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School news

Bodie receives leadership award from superintendents' group

Kathleen BodieBodie

During the Jan. 28 School Committee meeting, Chair Jane Morgan congratulated Superintendent Kathleen Bodie on having just received major recognition from an organization of her peers -- the Bobbie D’Alessandro Leadership Award. 

Bodie responded that it was “quite an honor” and that she was “quite humbled by it.”

According to information received Friday from Bedford-based Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents (MASS), the award was presented Wednesday, Jan. 27, during the organization’s 15th annual Women’s Educational Leadership Conference, held virtually this year.

Read more ...

Foundation boosts antiracism, innovation with more than $15K to public schools

AEF logoReads Together author, laser cutter

The Arlington Education Foundation (AEF)  has awarded $7,500 for a development-and-expansion grant and $7,665 for three innovations grants aimed to affect students districtwide. 

AEF’s development-and-expansion grants support school-based or districtwide development of new educational strategies that target demonstrated needs, and have the potential to serve as models for the rest of the district, a Jan. 14 news release said. The most recent grant awarded is:

  • Author/Speaker for APS and Arlington Reads Together: Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, author of the 2021 Arlington Reads Together selection Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria, will participate in a districtwide discussion with APS faculty. Read more >> 

AEF’s Innovations in Education grants support innovative and creative teaching and learning projects in classrooms throughout the district. The three recent grants are:

Read more ...

AHS antitobacco group awarded grant to probe effects on people of color

Smoking-ban imageThe Arlington High School chapter of The 84, a group that works to oppose smoking, was awarded a $4,000 grant for the Racial Justice-Black Lives Black Lungs project.

Students will explore the ways in which the tobacco industry targets people of color, Patch has reported

The chapter will learn about the #BlackLivesBlackLungs project, which highlights the impact of the tobacco industry on the black community.

Read more ...

Analysis: A closer look at process, vote in superintendent choice

Elizabeth Homan
Elizabeth Homan: Coming from Waltham next year.

It was a long process, full of surprises. That is one way to view the lengthy superintendent search, which began in June and ended, at least for now, with a lopsided vote at the Nov. 24 meeting of the Arlington School Committee.

One surprise could be considered the timeline itself. It currently appears that that Dr. Elizabeth Homan – presumed successor to retiring Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Bodie – may have seven months’ lead time from her Nov. 24 positive vote until officially taking the reins July 1. For comparison’s sake, that is thrice the transition time accorded President-Elect Joe Biden from his Nov. 3 election to his Jan. 20 inauguration – 34 weeks versus 11 weeks.'This is not what was promised to us. It is not OK.'

Then there is the fact that Tuesday’s agenda item had been described simply as a “superintendent discussion.” That was consistent with Chair Jane Morgan’s statement at an earlier meeting that a vote was not necessarily to be expected that evening -- barely two days before Thanksgiving Day.

That scheduling of a meeting to consider such an important matter might itself be considered a surprise. Celebrating the holiday responsibly in 2020 meant dining with as few others as possible. But preparing the traditional meal plus cleaning and decorating the home typically is a labor of many hours if not days even if arranged for only two participants and carried out by someone – such as this correspondent  -- who has been doing so for decades.

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Bodie provides a fuller account of staff Covid testing in public schools

Arlington included on upcoming state testing list

UPDATED, Nov. 19: Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has provided a more precise look at Covid-19 testing of public-school employees since September and has offered an expected schedule into December.

Covid-19 logo

Following persistent questions from YourArlington, the school leader, in a Nov. 14 email, looked back and then ahead.

Testing on the following dates yielded these numbers with no locations:

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Superintendent finalist brings strong hopes amid racial controversy

Victoria GreerVictoria Greer

Public interviews next week

Both Victoria Greer and Elizabeth Homan bring to public interviews strong credentials to be Arlington's next school superintendent as well as decided support from the search committee. Read about each candidate >> 

Accompanying Greer is controversy about race, which WBUR has detailed at length >> 

Contacted at her North Cambridge home, Greer confirmed the accuracy of the report about her experience as superintendent of Sharon Public Schools. That includes the nonrenewal of her contract this summer, her filing a discrimination complaint with the state and being placed on paid leave in September without explanation.

