All posts by Amy Sangiolo

What’s Up in Newton this Week? Covid-19 cases continue to rise; School Committee to meet in Executive Session regarding negotiations with Teacher’s Union re: Fall Planning; Land Use Committee continues to review Riverside draft Council Order; and the Planning Department holds Office Hours re: Zoning Redesign.

COVID-19: The City reports that COVID-19 cases continue to rise. As of July 30th, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is at 805 and the number of COVID-19 related deaths has risen to 125 as of July 28th. We all must remain vigilant and continue to practice physical and social distancing, limit gatherings, and wear masks. Please – stay safe.

School Committee to discuss Fall Planning: The School Committee will meet in Executive Session on Monday, August 3rd at 5:00 p.m. to discuss strategy relating to collective bargaining with the Newton Teacher’s Association regarding Fall Planning.

Riverside Draft Council Order continues to be reviewed: The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, August 4th and will continue its review of the Riverside Draft Council Order. To join the Zoom meeting, go here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83857708492 or call 1-646-558-8656 and use the following Meeting ID: 838 5770 8492.

Zoning Redesign Office Hours: The Planning Department will hold virtual office hours on Wednesday, August 5th from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m., to get input and feedback and to provide information regarding the Zoning Redesign efforts. To join the meeting, click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82714156153?pwd=L0VZeVJZbHRDNkV2VW15KzJIMjdnQT09 or dial +16465588656 Meeting ID: 82714156153# 

Zoning Redesign Office Hours

The Planning Department will hold Office Hours on Wednesday, August 5th from 12:30 – 2:00 p.m. to discuss Zoning Redesign. Staff will be available to answer to questions about Zoning Redesign. You can sign-up for a dedicated time by adding your name to the online sign-up form, or you can drop in to join the conversation. Contact the Zoning Redesign project team at zoningredesign@newtonma.gov.

What is Zoning Redesign? Well, for the past 9 or more years, the City has talked about revamping/revising/reforming the City’s Zoning Ordinance. Now, the City Council is moving full-speed ahead, with ” the goal of full adoption by the end of this Council term (2021)” – See Current Drafting Status page for a summary of where they are and a rough schedule on how they plan to proceed.

Zoning Redesign continues at the next Zoning and Planning Committee meeting on August 13th with a continued discussion on Article 3 – Residence Districts. Staff will present revised text for Article 3, based on guidance from City Councilors as well as feedback from building professionals and others in the community. The next rounds of Zoning Redesign Office Hours are scheduled for August 5th and August 19th. Please participate and share your thoughts on the future of zoning in Newton.

City Council Committee Meetings – Week of August 2nd

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet virtually on Tuesday, August 4th at 7:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83857708492 or call 1-646-558-8656 and use the following Meeting ID: 838 5770 8492

The agenda includes the following:

  • Request to amend a previously approved Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow changes to the site plan at 1110 Chestnut Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a garage in excess of 700 sq. ft., to allow a dormer that extends the second-floor wall plane vertically, to allow a dormer greater than 50% of the wall plane below it, to allow a dormer within three feet of the intersection of the roofline and main building and to create an FAR of .32 where .26 is allowed and .16 exists at 43 Prince Street
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to enclose first- and second- floor decks to create additional living space, creating an FAR of .53 where .51 exists and .49 is required at 1084 Chestnut Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a retaining wall in excess of 4’ within the setback at 36 Walsh Road – See Planning Memo
  • Request to amend a previously approved Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to allow a for-profit educational use and reconfiguration of the parking stalls, to waive the requirement to use the formula for AB+C parking, to waive 18 parking stalls, to waive minimum stall dimensions, to waive minimum accessible stall dimensions, to allow restricted end stalls, to waive minimum aisle widths, to waive a minimum driveway width, to waive perimeter landscaping requirements, to waive interior landscaping requirements, to waive lighting requirements for parking areas and to waive bicycle parking requirements at 141-145 California Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Change of Zone and for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct a mixed-use, transit-oriented development of residential units, office, retail, personal services, restaurant, hotel, and related commercial uses not to exceed 1,025,000 square feet of gross floor area, with residential uses comprising not less than 60% of the total gross floor area with a residential density of not less than 800 square feet per unit with not less than 560 units nor more than 620 units with special permit relief and/or waivers at 355 and 399 Grove Street – Riverside MBTA Development – See Draft Council Order; See Riverside Resource Guide; See Councilor Markiewicz’s Memo

Also, please note: The Planning Department submitted the following memo regarding a request for a consistency ruling for changes to the Ascend Special Permit (Marijuana Retailer) – 58 Cross Street/1089 Washington Street.

