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Belmont Public Schools News

Superintendent's May 13, 2020 Newsletter

date 5/12/2020

We hope you were able to enjoy Mother's Day weekend even with the snowy start to it on Saturday. We know it is not easy being a parent in the best of times but it is especially challenging these days during the pandemic. We appreciate our entire Belmont community for their generosity of spirit and help in supporting our students.

This week we thought we would have a Wednesday edition instead of Tuesday due to news from the School Committee meeting on May 12. Please see that and other news below. 


Remote Learning Survey Presentation: Assistant Superintendent Janice Darias presented the results from the Remote Learning survey results given to parents earlier this month. While some results show there are areas we are continuing to work on, there are also positive results that show all the hard work our educators have been doing to transform teaching from a brick and mortar building to remote learning. The feedback received now will help shape the professional development we pursue with our educators this summer as well as the remote learning work for the next school year in the event we need to continue with some variation of what we are doing now. Thank you all for participating, and we will be asking you to again complete a survey in June to continue to receive your feedback.

FY21 Budget: We have communicated to you through this newsletter that as a Town we are facing a 25 percent reduction in revenue. The Town and School Department are tasked with providing budgets that reflect reductions for FY21. Due to this shortfall, the Town wanted to see a reduction of $4.5 million, with the School Department preparing budget cuts up to $1 million. After several drafts, we we presented a budget for FY21 to the School Committee with a reduction of $920,000. We have reduced expenses and cut the additional new 5.8 FTEs we sought due to growing enrollment. This budget is presented with the caveat that if our needs change in August, we are able to pivot to hire additional support for returning students to the fall, nurse support, and technology support for a possible partial return to school in September that may look different due to restrictions and health needs related to COVID.

We continue to meet with the School Committee Finance Subcommittee, the School Committee, the Warrant Committee Education Subcommittee, the Board of Selectmen, and the Town Administrator through this month in anticipation of a full budget presentation at Town Meeting in June.

BHS Graduation Planning for 2020: BHS Graduation Planning for 2020: It is clear to all of us that anything less than a graduation ceremony that is full of tradition like any other year is a disappointment to our seniors. We are doing our best to provide a ceremony during the limitations of the pandemic. As you know, BHS Principal Isaac Taylor sent an email to the high school community on May 7 regarding the graduation process. We then heard additional feedback from parents and took pause to review their comments and suggestions over the weekend. This past Monday we reviewed the feedback and options together with members of our Town Departments (Police, Fire, the Department of Public Works, School Facilities, the Health Department, Central Office and BHS Administration). Suggestions considered in the new plan include a rolling parade as well as a date in August for students to gather one last time as BHS seniors (health code permitting).
Last night at our School Committee meeting, a representative of a parent group seeking a live graduation presented a plan for our consideration. As we have stated there is still concern with a live graduation on Harris Field, as the health and safety of all of our students would be challenging to guarantee. Principal Taylor and I will review the discussions held and make a decision on our final proposal. The updated plan will be communicated by Principal Taylor in a few days.
We appreciate the time, effort, and feedback from the community. One thing we know is that we do not want to put parents in the situation of having to choose between their child attending an outdoor graduation or keeping them safe. We want a plan that incorporates community ideas and is also safe for 100 percent of our graduating students.


CMS Student STEM Projects This past weekend would have been the third Annual CMS Student Council STEM Fair, which is open to any student, staff, and parent of Chenery Middle School. Participants were encouraged to pick topics that they are genuinely interested in, since they will be working on projects that will display their appreciation for STEM. Parents and Staff were allowed to choose open topics related to STEM for their exhibit or display. Although due to the school closure the STEM fair could not take place in the school, five groups of students (made up of six students) were still motivated to continue on even in a virtual environment. The five groups worked hard to finish and record their exhibit to share with the community their projects. See STEM Fair 2020 on the Student Council page on the CMS website.


Athletic Director Jim Davis and the spring coaches wanted to let their student athletes they are thinking of them and share this video.


We have put links in previous newsletters to useful information. We will be placing them here from the various newsletters for your convenience.

Town and State:



The Superintendent's Newsletter will be coming out on Tuesday and Friday afternoons with a section dedicated to your questions. The newsletter will allow us to stay connected as a district and offer quick updates, information, and school news while we are physically distancing. Your questions can be sent to Newsletter Questions Google doc

BHS Principal Isaac Taylor has started his own FAQ document families can view. They have broken the document down into sections for all students, each grade level, and will update the document as more questions arise.

Is there a requirement in the contract that a teacher or an administrator reply to emails within a certain time period? 

The Belmont teacher’s contract does not have a specified required time for responding to parent communications other than to state in the evaluation rubric that the proficient educator “responds promptly and carefully to communications from families.” Any family that has a concern or question should contact the teacher first. If not satisfied with the response, or if no response is given, the family should contact the principal. Belmont educators and administrators are working very hard to provide effective remote learning and communicate with students and families, and we thank them for their extraordinary efforts.

CMS Student STEM Projects