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Belmont Public Schools News

Superintendent's Newsletter April/May 2021

date 5/7/2021

Our educators were celebrated during Teacher appreciation week May 3 through May 7. The PTA/PTO provided food trucks at schools, snacks and treats in teacher break rooms, and other terrific ways to show our educators how much they mean to us. During this appreciation week, we want to thank our faculty, staff, school administrators, and families for their flexibility and support during this pandemic year. In addition, we also want to thank the advisory and working groups for volunteering their time and their help in unpacking the challenges associated with returning first to hybrid and then to full in-person learning. This work helped pave the road back in April for all our students to attend school full in-person, if they chose to do so.

Burbank recess and lunch Please enjoy pictures in the gallery of the days leading up to and the start of elementary full in-person on April 5 and Chenery and Belmont High School on April 28 and 29, respectively.

In this April/May issue:

School Committee
Notes from the Superintendent

Save the Date - Remote Only Families Information Session
Food Services
School News
BPS Summer Enrichment
Visual and Performing Arts
Foundation for Belmont Education (FBE)

Useful Information


FY22 Budget: As you know, given the unsuccessful override, we have been working with the School Committee to determine how the school department can reduce our FY22 budget (school year 2021/22) by $2,070,000. After several meetings and reviewing our budget line by line we have come up with a set of recommendations that would reduce the impact on our educators and programs.

On May 4, we presented an updated FY22 Budget (Draft 3.0) and a line-by-line budget reduction to the School Committee at the Finance Sub Committee meeting in the morning and at the School Committee public forum in the evening. The next step is for these school administration recommendations to be agreed to and voted on by the School Committee at the next meeting on May 11. The shift from 2.0 to 3.0 is that we found additional reductions in an effort to restore some positions, clubs and athletics. Here are the highlights:

  1. Restored CMS and BHS reductions – all FTEs are back in the budget 
  2. Restored freshman athletics
  3. Restored CMS track
  4. Restored some clubs for visual and performing arts 
  5. Restored the District Director of Equity
  6. Reduced the Director of Athletics, Physical Education and Student Activities ( and will provide a part time athletic director and physical education lead teachers next year)
  7. Reduced some other (non-athletic/VPA) clubs/stipends at CMS and BHS
  8. Maintained reduction of two kindergarten positions (and the corresponding classroom assistants)
  9. Restored one of the first grade positions (leaving one reduction for this grade level)

These shifts were made by increasing reductions to other salaries/wages and central office supplies and conference lines.

As a reference, please see previous budget presentations to the School Committee and the public:

  • April 27 SC meeting: The School Department presented the FY22 Draft Budget 2.0 Non-Contingent budget presentation where we began to look at and uncouple the non-contingent budget and federal aid (ESSER II, ESSER III, and the American Rescue Plan) the town is expected to receive. We also began looking at other ways to reduce the budget, such as reducing athletics and arts/clubs offerings and outlining where we can trim dollars from text, materials, and supplies across the district.
  • April 13 SC meeting: The non-contingent budget framework was originally presented to the School Committee at the April 13 meeting. School administration and leadership discussed budget reductions based on the priorities of increasing enrollment, SEL, equity and access, and increases to mandated services for special education students and English language learners. When you view this presentation, you will see staff reductions seem higher due to providing various options (slides 9-14) than on the initial graph (slide 5), which is for flexibility as we go through this process.
  • February 9 SC meeting: A Budget Trajectory and Executive Summary were presented at that meeting as a framework to begin the process.

To date, seven meetings were held looking at budget reductions where we gathered public input. Access to the remaining meetings is available on the BPS School Committee page closer to the dates:

  1. April 8, 2021 - Full School Committee (FSC), Leadership Council
  2. April 13, 2021 – FSC Review Initial Leadership Council Reductions
  3. April 13, 2021  – SC Review of Draft Reductions and Process
  4. April 27, 2021  – SC FSC Feedback to FY22 Reductions
  5. April 27, 2021 – SC FY22 Budget Update
  6. May 4, 2021  – SC Review of Budget Slides for Budget Forum
  7. May 4, 2021 – SC FY22 Community Budget Forum
  8. May 11, 2021 - FSC Review Budget Feedback and Updates
  9. May 11, 2021  - Public Budget Hearing/FY22 Budget Vote
  10. May 25, 2021 - SC Discussion and Preparation for Town Meeting
  11. June 2, 2021  – Town Meeting FY22 Budget Presentation (please see town website for access to this meeting or Belmont Media Center