City Board and Commission Meetings – Week of August 2nd

Fair Housing Committee: The Fair Housing Committee will meet virtually on Wednesday, August 5th at 8:00 a.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: www.zoom.us, click “Join a Meeting” and enter the following Meeting ID: : 862 504 62519

The agenda includes the following:

  • Review and approval of minutes
  • Newton Housing Partnership’s recommendation to eliminate the local preference for Riverside
  • Wrap on Fair Housing training for realtors
  • Update on Impediments to Fair Housing
  • Update on Emergency Rental Assistance Program
  • Update on fair housing legislation
  • Update on Facebook page and Website
  • Next meeting Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Newton Free Library Board of Trustees: The Newton Free Library Board of Trustees will meet virtually on Wednesday, August 5th at 10:00 a.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89623031457?pwd=cjNWd1NXNExwbG9QUlhFSVBGNjl4dz09 – To attend this meeting, please email development@newtonfreelibrary.net.

The agenda includes the following:

  • Call to order
  • Capital campaign
  • Planned giving society
  • Gift acceptance policy
  • Other development issues
  • Visitors discussion
  • Adjournment

Conservation Commission: The Conservation Commission will meet virtually on Thursday, August 6th, at 7:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89324064256 or+16465588656,,89324064256#

The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Determination of Applicability (DOA) on a Request for Determination of Applicability (RDA) for herbicide spraying along the commuter rail
  • Request for an Order of Conditions (OOC) on a Notice of Intent (NOI) for vegetation removal and stockpiling in the flood zone – (ex post facto) – at 55 Bernard Street
  • Request for an Order of Conditions (OOC) on a Notice of Intent (NOI) for construction of a new detached garage and new driveway at 24 Village Road (continued)
  • Request for an Order of Conditions (OOC) on a Notice of Intent (NOI) for demolition of greenhouse and shed/construction of Single-Family house addition at 39 Norwood Avenue
  • Request for an Order of Conditions (OOC) on a Notice of Intent (NOI) for teardown/rebuild of a single-family home with associated site features at 35 Spiers Road
  • Request to continue the hearing on a request on a Notice of Intent (NOI) for a proposed retaining wall at 210 Upland Road
  • Tree Replacement Policy
  • Unrestricted Hydraulic Flow
  • Earthmoving in the context of Zoning Redesign and Stormwater Ordinance
  • Approval of Minutes of 7/16/20

The Packet documents can be found here.

Newton Farm Commission: The Newton Farm Commission will meet virtually on Thursday, August 6th at 7:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: www.zoom.us and enter the following Meeting ID: 898 8358 7663.

To dial into the meeting via telephone, call in by dialing 1-646-558-8656 and use the Meeting ID: 898 8358 7663

The agenda includes the following:

  • Update on Farm/Ed Operations
  • Review and Discussion of Q2 Financials
  • Update on Buildings
  • Review and Approval of 2/6/2020 and 5/7/2020 Minutes

Newtonville Local Historic District Commission: The Newtonville Local Historic District Commission will meet virtually on Thursday, August 6th at 7:30 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84098432436?pwd=TXBYSUgxYXh3aTltdWkvVE05TXhmQT09

go to www.zoom.us, click “Join a Meeting” and enter the Meeting ID: 840 9843 2436 and Passcode: 580865

The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness to replace the grass area between the driveway and front walkway with Turfstone pavers at 122 Lowell Avenue
  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness for approval of the replaced or changed basement windows, the removal and enclosure of one of the right-side windows, the installation of a new vent, the proposed four-over-one replacement windows for the back, and the enclosure of the back second-story three-season porch and new windows at 161 Walnut Street – Violation
  • Request for a feedback on the proposed driveway expansion and installation of drainage, removal of the historic retaining wall and front entry steps, building of a new retaining wall, installation of stairs connecting the driveway and front entry, and the removal of the side entry and replacement with a larger side entry deck at 161 Walnut Street – Driveway Violation

The Staff Memo can be found here and the Packet Documents can be found here.

