School committee update: changes to student textbooks, rendering of the new high school, etc.

The following information was provided by the school committee:

The school committee met on Monday August 29, 2022.

During the summer, the school committee completed and presented the Superintendent’s Assessment 2021/2022. Dr. (Dede) Galdston was rated competent or exemplary by all members for all four standards in addition to her overall performance. She continues to show strong and consistent leadership and we are grateful to her for leading the Watertown Public Schools.

Minor changes have been approved for the college handbook, high school manual and district manual. No changes have been made to the elementary school textbook.

There was a second reading and a vote of approval of a new policy on the use of breathalyzers to ensure student safety. Their primary use will be for high school extracurricular events, such as proms, where students often drive. For more information, please read the linked policy.

A detailed Equity Report was introduced by reviewing work in progress and plans for the year.

The superintendent presented him draft objectives for 2022/2023, which will be finalized at the meeting of September 19, 2022.

The district is beginning the process of developing our next 4-year district-wide improvement strategy. This will be a collaborative effort with administrators, teachers, school committee members and parents involved. Work will begin this fall and should be completed in January.

The summer months are very busy times for hiring in any school district, and Watertown is no exception, as evidenced by the district staff report.

Our elementary school construction projects continue to move forward. Hosmer Playground is expected to be completed by November (this has been slightly delayed due to supply chain issues). O’Connell Field is also expected to be finished by November, although the grass won’t be ready for athletics until the spring of 2024. Lowell is expected to open in the fall of 2023.

The renderings of the new high school look amazing. In September, 60% construction design documents will be submitted. The cost estimates based on the bid will be reconciled and presented to the School Construction Committee on October 5, 2022. This is an important phase for the high school project. Special gratitude to the School Building Committee, chaired by City Council Chairman Mark Sideris, who continues to work hard to move this important project forward.

The dates of the 2022/2023 school committee meetings are available here.

Below are upcoming meetings/forums:

  • The first day of school for students is Tuesday, September 6, 2022
  • School committee meeting, September 19, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Conversations with the Superintendent, September 20, 2022 at 9:00 a.m.

Agenda information and supporting documents are available here. All supporting documents have also been linked in the update above.

Kendra Foley
Chair, Watertown School Board