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Superintendent's May 20, 2020 Newsletter

date 5/20/2020

The weeks are getting shorter and busier as we speed through the month of May. It is hard to believe Memorial Day weekend is already here. Please know Memorial Day, Monday, May 25, is a holiday, and there is no school on that day.

We know families are particularly busy at this time of year with school emails, etc. Given that, the Superintendent's Newsletter will be published once a week on Thursdays. For your convenience, a link to a question/answer archive has been added to the newsletter so you can see what has been asked and answered in previous newsletters. Please continue reading to see more on that and the latest news from the district.

BHS Graduation: As promised, we took into consideration Governor Baker's latest guidelines issued this past Monday. We feel there is not enough movement forward in the state's re-opening plan to ensure the health and safety of all of our 2020 graduates to hold a live graduation. BHS Principal Isaac Taylor emailed families on May 15 with the graduation plans and other festivities that will take place. The hybrid plan of part live and part virtual graduation, along with a rolling rally, and a live event in August for students to gather one last time, incorporates many of the ideas and suggestions brought to us during discussions with the Belmont community. I understand that this decision will be met with disappointment for those who wanted a live graduation ceremony. My goal as Superintendent is to ensure we do not 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. Please keep in mind that the current plan does include (health guidance permitted) a date over the summer that we can have the class of 2020 gather to recognize their accomplishments, take pride in their successes, and informally socialize one last time as Belmont High School seniors. With respect to everyone's time, efforts, and input on this decision, I am approving the graduation plans outlined in Principal Taylor's May 15 email.

BPS Summer Programming: After many discussions, the Summer Enrichment Program and the summer program for English Learners is cancelled. We understand this is a disappointment, and it is to us as well. There is still uncertainty as to when school buildings can be open for large gatherings and  guarantee our staff and students would be safe if these programs were held. If you are in need of a refund for the Summer Enrichment Program, please email Cathy Grant at cgrant@belmont.k12.ma.us. As of now, we are currently planning for Extended School Year services to be held either in person or remotely and will give that decision soon.

Signed Beam BMHSBC: The final steel beam was hoisted into place on the grade 9-12 building section the morning of May 15. Due to the concern and safety of workers and observers during this pandemic, a small gathering of construction crew and Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee members were there to witness the moment. As is tradition, workers signed the final beam before hoisting it. I want to thank the Belmont Middle and High School Building Committee for all the hard work that went into this moment as well as the entire Belmont community for supporting this historic project. This celebration was filmed by Belmont Media Center. Please also see the BMHSBC website for more information. The live webcam on the BPS website of the construction is always a great way to see the progress.


From Winn Brook Principal Janet Carey: Reminiscent of the children’s book, Flat Stanley, Winn Brook kindergarteners were surprised to receive a flat version of their teacher, Ms.Kerry Lapon, in the mail. As the children took her along to join in on their adventures at home, families captured photos which were then incorporated into this heartwarming slide show: Adventures with Flat Mrs. Lapon!

From CMS Librarian Karen Duff: Ms. Duff put together some resources below to help guide people who are looking for the next “read”:

  • Belmont Public Library: Kids and Teens ebooks, etc: Public libraries rock! Lots of resources available if access to physical books is becoming an issue. Ebooks add to “screen-time,” however, and I am sensitive to that. That’s where audiobooks are great, close your eyes, and listen as a family or go for a ride and listen while taking in some springtime scenery.
  • Belmont Books Shelf Help: This is a great service from our local indie bookstore. Fill out the form and they will send you some recommendations. You can order online on their website and books ship directly from the warehouse. This is a great time to support this local treasure.
  • Stay Engaged: MA Library System: Statewide Library Systems are providing free access to a lot of really interesting digital content during this difficult time. Roam around on this site for MA residents compiled by our state librarians. 


Giving to Healthcare Some Chenery 8th graders are collaborating with several other teens in the area to produce face shields for medical professionals across New England. These young activists are using tongue depressors, binder covers, duct tape and Velcro to protect the wellbeing of others. We are  proud of the giving nature of our students and realize that this is just one of many such initiatives across this compassionate community. See Face Shields by Teens though their GoFundMe site.


