Message from the Superintendent
End of School Year It is hard to believe we are only a few weeks from the end of the 2021-2022 school year! COVID continues to present us with some significant challenges, but we are navigating through them thanks to the hard work and dedication of our faculty, nurses, staff, and administration. Our students have come a long way over these past 9 months with the tremendous support our school community has provided. Like schools and businesses across the Commonwealth, we have struggled at times to fill vacant positions and have felt the impact of strained resources, but we continue to adjust and adapt. Thank you to our parents and school community for your partnership and support! While the school year is coming to a close (the last day is Friday, June 17), we continue to work at improving as a school system, including the implementation of new communication tools and features we hope will make your life a little easier! I am pleased to announce a few new and upcoming changes in this Digest: District Communications
As part of our ongoing efforts to improve communication across our District, we are excited to launch our new district website today: winchesterps.org . This new site hopefully delivers a more accessible and welcoming “digital front door” for all our students, families, and the Winchester community. Within our new website, you will find events calendars for each school listing all of the exciting year-end activities and celebrations taking place!
Along with our new website, we are introducing an additional feature in ParentSquare called “ Community Updates” , which will allow people who are not enrolled in our school system, such as Winchester residents, school alumni, and friends, to stay informed with WPS news & updates. Visit winchesterps.org/parentsquare to learn more. New Bus Transportation Registration (2022-2023 School Year)
Bus transportation registration for the 2022-2023 school year is moving online! Starting this Wednesday, May 25 , WPS families will be able to register through our Aspen Family Portal. This new system will allow families to select the closest preferred bus route & stop, along with the ability to pay for bus passes! You can find more information beginning tomorrow at: winchesterps.org/transportation .
Thank you for your continued support, and enjoy the warming weather! Dr. Frank Hackett, Superintendent of Schools
Around the District
FY23 WPS Budget We are grateful to Town Meeting for their approval of the Winchester School Committee’s recommended budget for the 2022-2023 school year, a document that reflects collaboration among many within the Winchester Public Schools. Although planning for the 2022-2023 school year was a little easier than the last two fiscal years, many complexities persist due to the enduring pandemic and uncertainties with key budget drivers such as projected enrollment. In uncertain times, one thing remains constant: meeting the needs of all of our students. The FY23 budget maintains that focus. While it does not include entirely new programs or initiatives, it supports recently implemented programmatic components such as adding staff to teach Mandarin at Winchester High School. This need stems from the implementation of grade 6 world languages as part of a prior year's budget. The FY23 budget includes the necessary adjustments to our largest program elements, including employment contracts, special education and support services, and out-of-district tuitions. For more information about our approved budget, please visit our FY23 Budget Dashboard (link) . Department of Education Report Card & Title I Every year, each public school and the school district in Massachusetts receives a report card. Just as your child’s report card shows how they are doing in different subjects, the school’s report card is designed to show families how our school is doing in different areas. Learn more about the Report Card & Title I here (link) Just what does school committees do? By Karen Maruyama Bolognese, School Committee Chair While the day-to-day work of running the district rests with the Superintendent and the school department such as administration, building principals, and staff, School committees serve a very important role in the governance of school systems. The four main functions of the Winchester School Committee include:
Negotiating with the Winchester Educators Association (WEA)
Appointing and evaluating the Superintendent of Schools
Developing goals and policy for the district School Committee maintains a policy manual, which is the district’s guiding compass for procedures, fiscal management, support services, facilities, personnel, etc. School Committee also works with the Superintendent to develop district goals and long-term strategic planning.
Reviewing and approving the school department budget.
Annually, the Superintendent, Director of Finance, administration, principals, and finance subcommittee work closely together and with town leadership to understand the drivers, risks, and opportunities for the budget. A best practice is for the district budget to reflect the goals of the district. This helps guide all the schools in prioritizing budgetary requests.
This collaborative process begins in November, and School Committee votes on the budget in January following a public hearing. The budget then goes to the Town Manager, who must submit a balanced budget to Town Meeting. It also goes to the town Finance Committee, which develops its own recommendations. The budget is not approved until Town Meeting votes on a total amount in May.