Previously an assistant superintendent in Cambridge, the Sharon School Committee unanimously hired her in 2017 to lead the predominantly white and Asian district because of her expertise addressing equity issues.

Read more ...

Weekly Covid tests expected through year

Covid-19 image
"At this time, the intent is to offer weekly tests throughout the year "
-- Kathy Bodie,

Regular voluntary virus testing for on-campus school personnel will continue for the next few months and is being paid for primarily by grant funding, according to Dr. Kathleen Bodie, superintendent of the Arlington Public Schools.

For example, the Oct. 9 testing cost $25,500 from the federal CARES Act and CvRF grants. This price does not include staff time, she said, providing no specific figures about that.

The CARES Act, or Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, became law March 27. CvRF is the Coronarvirus Relief Fund: school-reopening grants that provide eligible school districts and charter schools with funding to reopen schools.

“At this time, the intent is to offer weekly tests throughout the year,” she wrote in an email to YourArlington late Wednesday, adding that results are not yet complete from the most recent testing, on Monday, in which 200 APS employees took part. 

The Oct. 9 testing in which 249 staff members were tested revealed two positive results, Bodie said, temporarily affecting operations at Stratton Elementary School.

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Parents learned earlier about recent Covid cases, but press pleas ignored

UPDATED: Covid-19 is more prevalent in Arlington Public Schools than local authorities have widely acknowledged, YourArlington.com has learned. And this phenomenon comes at a time when novel coronavirus infection is also growing among the entire town population age 19 and under, state statistics show.

Covid-19 image
"The results were that there were two positive cases, one of which was at Stratton. "
-- Kathy Bodie,
Oct. 13

Positive virus results have been found in recent days at Menotomy Preschool, at Hardy and Stratton elementary schools, and at Ottoson Middle School, necessitating a retreat to distance learning for a time for those most at risk there.

Information about this was sent earlier this month to parents of the town's public school students. In the same time frame as those emails – Oct. 13 through Oct. 18 – YourArlington sent public-health-oriented questions to APS officials three times but has received no response to date.

Superintendent Dr. Kathleen Bodie wrote to parents, in part, Oct. 13:

“The District has instituted a voluntary COVID-19 testing program for all staff who are in-person in buildings. The results were that there were two positive cases, one of which was at Stratton. Because of the number of close contacts with the person who tested positive, the decision was made to have both the 4th and 5th grades classes engage in all-remote learning through next week. The second case does not involve close contacts either with students or staff members, so programming at Peirce will not be affected.”

Read more ...

Testing for school teachers, staff, as twice-weekly effort awaited

Free Covid-19 testing for all asymptomatic, in-person staff of the Arlington Public Schools will be available Friday, in an effort first announced in late August as twice weekly, but not yet fully put into effect.

Covid-19 image
"all teachers were notified of free testing for Covid this Friday."
-- Kathy Bodie

In an Oct. 6 email update, Superintendent Kathy Bodie told YourArlington.com that "all of the teachers were notified of free testing for Covid this Friday, and all are eligible to sign up for the test."

She declined to address several other questions posed about the free twice-monthly testing that had been expected by both the School Committee and the Arlington Teachers Association.

The Sept. 24 meeting drew anger from the head of the teachers’ union and the committee, in a rare case of immediate agreement. In contrast, it took weeks of negotiation – into the start of the school year Monday – for that organization to reach a memorandum of agreement, as announced earlier at the meeting. The accord is an addendum to the contract addressing changes caused by the impact of Covid-19. Read it here >> 

A series of questions were sent to school and health officials, but only Bodie has responded to date.

The School Committee next meets Thursday, Oct. 8, at 6: 30 p.m.

Read more ...

Free, weekly Covid-19 testing underway among town's public-school teachers, staff

Covid-19 image
"We are grateful for the effort.”

-- Jenna Fernandes, union representative

UPDATED: Free-of-charge, voluntary Covid-19 testing for Arlington Public Schools' teachers and staff began Friday, Oct. 9, and aims to take place on a near-weekly basis thereafter, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie has told the School Committee.

