Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, August 30, 2023

The Arlington School Committee held a special meeting on August 30, where all members were present. The meeting was conducted via Zoom, following the governor’s guidelines. The meeting materials were available on Novus online.

Appointment of School Committee Representative to the Arlington 250th Anniversary Committee

The first order of business was the appointment of a School Committee representative to the Arlington 250th Anniversary Committee. One member expressed interest and was unanimously appointed by the committee. The representative’s first meeting with the Anniversary Committee was scheduled for later that evening, and they committed to keeping the School Committee informed of any relevant updates or needs.

Review and Potential Approval of Revised Student Handbooks

The committee reviewed and discussed potential approval of revised student handbooks for Arlington High School and the elementary schools. Significant changes were made to the elementary handbook, including updates to outdated information and revisions to the dress code language. Adjustments were also made to bullying policies and discipline sections in response to updated regulations. The committee acknowledged differing opinions on the homework policy for lower grades and agreed to further discuss this issue. The inconsistency of homework practices across the elementary schools was also noted for further discussion.

Dress Code and Absence Policy Discussions

The committee discussed the dress code and the requirement for a doctor’s note to excuse absences in the high school handbook. Concerns were raised about how the policy would handle students who chose to express themselves by wearing minimal clothing. The committee agreed to revisit the issue of requiring a doctor’s note for absences, considering the ongoing pandemic.

Approval of High School Handbook

The committee approved the high school handbook, with the understanding that there will be some changes for clarification under the absence section. The committee also unanimously voted to receive the elementary school handbooks.

Update on the Opening Day of School and Upcoming Budget Amendment

The Superintendent provided an update on the opening day of the school year and mentioned that the district has created enough capacity to provide training for other professionals. The committee also discussed the upcoming budget amendment that will have to go before the special town meeting in October.

  • Addressing Hiring Challenges with Teaching Assistants

The committee discussed potential ways to address hiring challenges with teaching assistants. They approved a side letter of agreement between the Arlington School Committee and the AEA Unit D to provide an incentive for hiring and retaining Unit D professionals.

Approval of Side Letter of Agreement for Special Education Social Workers and School Counselors

The committee approved a side letter of agreement between the Arlington Public Schools and the AEA pertaining to special education social workers and school counselors at the Ottoson Middle School. The purpose of this agreement is to merge the duties of social workers and counselors at the school.

Conclusion and Next Meeting

The meeting concluded with a unanimous vote to adjourn, with the next meeting scheduled for September 7. The committee made key decisions to address hiring challenges and approved revisions to student handbooks, with further discussions planned for future meetings.



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