Members: Winchester School Committee is comprised of five (5) at-large elected members from the community, each of whom serves a 3-year term. Each year, the committee reorganizes and elects a chair and a vice-chair. The chair serves as the official “voice” of the committee in public matters on decisions that have been made by the committee. Members may also sit on multiple other School Committee subcommittees or on town committees. The power of the School Committee lies with the group and not with just a single member. Meetings: Meetings are generally biweekly on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of the month. The chair works with the Superintendent to plan and set the agenda for meetings. Topics include regular administrative reports or updates, subcommittee updates (e.g. policy, curriculum, or finance), action items for voting, or other matters affecting the district. Other non-voting persons who join the School Committee meetings include the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, and Director of Personnel as well as any Central Office administrators as needed. Furthermore, two student representatives from Winchester High School (WHS) join to provide insight from the student perspective. Staying Informed: One of the best ways to stay informed is to listen in to the twice-monthly meetings, which are posted on the town calendar . WinCAM also offers live-streaming, cable TV, or recordings of the meetings on its website . Other ways to get involved include communicating with School Committee members via email, phone, or public comment. You may find their contact information on winchesterps.org/school-committee . If you have questions about your student, though, please reach out to your teacher first. If your question is broader, then ask your building principal, who will be able to direct you to the best person in the district to answer your question. If your question is about district policy, budget, or the schools in general, then reach out to School Committee. We welcome the opportunity to hear from you! Healthier Coping for Students and Families By Jason Levene, NCSP, K-12 Administrator of Counseling, Health, and Wellness As we continue to inch closer to Summer 2022, it has become most apparent that the stresses we have endured through the pandemic will continue in various forms. As we navigate these hurdles, it is ever so important that we have a plan to manage our stresses, regardless of what form the stress takes. In our schools, we have continued to teach our students about Healthy Coping Strategies. Healthy coping strategies help us all to tolerate and deal with stressful situations in our lives through a variety of different means. There are 4 different types of coping strategies that we focus on building with our students: Problem-focused, Emotion-focused, Social support, and Meaning-making strategies. Throughout the year, professionals around the district have been focused on learning about and teaching coping strategies. Our SEL coaches, psychologists, counselors, classroom teachers, and other specialists have found many ways to make this work meaningful to our students while building lifelong stress-reducing skills. Here are some examples of some of these coping strategies that you can try at home and explore with your family:
Problem Focused Coping Strategies :
Work on managing your time and prioritizing tasks.
Ask for support from a friend, family member, or professional.
Establish healthy boundaries.
Create a to-do list and check things off as you finish each task.
Avoid taking on too much of the stressor.
Emotion-Focused Coping Strategies :
Give yourself a pep talk, increase your positive self-talk
Systematic relaxation or deep breathing exercises
Self-soothing activities (comforting yourself through the 5 senses)
Social Support Coping Strategies :
Engage in a support group
Volunteer in the community
Take a class or join a group of people with similar hobbies/interests
Stay in touch, give support back, and don’t isolate.
Meaning Making Coping Strategies :
Exercising Self Control
Reframing the stressor in a positive light
These examples describe only a little bit of the work going on throughout Winchester Public Schools. Need some more ideas? Check out this resource with 50 ways to take a break ! We recognize that everyone needs something a little bit different to manage stress in a healthy way. What strategies are helpful to you? Have a discussion at home about what works for each of your family members, you’ll be surprised to learn the differences!
Register your account on winchesterps.org/parentsquare for frequent updates
Follow WPS on Twitter
View the recently updated Bullying Prevention & Response Plan
Community Resources & Updates
Interface Referral Service
In an effort to help connect children, adults, and families with outpatient mental health and wellness resources, the Town of Winchester and The Winchester Coalition for a Safer Community have collaborated to launch INTERFACE.
For assistance or to learn more visit https://interface.williamjames.edu/community/winchester or call the Helpline at 888-244-6843 (Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM)
Stay informed with Winchester Public Schools & the Town of Winchester mitigation strategies.
2022-2023 School Calendar The 2022-2023 school calendar was approved by the School Committee and is visible on the winchesterps.org/calendars .
Please see the important message below from the Town of Winchester Health Department, and don't forget to visit the WPS COVID information page on our website. ***ADVISORY FROM THE WINCHESTER HEALTH DEPARTMENT*** Winchester is currently experiencing a COVID-19 surge, as is Middlesex County and most of the state. Transmission is high, and indoor settings pose the greatest risk. Don’t assume if you have a stuffy nose or scratchy throat that it is a cold or allergies; it may be COVID-19. A positive result may take several days before showing up on an antigen test, so it is highly advisable to retest for multiple days if you test negative with even mild symptoms. We are STRONGLY recommending the following to slow the spread and to avoid missed school days and end of year activities: MASK UP INDOORS: Especially at all times in school buildings and public places when not eating. While this is not a mandate, it is a highly effective tool to protect yourself and others against COVID-19. Remember, masking is still REQUIRED: If able to return to school on DayS 6-10 after isolation. TEST: Stay home if positive. Home antigen tests indicate active infection. Test (more than once) if you have any symptoms. Tests are available through the Health Department and your school nurse. PCR testing clinic: Free PCR clinic at Town Hall this week. Click https://www.winchester.us/633/Covid-Testing for details and to register. VACCINATE : Stay up to date on COVID-19 vaccinations. Check the town’s webpage (winchester.us) for any upcoming clinics held by the Health Department. Boosters for 5-11yo are coming soon! Return to school after testing positive for COVID-19/isolation: A Health Department case manager will call to discuss a student's return. The student must be symptom-free and able to mask at all times except for eating in order to return. We ask that you also take a home antigen test on Day 5 or later before returning, and if positive, remain home. Return to school questions? Call the Health Department at 781-721-7121. We are so close to the end of school. Thank you for your cooperation in making these last few weeks of school as healthy as possible. Winchester Health Department Vaccinate.Mask.Test
Town of Winchester - Eversource Construction Updates Please see below information regarding upcoming traffic detours related to Eversource construction in and near Winchester. If you would like to receive more frequent updates on these projects and traffic plans please sign up via the project's email list here (link).
