Newsletter - Spring 2019

The district's Equity Policy work, the proposed FY2020 budget, progress on the new Somerville High School -- both the building and redesign of the student experience -- and my Campaign Kick-off on 6/4 are shared in this newsletter. I have also included links to more detailed blog posts on the Budget, the Equity Policy, and the future of SHS.   

Kick Off StickerCampaign Kick off June 4th: I am excited to share that I am seeking re-election to represent Ward 5 on the Somerville School Committee. Mark your calendar for a Campaign Kick-off on Tuesday June 4th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm, 14 St James Avenue.You can RSVP or invite others via the Facebook event or email my campaign at [email protected]Click here if you are interested in donating to my campaign.   

Equity Policy: The district and school committee have been pursuing the topic of equity in our schools over the last year, including the development of a draft Equity Policy for the district. Future opportunity and success for any student should not be determined by their personal characteristics -- such as race, ethnicity, gender or economic status. There are a great deal of questions and concerns regarding how to create a policy that will best meet the needs of all our students. Click here to learn more about this work and to read the draft Equity Policy created in April 2019. 

Budget Input: The School Committee is expected to deliberate and vote on the FY2020 budget this Tuesday, May 21 at 7 pm at the SPS Central Office 8 Bonair Street. Click here to learn more about the FY2020 budget including a narrative overview of the proposed FY2020 budget, topics from SC budget deliberations and to access to budget documentation.  

Somerville Children's Cabinet: The children's cabinet is an active collaboration between the City of Somerville, Somerville Public Schools and community partners focused to the well being of all children and youth in our city. The Cabinet was inspired by participation in the By All Means initiative of the Education Redesign Lab at Harvard Graduate School of Education. The Somerville's Children's Cabinet website outlines this work, primarily focused on expanding access to and strengthening the quality of both early childhood and out of school time programming throughout the city. The Children's cabinet also facilitated the Somerville Learning 2030 project, focused on understanding what our community wants growing up in Somerville to look like in the future. The Somerville Learning 2030 Report can be accessed from the Children's Cabinet website. 

Somerville High School: As one of the newest members of the SHS Building Committee, I have been impressed by the professionalism and attention to detail by the project team. The team has communicated that the building is still on schedule for full occupation by fall 2020. Phases of the project have been delayed due to unexpected levels of soil contamination and types of asbestos at the site that triggered a state mandated stop of construction. Schedule delays have increased costs, therefore the project contingency budget is no longer comfortably funded. In an effort to re-fund the contingency budget, the Building Committee voted to reduce the project scope including deferring front landscaping and final hardscape to a yet to be funded future central hill landscaping project. Although proposed as a scope reduction, the turf field has been retained in the project scope as part of phase three. The most up to date information, including photos of the project and links to meeting minutes, can be found on the SHS Building Project website. If you have any questions about the project email: [email protected].

In addition to the new building, SHS is more than one year into a grant funded planning effort with staff, students and community members to envision the future of Somerville High School. The scope of the work includes subcommittees focused on out-of-school learning, personalization of the student experience, performance-based assessments that may include multiple flexible pathways to graduation and reconsidering scheduling to make these ideas possible. SHS leadership presented some of the initial thinking to the School Committee, which included a proposal for a new schedule creating more flexibility for internships or other off campus training (subject to collective bargaining.) Click hear to read in more detail about subcommittee proposals for the future of SHS.  

Powerhouse School Update: On March 18th the Somerville School Committee voted unanimously to not adopt Powerhouse Studios as a school in Somerville. The Mayor, Superintendent and School Committee Chair published a joint statement regarding the vote on the proposed Powderhouse School. As specified in the Innovation Schools Statute, the applicant may submit a revised plan to the school committee for a subsequent vote.

Your Voice: Reach out if there is anything you want to discuss: [email protected]. I am happy to meet for coffee, a walk, schedule a call or correspond over email. And don't forget the School Committee now hosts public comment at the beginning of every regular SC meeting. 

Keep me posted:  Click here to signup to receive my newsletters (sent a few times a year) or for more frequent updates follow or like my Laura Pitone Ward 5 School Committee Facebook Page

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Laura Pitone for Ward 5 School Committee
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