April 10, 2022

Dear Town Meeting Members:

As chair of the Wellesley School Committee, I would like to share some information that you may find useful in framing the discussion of Article 44.

Core Values, Mission and Vision of Wellesley Public Schools

Academic Excellence is one of four, long-held core values of the District, along with Commitment to Community, Respect for Human Differences, and Cooperative and Caring Relationships.  These Core Values are foundational to the District’s mission of providing “a high quality, comprehensive educational experience that supports each student’s academic, social, and emotional development and prepares them to be global citizens who are college, career, and life ready.”  Our dedicated administrators and educators strive to deliver on this broad-based mission and to focus on every child, in every classroom, every day, even in the face of the unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic.

At the same time, the District has been on a journey that started several years ago with a highly collaborative, community-driven process to more formally define what success looks like given the dynamic nature of the world for which we are preparing students.  The results were captured in the vision for the Profile of a Graduate (POG), which states:  WPS aspires to be a school system that develops the heads, hearts, and hands of its students by inspiring them to:

  • Think Critically & Solve Problems

  • Create & Innovate

  • Engage Locally & Globally

  • Communicate & Collaborate

  • Respect Human Differences & Challenge Inequities

  • Attend to their Physical, Social & Emotional Health

Strategic Planning 

The current WPS Strategic Plan (2013-2019) was developed collaboratively by a multi- stakeholder advisory committee, School Committee leadership, and Superintendent David Lussier during his first year as superintendent. Every year, annual district goals and school improvement plans (SIPs) are developed that align with the overall strategic plan and vision, and that get incorporated into the superintendent’s annual evaluation. A significant number of the strategic initiatives were completed as outlined in the 2018-19 District Progress Report, the last annual report to be published.

Achieving the vision of the POG requires making necessary refinements, often transformative ones, to how education gets delivered. The strategic priorities and initiatives will be detailed in the updated District Strategic Plan, which was delayed by two years due to the pandemic, but which we anticipate will be shared in a new draft form with the community by the end of this school year. The District Progress Report will also be reinstated moving forward.

Excellence and Equity

The district leadership team uses both quantitative and qualitative factors to inform its work and to assess its progress towards achieving strategic and annual operating goals.  We invite you to take a look at the presentation on “Equity and Excellence” by members of the leadership team to School Committee on Feb. 15, 2022. Below is the timing for specific portions of the discussion in the meeting recording.  The discussion starts at 53:05.

  • US News Rankings – 57:30

  • AP Classes – 1:02:40

  • MCAS – 1:10:20

  • SAT / ACT – 1:13:18

  • College Admissions – 1:14:20

  • NEASC accreditation – 1:18:55

  • AP English – 1:23:30

  • PISA – 1:32:44

  • Enrollment – 1:36:29

  • Teaching & Learning – 1:39:38

Educating each individual child is a profound responsibility. With that goal in mind and recognizing the breadth of students in the district, the Committee does not support allocating district efforts and resources solely for the purpose of achieving higher rankings by an external party such as the U.S. News and World Report or any other media outlet. Instead, the Committee supports the allocation of resources to address not only pandemic recovery, but the other key priorities identified in the annual budget, as evidenced by our recently approved FY’23 Budget request.

Community Engagement 

The Committee takes very seriously its role of representing the community in the oversight of the Wellesley Public Schools, and remains grateful for the engagement of community members.  Currently, the Committee and WPS employ a variety of methods of engaging with the community.  Ways to communicate at the school and district level include:

  • Direct communications between teachers and parents of students via email, phone, Zoom

  • Regular communications between the principals and their school communities

  • PTO meetings with regular updates and discussions with the principal and other educators

  • School-based community forums on topics of specific interest to that school community

  • District and school-based websites

  • Email communications from the district to all WPS families

Ways to communicate with School Committee, both formally and informally, include:

  • Public Comment at School Committee meetings – meeting agendas are posted in advance on the town’s agenda center and, following a meeting, a School Committee newsletter provides a summary of actions taken at Committee meetings

  • Monthly office hours

  • Community members can engage in informal dialogue and Q&A sessions with Committee members at “Conversations with School Committee” meetings held at each school (a forum introduced earlier this year)

  • Emails to school_committee@wellesleyps.org reach all five Committee members

  • School Committee members can be reached via individual emails and/or phone calls

  • Community forums on specific topics of interest

The Committee and WPS strive to provide many opportunities for engagement; however, recognizing the ever-evolving context of the communications landscape, the Committee is always open to recommendations regarding new opportunities and possibilities for improvement.

As always, please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Thank you,
Catherine Mirick
Chair, Wellesley School Committee

Message from the School Committee Chair to Town Meeting Members regarding Article 44
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