Construction Update: Construction has resumed in several locations on the Eversource 345 kilovolt (kV) transmission project (Woburn to Wakefield) in Winchester this week.
Crews will be working Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Some work may be conducted beyond normal work hours based on approval from Town staff. Below is an overview of the active work zones in Winchester and Woburn (near Winchester) this week:
Washington Street near Sunset Road: Crews are preparing for a trenchless crossing adjacent to the roadway, including the installation of dewatering wells.
Washington Street: One crew will soon begin to excavate and install duct bank, starting south of 620 Washington Street.
Cross Street: One crew is replacing water connections to several properties.
Main Street: In Woburn, near the Winchester Town line, one crew continues to excavate and install duct bank. Once they are completed, the crew will move down Cross Street toward Winchester . They will pause near the Greene Rubber Company (20 Cross Street).
Lake Avenue: Also in Woburn, crews are preparing to begin installing duct bank between Pickering Street and Arlington Road. Crews will be working Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Some work may be conducted beyond normal work hours based on approval from Town staff. Below is an overview of the active work zones in Winchester and Woburn (near Winchester ) this week:
Traffic Management Plans:
Adjacent to the trenchless crossing of the Aberjona River on Washington Street, two lanes of traffic will be maintained. During the excavation of Washington Street, between Andrea Circle and Forest Street, motorists will be directed to use the Sunset Road Detour and one lane of alternating traffic will be maintained whenever possible. On Cross Street, one lane of traffic will be maintained with a recommended detour on Forest Street.
Lake Avenue (Woburn)
During excavation on Lake Avenue in Woburn, motorists coming from Horn Pond toward Main Street will be directed to take a left on Arlington and a right onto Richardson Street to return to Main Street. From Main Street (heading east), vehicles will utilize the open travel lane on Lake Avenue toward Pond Street in Winchester .
For more information on the Eversource Woburn to Wakefield Project click here (link)
Dear Lynch Staff, Families, and School Community, I invite you to join me at one of two sessions next Tuesday, May 17th, at either 4:30 or 7:30 PM for a planning discussion on the New Lynch School. While much excitement comes with building a new school, planning for Lynch being offsite during construction must be met with the same enthusiasm. As such, these sessions will focus on the needs of our students, staff, and families as we plan to move out of the existing building during the construction of the new Lynch. My goal is to hear what's most important to you in preparing for the temporary relocation of Lynch to the Parkhurst School. Below please indicate which session you will be attending. I would also appreciate it if you could list three questions, concerns, or hopes you would like to discuss at your chosen session. I hope you will be able to join me! Sincerely, Dr. Frank Hackett Superintendent of Schools
COVID-19 Update - 5/8/2022 Dear Winchester School Community: I hope everyone had a good weekend. I’m writing as a follow-up to the May 5th WPS Nursing Team ParentSquare letter . As stated in that message, we are experiencing an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases along with the rest of Middlesex County. In consultation with the Winchester Health Department, we will be implementing some additional measures. Most importantly, we are now strongly advising that all students and staff consider masking while indoors for the next couple of weeks, or until we see a decline in new cases. While this is NOT a mandate, we hope you will join in this effort to reduce the spread so all of our students and staff can remain healthy and in school for the remaining few weeks of the year. As you know, positive cases result in a minimum 5-day at-home isolation period. As an additional measure, the Town Health Department will resume monitoring all positive student cases before return to school, including a case manager call on day 5 to ensure that school return happens only if individuals are largely symptom-free. Students and staff should strongly consider testing on day 6 prior to return and are reminded of the requirement to mask for days 6-10. Our schools and the Health Department have a plentiful supply of free at-home test kits - we encourage testing if individuals display any symptoms. If you want to opt your student into COVID-19 testing opportunities at school, please visit our district webpage here: WPS COVID-19 Testing Opportunities . Finally, the Health Department will be holding a PCR clinic at Town Hall this Tuesday, 2:30 PM to 4:00 PM; click here to register. Thank you for your continued partnership in keeping our schools safer and healthy. Sincerely, Frank Hackett, Ed.D. Superintendent of Schools