April 1, Update

Hi everyone,

Here's an update from Watertown Strong Schools:

1. Our next WSS community meeting is Saturday, April 5 at 3 pm at the Watertown Public Library. We'll present a Powerpoint explaining what the schools need, why Watertown is unique, how the situation in the schools has deteriorated, info on the 2015 budget request, and ideas for where we can find the resources the school needs. We'll have this presentation available on the website soon.

  • Please share this date with your networks of friends and neighbors, teachers, PTO and site council lists, families with special needs, English language learners, sports teams, cultural and religious groups. We'll also be reaching out to recent voters.

2. Monday, April 7th, is an important meeting. The full budget will be presented to the School Committee for a vote. This is the time for public comment. Eileen Hsu-Balzer, the chair of the School Committee, said that everyone who wants to speak will have a chance to have their say. Please, ask questions, talk to teachers and other parents, read the website, Facebook page or our document, come to a meeting and be ready to have your say. Who are you to speak up on the part of WPS? Who are you not to?

3. Our core group is working tirelessly to understand the ideas, concerns, and positions of our Town Councilors, who will ultimately vote for or against the WPS budget request.  This week we will meet with Steve Corbett, Cecelia Lenk, and Vinnie Piccirilli. We'll meet again with Mark Sideris and Susan Falkoff. Over the weekend we met with Aaron Dushku, Kenny Woodland, and talked with Angie Kounelis. We will continue all of these conversations.

  • Please note, we acknowledge that mistakes have been made with the school budget in the past. We have had business managers that left a legacy of problems with our finances.
  • This is sensitive, however, it must be said: There has been well documented and widely acknowledged dysfunction in Watertown, such that town and school leaders have not consistently worked together as stewards of our schools to strengthen and improve our school system. This is partly why we see the downward spiral at WPS right now. This can and should change.
  • We want a strong financial management system and staff at WPS. We think an internal audit is a fine idea. We need to rebuild faith and trust in the financial management of our schools. Failing to do so means that our schools will continue to decline.
  • We disagree that our children and students should pay the price for financial problems in the past. It is time to start fresh with the incredibly rich, transparent budget presented by our highly qualified team of educators including our Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, five Principals, and the rest of the Central Administration team.
  • Is the budget request higher than we want it to be? Yep. We explain in the financial situation in detail in our document. Suffice to say, we ALL let the situation get this way. Now, it is time to change our course, and turn the ship around. http://www.watertownstrongschools.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/WatertownStrongSchoolsv3_26_14.pdf

4. Approximately 315 letters have been sent to our Mike Driscoll, our Town Manager, and our other Town Councilors. Let's keep those letters coming in so that everyone understands how much we care about WPS. Please, share the link and send the letters!

5. The WatertownStrongSchools signs are popping up on lawns and in store fronts all over town. Our real estate agents, cab company, Lexus dealership, barbers and hairdressers, electricity shops and restaurants, groceries, and service organizations are standing with us, supporting Watertown Public Schools. Quick, if you don't have a sign, there's still time. Send us a message at watertownstrongschools@gmail.com.

All the best,

Candace and the rest of WSS