Category: Default

School Committee to Meet on Tuesday, May 27th

The School Committee will meet virtually on Tuesday, May 27th beginnig at 6:15 p.m. in Executive Session to discuss EDCO membership and strategy regarding litigation and then convene at 7:00 p.m. for it’s regularly scheduled meeting.

To Join the Zoom Meeting by Phone or Computer. Under both options you will be automatically muted with video off upon entering the meeting. Please leave your video and audio muted so that the meeting can proceed without interruption. Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/390017072 Meeting ID: 390 017 072 Dial in:+1 646 558 8656 US Meeting ID: 390 017 072 Listen in on NewTV’s broadcast – Visit the NewTV website for more information.

The agenda includes the following:

What’s Up in Newton This Week? Newton COVID-19 cases continue to rise, City Council to vote on $2,000,000 appropriation of CPA Funds for COVID-19 Emergency Housing Relief Program, School Committee to vote to Withdraw from EDCO Comments due TODAY on Draft FY2020-2027 Open Space and Recreation Plan, NewCAL Community Meeting on Thursday and more….

COVID-19 Update: The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen to 689 with 96 related deaths. The Governor is expected to release a four-phase re-opening plan TODAY. Stay tuned to see what restrictions and/or businesses will or will not be open and how that impacts Newton. In the meantime, stay safe.

Council to vote on $2,000,000 CPA appropriation for COVID-19 Emergeny Housing Relief Program: The City Council will meet TONIGHT as a Committee of the Whole to discuss and vote on a proposal to appropriate $2,000,000 of CPA funds to create a COVID-19 Housing Rental Assistance Program. In addition, the City will be allocating five hundred thousand ($500,000) in CDBG funding from the federal CARES Act to emergency housing needs.

Food Assistance: On May 6, 2020, the School Department sent the following email regarding Food Assistance for Newton residents:

Hello Families,

Many in Newton are struggling to put food on the table right now. If your income has changed as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), as well as Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) benefits. SNAP is a federal entitlement program  and anyone who is eligible will receive benefits. P-EBT provides households with an EBT card containing the dollar value of free school breakfast and lunch reimbursement rates for the days that schools are closed to help them purchase groceries. We also continue to run our grab-and-go meal distribution at three sites; see below for additional information. 

P-EBT

If your income has recently changed, you are encouraged to apply for Free & Reduced Lunch. If approved, you may become automatically eligible for P-EBT benefits provided directly from the state.

How to apply online: The online application is easy to complete and is the quickest and most efficient way for you to confirm your eligibility and to enroll your student(s).

How to call for assistance: Please leave a message at 617-559-9038 with return phone # and a representative will reach out to assist you in completing an application.

SNAP

SNAP benefits are given each month on a plastic card called an EBT (electronic benefits transfer) card which works like a debit card. SNAP benefits can be used to purchase food at grocery and convenience stores and some farmers’ markets and co-op food programs. You can give your EBT card to a trusted family member or friend to shop for you. 

Click here for a 10-second screening to see if you might be eligible. 

How to Apply Online: Apply for SNAP benefits today online through DTA Connect.

How to Call for Assistance: If you have questions about your eligibility or how to apply for SNAP benefits, Project Bread has many resources including a confidential Food Source Hotline at 1-800-645-8333 where counselors assist callers in 160 languages. It’s open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also reach out to Newton’s Health and Human Services Department at 617-796-1420.

Grab-n-Go Meal Sites 

All Newton residents, regardless of age, may pick up meals at the following three sites. Meals are provided free of charge and include breakfast and lunch items. All sites are open Monday-Friday from 10AM-12PM. 

  • Newton North High 
  • Newton South High
  • NECP (150 Jackson Road)

Sincerely,

Stephen Marshall

Director of Business Services

No more EDCO? The School Committee will meet TONIGHT to discuss and vote on withdrawal and termination of affiliation with the EDCO Program. What is EDCO? According to the EDCO website:

“EDCO (pronounced Ed-Co) is a collaborative of 16 urban and suburban school districts serving the Greater Boston area and beyond. We are governed by a board of directors comprised of superintendents and school committee members representing each of our member school districts. All EDCO programs and services are developed and implemented through consultation with member school districts and other sponsoring agencies. EDCO Collaborative Roundtables often facilitate the gathering of information needed for planning programs, services, and professional learning opportunities. Programs align with EDCO’s mission, reflect the priorities of EDCO’s primary constituencies, and are provided in a cost effective manner through interdistrict and interagency collaboration.