Newton Housing Authority Board of Commissioners: The Newton Housing Authority Board of Commissioners will meet virtually on Friday, August 7th, at 2:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81860862294 Meeting ID: 818 6086 2294

One tap mobile +13017158592,,81860862294# US (Germantown) Dial by your location +1 929 205 6099 US (New York)

What’s Up in Newton this Week? COVID-19 cases on the rise; School Committee gets training on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Land Use Committee closing in on Riverside; Newton Police Reform Task Force Info now available and more….

COVID-19 update: This week’s number of COVID-19 confirmed cases has risen from 777 to 791 as of July 23rd and the number of COVID-19 related deaths has increased to 122 as of July 21st. Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families and we must remember to continue to be vigilant – stay safe; keep physical and social distancing and wear masks.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training for School Committee: This week, Tuesday, July 28th, the School Committee will receive training with Kalise Wornum Notice of the training session can be found here.

Riverside Special Permit Draft Council Order review The Riverside Special Permit Process is honing in on the Draft Council Order and the Land Use Committee will meet to review on Tuesday, July 28th. See agenda.

Newton Police Reform Task Force information: Information regarding the Newton Police Reform Task Force is now available online here. Apparently, you can sign up for updates by providing your email address (not sure why that info can’t also be included in the Mayor’s newsletter….)

Weekly Road Construction Schedule: This week’s Road Construction Schedule can be found here.

City Council Meetings – Week of July 26th

Land Use Committee: The Land Use Committee will meet virtually on Tuesday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m.

To view this meeting using Zoom, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82541612956 or call 1-646-558-8656 and use the following Meeting ID: 825 4161 2956

The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct additions to the garage which increase the height and footprint, extending the nonconforming residential use in the BU1 district at 17 Shamrock Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval to construct a detached two-car garage, creating more than one garage, garage space with more than three vehicles, and garage space in excess of 700 sq. ft. at 103 Cabot Street – See Planning Memo
  • Request for a Special Permit/Site Plan Approval for a Change of Zone and to construct a mixed-use, transit-oriented development of residential units, office, retail, personal services, restaurant, hotel, and related commercial uses not to exceed 1,025,000 square feet of gross floor area at 355 and 399 Grove Street – Riverside MBTA Development – See Planning Memo; see Memo from Councilor Markiewicz – re Council Order Condition 12; see Riverside Resource Guide

City Board and Commission Meetings – Week of July 26th

Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission: The Chestnut Hill Historic District Commission will meet virtually on Wednesday, July 29th at 7:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting , go to https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81234572174

Or go to www.zoom.us, click “Join a Meeting” and enter the Meeting ID: 812 3457 2174

Or click on “Join a Meeting” and enter the Meeting ID: 812 3457 2174

The agenda includes the following:

  • Request for a Certificate of Appropriateness to repair or replace damaged exterior elements, to change the stair approach to the house, to build a matching bay by the entry door, and to build a breezeway/connector between the house and garage, an enclosed set of stairs against the garage, and a two-story rear addition at 50 Beacon Street (continued).

Newton Citizens Commission on Energy: The Newton Citizens Commission on Energy will meet virtually on Wednesday, July 29th at 7:00 p.m.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: http://us02web,zoom,us/i/88485576256?pwd=MWIGNWtSSEdMdElzMVFhaWExUFB6Zz09

Meeting ID: 884 8557 6256 Password: 356943

The agenda includes the following:

  • Progress on Energy Coach site
  • Brief Update on Zoning Redesign

School Committee Update

Here’s the latest update from the School Committee:

Dear Friends,

This update covers the 7/21/2020 Newton School Committee meeting. Before we present the information about our meeting, please note that the School Committee plans to hold several meetings prior to the start of the school year intended to deeply analyze and provide clarity on specific aspects of the district’s reopening plans. We’ve heard from many and share your concerns for a thoughtful, rigorous examination of the plans in order to build trust as we navigate the upcoming school year.

