Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, January 11, 2024

Gibbs Overnight Experience Approval

The committee discussed and approved the Gibbs overnight trip for 6th grade students in May. The estimated cost per student for the trip is approximately $512, which includes accommodations, busing, supplies for students requiring additional support, teacher expenses, and stipends for teachers supervising evening activities. Alternatives for students who choose not to attend were discussed, involving project-based engineering activities. Around 353 students expressed interest in attending the two-night trip to central Massachusetts, with 56 families declining and responses from 60 students still pending. The administration confirmed that necessary funds are available to cover costs for students needing aid and the district may consider fundraising for further financial support. Approval for the trip was unanimously provided by the school committee members present.

School Committee Budget Priorities

The committee deliberated on budget priorities for the Arlington Public Schools (APS) for the next fiscal year. Common themes included the emphasis on competitive salaries, especially after the override and recent agreements with various units. Special education staffing, full-time librarians, technological enhancements, and transportation measures were highlighted as important. The necessity for additional custodians was also considered vital for maintaining a healthy school environment. Funding for the overnight experience, if needed, should be incorporated into the budget as well.

Proposed School Calendars

Superintendent Homan presented draft calendars for the next three school years, with notable points including a suggestion to start the ’26-’27 school year before Labor Day and the establishment of a new professional development day. Changes to first and last days of school, holiday observances, and early release schedules were also mentioned. Discussion ensued about the potential need for community feedback, particularly regarding the proposed pre-Labor Day start in ’26-’27.

Superintendent’s Goals

Dr. Homan submitted a draft of goals focused on areas such as closing opportunity and achievement gaps, building community engagement capacity, enhancing deeper learning opportunities, and improving staff retention measures. Specific outcome measures and action steps associated with each goal were provided, prompting discussions on how these would be assessed during the evaluation process.

Consent Agenda

The committee approved various warrants and meeting minutes, with certain members abstaining from votes due to conflicts of interest.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports

Updates from the Budget Subcommittee included the scheduling of an upcoming meeting to review detailed planning for the next fiscal year’s budget. Community Relations reported the need for new representatives for the Rainbow Commission and Arlington 250 Committee. Facilities and Policy and Procedures subcommittees did not have new reports, and the Arlington High School Building Committee announced upcoming public tours and a call for volunteers.

Announcements and Updates

Announcements covered the opening of Menotomy Preschool, plans for an Ottoson Middle School bus service, upcoming administrative hiring searches, the initiation of working groups tied to the strategic plan, and a request for approval of a new revolving fund for Arlington High School’s student cafe.

Executive Session

The school committee voted to enter executive session to discuss negotiations with union representatives and did not plan to return to open session.



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