Sustainable Lexington representation added to LHS School Building Committee: During Tuesday’s meeting, the School Committee unanimously approved including the chair/member of Sustainable Lexington on the LHS School Building Committee as a voting member in accordance with Superintendent Julie Hackett’s recommendation. In this recommendation, Hackett wrote that “Members of our school community are raising concerns about a lack of representation on the LHS School Building Committee for issues related to sustainability, and it is a good time for us to listen.” During the meeting, she added that other communities have taken this kind of action in their own school building projects as well. Sustainable Lexington Chair Dan Voss described some of the benefits of applying the Town’s 2019 Integrated Building Design & Construction Policy to recent building projects, which he said helps ensure that health, resilience and energy are at the forefront of building projects from the earliest planning and conversations. In response to a question from Chair Sara Cuthbertson, Voss noted that air quality, temperature management and access to natural lighting all exemplify aspects of healthy buildings that can directly affect student learning. Beyond the benefits for the school community, multiple School Committee members commented that since the new high school will be one of the largest building projects Lexington has ever seen, prioritizing sustainability will be especially critical for the benefit of the entire Town. Lexington’s new student School Committee representatives agreed – and representative Aditi Swamy commented that, on a more granular level, she looks forward to Lexington having a high school building where water coming out of some sinks isn’t brown. The vote aside, Voss’ physical visit was a milestone – School Committee Clerk Kathleen Lenihan noted that he was the first community member to attend a School Committee meeting in person since March 2020.
Community Input Team for Inclusion final report: Director of Equity & Student Support Johnny Cole delivered a presentation about the work and recently completed report of the Community Input Team for Inclusion, which focuses on best practices for inclusion of students with disabilities. While COVID created some challenges for the team, which was formed in January 2020, they ultimately identified a set of short and long term priorities as a road map for improving support of students with disabilities at LPS. Among long term priorities, Cole listed providing “time and resources to train all staff in Universal Design for Learning (UDL)” as well as “reinforc[ing] UDL successes.” UDL was created by CAST as a curricular framework designed to meet students’ varying learning needs rather than catering to a single mode of learning. Sam Johnston, who works at CAST, was one of several CIT members at Tuesday’s meeting; she explained that UDL involves building choices in for students at the start, such as by proactively having text-to-speech tools and digital copies of books available so that students who learn better with those tools can access them from the beginning. The CIT also pointed to co-teaching – partnering a special educator with a general educator – as an important practice for supporting students with disabilities. School Committee member Larry Freeman said that he hopes these tools and practices can help minimize the need for abruptly moving students out of their classrooms mid-year in cases where educators discover they need additional support. Hackett and Special Education Director Ellen Sugita responded that while they cannot know for certain and this would vary based on the needs of individual students, they would expect these practices could suffice to preempt these kinds of disruptive classroom changes for some students. The CIT also emphasized the importance of “dispel[ling] the myth that students with disabilities negatively impact general education classrooms.”
Recent, upcoming vaccine clinics: LPS Health Services and nursing staff provided more than 500 flu and COVID-19 vaccines at a Sept. 9 clinic. A series of vaccine clinics are open to all LPS staff and residents of Lexington at the Central Office; the next scheduled clinic is Sept. 23, according to Hackett’s biweekly report. You can register here.
Two new School Committee student reps: LHS seniors Grace Ou and Aditi Swamy will serve as this year’s student School Committee representatives. Both attended Tuesday’s meeting, but they plan to alternate attendance moving forward.