Five Things You Missed at the Oct. 24 School Committee Meeting

There was a lengthy public comment period as well as some updates on grants, donations and a budget subcommittee.

During a meeting Monday night, the Newton School Committee . The F.A. Day project design will now move on to a Design Review Committee as well as the Board of Aldermen.

But aside from the ongoing facilities and F.A. Day discussion, the committee had a packed meeting Monday night and made some votes on several other items. If you haven't caught the meeting online or on yet, here's what you missed:

1. Many residents gathered and spoke out against an article passed out to students from the Arab World Studies Notebook. Around 10 people from the public spoke out against the article, saying it was "full of lies," "anti-Semitic" and "propaganda." 

One speaker, Rosaline Barron, called the article "blatant anti-Semitism and blood libel."

"When you say a lie over and over again, it becomes the truth," Barron said.

Some residents called for action that evening.

"Is some example going to be set so this could never happen again?" asked resident Richard Salter.

Superintendent David Fleishman explained that the article was passed out by a new teacher as part of a 10th grade Social Studies class in an effort to give students "thoughtful and balanced perspectives."

One sentence, Fleishman explained, spoke about Israeli defense forces and what they had done to Arab women. This particular sentence upset many members of the community and Fleishman said Newton South Principal Joel Stembridge is working with the teacher, parents and Social Studies department head to resolve the issue. 

"I really think that your coming out this evening is extremely helpful to us as a School Committee, as to what is on your minds and how this is being experienced," School Committee Chair Claire Sokoloff said. 


2. After a difficult but balanced budget season last year, Sokoloff decided Monday night to re-appoint the same members to the budget guidelines subcommittee. Last year, Ward 2 member Reenie Murphy, Ward 8 member Margie Ross Decter and Ward 5 member Susan Rosenbaum were part of the subcommittee and came up with "strong and robust" guidelines that helped the committee work through a tough fiscal 2012 budget. 


3. The School Committee voted to approve a donation of $5,000 to the special education program at . The family recently moved here from Washington and their sixth grade son is a special needs student.


4. The committee also approved more than $3.4 million in grants for the district, including a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education for healthy eating and fitness instruction for at-risk teens. Other programs receiving grants include the full-day kindergarten program, an inclusive preschool program as well as professional development for special education and American History instruction.


5. Despite early comments from former School Committee member Rodney Barker regarding the number of early-release days in the district, the School Committee approved the 2012-2013 public school calendar. The school year begins on Aug. 29 for teachers and Sept. 4 for students. School is scheduled to end for students on June 25, 2013 with five snow days included (June 26 for teachers).


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