Great schools are the most important city service and are the cornerstone of Newton’s success. We must continue to invest in our children, support our teachers, and rebuild our school facilities. Newton schools are among the best in the region. I’m committed to ensuring Newton has the very best public schools in Massachusetts.
Maintaining a commitment to excellence in our schools is a core principle, so all our young people are prepared to achieve their full potential. This means meeting the needs – educational, social and emotional, extracurricular – of every student in our diverse community. It also means challenging our students while we provide a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for each and every child.
Our schools are our single most important municipal service and the City’s largest line item. With a budget of over $200 million and more than 2,100 employees, the Mayor needs to make sure there is sufficient funding for our schools.
As Mayor, I will work closely with teachers, administrators, parents, and community stakeholders to ensure that Newton Public Schools have the resources and support necessary to continue providing the highest quality education to Newton’s youth.
As Mayor, I will focus on and work with the Newton Public Schools to:
- Hire, develop, support and retain the very best teachers and principals.
- Invest heavily in developing and supporting teachers. We know the quality of a student’s teacher has the biggest impact on student performance and experience in school. We also know that great teachers are made, not born. The craft of the classroom can be taught and learned. Newton’s teachers are among the best in Massachusetts. Let’s keep investing in them.
- Recruit and foster talented leaders at each school, because great principals – working together with teachers – have a direct impact on teaching, learning, and the culture of a school.
- Keep discovering what excites and challenges students and teachers.
- Encourage and fund pilots and innovative programs that improve teaching and learning and expose students to new ideas or experiences.
- Pay special attention to STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math – as it pervades every aspect of our lives and is key to so much of our future.
- Respect and provide resources for the multiple pathways to college and career readiness.
- Ensure we have the right technology in all of our schools for all of our students and teachers.
- Ensure appropriate class sizes, program breadth and student support services.
- Maintain favorable class sizes at the elementary, middle and high schools even while overall enrollment continues to grow. The number of students is expected to grow by 3% (320 additional students) in the next five years; as it does, students must continue receiving individualized attention.
- Provide resources for continuing program breadth, including the arts, and for student support services.
- Renovate, rebuild and maintain our school buildings to bring all 22 buildings into the 21st century. As the only City Councilor to serve on all three school building committees that oversaw the Angier, Zervas and Cabot elementary school projects, I have a unique understanding of our school facilities.
- We need healthy, safe, modern, right sized facilities that meet our enrollment and changing program needs.
- Each school should have appropriate sized classrooms, spaces that accommodate small group instruction, and suitable common spaces.
- Continue to renovate and rebuild using our long-term facilities plan, with the next major projects in the next five years projected to be at Lincoln-Eliot/Aquinas, Countryside and/or Franklin, and Ward.
- Implement successful programs to address the needs of all students. As the mom of three boys, one of whom has severe dyslexia, I understand the importance of all students receiving the education and support services necessary to thrive.
- Continue to invest in programs for English Language Learners and students with disabilities.
- Continue the progress in narrowing the achievement gap. We have made a lot of progress with innovative programs such as the Calculus Project and Transitioning Together, but a lot more work needs to be done.
- Expand learning opportunities, possibly with public-private partnerships, beyond the traditional school day and school year including high quality after-school programs, pre-K, and summer programs.
- Explore Full Day Kindergarten. It has the advantages of giving children a developmentally and individually appropriate learning environment for the full day, providing long-term educational benefits and a more working parent-friendly school schedule.
- Develop a schedule for high schools that improves the health and academic achievement of adolescents.
By working collaboratively, continuing to prioritize investments in Newton’s public schools, and supporting our teachers, we can have the best public school system in Massachusetts.
Note: I have used documents created by and for the City of Newton, sometimes word-for-word, when writing this position paper.