Wellesley Public Schools news: Last day is official; Advisory won’t investigate; Evolutions showcase

The latest Wellesley Public Schools news:

Public Schools makes last day official

Wellesley Public Schools—barring unforeseen circumstances—will be letting out for the school year on Thursday June 15, a half day, with teachers done the following day. Wednesday that week will be a full day for elementary schools.

Seniors have already wrapped up. WPS families got a scold-o-gram from the Wellesley High Principal the week before after a “Senior Skip Day” event had to be shortened when booze came into play.

Advisory won’t investigate

The Wellesley Advisory Committee devoted most of its May 3 meeting (see Wellesley Media recording) to the matter of whether Advisory should launch an investigatory review into the roughly $88M school budget approved this spring at Annual Town Meeting. Questions had been raised by Advisory and Town Meeting members this spring related to budget clarity, fueled by concerns of a rising budget at a time of decreasing enrollment (school officials have said throughout that enrollment and budget numbers do not rise or fall in lockstep).

Advisory member David Prock presented the investigation proposal at the committee meeting on May 3, starting out with a contention that such research could show that everything is great with the budget and that it is the size it should be. However, he said questions remain about certain details, such as payment for various consultants and administrative (“non-student”) spending. Prock has also sought raw data from spreadsheets that are behind the budget presentation slides. Prock said: “I think there are questions about where does the budget process start… Does it start with ‘Here’s what we spent last year, we know we have 3% more, how do we spend it?’ or is it different from that?”

During discussion, some Advisory members said they sympathized with the appetite for a deeper dive into the budget and concurred that the same questions about the budget will continue to be raised if the budget continues to rise while enrollment falls. However, there were concerns that this sort of review would overlap with a system already in place for Advisory to drill into the budget via its School Committee liaisons, and that any sort of investigation would burden the overtaxed school system and School Committee with even more work. There was also some back and forth about whether any such review would need to be general at the start, or involve the asking of more specific questions, such as those brought up at Advisory during meetings leading up to Town Meeting (and that resulted in slides at Town Meeting that answered some of those questions, such as comparing Wellesley’s numbers with those from other communities). Jenn Fallon, one of the Advisory liaisons to schools, said one possibility would be to pick specific things to dive in on each year, as was done with diversity, equity and inclusion spending baked into the budget. Rani Elwy, also a school liaison for Advisory, said specific questions could be asked much earlier in the budget development process through the existing liaison system.

Advisory voted 13-1, in a straw poll, in favor of sticking with the current liaison process but seeking ways to improve it.

Evolutions showcase

Here is a video from the Wellesley High School Evolutions Gen 8 Capstone Spring Expo, courtesy of Wellesley Public Media.

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