Superintendent’s Update:

  • Welcome Martine Albama our new Director of Human Resources and Staffing. Martine comes to us from the Boston Renaissance Charter School, where she has been the Director of Human Resources for the past five years. She is experienced, knowledgeable, supportive of her staff and a skilled problem solver.
  • Honored to visit with students in the Calculus Project whose remote sessions have gone really well with 100% attendance as they pilot new remote learning strategies over the summer. For students, the highlight so far was a visit with John Urschel, who left the Baltimore Ravens to pursue a PhD from MIT.
  • Sad to acknowledge the passing of Cindy Bergen, a 25-year member of the NPS community. She began her career as a math teacher at Day Middle School. She was dynamic, smart, caring and a wonderful listener. She was a leader behind the Calculus Project and every year going forward we will award a scholarship in her name.

Discussions/Update:

  • Update on Planning for the 2020-21 School Year:
    • Guiding Principles:
      • Health and Safety–NPS will develop personal safety and building operations protocols that prioritize the health of staff and students.
      • Academic Engagement–Develop universally designed instructional practices with multiple entry points designed to move flexibly between educational models.
      • Equity–Narrow achievement gaps by increasing equitable and universal opportunities for all students, irrespective of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or disability to access education and to achieve to their maximum potential. Ensure access to distance learning models with devices and internet.
      • Social and Emotional–Develop trauma-informed, healing-centered environments that prioritize interpersonal relationships and community connections. Support student well-being through enhanced mental health provisions, development of culturally sensitive, high quality, comprehensive tiered support for all learners and excellent specialized instruction.
    • Planning Structure: Planning teams include public health officials, educators, administrators and department leaders meeting in large and small teams utilizing data collection from surveys.
      • Building Operations: Health and Safety–Guided by Health and Human Services, the development of protocols and public health risk reduction pillars:
        • Physical distancing–Arrange classrooms with the goal to maintain 6 feet distance between individuals when stationary for more than 10 minutes.
        • Face Coverings–All people should wear a face covering/mask throughout the day except while eating, drinking, or during mask breaks. Allow masks/face coverings for K and 1st grade. Keep back-up supply of masks in main office, classrooms and health room. Face coverings/masks that become wet or soiled should be removed, stored or discarded and replaced with a new mask.
        • Hygiene–Wash/sanitize hands upon arrival to school and frequently throughout the day. Place hand sanitizer by school entrances and in school rooms. Allow students to have personal supply of hand sanitizer. Regular cleaning schedule for custodians includes enhanced protocols (high touch surfaces).
        • Avoid Exposure to Illness–Staff and Students will be required to complete a daily health assessment at home prior to coming to school. Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms, is being tested for COVID-19, or tests positive for COVID-19 must stay home for the amount of time required by PCP and/or health department. Anyone who is determined by a health department to be a close contact of someone who is positive for COVID-19 must remain out of school for the length of time required.
        • Preparing our schools–Create health and safety protocols for access to and movement within buildings, develop building checklists, conduct feasibility testing at all schools, inventory furniture and determine needs, acquire personal protective equipment, review access to administrative areas, generate templates for classroom layouts.
        • Building Systems Management–Cleaning protocols and training, expanded custodial hours, cleaning supplies, ventilation.
        • Transportation– Special Education Transportation Guidelines, PPE and cleaning protocol for buses and vans, working with Complete Streets, STSG, and SRTS, challenges: Bus Capacity, METCO routes, Guidance from state released late on Wednesday, July 22nd recommending 1 student per bench.
        • Food Service–Ongoing summer meal distribution, food safety management and delivery, Grab & Go, challenges: school lunch length, distancing, in-classroom meals, staffing requirements, distance more than 6ft when masks are removed to eat.
      • Summer Survey Overview–70% response rate
        • Elementary highest response rate (76%); preschool lowest response rate (52%).
        • Relatively representative of subgroups across district.
        • Families of white students slightly overrepresented; families of Asian and Hispanic/Latino students slightly underrepresented, Families of ELLs and SWDs slightly underrepresented.
