The League of Women Voters has developed positions based on study and consensus of issues at the local, state and national levels.
The Needham League’s positions on the following issues are detailed below.
1. Support better communication between school, parents, and the community.
2. Support small class sizes and the encouragement of individualized teaching.
3. Support teachers and methods that encourage the development of a positive self-image.
4. Support and encourage local efforts to comply with Chapter 622 of the MA Statutes of the Title IX Federal Law: Gender Equity in Education.
B. Personnel Practices
1. Support efforts to maintain the professional vitality of the teaching staff. These efforts should include staff development programs, with release time for in-service training and efforts to make the public more aware of the benefits of staff development. The League supports funding for staff development.
2. Support efforts to recognize excellent teaching. The administration should give recognition to outstanding teaching through use of the media and by selecting outstanding teachers to develop curriculum and conduct in-service training.
3. Support changing the evaluation process. Favor adding uniform set of criteria by which all teachers are evaluated and additional training of evaluators to make sure the evaluation process is as fair and objective as possible. The League favors evaluation of administrators by a process as effective as that used to evaluate teachers. [Accomplished]
C. Elementary Education
1. Support extended day service with parental involvement and user fees. [Accomplished]
2. Support screening process for all entering kindergarten students with special effort to make the children feel more comfortable. Observation of the children in a group situation and better feedback to parents. [Accomplished]
3. Support a longer day for Needham kindergarten with possibility of an extended day for small group instruction.
4. Support the schools informing parents about the instructional objectives for a child’s grade level to be made available and explained at conferences and open houses. [Accomplished]
D. Middle Schools
1. Support unique environment for early adolescence.
2. Support educational methods that encourage questioning and creative problem solving.
3. Scheduling should provide adequate time between classes.
4. Encourage team teaching and provide planning time.
5. Involve teachers in guidance, with adequate training and time. [Accomplished]
6. Support heterogeneous grouping, but when homogeneous grouping is desirable for some students, there should be flexibility to move between groups.
E. Four-Year High School
1. Support a required broad course of studies to graduate. [Accomplished]
2. Support increased community involvement with the high school.
3. Support a strong vocational program and realistic budget to implement that program.
4. Do not support a numerical class rank, but do support a bar graph (or some other system) to display the distribution of grade point averages. Do not favor the current system of weighted grades at the high school, but do favor a system in which differences in course difficulty are reflected in some way. A School Profile is necessary, but an improved and more accurate School Profile is needed to better reflect the current class being profiled. [Accomplished]
F. Guidance in a Four-Year High School
1. Support consideration and possible adoption of innovative programs that provide a closer relationship between student and counselor.
2. More information should be shared to help parents guide students through academic process (choosing courses, colleges and careers).
3. Support a lower ratio of students to guidance counselors from the present 598:1 post-secondary/career and 389:1 personal/academic.
1. Support the Youth Commission, a Youth Coordinator, a Youth Center, under the direction of qualified leadership and increased communication between Commission, Coordinator and the Town.
2. Support diversion program for first offenders with the use of local resources to implement the program. [Accomplished/continued support]
3. Support educational and community action programs to help prevent vandalism and make public aware of acts and consequences of vandalism.
1. Support consideration of a Town Manager form of government to increase coordination among town boards and agencies and to allow more time for policy making and long-range planning by Board of Selectmen. [Accomplished].
2. Support establishment of a town charter review commission.
3. Members agree that members of the Finance Committee and Personnel Board should be appointed rather than elected. [Accomplished].
4. Local budget priorities should be determined with more public input early in the budget process.
5. Support an override of Proposition 2 1/2 when the “quality of life” is affected, specifically the quality of our schools and the town’s health and safety services.
1. Support continued funding of Council on Aging, its staff and services. [Accomplished/continued responsibility]
2. Support action to meet elderly needs in areas of moderate income housing, health care, transportation and companionship.
A. Solid Waste
1. Support increased public education about ways to recycle and the benefits of recycling.
2. Support a receiving and recycling center as first step in the direction of a regional approach. [Accomplished/continued responsibility]
1. Discourage the use of pesticides by homeowners, businesses, the Town of Needham, other landowners, and surrounding towns; encourage the use of non-toxic alternatives, especially on playgrounds, school grounds and lawns.
2. Support to regulate and control breeding areas of mosquitoes by more water management and to spray larvae rather than adult mosquitoes as a means of control.
3. Support to control weeds on town property by cutting, not spraying.
4. Support appointment of a local individual or body to regulate and be knowledgeable about town spraying, methods, substances and effectiveness.
1. Support education and action for conservation and protection of water, including measures to return water to the ground in Needham; support the creation of alliances with other organizations to campaign for water conservation, protection and recharge.
2. Support the identification of open space and prioritize its usefulness for the conservation and recharge of Needham’s water or its usefulness for other purposes such as affordable housing. Support funding from the state, town, private donors and grants to purchase land when it becomes available. Assure the enforcement of legistated protections for our rivers, wetlands, wells and groundwater/aquifers.
3. Support the reduction of impervious surfaces in our community by the development of guidelines and/or programs for developers, builders and homeowners for selecting pervious materials for construction (e.g. driveways, parking lots) and for retaining rainwater (e.g. dry wells, rain barrels, irrigation controls).
1. Planning should consider long-range impacts of growth on physical, natural and human resources, including environmental concerns, need for low and moderate income housing, need for open space, and needs of elderly.
2. Support maintaining planning communication between town boards regarding planning and more citizen involvement.
3. Support regional planning (solid waste, transportation and conservation).
B. Open Space and Conservation
1. Actively encourage increased protection and possible expansion of our open space including but not restricted to parks, farmlands, wetlands, forests, forested areas, aquifer zones, reservoirs, golf courses and municipal properties.
2. Support conservation easement along the Charles River.
C. Zoning – Residential
Support zoning in residential districts to prevent lots with minimal frontage and irregular shapes.
D. Zoning – Non-residential
1. Support different business districts such as downtown and Bird’s Hill with different kinds of zoning regulations.
2. Support principle of both site plan review and design review for non-residential development.
3. Support stricter regulations for business and industrial districts including more dimensional controls and parking regulations.
4. Support concept of Master Planning.
Support affordable housing.
F. Business Districts
1. Support changes to upgrade business districts.
2. Support regulations that govern the number of signs per business, size of signs, and design review of signs. [Accomplished/continued responsibility]
3. Support zoning bylaws requiring more specific parking regulations in downtown area. [Accomplished]
4. Support more parking especially for commuters and downtown employees.
5. Support landscaping requirements around public property and business areas and support making these requirements more specific.
6. Support by-law changes to limit noise in business and residential areas. [Accomplished]
7. Support concept of design review process for new developments and major renovations in downtown area. [Accomplished/continued responsibility]
8. Should discourage business districts from encroaching into residentially zoned districts.
1. Whatever service is offered should be offered year round and Saturday.
2. There should be an ongoing committee interested in local transportation.
1. Support options for ending the lease before 2027, weighing the costs of the options with the needs of the Town.
2. Support the use of the Stephen Palmer building and/or site for purposes such as rental housing that is affordable for seniors and others of moderate income, school, community center, town offices, a senior center, or alternative mixed use.