For many of us, the most timely school-related issue is the unfolding coronavirus. You may have received the Superintendent’s direct communications to families (if not, sign up here). This past Tuesday night, the School Committee also unanimously passed two “late orders” (timely motions that are submitted past the deadline for regular agenda items) related to the Covid-19 pandemic. One order specified handwashing opportunities and supplies needed for all Cambridge Public Schools. The other, which I co-sponsored with Member David Weinstein and Vice Chair Manikka Bowman, called upon the district to remain in constant communication with public health agencies and to update the School Committee on plans -- and the implementation status of such plans -- at each of our meetings until the pandemic has passed, as well as to ensure that hourly employees are not negatively impacted by school closures, and that, in the case of school closures, we provide for the needs of students and families who rely upon school meals. While no one knows how this virus will impact Cambridge, we are fortunate that our city has abundant resources and expertise to respond. I am grateful for the parents who testified at Tuesday’s meeting and the young woman who reached out to volunteer to help clean schools. We will fare better in meeting this challenge if we come together for that purpose, which I believe we will.
(CLRS Falcons came in 2nd Saturday night in the North Girls Basketball Finals. Impressive team!!!)
A more predictable challenge at this time of year is the shaping of the district’s budget. As of last month’s newsletter, Committee Members were receiving orientation from the administration as well as hearing from families and educators about their budget priorities. The conversation has heated up since then. At a joint School Committee-City Council roundtable February 11th, it was abundantly clear to me that all these stakeholders are requesting a budget that is framed in terms of measurable, equitable outcomes for all our students. A few of the strategic investments for which I am personally advocating include an Office of Equity that is designed by a diverse array of CPSD stakeholders, resources to expand conflict resolution and restorative practices in schools, and enhanced career technical education (CTE). The Superintendent shares his proposed budget with the Committee on March 12th, so stay tuned…
(Vassal Lane Upper School hosted a wonderful Cultural Night last week.)
The Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA) is our district’s CTE program. As I see it, RSTA plays a critical role in our school district for two reasons. First, not all of our students want to - or can afford to - go to college right after graduating high school. There are many jobs that offer living wages and economic mobility for young people with industry or state recognized licenses. Second, all our schools should be engaging students in deep thinking, interdisciplinary, hands-on experiences. For both of these reasons, I submitted a motion with my colleagues Fred Fantini and Ayesha Wilson to review what is working in our RSTA program and what needs to evolve. The Committee will have a conversation about RSTA enrollment and outcomes as part of a budget workshop later this month.
There’s too much to share for a brief newsletter! To connect about inspiring student events and get more commentary on news, please be in touch via social media. You can find me @RachelforCambridge