Almost 200 district employees have preregistered, the committee learned at its Thursday, Oct. 8, meeting.'This is not what was promised to us. It is not OK.'

The next testing session is set for Monday, Oct. 19, and will be held thereafter approximately weekly and on Mondays whenever possible so that results can be known and any needed contract tracing done during the work week rather than over the weekend.

Three sites have been established: Dallin School, Thompson School and Ottoson Middle School.

Read more ...

15 members OK'd to screen school superintendent candidates

UPDATED, Sept. 25: The School Committee has approved a 15-member Arlington Superintendent Search Screening Committee, to conduct the first round of candidate screening for the next superintendent of schools. Superintendent Kathleen Bodie is retiring in June.

Kathleen BodieBodie

School Committee logo

The 15 members were nominated at the Sept. 21 meeting of the Superintendent Search Process Committee. Based on a previous School Committee vote, the subcommittee made nominations in seven categories. Paul Schlichtman, subcommittee chair, said the district received 38 statements of interest from people who volunteered to serve on the screening committee.

“The volunteers were all extremely well qualified, and narrowing the list was difficult,” Schlichtman said in a Sept. 24 news release. “Subcommittee members Kirsi Allison-Ampe, Len Kardon, and I worked to select members who have very different life experiences. We wanted people who would look at superintendent candidates through different lenses. We also made a commitment to the community that we would include members from underrepresented constituencies.”

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Bishop 4th grader cleared to return

Bishop logo

UPDATED, Sept. 25: A father in Arlington said his 9-year-old son was sent home from Bishop Elementary School because he was sneezing, Patch and CBS Boston report.

The fourth-grade student was told he could not to return until he gets a negative Covid-19 test. Patch reported that he has beern cleared to return to school.

"I sneezed two times then the teacher told me to go to the nurse," said Lancinet Keita.

Read more ...

Peirce reopens fully remote after Covid-19 staff case

UPDATED: Peirce Elementary School will pursue a fully remote learning model Monday and into next week after a staff member has tested positive for Covid-19, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie announced Sunday, Sept. 20.

school committee 120517

The Arlington Board of Health facilitated free Covid-19 testing last week for Arlington Public Schools staff on a voluntary basis. Testing took place  Wednesday and Thursday. This weekend, the district learned that a staff member at Peirce Elementary School has tested positive.

The staff member is isolating in accordance with state Department of Public Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocol, and will be eligible to return upon completion of a 10-day isolation period.

Read more ...

Online petition seeks to reverse vote for hydrid reopening

UPDATED, Sept. 1: An East Arlington resident who has a child in an Arlington Public School is circulating an online petition asking the School Committee to reverse its 6-1 vote supporting reopening this fall under a hybrid model.

School reopening logo

Charles Aydin concurs with the lone committee no-voter Paul Schlichtman and Arlington Education Association President Julianna Keyes, who favor reopening remotely.

“I don't have a concrete plan,” Aydin wrote in response to questions from YourArlington. “Frankly, I think what's been happening in the country for the past couple months (also given the upticks in MA in the past couple weeks) should be evidence of what could happen subsequent to premature 'openings.' In that sense, it was quite appalling for me to witness the dismissive attitude of most School Committee members toward the real danger of this very contagious virus, during the meeting on Monday.”

As of 2:45 p.m. Sept. 2, the petition had drawn 252 signers. See it here >>

Read more ...

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Don Seltzer For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
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Grant, up until your final snide comment I am in general agreement with you. Impact of new housing upon public school enrollment is highly dependent on the type of housing. And that is why I fault t...
Grant Cook For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
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I will point out Don that your own math around school enrollment that really don't justify the hyperbole of claiming that a new elementary is around the corner. Your calculation around housing units ...
Steve Berczuk For town housing, move beyond critique to solutions
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Also: I was reacting to the comment that I made an incorrect "accusation" which I take seriously. Looking at the two articles again, my "facts straight" comment was about this sentence "This draft rep...

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