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Superintendent's June 16, 2020 Newsletter

date 6/11/2020

The end of the school year is upon us, and at this time we want to congratulate our high school seniors who graduated on June 7. We wish our graduates well in their future endeavors. We also want to congratulate and recognize our eighth grade class who move up to the high school, and our fourth grade class who will move up to Chenery. The last day of school is June 17.

This is our last newsletter for school year 2019-2020. We have had quite a year of challenges and also quite a year of overcoming many of those challenges, seeing our community strength, and the affection we all share for our students, educators, and schools. Before the year officially ends, I want to express my deepest gratitude, respect and appreciation for our students, families, faculty and staff. Our educators made a pivot navigating the unchartered waters of remote learning in March with grace and professionalism, and our students and families were present to partner and take part. We learned a great deal from these months of remote learning; our biggest lesson is the fact that true growth and learning happens in a classroom with students engaged by highly qualified Belmont educators! Thank you all.

We will communicate to our Belmont families during the summer as we finalize plans for September keeping in mind the guidance from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) as well as from our federal, state and local health agencies. Our staff has been planning possible scenarios for the start of school, hoping for the best but anticipating a different kind of normal. Our initial planning on the opening of school was presented to the School Committee on June 9, 2020. More detail on this planning is in the School Committee section below under Fall School Planning.

The School Department will meet with the School Committee over the summer as part of our fall preparation, and our teachers will be engaged in summer professional development classes that will help us provide an improved array of synchronous and asynchronous instructional strategies for social emotional connections and teaching and learning. As you know, we are in the process of buying devices so every student can have a device in the event remote learning is part of the 2020-2021 school year. At this time, know that we are actively working on options and scenarios for next year, and we ask for your patience while we narrow down the plan and provide a timeline for communication. It is our belief that our options will need to be fluid and agile as we all look toward the status of state health data to determine our strategy for opening school in September. 


Each year it is important that our volunteer groups be recognized. Many thanks to all the organizations who support our students throughout the year:

Belmont Boosters
Belmont Against Racism (BAR)
Foundation for Belmont Education (FBE)
Friends of Belmont (FOB)


Fall School Planning: Several meetings with a full set of more than 40 educators and a review by members of the Leadership Team resulted in a presentation Assistant Janice Darias gave to the School Committee on "What School May Look Like" in 2020-2021. Please note that we have been also working with  the leaders of our Town departments (police, fire, facilities and health) as well as the PTO/PTA leaders from each school to solicit feedback and input. More than 250 Belmont community members tuned into the June 9 meeting with more than 30 questions in the chat room during the community forum portion.

The presentation listed three possible options for our return to school in the fall; in person, a hybrid of in person/remote, and all remote. There are scheduling challenges associated with the options, and we are thoughtful in our approach knowing families' lives will be impacted next year by the model we may need to implement. We realize this is stressful, as our families, faculty and staff all need concrete plans for fall. Our district leadership looks forward to guidance from DESE and the state to hone in on one of the three options as outlined in the presentation. Regardless of which we choose to open school with in the fall, we are committed to our students being engaged and supported socially emotionally and academically.

I want to thank Assistant Superintendent Darias and our educators for all the hard and thoughtful work that went into this presentation, and for the work that will continue through the summer months. We value input from the community, and we hope you will fill out the survey that was emailed to families on June 10 as an opportunity to provide feedback to help continue to shape our planning. The survey will be open until 3:00 p.m. on June 19. You can view the presentation and the answers to questions in the forum from the School Committee meeting on the Belmont Media Center website.

FY21 Budget Vote and Resolution: The School Committee voted to approve the FY21 school budget in order to move forward to present the budget to Town Meeting on June 16. This budget represents a reduction of $1,020,000 from the School Department to help address the Town's anticipated shortfall of 25 percent in revenues due to COVID-19. The School Department recognizes the increased enrollment in our fourth, sixth and seventh grade classes which are at or close to 400 students, and will work to maintain manageable class sizes. However, due the shortfall in state and local revenue we could not add the 5.8 FTEs (4 at CMS, 1.8 at BHS) initially requested to address this enrollment increase. The reality that more students enrolling with no increase in staff is worrisome; however, we join many districts throughout the state who are experiencing similar struggles. Our leadership team and educators will continue to work and move forward. Thank you to our Director of Business, Finance and Operations Anthony DiCologero for all the work he and his staff have put into the FY21 budget.

Please see the Town of Belmont website for information on the Town Meeting held today, Tuesday, June 16, 2020.

BPS Retirees 2020 Retiree Recognition Ceremony: We say a heartfelt farewell to Winn Brook Principal Janet Carey, Chenery Secretary Joanne DiBona, and Chenery Math Teacher Julia Huestis. We thank them for their service to the Belmont Public Schools, and we wish them well in their retirement. Please see the resolutions for these retirees.

