Alison Villanueva, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Friday, February 12, 2021
Dear Watertown Faculty and Families,
I watched fifth graders build snow forts and snow people today. Watching them enjoy a few extra moments with friends to let loose in the snow reinforced how important it is to take a break every once in a while. This week’s update includes a special section dedicated to FAQ’s on this year’s 2021-2022 proposed budget (keep scrolling). I wish you all a delightfully long and relaxing weekend!
Looking to Next Week
President’s Day Holiday
This is a friendly reminder that schools will be closed on Monday, February 15 and Tuesday, February 16 for President’s Day. Students will return on Wednesday, February 17 for a regular Wednesday.
Pre-K - 5: will follow their regular in person early dismissal schedule.
6-12: will follow their regular remote early dismissal schedule.
School Status and Learning Model
On Wednesday, February 17, Open Conversations with WPS faculty will be held to discuss varying learning models as we move forward. In addition, a survey will be sent to families and faculty to capture feedback. This data will be one of several data points to help inform next steps.
Watertown history, Native American Studies, and Curriculum Expansion
There is a lot of excitement around the recommendation to extend educational programming and curriculum related to Watertown history and Native American Studies. There is great interest around culturally responsive and inclusive curriculum in general. As we get ready to review our Social Studies curriculum, the planning process to build committee(s) dedicated to this work has begun and we will be reaching out to partners and those interested soon.
Special Budget Edition: FAQ’s
What is most important to you about creating the Watertown Public Schools Budget?
The most important thing to me about designing the WPS budget for this fiscal year (FY22) is to look at it through a multiyear lens. Having our eyes set on where we want to be in 1 yr, 3 yrs, or 5 yrs is extremely important. Putting forward a balanced budget is one thing, but thinking about all of the possibilities and innovative ways we can shape our children’s school experiences is always the main goal.
By fortifying a strong foundation, it lays the groundwork for WPS to design exceptional experiences for our students. Keeping our eyes on how to cultivate our tried and true programs to include exciting new practices is key... while being fiscally responsible at the same time.
With this proposed budget how are we moving technology forward in our district?
Technology is fully funded in this year’s budget to improve our wifi speeds, maintain our 1:1 computer initiative, and learning management systems. By moving from 1G to 10G speeds the student experience will be directly impacted in classrooms as they utilize digital platforms, tools and subscriptions.
With this proposed budget how are we pushing our students’ school experience forward for all children?
The proposed budget allows us to appropriately fund programming for ALL of our students. A special highlight includes programs that will provide enrichment and intervention to a wider audience of students during the summer months.
With this proposed budget what new things are going in for our students?
A low tuition funded summer enrichment program extended to all students. Costs for the program beyond tuition will be covered by the district.
The proposed budget includes the expansion of our special education programming with the addition of a full time social worker and two special education teachers.
It also includes a 0.5FTE Tech Ed. teacher that is dedicated to courses with focus on the trades and manufacturing, coding, robotics, etc.
A human resources specialist position that will be shared with the Town of Watertown is included.
What are your plans to grow the education programs in Watertown while you are here?
The Watertown Public Schools continue to provide a strong education for our students. During my time here in Watertown I am dedicated to opening up new possibilities and bringing innovative experiences to our students through curriculum and programming. I truly believe all Watertown schools deserve a world class education.
How can the parent community help pass a budget?
On that date in May, come on out and vote for the budget when it’s referendum time. Gather your friends and your neighbors and remind them it’s time to go out and vote!
Quote of the week
“The time is always right to do what’s right” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.