Please see a few issues that have come up in our community and some friendly reminders:

Behavior in Our Schools: These last few weeks we have been transitioning back to full in-person learning and returning to school days that look a little different from other years; wearing masks in school to socially distanced lunches. We are, unfortunately, hearing of some students exhibiting forceful and impatient conduct. Our staff have been helping students adjust and work through these behavioral situations. We are observing and actively looking for any strain students are feeling while they are adjusting to a new schedule and how we go about the school day. We as adults can sympathize with the stresses we have all felt during this pandemic. We request your help by checking in with your children to ask about their day and how they are doing during this transition. Your teachers, principals, and school administration are mindful of the overall health of your child and are here to help. Please reach out if you have concerns about your student.

Traffic and Safety: We have heard of some issues with drop off and pick up at schools due to automobile traffic. Given the return to in-person learning has seen some decrease in bus ridership and an increase in foot and car traffic, we ask you to be mindful of your speed (Belmont has a 25-mile speed limit), be aware of children walking as they arrive to school, and please mind the traffic patterns, signs, and our crossing guards' directions. We are working with Belmont Police Chief MacIsaac to review and create updated guidance to make pick up and drop off safer and more effective. We appreciate your help in making our community safe.


Remote only families are invited to join Superintendent Phelan and Belmont Public Schools administrators for an informational meeting regarding potential remote services for the 2021-2022 school year on Wednesday, May 12 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Meeting access will be emailed to families.


Thank you to Food Services Director Dustin O'Brien and the food services staff and volunteers for the huge task of getting lunches ready and delivered to students during their lunch breaks and continuing to serve our remote families as well. Please see the Food Services page on the BPS website for more information.


  • Winn Brook held a virtual Multicultural Night where families watched a slideshow of pictures and videos of families sharing their culture such as a traditional recipe, a song or traditional music and dance. Wellington had a Multicultural Celebration Week with live online performances from Young Audiences of Massachusetts, projects, and a slideshow celebrating and representing cultures in school. Thank you to the PTA/PTO for organizing these family events.
  • Burbank had a school-wide virtual "assembly" with a musical performance by the Alphabet Rockers on April 8, thanks to the work of the Burbank Anti-Racism Committee and a grant from the PTA. Burbank students were on their feet and moving to the Rockers songs of diversity and acceptance.
  • Butler had Crocodile River Music perform virtually for students at an in-school assembly on May 6. The program had a recorded performance with at Q&A with Crocodile River Music members, followed by an interactive dance lesson.
  • Students in BHS Global Leadership class listen to Rangina Hamidi speak BHS students in the Global Leadership class had a special guest on March 11, Acting Minister of Education in Afghanistan Rangina Hamidi, fittingly occurring during International Women’s History month. BHS Social Studies Teacher Jeffrey Shea arranged for the minister to speak in his class where he has taught students about Kandahar, Afghanistan for a decade. The Global Leadership class addresses social, economic, and environmental challenges the global community faces and the innovative ways people are attempting to solve those problems. Minister Hamidi spoke about her experience as the education minister and the impact of education in the class unit called Social Entrepreneurship, where students get to speak to various entrepreneurs and learn about different models of social businesses before working as teams to create their own. Also in March, students were also able to speak with a young woman, Rispa Miliza, who lives in Nairobi, Kenya and works for a social business called Hello Tractor that supports farmers across the African continent. Students led both discussions by asking stimulating questions and hearing stories about other countries and other cultures.  These learning opportunities are a powerful way we can breakdown stereotypes about the Muslim world and the African continent.
  • The Belmont orchestras presented a Virtual Orchestra Performance - Music for Food Fundraiser, to raise funds for the Belmont Food Pantry through Music For Food. The Belmont Orchestra students in grades 6-12 creatively collaborated on a virtual performance piece for the Belmont community to raise awareness about hunger during this fundraiser which ends May 15. Congratulations to these students for this inspirational way to help out their community.
  • The Belmont High School Asian American Club hosted a unique opportunity to hear from a North Korean Defector guest speaker on April 30. The virtual event was organized in partnership with Language Virtual and PSCORE. Students heard the guest speak about life in North Korea, the journey of defecting to the South, the struggle to embrace one’s identity, and adapting to change. The students then were able to attend a Q&A session at the end of the event.
  • BHS Marauder of the Week: Friday, May 7 - Abbie Morin; Friday, April 30 - Igor Brandao and Friday, April 16 - Mary-Clare Booth and Brett Stievater; Friday, April 9 - Ally Kolb; Friday, April 2 - Tamheeda Khan and Alyssa Luc. Please go the BHS website to read more about these marauders and other marauders of the week.
  • Belmont Chinese American Association Book Donation Thank you to the Belmont Chinese American Association (BCAA) for their generous book donation of 200 copies of seven books for grades 4, 6, and 9. May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. To celebrate, BCAA worked with a group of parent volunteers and BPS staff on this book donation project.