Thank you Belmont: We want to thank the Belmont community for their recent donations. We are fortunate to have such a caring and thoughtful community that supports our students. Letters of thanks to these organizations were presented to the School Committee at the meeting.


BHS Rolling Rally 2 Rolling Rally June 6: Cars carrying the class of 2020 were in full regalia as they drove on the streets of Belmont greeted by onlookers. Thank you to the Belmont Fire and Police Departments for helping plan the route and the escorts that day.

BHS Logo BHS Graduation June 7: The ceremony was different than we had all hoped for but it still held all the sentiment and excitement for the future of this special graduating class. BHS musicians opened the ceremony with BHS Principal Isaac Taylor presiding. Please see the graduation on Belmont Media Center's Youtube channel and also on their Facebook Page

Please see more photos of both events in the gallery below.


On June 17 at 10:00 a.m. the eighth grade will celebrate its “Moving on” from Chenery in a ceremony that will be online and also televised. The ceremony will feature Principal Michael McAllister, Assistant Principal Jodi Cohen, student speakers, a slide show, and some surprises. Be sure to tune in five minutes early to first see the eighth grade slide show! 
To view via Belmont Media Center: 
Cable: Channel 8 on Comcast, Channel 28 on Verizon, Channel HD 2130 on Verizon
Web: belmontmedia.org/watch/govtv or bit.ly/BMC-HD.


Wellington Gr. 4 Rolling Rally Winn Brook Teachers at Rolling Rally This month the elementary schools also held rolling rallies to send the fourth graders off to the Chenery Middle School. Cars will be decorated, and students and staff will have an opportunity to say goodbye to each other. Here is a picture of Winn Brook's rolling rally held on June 9 and Wellington's rolling rally held on June 11.


The Foundation for Belmont Education (FBE) announced the Learning Excellence Grants awarded to BPS on May 29, totaling $29,547. We thank the FBE and the Belmont community for their generous support to the BPS. Please see the BPS website for a list and summary of the awards.


The summer reading lists for all grades are available now. The lists are a joint project of the Belmont Public Schools and the Belmont Public Library.


From Director of Food Services Dustin O'Brien: Great News! Weekly meal pickup and delivery will continue through Summer 2020! On June 10 the USDA approved a waiver, SSO (Seamless Summer Option), extending funding to all non-area eligible districts (including Belmont). This allows the continuation of food service to our students through August 31st, 2020. The funding for SSO will cover all expenses. This service will be run by Dustin O’Brien (Food Service Director), Gail Mulani (Assistant Food Service Director), Melissa Moran (CMS Head Cook), Teresa Vidette (BHS Head Cook) and multiple community volunteers.

Below is an outline of the operational plan for Summer 2020:

  • Pick up site will be Belmont High School
  • Every Wednesday, we will continue to offer meal pickup and home delivery

We are excited to offer this service and grateful for the outpouring of support received from Belmont Schools and the entire community. A very special thank you to the amazing volunteers and food service staff who have risen to the occasion.  If you are interested in volunteering for any of the following (deliver meals, pack grocery bags or donating goods), please email Dustin O’Brien at dobrien@belmont.k12.ma.us.

As always, information can be found on the Food Services Page on the BPS website.


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.

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.

There were many questions asked in the Google doc. and at the School Committee Meeting on June 9. We will get to them and post answers in the Superintendent's Newsletter Questions Archive. Those of you who want to see the questions that were already answered in previous Superintendent's Newsletter can also see them in the archive. If you want to view the presentation of the three options for opening school in the fall as well as the questions and answers to the questions posed, please go to Belmont Media Center’s website to view the June 9 School Committee meeting.


BHS-Onlookers Cheering  BHS-Onlookers Applauding  BHS-Belmont Fire Dept. Escort  BHS-Belmont Police Dept. Escort  BHS Rolling Rally 1  BHS Rolling Rally 2  BHS Rolling Rally 3  BHS Rolling Rally 4  Asst. Superintendent Janice Darias  BHS Principal Isaac Taylor  BHS Senior Acapella Group  BHS Students Playing Processional  Caroline Findlay, Class President 2020  Cynthia Lu, School Committee Awardee  Superintendent John Phelan  Valentine Reynolds, singing National Anthem  Samantha Widdison, School Committee Awardee  2020 Retirees Invitation  BHS Logo  BPS Retirees 2020  Winn Brook Fourth Grade Rolling Rally  Winn Brook Teachers at Rolling Rally  Wellington Gr. 4 Rolling Rally  Wellington Teachers-Gr. 4 Rolling Rally  Wellington Teachers at Gr. 4 Rolling Rally  Welly, the Unofficial Wellington School Mascot  Winn Brook Rolling Rally