This joint letter from the School Committee, Mayor David Maher and Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Young was received Friday:

Dear Cambridge community,

We write to you today to share what we believe is exciting news for our city: the launch of a communitywide planning process for the Cambridge Public Schools. It is our pleasure not only to share information about this visionary work with you, but to also invite you to join us in it.

Last year, as many of you know, we worked together to examine middle school programming within our district. Through this discussion, it became clear that we cannot effectively address middle school issues in isolation; these issues, like all educational issues in our district, are part of the larger fabric of the Cambridge Public Schools and must be addressed in this context. Therefore, we have established three working teams — for facilities, controlled choice and JK-8 educational programming — to engage in this multidimensional planning work.  Each team is led by two School Committee members who serve as co-chairs and consists of district administrators, teachers, community members and area experts. The mission of each team is as follows:

Controlled choice, led by committee members Richard Harding and Patty Nolan

To make district choices better for families by reviewing the controlled choice policy and recommending policy changes to the superintendent for adoption by the committee, while maintaining the values of integrity, balance and diversity and improving the experience of families in the school assignment process.

Facilities, led by committee members Nancy Tauber and Fred Fantini

To develop a schools facilities plan that meets the educational needs of the Cambridge school-age population and advances the quality of education.

JK-8 Educational Plan, led by committee members Marc McGovern and Alice Turkel

To create a set of recommendations designed to ensure a cohesive districtwide school system in which all students attend schools providing a variety of rigorous educational and healthy social experiences at every grade level.

This work is ambitious, as is our timeline. Teams will work through the fall and submit their ideas to the superintendent in mid-December. The superintendent will review the teams’ work and submit the district’s formal recommendations to the committee in mid-January. The community will have the opportunity to offer feedback during two “Town Hall” meetings in late January and a public hearing in February, and the committee will vote on the superintendent’s final recommendations in mid-February. We are committed to developing a thorough and sound implementation plan, with a timeline that supports success.

Feedback is critical to the success of this work and the future of our children’s education, and team members will be using a variety of methods to reach out to the community. We will be hosting an All City School Council World Café at the end of October, and members from school councils will be invited to attend and represent their communities. The council members will have the opportunity to offer feedback in each of our planning areas during a structured evening of community dialogue.

We look forward to the opportunities this planning work presents for our city — and to working with and hearing from all of you.

Sincerely,

Mayor David P. Maher, chairman of the School Committee

Jeff Young, superintendent of Schools

Alfred Fantini, Richard Harding, Marc McGovern (vice chairman), Patricia M. Nolan, Nancy Tauber and Alice Turkel, School Committee members