EDCO Collaborative’s range of services includes professional learning opportunities for educators; special education and alternative education programs for students with disabilities and at-risk youth; in-district consultation, special education transportation through a cost effective consortium of adjacent communities; and cooperative purchasing of utilities and other items upon request.


In addition, EDCO provides services to youth and adults through a variety of state and federally funded programs, including the Massachusetts Migrant Education Program, the Special Education Surrogate Parent Program, Wrentham Habilitative Services, the EDCO Title III Consortium, and the EDCO Youth Alternative Program.”

Public Comment Period for the Draft FY2020-2027 Open Space and Recreation Plan due TONIGHT: The open public comment period on the draft Open Space and Recreation Plan will now close on 5/18/20 at 6pmAll public comment should be sent to concom@newtonma.gov. The Draft Plan can be found here. The draft Plan will be discussed again by both bodies on 5/19/20, starting at 7pm. Access information for the meeting will be posted in advance. 

NewCAL still moving forward: The next community meeting for the NewCAL project, has been scheduled for Thursday, May 21, at 6:00PM.  The meeting will be held remotely, via Zoom and will be broadcast on NewTV.

To join the Zoom meeting, go to: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85027132275?pwd=MFIrVWNGeS8rMFd6MnFyU3NwMFdPUT09

Or One tap mobile +13017158592,,85027132275#

Or Dial 1 301 715 8592 Meeting ID: 850 2713 2275

Additional information can be found at https://newcal.projects.nv5.com/ .

Weekly Road Construction Schedule: This Week’s Road Construction Schedule is now available here.

What’s Up In Newton this Week? – COVID-19 cases and deaths increase, Governor orders mandatory face coverings, School Committee votes to reduce its previously approved budget by $1.5 million and will present to City Council this week and more….

COVID-19: The number of confirmed positive cases of COVID-19 and deaths in Newton has increased. The total number of confirmed positive cases was 559 as of April 30th and the number of deaths reported was at 71 as of April 28th. Over the weekend, the State reported additional confirmed cases and deaths with 68,087 confirmed cases and 4,004 deaths of confirmed COVID-19 cases. The State issues a comprehensive daily report which can be found here. City and Town updates on reported on Wednesdays. If you are a data geek like me, please take a look at Newton resident, Jack Prior’s most excellent Covid-19 website and incredible app!

Governor Orders Face Coverings: There’s been a lot of discussion in the community regarding facial masks – required or not indoors and outdoors.
While many of our surrounding communities adopted ordinances requiring residents to wear masks – (but not Newton), the Governor ordered that any person over the age of 2, who is in a public place in the Commonwealth, whether indoors or outdoors who is unable to maintain a distance of 6 feet from every other person, to cover their mouth and nose with a mask or a face covering – except if there is a medical condition or other Department of Health exemption. The Order requires all persons to wear a face-covering when inside a grocery store, pharmacy, and any retail store. The requirement extends to those using or providing transportation (taxis, ride-sharing, public transit) while within an enclosed or semi-enclosed transit stop or waiting area. The order goes into effect this Wednesday and can be enforced by the Department of Health, local boards of health, and with the assistance of state and local police. The order can be found here.

The Newton-Needham Chamber of Commerce is reporting that masks may be available for purchase.

Where you can buy face masks and other PPE
 
Here’s some local businesses selling Personal Protection Equipment. Call ahead to confirm and please tell them you heard about it from the Newton-Needham Regional Chamber.
National Lumber on Needham Street reports that it has “ample supplies”of three-ply masks in 10 packs and 50 packs, as well as KN95’s masks and disposable gloves.
Keyes Drugs in Auburndale has supplies of surgical masks (limit 5 per person) and offers curbside pickup.
Union Pharmacy in Newton Centre will be getting surgical masks later this week, also is selling N95 masks.
Hipstitch in West Newton is making and taking orders for fabric masks. There’s a three day turn around for shipping.
Rafinova in Needham has pivoted to importing cloth masks. They used to import bags and accessories.
Birds Hill Pharmacy in Needham is making its own hand sanitizer.
Fully Promoted in Newton has access to a variety of PPE items, including medical grade KN95 masks, fabric and disposable masks, gowns, hand sanitizer.

Mayor asks Schools to reduce Budget by $1.5 million: Last Monday, the Mayor asked the School Department to reduce it’s previously approved budget by $1.5 million. The School Department voted last Thursday, to reduce it’s budget and will present it to the Programs and Services Committee and the Finance Committee on Wednesday, May 6th. The agenda can be found here.

