CNS News | January 2021
Mid-year brings the opportunity for the district to evaluate further enhancements to the hybrid learning model, and efforts are underway to consider additional in-person learning for our youngest students. School Committee is also looking ahead to next year, as they begin to focus on the School Budget for 2021-22. Coming up soon is the Public Hearing on the budget on Tuesday, January 19. Community members are invited to share their thoughts on the budget either at the hearing or by email ( prior to School Committee's vote on January 26.

Hilary Bruel, Co-Chair
Alisa Skatrud, Co-Chair
Amy Chan
Peter Cohenno
Melanie Guarrera
Emma Navales
FY21-22 School Budget
At the December 8 School Committee meeting, Dr. Gutekanst presented the FY22 budget request in the context of "an extraordinary time," referencing both the global pandemic and increased awareness of racial injustice following the murder of George Floyd. The budget request was developed to address health and safety needs while still maintaining the Portrait of a Needham Graduate strategic priorities, with an emphasis on equity, inclusion, and anti-racist efforts.

FY22 Budget Priorities:
  • Provide resources to address the health and safety needs of all students and staff.
  • Implement Portrait of a Needham Graduate Strategic Priorities.
  • Plan for the supplemental needs required for remote and hybrid
  • learning.
  • Continue the ongoing refinement of curriculum, instruction and assessment practices.
  • Develop and maintain educational resources and a technology infrastructure that supports student learning and meets District goals.

The FY22 "Non-Covid" budget request assumes a full return to in-person learning with minimal Covid-related health and safety expenses. This budget request is a $2,868,308 (3.55%) increase over the FY21 budget — the smallest percentage increase in almost 10 years.
  • Salary Increases: $1.5 million
  • Level Service: $1.1 million
  • Program Improvements $263,00
  • Staffing request: 4.24 additional FTEs across the district
However, a supplemental budget request of $3.2 million has been developed to cover possible Covid-related costs, such as continued hybrid and/or remote learning plans. This is a rough number ("worst-case scenario"), and will be adjusted over the coming months. Added to the "Non-Covid" budget, this would be a 7.5% increase over last year. Town Manager Kate Fitzpatrick is hoping to include all supplemental Covid-related expenses in a separate warrant article, not in the main FY22 Operating Budget.

A public hearing on the budget will be held Tuesday, January 19, 6:30pm. The proposed budget will then be presented to the Finance Committee on Wednesday, January 20, and School Committee will vote on the budget recommendation the following Tuesday. All three meetings are open to the public.

Helpful Links:
Public Meeting Calendar (for Zoom meeting links)

Learn More:
Possible Changes to Hybrid Model
Throughout the year Dr. Gutenkanst has been providing updates to School Committee on student learning in both the hybrid and remote models, including presentations from teachers and administrators at all grade levels, as well as information regarding health and safety.

At the January 5 meeting, Dr. Gutekanst focused on "what we've learned" so far in three major areas: Health & Safety, Hybrid Learning, and Research & Data. This information will inform changes that can be made for the second half of the year to increase in-person learning for students in the hybrid model. There was strong emphasis on addressing the needs of the youngest students (those in grades K-2) while still safeguarding the health of students and staff and adhering to state regulations. Proposed changes are expected to be discussed at the January 19 meeting.
School Committee Openings
School Committee members Heidi Black and Sue Neckes have announced that they will not seek reelection this spring, leaving two open seats on the Needham School Committee. Candidates must obtain at least 50 valid signatures of registered voters town wide, and the last day to file nomination papers is Tuesday, February 23. Those who are interested in running can learn more through both the Town website and by contacting current School Committee members.
CNS News
CNS Co-Chair Honored
CNS co-chair Hilary Bruel has been named the 2021 recipient of the Needham Youth & Family Services Patrick & Patricia Forde Good Person Memorial Award, which recognizes an adult in the community who has helped make Needham a better place to live through his/her volunteer work and commitment. A virtual ceremony will be held on Monday, January 25, 5:30pm — the Zoom link will be posted online on January 19. We hope you can join us to honor Hilary and the Forde family!

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Resources on the CNS Website
The CNS website is filled with information and resources related Needham Public Schools, so if there's some information you are trying to find, start at the CNS website... we may be able to help you! On the site you will find summaries of each School Committee meeting with links to detailed information and the Needham Channel recording, a calendar with SC meeting dates, and links to NPS resources.

Wednesday, 1/20, 7:00pmBudget Presentation to Finance Committee 
Tuesday, 1/26, 6:30pm – SC meeting: Vote on the school budget 
Tuesday, 4/13 – 2021 Annual Town Election