BHS Marauder Pride Decoration BHS is holding a Door Decoration Competition, asking all Marauders to decorate a door or window at your house that celebrates who YOU are as a Marauder! Hang up your jersey, a flyer from a past show, your name, your graduation year, streamers, sparkles...whatever you want. Entry deadline is May 29. You can submit your door or window decoration by taking a photo of it and sending it to Ms. Ruane at aruane@belmontschools.net and be in the running for an Amazon gift card! The Belmont community looks forward to seeing your creations! 


Please see the latest news from Director of Food Services Dustin O'Brien:

Weekly Meal Kits through Wednesday, June 17: Weekly meal pick ups and deliveries to homes will run through Wednesday, June 17th. We are still taking requests for meal kits! Be sure to e-mail Dustin O'Brien ( dobrien@belmont.k12.ma.us) with your student/s names and home address at to be added to the delivery list. 

Home Delivery Volunteers Shout Out: We'd like to thank the following volunteers for making weekly meal kit deliveries. They've made our operation run smoothly and couldn't do it without them. These superstar volunteers are Leon Dyer, Carol Kean, Heidi Pasternak, Cate Brensnahan, Brianne Panzarella, Michele Wilson, Josh Goldfine, Sarah Fraser, Jamie Shea and Lucy Verhave. A big thank you from BPS Food Services and the community!

Belmont Food Service X Belmont Dines: On behalf of Belmont Helps, Belmont Dines, spearheaded by Ami Kirsch and Elisa Bello, is a new initiative set up to support families in need while supporting our local food service establishments. Funds have been raised to purchase gift cards to in-town restaurants and those will be distributed to families taking part in our weekly meal kit program. More information on the program and how to help can be found here. 

Belmont Food Svc. X Read it Forward Belmont Food Service X Read it Forward: In an effort to get more books into the hands of children in need, Belmont Books has launched Read it Forward. Donations to Read It Forward will be used to buy new books that will be distributed to families through Belmont Food Services weekly meal kit service. For more information, and to make a donation, please go to Read it Forward.

Please go to the BPS website for more Food Services website information.


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 has a section dedicated to your questions. Your questions can be sent to Newsletter Questions Google doc.

Those of you who want to see the questions that were already answered in the Superintendent's Newsletter can go to the newly created Superintendent's Newsletter Questions Archive.

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.

Please explain why the data recently gathered from the community-wide parent survey on e-learning isn't being used to make necessary modifications for the remaining month of school. It seems like this would be an ideal time to pilot a Phase 3 approach, involving more live learning and teacher-student interaction. Many other nearby districts have already begun to make such changes and the students and teachers report increased satisfaction with this updated, more interactive e-learning approach. It seems that we should end the year in the most advanced manner possible to encourage a smoother transition back to school in the fall.

We are planning these changes for next year. A more interactive e-learning approach requires ensuring each student has their own device; this will not be accomplished until we purchase more devices. The purchase is in the works and we expect delivery by August. We will also use the summer to provide the professional development that teachers need to increase their capacity with technology platforms.

Is the reduction or elimination of substitute teachers among the proposed budget cuts under consideration?

There is a reduction (not elimination) in the amount of funds we allocated to the substitute budget line as the need for substitutes will depend on the type of learning we’re doing next year (in person vs. remote vs. hybrid).

Is it possible to see the breakdown of survey results divided by elementary/ middle/ high school (or, given response rate, elementary vs. middle + high school)?

There is not a substantial difference in the survey results by level.

Like the high school, can you keep a running list of faqs on an accessible Google doc?

Yes, please see the Superintendent's Newsletter Questions Archive, which is posted above and will be in every newsletter for the remainder of the school year.


Signed Beam  BHS Marauder Pride Decoration  Belmont Food Svc. X Read it Forward  Giving to Healthcare