Fall Coordinated SC Office Hours: Nov 11 - 18, 2017

I'm excited the School Committee is continuing our new tradition of coordinated office hours this Fall. Links for translated Office Hours announcements are included below.

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How to stay informed about the Somerville School Committee

Here are three ways to stay informed about the activities of the Somerville School Committee

  1. Receive weekly emails that outlined scheduled meetings and agendas. Request by emailing Patti Marques, the Superintendent's Executive Assistant at: pmarques@k12.somerville.ma.us

  2. "Like" the Laura Pitone Ward 5 SC Facebook Page. I post SC activities, district events and other announcements.

  3.  Sign up for updates on my website. Newsletters are emailed every few months sharing information, activities, events and announcements.

And don't hesitate to contact me directly, via my School Committee email (lpitone@k12.somerville.ma.us) if you have any questions, ideas or concerns. 

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Innovation School to be Considered for Somerville Public Schools

Somerville Public Schools has been in the process of developing an Innovation School, which should be shortly considered and voted on by the School Committee, the final step in the Innovation School authorization process.  Referred to as Powderhouse Studios (formally as the STEAM Academy) this Innovation School design has been in the works for a few years. This past March, the plan was approved by the Innovation Committee, a major milestone in the process. Currently, the district is in discussions with both the City of Somerville and the Somerville Teachers Asociation (STA) to refine the elements of the plan. If final terms are agreed upon with the STA and the City, the updated plan would be submitted to the School Committee for consideration and a vote, a process which would include a public hearing. Although the updated plan to be submitted to the School Committee is not yet complete, the draft plan approved by the Innovation Committee in March can be viewed here. Watch for an announcement about a public hearing and posting of the final plan, or receive a notification from me by signing up for my SC updates via email or Facebook

What is an Innovation School? A Massachusetts Innovation School is an in-district school that can implement creative and inventive strategies with the goals of increasing student achievement and reducing achievement gaps while keeping school funding within districts. Innovation Schools are different from charter schools that they are hosted, funded and directly overseen by the public school district. Innovation Schools are different than other public schools as they have requested some deviations from the standard practices of the district, referred to as “autonomies and flexibilities”.  Innovation Schools encourage districts to explore new, innovative practices with the potential to be used district-wide. Creation of an Innovation School requires a community process culminating with deliberation and a vote by the School Committee.

Does SPS already have an Innovation School? SPS currently has one Innovation School, the Winter Hill Community Innovation School (WHCIS.) The WHCIS received approval from the School Committee to convert to an Innovation School model five years ago, after completing the innovation design process. A few ways the WHCIS differs from other K-8 schools in the district includes how they are organized and make decisions (uses a school governing body), greater autonomy in professional development, how they intentionally build and maintain the school climate and culture (using the Responsive Classroom evidence-based approach that focuses on the link between academic success and social-emotional learning, which has since been adopted by other schools), and implementing a school dress code which was voted on and adopted by the student body. The WHCIS was just awarded the 2017 Pozen Prize for Innovation Schools by the Boston Foundation as the first in-district Innovation School to receive this honor. 

What is the proposed NEW Innovation School? The current proposed Innovation School experience at Powderhouse Studios consists of student defined, real world longer-term projects coupled with direct instruction to support common core standards and the skills necessary to pursue and complete projects. The proposal is modeled after research or design laboratories, includes a full year schedule and longer days, and is targeted to serve students that don’t always thrive in a traditional middle school or high school model.

The plan for Powderhouse Studios has be awarded an XQ grant of $10M given to school designs that successfully “rethink high school.” Although the $10M would be used to develop the school, the City and the Somerville Public Schools would be responsible for all costs of running the school once the grant dollars are spent. 

Again, watch for announcements about the the final Innovation Plan and School Committee Pubic Hearing, sign up for my SC updates via email or Facebook, or reach out directly to any School Committee member to share your thoughts about the inclusion of this proposed Innovation School in the Somerville Public Schools. 

 

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March Newsletter 2017

I can't believe that three years have past since I began representing Ward 5 on the School Committee. Thank you for support and perspective since my first campaign and I hope it will continue as I run for my third term this fall. Watch for an announcement about a campaign kickoff event later this spring. 