Newton Food Pantry: Thanks to very generous donors, the Newton Food Pantry has been able to continue to serve those in need. For example, it has been able to provide curbside pickup twice a month to Newton residents (previously only once a month) – serving 978 households – 30″ new to the Food Pantry since March 18th; provide bulk grocery deliveries to seniors in 9 different Newton housing facilities, provide deliveries to those homebound because of disabilities or severe medical conditions, provide canned and dried goods for the city’s Backpack Program.

In addition to donating double-bagged grocery bags and egg cartons ( they can be dropped off at 61 Ballard Street or 36 Metacoment Road ONLY), please consider a financial donation at www.newtonfoodpantry.org/donate/

Additional potential food sources:

  • Whitson’s – Currently, the School’s Food Service Vendor, Whitson’s, is providing students with nutritious meals at three school sites, 150 Jackson Road, Newton North, and Newton South The School Committee reports that coordination is underway with City Officials to open serving sites to all residents regardless of age.
  • Newton Boys and Girls Club: In partnership with Lovin Spoonfuls and Newton Rotary, the Club is making socially distant, front porch deliveries of fresh ingredients and staple meals to families who request Covid 19 Food Assistance. For more information on this and other available programs visit www.newtonbgc.com.

Weekly Road Construction Schedule: The Weekly Road Construction Schedule can be found here.

What’s Up in Newton this Week?

COVID-19 cases continue to rise: The City is reporting 516 confirmed cases as of April 23rd and 58 deaths as of April 21st. City COVID-19 data can be found here and is updated daily on weekdays. For statewide data, please go here for daily updates. In addition, I highly recommend going to Newton’s own, Jack Prior’s COVID-19 website, which provides informative trends and graphs.

School Committee to meet TONIGHT: The School Committee will meet tonight and review and discuss the most recent Fiscal & Operations Update, the Facilities Update, and an update on the Bus Contract. The Committee will also vote on the last day of school – SPOILER ALERT – June 18th and also re-review the proposed FY2021 Proposed School Budget.

Finance to discuss $500,000 or $750,000 request for COVID-19 funding: The Finance Committee will meet TONIGHT to discuss among other things, a request to create “a non-lapsing account dedicated to the City’s efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 ($500,000); additionally re-classify the previously approved $250,000 to the same account and allow the administration to disburse these funds to support compensation, supplies, or other accounts as necessary.” The docket item doesn’t specify where the funds will come from (though all bets are on Free Cash) and the Programs and Services Committee voted unanimously to ” request that the City Comptroller provide bi-weekly updates on how the funds are being spent and the status of reimbursement of those funds. If bi-weekly updates are not possible, then an otherwise periodic standard is requested. ” – See Memo from the Programs and Services Committee.

Land Use to discuss Riverside Proposal: The Land Use Committee will meet on Tuesday, April 27th and take up the Riverside proposal – this time with a focus on Construction Management and Construction Phasing. See the agenda here.

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

Volunteer Opportunities

Newton Neighbors Helping Neighbors has organized a 4-part donation drive this week to benefit several organizations and communities heavily burdened by COVID-19. This drive will continue until May 2nd.

How you can help

  1. Porch Drive #1: Donate non-perishable food for families in Chelsea and Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Boston

    There continues to be an urgent and growing need for food relief in Chelsea, with the number of families lining up for food increasing greatly as each week goes on. The Salvation Army Chelsea would appreciate NON-PERISHABLE FOOD if you are able to contribute. Items need to be donated by mid-day Tuesday for a Wednesday delivery to the Salvation Army. Any items collected after Tuesday will be donated to SURJ Boston for distribution to families in Boston who also continue to experience great need.

    Drop off non-perishable food at 97 Lake Ave in Newton Centre (between Crystal and Laurel)
  2. Porch Drive #2: Donate diapers and wipes

    There are many families with young children who need diapers and wipes. Donations will be provided to families in the Early Childhood program at Jewish Family & Children’s Service in Waltham, and to families in Newton. 

    Drop off diapers and wipes at 15 Norwood Ave 1R in Newton Centre (there is a horse statue on side lawn). Drop off by the garage behind the house.
  3. Porch Drive #3: Donate fabric, sheets, and t-shirts

    There continues to be a tremendous need for cloth masks at healthcare facilities, housing facilities, and community agencies, as well as other items such as caps. We are asking for donations of 100% cotton fabric, quilting fabric, sheets, and old T-shirts. No flannel, upholstery, or linen please. All donations will be provided to the MetroWest sewing group which will donate what they make to organizations throughout the region.

