Five Things You Missed at the Nov. 14 School Committee Meeting
The committee discussed facilities and received an update on a controversial article.
Both MCAS results and fiscal 2013 budget guidelines took up much of the conversation at Monday night's School Committee meeting. However, there were a few other important items the committee discussed including short-term facilities, the School Department's Capital Improvement Plan and a controversial article asked to be removed from the curriculum.
If you haven't had a chance to catch the meeting on NewTV, here's what you missed:
1. Superintendent David Fleishman informed the committee Monday night that a controversial article has been removed from the Newton South ninth grade world history curriculum.
At the Oct. 24 School Committee meeting, a number of Newton community members came out to voice their concern about an article from the Arab World Studies Notebook that was passed out to the students. The particular sentence that drew the most attention was one speaking about Israeli defense forces and what they had done to Arab women.
Fleishman said the article was reviewed by staff and administration who found that it did not "accomplish the learning goals" the course was looking to achieve in that particular unit on Islam. Instead, teachers at Newton South will look to find another article to replace the one previously used from the Arab World Notebook.
2. During a short-term facilities update Monday night, Deputy Superintendent/Chief Administrative Officer Sandy Guryan informed the committee that the School Department is requesting an additional $86,000 to help cover some contingency and design costs for the modulars currently being installed at three elementary schools.
Guryan said it's not yet known whether the city will need the extra contingency, but that the School Department has to stay conservative and play it safe to make sure there is enough money to complete the modular project, which is on schedule as of Monday's meeting.
In addition, Guryan said the Design Review Committee (DRC) has looked at the F.A. Day project and gave a "positive assessment" of the current plans. The project will go before the DRC again tomorrow night, where it could approve the site plans. The plans will then go to the Board of Aldermen's Public Facilities Subcommittee for a public hearing and approval.
3. With the city's CIP publicized last week, the School Committee Monday night also approved some changes to the School Department's fiscal 2012 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to reflect the mayor's short- and long-term capital plans as well as important needs in the district.
The new CIP items/changes include:
- Adding an accessibility lift to Peirce Elementary for $150,000.
- Fixing steps at Bigelow Middle School, which will add $35,000 to masonry repairs already slated in the CIP.
- Full replacement of the generator at the Education Center for $150,000
- Replace generators at Burr Elementary and Bigelow Middle. This involves subtracting $185,000 from this item as smaller generators providing life/safety upgrades.
- Electrical upgrades to Memorial Spaulding and Countryside will be reduced by $200,000 in order to fund other projects.
- Cost for boiler replacement at Mason-Rice and Lincoln-Eliot has gone up $50,000
To view the full facilities update, click the .pdf above.
4. The committee welcomed students from the district's Russian exchange program, which invites a group of Russian students from St. Petersburg School 238 to stay in Newton for two weeks. The students shadow Newton students and go on trips to explore Boston, New York City as well as other local landmarks. Every other year, Newton students will travel to Russia to have similar experiences.
5. The committee approved three grants for the district, including Title 11A funding that will support costs of five full-time elementary teachers, a math coach and professional development. The other two grants will help fund special education in the early childhood program and costs related to student teachers that work in the district through Boston University's School of Education. The grants total more than $300,000.