Inside Arlington

Experimental News Digest for Arlington, MA

School Committee, March 21, 2024

Student Update

  • The PEP teacher event was successful.
  • The musical “12th Night” involves over 60 high school students and staff, and it’s upcoming this weekend.
  • Students are preparing for MCAS next week, and unlike previous years, upperclassmen will not have the morning off.
  • Students are looking forward to April break.

Community and Family Engagement Report

  • Wesley Etienne presented on behalf of the Department for Communications and Family Engagement. The department aligns with strategic priority four of the district’s plans and is focused on collaborative partnerships with families and the community. The team consists of enrollment and engagement specialists, family liaisons, communications specialists, and a translation/interpretation coordinator.
  • Departments and external partnerships include Arlington Police Department, National Guard, and Fox Library.
  • There was a successful development of guidance for welcoming newcomers and the opening of a Welcome Center.
  • Initiatives prioritize strengthening family-university development, addressing chronic absenteeism, and enhancing enrollment experiences.
  • They aim to solidify cross-departmental collaboration and improve registration processes.

Wins and Priorities

  • Collaboration with the community led to a statewide district visit to understand various models of Welcome Centers.
  • There are efforts to support newcomer families to assimilate into the community effectively.
  • A Home-School guidebook is in the first draft stage and outlines involvement and engagement opportunities.
  • The department wants to deepen its efforts in connecting and supporting families and schools.

Communication Department

  • The department, led by Julian Tristall, has initiated monthly newsletters, improved website features, increased social media engagement, and provided professional development for teachers.
  • They’ve introduced “Pocket Talk Plus” devices, which offer live translation in 84 languages, translating text and voice.
  • Priorities include more consistent communication practices and further updating the district website.
  • There’s a need for a dedicated website manager and more physical resources in the Welcome Center.

Superintendent’s Proposed Budget

  • With no updates since last week, the school committee voted unanimously to approve the superintendent’s budget.

Superintendent’s Update

  • The Student Opportunity Act (SOA) plan aligns with the strategic plan and requires school committee approval.
  • Focus groups include Black or Hispanic students, students with disabilities, multilingual learners, and low-income households.
  • The plan adopts two evidence-based programs: meaningful family communication and high-quality curriculum implementation.
  • The school committee voted unanimously to approve the SOA plan.

Safety Update

  • There was a threatening email sent to a teacher. Police were notified and present at impacted schools.
  • The investigation is ongoing with the Arlington Police Department and Middlesex District Attorney’s Office.

Policy Updates

  • BGB Policy Adoption addresses resolutions and requires a first and second read before adoption.
  • BDD updates clarify communication requirements between the superintendent and the school committee, specifically around governmental agency non-compliance.
  • IHBB introduces a new policy on child find requirement to identify and evaluate students who may have disabilities.
  • These policies were moved to the policy subcommittee for further consideration.

Subcommittee Liaison Reports and Announcements

  • Various subcommittee meetings are scheduled, including the High School Building Committee on April 2.
  • Appreciation was expressed to Chair Dr. Alison Ampy for her leadership.

Future Meetings

  • The next budget subcommittee meeting is on April 10.
  • Community relations school committee chat scheduled for April 6.

Executive Session

  • The committee went into executive session to discuss negotiation strategies with the Arlington Education Association Unit A and security personnel deployment. They will not return to open session after.



Inside Arlington was created by two Arlingtonians who are deeply concerned by the decline in local news and its impact on civic life. Our mission is to provide accessible information to Arlington residents to foster an informed and engaged citizenry. And we want to do it in an economically sustainable way. More…


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