    Drop off fabric, sheets, and T-shirts at 960 Beacon St in Newton Centre
  4. Don’t have items to donate or can’t make it to Newton Centre to drop off? Consider donating towards gift cards for immigrant and undocumented families

    Undocumented families are experiencing many of the hardships facing other families but are also ineligible for many of the funds and supports available due to language and information barriers, legal status, and/or isolation. We would like to raise funds for 40 families in this position from East Boston, Revere, Chelsea, and Lynn. This project is in collaboration with Jessica Harper Santos, Lecturer at Brandeis University and Christian Samame who has been doing community work with youth, families, and elders in Latino neighborhoods around Boston for many years. We are aiming to gather funds to buy a gift card of $50 per family. You can Venmo contributions to Jessica’s account: Jessica-Harper-Santos. All contributions will go towards purchasing gift cards which will be provided directly to families.

For more information, email: newtonneighborshelping@gmail.com .

Newtonville Area Council to Meet – Thursday, April 23rd

The Newtonville Area Council will meet virtually on Thursday, April 23rd at 7:00 p.m. Zoom link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83500313673 Meeting ID is 835-0031-3673   Password is 287494

The agenda includes the following:

  • Review and approval of minutes
  • Burning Issues:
    • Walnut Street Enhancements
    • Status and prospective uses of Washington Place’s mitigation fund
  • Zoning Re-Design: meeting with Barney Heath and Gabriel Holbrow
    • NewCal/Senior Center update
    • What happened to Washington Street’s Drop-in Zoning?
    • Residential zoning by major zoning categories. Before/after comparisons.
    • Does the pandemic require re-thinking of Zoning Re-design’s purposes and goals?
  • Responses to pandemic:
    • NAC responses
    • Responses in conjunction with other Area Councils and government entities
  • Administrative Issues:
    • Protocols for messaging, assignment of tasks
    • Updating website, social media presence
    • Other unfinished business from last meeting

What’s Up in Newton this Week – COVID-19 Cases continue to rise, Mayor’s Budget Address – May 11th, and more…..

COVID-19 cases continue to rise: Last week I reported that the City was up to 157 cases. This week, I am sad to report that the City is up to 330 cases with 12 residents who have passed from this virus as of April 8th. Our hearts go out to all of the victims and their families and we give our special thanks and gratitude to all of the first responders, healthcare workers, caregivers, grocery workers, postal workers, and delivery servers for all that you do to continue to serve the community during this time.

School Committee Approves Superintendent’s Proposed $244,645,343 Budget. Last week, the School Committee approved the Superintendent’s Proposed FY2021 Budget which represents an $8.3 million increase (3.5%) over last year’s budget.

Mayor’s Budget Address – May 11th: Usually, the Mayor’s Budget address is given in April but this year it appears the budget address will happen on Monday, May 11th. The City Council’s Calendar can be found here.

Weekly Road Construction Schedule now available: The City’s Weekly Road Construction Schedule can be found here.

What’s Up This Week in Newton? Number of Reported Covid-19 cases increase in Newton, Request for $250,000 for Emergency Operations – Supplies “should the need arise”, Zoning and Planning Committee to discuss Open Space and Recreation Plan and Zoning Redesign, and Union Twist – Retail Marijuana and Riverside on Land Use Agenda.

COVID-19 Cases in Newton: According to the City’s website, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases is 14 as of March 20, 2020. The United Way of Mass Bay and Merrimack Valley and the City of Newton have created a fund – Newton COVID-19 Care Fund to help families and individuals who have been financially impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic. Go here for more information and to donate.

$250,000 Request for COVID-19 Emergency Operations and Supplies – TONIGHT – The Finance Committee will discuss and vote on a request to transfer $250,000 from June 30th, 2019 Certified Free Cash to an Emergency Operations and Supplies Account ” for the purpose of being prepared to act, should the need arise.” The agenda can be found here.

The Open Space and Recreation Plan and Zoning Redesign are on TONIGHT’s Zoning and Planning Committee’s Agenda.

Retail Marijuana and Riverside Mixed-Use Development on Tuesday’s Land Use Committee Agenda. The Land Use Committee will discuss and review a proposed retail marijuana shop to be located at 1158 Beacon Street, Union Twist. In addition, the Land Use Committee, focusing on Design Guidelines and project updates, will also take up the proposed Riverside Change of Zone and Special Permit/Site Plan Approval request. Responses to previously submitted Councilor questions can be found here.