Office Hours - Spring 2017
Join me and Ward 5 Alderman Mark Niedergang at our Spring 2017 Office hours.

  • Sunday, March 19, 1:30-3:30 pm, Armory Cafe, 91 Highland Ave.
  • Tuesday, March 21, 8 - 10 am, Armory Cafe, 91 Highland Ave.  

All School Committee Members are hosting office hours from March 18 - March 26, see this link for the full schedule.  If you cannot attend office hours, School Committee members always welcome emails and phone calls. Contact information can be found on the SPS website.  

Safe Schools Resolution
The Somerville School Committee and district has recently adopted the Safe Schools Resolution to broadcast our commitment to supporting and protecting the rights of all students.  I am proud and thankful for the expedited and thoughtful work of our administrators on this important resolution and associated policy to support it. I am most thankful for those in the district -- our students and staff -- who live and act in the spirit of this message every day and inspire these words.

New Somerville High School
Plans continue for the design and construction of the new Somerville High School (SHS), overwhelming supported by voters during the November 2016 election. I am very excited to share that the MSBA (the Massachusetts School Building Authority which provides oversight to and state funding approval for school building projects), approved the schematic design (overall scope and conceptual design) this February.  On March 22nd the Board of Alderman will hold a public hearing (agenda) on requesting an appropriation and authorization to borrow funds in a bond for the construction of a new SHS. Following this approval, detailed design will begin.  The targeted construction period is April 2018 - July 2021.  Check out the new SHS website for up to date information about the project, building committee and meetings, which are open to the public.  

School Committee Chair for 2017
I am excited to share that I have been elected by my peers to serve as the School Committee Chair for 2017.  One of my first responsibilities as the Chair was to speak at the State of the City this past January.  Click here to read the text of my speech.  

As we all thaw from the winter into spring, I look forward to seeing friends and neighbors out and about in the city.  Anytime and place is a good time to share your thoughts, aspirations and concerns about our schools and students.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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School Committee Chair for 2017

I am excited to share that I have been elected by my peers to serve as the School Committee Chair for 2017.  One of my first responsibilities as the Chair was to speak at the State of the City this past January. Below is the text of my speech. 

The following is from School Committee Chair Pitone’s speech delivered at the Board of Aldermen Organizational Meeting on Monday, January 9, 2017 in the Aldermanic Chambers:

Mayor Curtatone, President White, fellow elected officials on the Board of Alderman and School Committee, Superintendent Skipper, family and friends. I am honored to share this night with you and for my new role as the Chair of the School Committee. I appreciate the confidence and trust you have placed in me to lead and collaborate with the talented people that represent the city of Somerville on the School Committee.

First I want to acknowledge and congratulate Paula O’Sullivan as our newest member of the School Committee, representing Ward 6. She is filling big shoes (literally) with the resignation of Paul Bockleman, who mentored me and many others with his deep knowledge of the district, ability to both listen and speak thoughtfully and with great humor. With her professional background in education and as a parent of three children attending the Kennedy and Brown Schools, Paula’s perspective will contribute greatly to the work of the School Committee. Thank you Paula, for stepping up and your future service.

I would also like to acknowledge the out-going Chair of the School Committee, Carrie Normand, who has led us through a period of great change, both in membership and district leadership. Although our current school committee members are relatively new to the job, there is no shortage of passion and Carrie has inspired all of us with her generous and thoughtful leadership, always putting the needs of the children of Somerville first and foremost.

Although many of the faces on the school committee have changed, it is inspiring to look around the room and recognize so many who have served before us – the list is too long to name – many who continue to serve in public office. Your commitment to the city and our schools continues in your current work, and the Somerville Public Schools would not be enjoying its current success without your continued support – thank you. As steward of the schools I also imagine I am not only seeing my predecessors but hopefully a few faces of those that will follow in our footsteps.

