At the request of the School Committee, the Needham Selectmen have voted unanimously to place the following override question on the April 8, 2014 ballot:
Shall the Town of Needham be allowed to assess an additional $1,548,410 in real estate and personal property taxes for the purposes of funding operating expenses for the Public Schools for the fiscal year beginning July first two thousand fourteen?
The School Committee is requesting the additional funding to provide for innovative and extended learning in the Needham Schools. The additional funds, if approved by the voters in April, will:
a) Restore previously cut school programs like elementary Spanish, music and PE;
b) Provide for innovative learning opportunities for our elementary students, including technology and increased arts;
c) Extend the school day to optimize learning for all K-8 students and;
d) Ensure the K-12 professional staff has sufficient time to meet during and after the school day to improve and strengthen instruction.
This request is the result of numerous, ongoing, and public discussions over the last several years about the need to improve programs and provide sufficient time for our students. Over the last ten years the District’s curriculum review process has detailed the need for additional time to address instructional concerns and develop programs that will enhance and empower student learning. Additionally, data from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) is compelling and shows that Needham has more students per teacher than all but one of our 20 comparable communities, and our students have less time on learning in the classroom in grades K-8 than many of those same towns. Finally, Needham’s teachers require additional time before, during, and after school hours to address state mandates and meet, collaborate, and plan to tackle the many and diverse learning needs of all our students.
Over the last several months the School Committee worked collaboratively with School and Town officials, especially the Finance Committee, to develop a request that is reasonable and minimizes the impact on taxpayers. My original proposal to the School Committee was for a $2.1 million supplemental plan; however, focused and detailed discussion with the Finance Committee resulted in the request being lowered to $1.5 million. The resulting School Committee plan is comprehensive, innovative, and will allow Needham’s elementary and middle school students more time to learn and grow—up to 75 hours of additional elementary instruction is part of the School Committee’s plan!
To learn more about the plan and to share your ideas with the School Committee, please visit the district’s website: Innovation and Extended Learning in the Needham Schools