the full price for second lunches or for all a la carte items this year. These charges are the family's responsibility.
Eligibility Period for Free and Reduced Lunch
If you do not receive a letter of your free or reduced-price eligibility through Direct Certification for the 23/24 school year and believe that your income would make you eligible for benefits, please apply for benefits through the online application or the printable application. Please choose the “information sharing options” provided in the application, which will allow Newton to extend financial assistance/fee waivers for other activities.
*Previous eligibility determinations from the 22/23 school year will expire as of 10/19/23 if not renewed via a new application.*
A notification letter will be sent confirming eligibility within one week of submitting an application.
National School Lunch Program (NSLP) FAQ
Please review the National School Lunch Program FAQ found on the Free and Reduced Price Documents tab on the NPS Food Services website for more information about free and reduced-price eligibility.
Financial Assistance - Waiver Request
Families who are notified of free or reduced-price eligibility through Direct Certification would be eligible for NPS financial assistance and fee waivers. However, NPS needs a family's explicit approval to extend this assistance. To receive this financial support, please choose one of these options:
1. Use the online application for Fee Payment and Waiver Information available on the NPS website or by using this link: https://www.newton.k12.ma.us/page/1072 to receive Newton Public Schools financial assistance.
2. Update your sharing preferences in the Parent Portal during the Annual Update in Aspen.
Summer 2024 EBT
The Department of Transitional Assistance will provide Summer EBT for children who are identified as free or reduced-price eligible for the 23/24 school year - program details to follow as developed. If you believe you may qualify and have not received confirmation of Direct Certification, please access the online application or the printable application on the NPS website to apply for eligibility.
A notification letter will be sent confirming eligibility within one week of submitting an application.
Questions or Support
If you have questions or require support, please contact Amy Mistrot, Director of Business Operations at 617-559-9038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fee Payments and Financial Assistance
This time of year is when many families are registering for activities, athletics, and bus transportation. We wanted to take a moment to share with you revised fees for the 2023-24 school year, as well as provide a refresher on how fees are paid in the Newton Public Schools.
Fees for the 2023-24 School Year
Please see the annual fee letter linked below for details on district wide fees, family and super cap information, and financial assistance.
District fees are paid through MySchoolBucks (MSB). MSB has two sides of its website - Lunch Account and School Store. Once you create an account, you must add your students in order to access the school store and lunch accounts.
- Lunch Account is used solely for food purchased at school. This account can hold a balance and is completely separate from the school store. You are not allowed to use your lunch account balance to pay for products or invoices; however, you can request a refund of your lunch account by submitting a form on the NPS website Lunch Refund Request
- School Store is where you will pay for activities and fees. Families are able to pay for an activity/fee by either purchasing “products” or receiving invoices, depending on the activity/fee.
Please watch the video How to create a MSB account to learn more.
If you believe you may qualify for financial assistance, or if any of the fees present a financial hardship, please visit our financial assistance webpage. You may apply for financial assistance using our Aspen student information system portal.
Outstanding Invoices from Last School Year
Please check your MySchoolBucks (MSB) account for any outstanding invoices from the 2022-2023 school year. If you have outstanding invoices, you will also be receiving your MSB Statement of Account via email this week for a helpful reminder.
You can pay directly online on MySchoolBucks (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.
More information regarding fees can also be found on the NPS fee website. For help with MSB or questions regarding fees, please contact the business office at 617-559-9025 or email email@example.com.
Bus registration closed on August 20, 2023. Our staff is reviewing routes and ridership now. Once we have assessed available space and confirmed routes, registration will re-open likely in mid-September.
Watch your email the week of August 28, 2023 for instructions on downloading your bus pass from our Aspen student information system.
Back to School Nights for each school have been consolidated into one easy to read calendar. You can download it from our website on this page. Back to School nights are an opportunity for parents and guardians to learn more about their student’s classroom, classes, and school. We look forward to seeing you there! More information will come from each school.
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