For some of us, OK me, my role on the SC was not part of some master plan but a journey I unwittingly embarked on the day I brought my son to kindergarten at the Healey School 10 years ago. I was welcomed in the school community and greatly supported as we made, what was for my family, a challenging transition. I wanted to give back so I got involved at the school, doing what I was interested in and leveraging my skills – that sweet spot that makes volunteering easy. But I realized I wanted to do more for the wider school community. Running for office was an overwhelming prospect but one of the most exciting and rewarding experienced I have had. I met so many amazing and different people – but the one thing they shared in common was their sincere interest in the students of Somerville.

That interest showed it self this November when the community overwhelmingly supported the city’s planned investment in a new Somerville High School. Thanks to the High School Building Committee for their time and efforts to consider every possible location and various interests from historic preservation, the experience of current students during construction to the inspiring educational vision of the future of Somerville High School developed by school staff, Headmaster Oteri and Superintendent Skipper. This vision emphasizes critical thinking skills, collaboration and an increased connectivity between our career and technical and college preparatory programming. I am excited to see the future of Somerville High School unfold.

In addition to plans for a new High School, 2016 brought an increased focus on the social and emotional development of our students. From enhancing health education in the middle schools to strengthen how our staff is organized to identify and met the needs of struggling students – we have made investments that allow all our students to better meet academic challenges and prepare them for life after SPS. Students who are struggling socially or emotionally may not be ready to learn or make their full contribution to their community. These efforts are in direct support of the district’s continued commitment to Whole Child education – a shorthand for the combination of academic, social, emotional and physical education – including new methods to assess our successes (and learn about areas for growth) beyond standardized testing.

But now, I hope to liven things up a bit by switching gears from assessments to baked goods to illustrate something fundamental about our schools and the work of 2016 and beyond. I was at Lyndell’s bakery last week, and the woman next to me made a comment about a young boy and girl pressed against the glass case filled with doughnuts. They were siblings and she was impressed to see them happily together, if not slowly, asking for their order. Her name was Barbara and she was a retired SPS PE teacher. She then told me about bumping into one for her former students and although she didn’t remember the name of the “boy” (who she guessed was about 60 now) she did remind him of a collision they had in the gym and pulled up the leg of her pants to show him the resulting surgical scar on her kneecap. After over 40 years she still remembers her student and he remember her. Wow, our educators know our kids (even 40 years later), our educators put the needs of our kids first, our educators watch out for our children in the community – even after they retire, looking at our future generation with a kind heart and commentary. Attracting, growing and keeping great staff is a top priority at SPS and Superintendent Skipper has enhanced our efforts. To put it simply, the goal is to make SPS THE TOP choice for quality educators in order to retain and attract the best talent. I use the term educator intentionally (just as Superintendent Skipper does) to include not only teachers, but administrators, paraprofessionals, lunch aids – everyone who work in our schools – they all play a role in educating our children. I believe this will be one of the most powerful ways we improve opportunities for the children of Somerville.

There are so many more exciting things I could share, but to keep things brief, I would like to expand on the idea of educators, reflecting on my own experience and reaching out to you, members of the Somerville community. Think about the ways that you may have a positive impact on our schools – considering where your interests intersect with your skills (that sweet spot of volunteering) – from tutoring students to asking challenging questions of your elected officials and city and school administration, educating on what our community wants and needs. Thanks to those who are already in the mix, our PTAs, volunteers and tutors. Great thanks to Superintendent Skipper for her high-energy leadership and clear vision. And my personal thanks to those who allow me to do the work I do – my family, friends and dedicated colleagues on the School Committee. Be an educator, be involved, have an impact. But I warn you it may be addictive and next thing you know one of you may be standing on this podium or sitting in the horseshoe as the next stewards of our city and our schools. Thank you.

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2017 School Committee Spring Office Hours

The Somerville School Committee wants to hear from you at our Spring Office Hours scheduled 3/18 - 3/26. Talk 2017-2018 School Budget and more.