Summer is around the corner, and BPS has great classes available for students entering grades Pre-K through 7. Please see more information on sessions and courses on the BPS website.


  • Screening of Winter's Tale The Performing Arts Company’s second virtual production of the year was William Shakespeare’s, The Winter's Tale, a fairy tale story about jealousy, kings and queens, princes and princesses, friendship, trickery, love, adventure, and magic. The show featured the skills and work of more than 60 BHS student actors, technical crew, designers and filming/editing, and premiered online April 2. On April 3, the cast and crew celebrated their work with an outdoor cast dinner and a screening of the show in the BHS auditorium. Congratulations to the BHS Performing Arts Company for again creating a great production while socially distancing and following safety protocols. The show is available to stream free of charge on the BHS PAC website. Please see more pictures in the gallery of the production.
  • Congratulations to BHS senior Henry Zuccarello who earned two student composition awards (Large Ensemble and Jazz Arrangement) from DownBeat magazine. This magazine is a prestigious jazz publication, and the DownBeat Student Awards are among the highest honors that a young jazz musician can achieve.


Congratulations to the following athletes on their winter season recognition:
BHS Athletic Awards Winter 2021
Middlesex League All-Stars Winter 2021


Belmont SEPAC has a parent information session on May 13 from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on parent friendly strategies to deal with stressors and behavior challenges and strategies for success. Please see the SEPAC page on the BPS website for more upcoming information sessions and meetings.


  • The FBE awarded two Learning Excellence Grants totaling $10,747, and three Professional Development Grants totaling $11,470. In addition, the FBE last month awarded two Rapid Response Grants totaling $1,775. We thank the FBE for their continued support of Belmont students and staff. Please see their website for more information.
  • FBE-Apple-OTA-2021 The FBE departed from their annual Outstanding Teacher Appreciation program to honor all of the BPS educators and staff on May 4. Each school was presented with a large poster composed of words of gratitude from the entire community. We thank the FBE for this recognition of the entire BPS staff during this extraordinary year.


For your convenience, below are links to useful information from previous newsletters.

Belmont Public Schools:

Town and State:


Burbank recess and lunch  Setting up desks at Butler  Butler morning back to school full in person  Tent company at Wellington  Wellington Tent Frame  Wellington sorting and storing furniture  Wellington Assembling Desks  Wellington Lunch full day in person  Winn Brook line for lunch  Winn Brook desk assembly  Students in BHS Global Leadership class listen to Rangina Hamidi speak  Screening of Winter's Tale  Working on Winter's Tale set  Filming BHS Winter's Tale  Filming BHS winter play  BHS PAC winter play  BHS Performing Arts Company production of Winter's Tale  BHS Performing Arts Company production of Winter's Tale  BHS Class in Session  BHS First Full Day  BHS Lunch in Tent  CMS hallway  CMS lunch  CMS walking to lunch in tent  CMS Band Class  CMS lunch in tents  FBE-Apple-OTA-2021  OTA-Honorees-BHS-2021  OTA-Honorees-Wellington-2021  Belmont Chinese American Association Book Donation