But beyond these items, in the near term, the School Committee will have to grapple with ameliorating a series of problems directly related to the pandemic that will impact Newton’s students going forward. Even after vaccines are administered and schools return to regular operations, the effect on children’s education will be long lasting. Research is already showing, for example, that populations that have traditionally had an educational achievement gap have seen a widening of that gap. But the disruption in education is pervasive through the vast diversity of student learners; and there are serious documented problems with many children's social and emotional health. And there is no doubt that the emotional impact on teachers has also been substantial and needs to be addressed in an empathetic and positive manner.
The Committee must discuss and determine the appropriate measures to be taken, their timetables, and the resources to be allocated. The process will be complicated by likely fiscal restraints at the City level, and so collaboration with the Mayor and City Council will be critical.
Crucially, the public deserves to be heard during this process, and so the School Committee will need to be particularly diligent in listening to the many constituencies in the city and providing clear communication back to the public as to the reasons for the actions it has chosen.
My key priorities for the schools include:
Reducing class sizes to facilitate more individualized instruction;
Renovating additional school buildings so they are excellent environments for teachers and students;
Continuing our investment in Special Education programs for those eligible for an IEP;
Championing our commitment to a more pluralistic and welcoming school environment, with the goal of creating a community of people who will advocate for one another’s equal standing;
Building the community’s sense of trust and confidence in school administration, especially through increased transparency of decision-making.
I hope you share my passion for strong public schools that provide an excellent learning environment for students and a superb working environment for teachers. As a parent of two daughters who had a terrific experience at NPS and a son about to enter the school system, I’ll work with my colleagues to help foster a nurturing environment that sparks creativity and joy in the classroom.