Saturday, March 18, 10am-12pm, Forge, 626 Somerville Ave. with Lee Erica Palmer***También se habla español and Board of Aldermen President Bill White

Sunday, March 19, 11am-1 pm, Bloc 11, 11 Bow St. with Dan J. Futrell

Sunday, March 19 1:30-3:30 pm, Armory Cafe, 91 Highland Ave. with Laura Pitone and Mark Niedergang (Ward 5 Alderman)

Tuesday, March 21, 8-10 am, Armory Café, 91 Highland Ave. with Laura Pitone and Mark Niedergang (Ward 5 Alderman)

Thursday, March 23 6:30-8:30 pm, Mystic Community Center, 530 Mystic Ave. with Andre Green

Saturday, March 25, 10am-12pm, Diesel Cafe, 257 Elm St. with Paula O’Sullivan

Saturday, March 25, 9-11am, Community Assembly Room, 50 Middlesex Ave., Assembly Row (Self-Storage Building) with Steve RoixLee Erica Palmer ***También se habla español and Matt McLaughlin (Ward 1 Alderman)

Saturday, March 25, 11-1pm, Angelina's, 230 Holland St. with Carrie Normand

Sunday, March 26, 10am-12pm, Winter Hill Brewing, 328 Broadway with Andre Green

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Celebration of Retiring Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi this Thursday 6/18

The Somerville School Committee invites the entire community to a celebration recognizing Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi upon his retirement.
 
Please join us at the Cross Street entrance of the East Somerville Community School on Thursday, June 18, from 4:00-6:00 pm to honor the Superintendent's ten years of outstanding service to our students.
 
Entertainment will be provided by students from our award-winning music department and the after-school El Sistema Program. Light refreshments will be served.
 
A brief formal presentation will take place at 4:45 p.m.  Otherwise, this is an informal celebration that we hope will bring people from across Somerville to honor and thank the Superintendent.
 
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Pitone endorsed by all three weekly newspapers!

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Letters in support of Laura Pitone

Thanks to all my supporters who submitted letters to the Somerville print and online papers.

More than 20 parents with students from nearly all of the Somerville Public Schools penned a joint letter of support, published in both the Somerville Patch "Widespread parent support for Laura Pitone on Nov. 5th" and the Somerville Journal.   Ward 5 parents send their children to all the schools in Somerville, not just the schools in the ward, and I will strive to represent all perspectives. 

Celia Taylor, a former Somerville Public School teacher and School Committee Member, shared her support in a letter published this week in the Somerville Journal "Give Pitone your vote for Somerville School Committee"

I was happy to read the letter of endorsement written by Paula Woolley and published prior to the September 24th preliminary election in the Somerville Journal, "Pitone for Somerville Ward 5 School Committee".  Paula is a parent of a Somerville High School graduate and a Brown School student. Paula is currently a member of the High School Improvement Council and is well respected for her school and city advocacy.

Mary Flemming, my neighbor and a lifelong Somerville resident, wrote a letter of support that was acknowledged, along with Celia Taylor's letter, in this week's edition of Newstalk in The Somerville Times (excerpt below.)

"We see that candidate for School Committee Member in Ward Five Laura J. Pitone has been working hard to fill the vacant seat. She has been knocking on doors and it looks like she is going to win this coming Tuesday. She has garnered many letters of endorsement, which normally we here at the Times wouldn’t print, but an endorsement from Mary Fleming on Highland Road is well noted. Mary is one of the nicest, sincerest people around. Despite her husband’s venture into politics, Mary has stayed away from it, except now she wrote a very nice letter in support of Laura and we just had to say something about it. Another lady we noticed who wrote a letter (there were many others) was Celia Taylor, former School Committee Member, a nice lady, and wife of retiring Tom Taylor. She recently retired from school work down at the Healey and wrote a very nice letter for Laura. Two ladies’ testimonials amongst the many letters of support of which we know she got from hard work and persistence. We think Laura will do an awesome job on the School Board. By the way, we like many others here in the city are big fans of Celia and Mary. If you don’t know them meet them and find out for yourself."

 

 

 

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Preliminary Results: Pitone nominates for Nov 5th final election

SupportersatDPW.JPGI made it through the preliminary election!  Here are the results of the election as reported by the different news outlets. I am so thankful to all the amazing volunteers and supporters. Now the hard work continues in preparation for the November 5th final election.

Somerville Journal:  "Somerville primary election: McLaughlin...Pitone...advance"

Somerville Patch: "See Which Candidates Are Moving onto the Final Election"

Somerville Times: "Unofficial Primary Results in Somerville"

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Laura Pitone for Ward 5 School Committee
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