School Committee Meeting Summary

December 9, 2021

RECOGNITION

Payton Wehrenberg is an Elm Street School Grade 5 student who helps with the Kindergarten dismissal every afternoon. She goes above and beyond to help students transition at the end of each day. Payton’s kindness and unselfish assistance is greatly appreciated. Elm Street School Counselor Jessica Simpson spoke to Payton’s positive and encouraging daily contribution to the Elm Street School community. Payton definitely SOARS!

Walpole High School Student Report

Scotty C., Walpole High School student representative to the School Committee, was present at the School Committee Meeting. Scotty said Walpole High School has been extremely busy and gave a report as follows:


  • Winter sports teams began last week. Members of the wrestling team, basketball teams, hockey teams, and winter track teams are hopeful for a mostly regular season after last year’s modified seasons.
  • The National Honor Society and Community Service Clubs are planning fundraising events to see which club can raise the most money for their respected charities, either the National Diaper Bank Network or the Shattuck Shelter respectively.
  • The Math Team started off with a strong start, placing 6th in their most recent competition. After the winter break, they hope to continue their success at their next meet.
  • The Music Department has been very active these past few weeks. They are hosting their first in-school concert in two years (on December 16th). WHS students are also hosting a coffee house on Friday, December 17, where students will play individual pieces.
  • The Speech and Debate Team competed in person this month, finishing 5th at last week's tournament. They also hope to continue their success throughout the rest of the season.
  • Best Buddies recently hosted a movie screening, where they also collected donations for the Walpole Food Pantry.
  • Lastly, the GSA held an open discussion on school environment this past week. Many students and staff participated, which exemplifies how the staff cares for students and continuously works to improve the school community.

New Business

Out of State/Country Field Trip Request - Walpole High School World Language Teacher Richard Sturges was present to request an international trip to Peru for February 17, 2023 through February 25, 2023. The School Committee unanimously voted to approve this trip.


Math Update - Mr. Jonathan Ridolfi, Math Department Chair, provided the School Committee with a math curriculum update. Julie Chin and Jill Masterson also provided a math curriculum update with respect to the middle schools. These presentations can be viewed here at time marker 29.05.


Solar Energy Presentation - Mr. Friscia presented details on a potential solar school building project. Mr. David Ruggiero, Energy Manager for Norwood/Walpole/Sharon, was also present to provide details. Solect Energy Development LLC is asking to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement and Lease Agreement for electricity to be produced by solar power electric generating projects to be located at municipal and public school sites. The School Committee voted to support moving forward with this project. Support and approval will be on the ballot at the Spring Town Meeting as well.

2022-2023 Draft Calendars

The School Committee was provided with a proposed draft calendar for the 2022-2023 school year. The draft 2022-2023 school year calendar proposes that teachers will return to school on Monday, August 29; students in grades 1 through 12 will return to school on Wednesday, August 31, 2022; PreK and Kindergarten students will return to school on Tuesday, September 6, 2022. The last day of school for Grades K- 11, without snow/emergency days would be Wednesday, June 14, 2023. This calendar is subject to a vote by the Walpole Teachers' Association regarding the start date.


The School Committee was provided with a proposed draft calendar for the 2022-2023 School Committee Meetings.


The 2022-2023 Start and End Times were provided to the School Committee. The four elementary schools rotate start and end times every three years. The 2022-2023 School Year represents year one of the next rotation. Consequently, Boyden and Fisher School will start at 8:55 a.m. and end at 3:25 p.m. Elm Street and Old Post Road Schools will begin at 8:25 a.m. and end at 2:55 p.m. The Daniel Feeney Preschool hours have been adjusted to accommodate the change in schedule.


All calendars were presented for the School Committee's discussion and review as a first reading. Further discussions will be held at upcoming School Committee Meetings.

SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT

Dr. Gough and Nurse Kathi Garvin provided a COVID update. The most recent COVID-19 data for Walpole shows a 5.09% positivity rate. The positivity rate reported at the November School Committee Meeting was 3.45%. There were 19 positive cases last week and 14 positive cases reported this week. November positive case total was 55. To date, there have been 21 positive cases in December. Cases are updated every weekend and can be found on the WPS COVID Data Dashboard, which also includes the Massachusetts Weekly Public Health Report. The current vaccination rates for Walpole Public Schools are as follows:


  • Walpole High School – 81%
  • Bird Middle School – 49%
  • Johnson Middle School – 47%
  • Boyden School – 11.5%
  • Elm Street School – 19%
  • Fisher School – 16%
  • Old Post Road School – 19%


Due to the high positivity rate in the Town and the recommendation of the Health Department, the School Committee voted 5-1-0 for no action until after the Holiday with respect to mask optional (for vaccinated individuals) at Walpole High School.


Walpole is in the process of preparing the budget for the 2022-2023 school year. A budget workshop was held last week with the School Committee and Leadership Council. Beginning next week, Dr. Gough and School Business Administrator Mr. Friscia will meet with each member of the Leadership Council to discuss goods and services budgets as well as personnel needs. Public Budget Hearings will be held on January 11, January 18 and January 20 (if needed) at 7:00 p.m. at Walpole High School.

Thank you to Langley Foundation

Dr. Gough thanked John D. Langley Foundation for their generous donation of three communication boards at the Daniel Feeney Preschool playground. These boards are a way to help the playground be more accessible for children with communication delays. The symbols on the board were selected by speech-language pathologists specifically for use on playgrounds. These boards will allow for children of all abilities to have a positive experience on the playground. Thank you to the Langley Foundation for this contribution, Signarama for the installation, and to our teachers and Principal Martin for creating the board.

Middle School Building Project

The School Building Committee will meet next Tuesday, December 14, 2021 via Zoom for an update on the MSBA Scope and Budget Agreement and Project Funding Agreement. The timeline for construction will also be reviewed at this meeting. Meetings with designers will continue next week. This community will continue to be informed and the project website will be updated often. Any questions or comments can be sent via email to the Middle School Project at middleschoolproject@walpole.k12.ma.us.