        • Hybrid model: Majority of families said they would send their student to school in the hybrid model (75%), with similar patterns in elementary, middle, and high school.
          • The majority of families prefer a couple of days a week for the hybrid model (63%) compared to every other week (26%).
      • Academic Planning–School Schedule, Curriculum, Assessment, Social and Emotional Support, Professional Development:
        • School Models and Schedules–Three models to develop per DESE requirement (In-Person with safety protocols, Hybrid and Distance). Provide full virtual option for families that opt out of hybrid or in-person models. Prepare for smooth transition from one model to the other based upon public health data.
        • Evaluation of Model Options–6-foot distancing requirement makes in-person model not feasible for fall. Hybrid model means students are in school buildings some days and learning at home other days. Full virtual option for students who will not return to in-person. Models designed to enable smooth transition from one to the other (should public health data require).
        • Academic Guiding Principles–Consistency across schools, teams, grade levels and classrooms. Clear expectations for students and staff re: feedback, assessments and grading. Identification of core content students will be expected to learn. Focus on social and emotional health.
        • Special Education Planning–DESE issued separate special education guidance:
          • Supporting schools to have robust tiered supports to meet the needs of all returning students.
          • Preparing to fully implement IEPs.
          • Identifying high needs students for more regular attendance (if hybrid).
          • NPS inclusive culture requires a careful and integrated planning approach to effectively identify high needs students and utilize all contributing faculty members.
          • Assessment Center operations – summer.
      • Technology, changes and improvements to help students engage in learning:
        • Access
          • 1:1 Devices PreK-12
          • Home Internet – HotSpots
        • Consistent Platforms
          • Seesaw PreK-3
          • Google Classroom 4-5
          • Schoology 6-12
        • Training on Tech Tools for Teachers, students, families.
      • Human Resources:
        • COVID related staffing issues: High Risk Staff, Staff with child care challenges, COVID related illness staff/household family member.
        • Classroom coverage if infection/quarantine.
        • Compliance with Families First Coronavirus, Response Act, the Emergency Medical Leave Expansion Act, the ADA, applicable CBAs.
        • Collecting information from staff pertaining to ability to work in-person/remote only/LOA.
      • Summer Professional Development–Online flexibly-scheduled modules and courses for NPS educators throughout August:
        • Anti-Racist Practices
        • Technology and Distance learning
        • Culturally Responsive Teaching
        • Universal Design for Learning
        • Trauma Invested and Healing Centered Practices
      • Communications & Engagement:
        • Clear, consistent, and timely information will be provided to staff and families.
        • Information will be easy to understand and actionable when necessary.
        • Website will provide central location for information and updates.
      • Feedback will be sought consistently throughout school year and will inform any necessary adjustments to education and operations.
    • Timeline:
      • June 2020–Establish planning teams for development of return to school scenarios.
      • July 2020–Survey families on return to school options, concerns, questions.
      • Late July–NPS community updates.
      • Early August–Detailed update on Distance and Hybrid models
      • Early-Mid August–Decision on school opening model.

Consent Agenda

Next Meeting

The School Committee will hold another VIRTUAL School Committee meeting at a date to be determined and properly noticed in early August. On the agenda will be a discussion of the FY21 System-wide Goals, the FY21 Superintendent Goals and a discussion on the Student Organizations JJA Policy. Additionally, there will be a discussion and vote on the FY21 School Committee Calendar and Agenda Items.

We hope you found this summary useful. You can access all School Committee meeting documents via the NPS website (www.newton.k12.ma.us/schoolcommittee). Additionally, if you are interested in watching an SC meeting from home or a recorded meeting, you can obtain access via www.newtv.org. On the district Facebook page, you can find videos of past “Virtual Office Hours,” which are held once a month and provide the community with the opportunity to ask questions through the FB Live format.

As always, we are very happy to answer any questions or discuss any concerns you may have. Feel free to contact us via email at schoolcommittee@newton.k12.ma.us.

Sincerely,
The Newton School Committee