Letter to the Editor: A look back and ahead at the schools

On behalf of the School Committee, I want to thank the Lynnfield community for its continued investment in the Lynnfield Public Schools (LPS).  

Everyone is a stakeholder in our schools. It is important to communicate what the return has been on our town’s investment in education by sharing highlights of the past year and to glimpse where LPS is headed over the next few years.

There is a lot to be proud of in the LPS. We have strong administrators, a curriculum that is rigorous and flexible, high performing students in the classroom, in their respective athletic endeavors, on the stage, in the art studios and throughout the community. LPS continues to receive recognition, locally and nationally for our high performance.  

US News & World Reports recently ranked Lynnfield High School (LHS) 26th of 288 high schools in Greater Boston, third on the North Shore, 31st in Massachusetts, and 766th nationally.  

Our two elementary schools rank in the top 5 percent in the state and the middle school is in the top 20 percent. The greatest asset in the schools is our educators. As I stated when we recently completed our collective bargaining agreement with the Lynnfield Teachers Association, our teachers go above and beyond for their students and for the community they serve daily. 

The 2018-2019 school year included rigorous coursework through the continued roll out of the Understanding by Design (UbD) curriculum framework. UbD helps drive student achievement by providing our educators a framework to clarify learning goals, develop assessments of student understanding, and craft effective and engaging learning activities.

We continued our work around social-emotional learning, with new core values at LMS, implementing social-emotional learning programs at the elementary schools, and the successful integration of a new adjustment counselor and new support programs at LHS.  

These are just a sampling of the successes that are occurring in LPS. 

Despite the success, our district is not without challenges.  Lynnfield is entering a period of slower financial growth that will require the schools to make some difficult choices: LPS needs to continue to evolve our programming in order to produce students who can compete on a global stage; our elementary school buildings are approaching capacity as we have a growing school-aged population; we require capital investments to keep our students learning, competing and performing in facilities that our community has come to expect; and we have a generation of students that are facing rapidly growing and complex social-emotional challenges.

The School Committee and superintendent recently met to discuss district priorities and goals for the next three to five years. In addition to continuing the great work already occurring in the schools, we set out a series of goals in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), Social-Emotional Learning, Facilities/Space, Supplemental Funding, Increased/Earlier foreign language offerings, and Financial Literacy. Our vision includes:

*STEM: Lynnfield will have a premier STEM program within five years, as we recognize these skills are vital in today’s economy. Our program is good, but it is no longer enough to just keep up, we need to get ahead.  

The first step in this process was adding a dedicated Computer Science teacher at the high school for the 2019-2020 school year.

*Social-Emotional Learning: School districts across the country are wrestling with the increasingly complex social-emotional needs of students. In Lynnfield we continue to invest in supporting the social-emotional wellness of our students because if we do not, it will soon reach a point where the social-emotional distractions will have a negative impact on learning.   

*Facilities/Space: The School Committee awaits the findings of the feasibility study currently being conducted at both of the elementary schools. Our goal is, in partnership with the Board of Selectmen and the School Enrollment and Capacity Committee, to make a recommendation to the town for the spring 2020 Town Meeting. 

*Sponsorships and Fundraising: In an effort to offset rising costs, the school committee is looking to identify a small number of high-profile sponsors, to sponsor locations at the high school stadium. Additionally, we identified some projects that we will attempt to complete through fundraising efforts. These include replacing the tennis courts at the high school and theater upgrades at both the middle and high schools. Our goal is to upgrade our district while keeping our town budget requests to absolutely mission critical needs.

*Foreign Languages: We will be exploring the possibility of starting languages earlier than sixth grade, and at the possibility of adding languages. This goal is in the very early stages, and we intend to update the community, as we refine and implement our plan.

*Financial Literacy: We are currently evaluating various programs to introduce age-appropriate financial literacy, and other crucial life skills, throughout the district. Similarly to the foreign languages, this goal is in the very early stages, and we intend to update the community, as we refine and implement our plan.

We believe that focusing on these goals, in addition to the outstanding work that is already happening across the district, Lynnfield Public Schools will continue to move forward and give our students the education and skills they need to be successful throughout their educational careers. As a committee we also strive to keep Lynnfield as a premier destination for families looking to move to a top school district in the Greater Boston area. 

Finally, I would simply like to recognize and express my appreciation to our community for the commitment it has made in the schools — the support Lynnfield residents show for our school district is second-to-none. Thank you! And as always, I welcome the opportunity to speak with residents about the myriad of initiatives we are working on across the district.   

Jamie Hayman, Lynnfield School Committee chairperson


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