As we approach the holiday season, I realize that many families wish to express their gratitude to staff members. At this time, I want to remind you of the Newton School Committee’s policy regarding gifts. The policy states, “No teacher in performance of regular duties shall receive presents from pupils under his/her direction.” In addition, the Massachusetts Ethics Reform laws state “municipal employees may not accept gifts and gratuities valued at $50 or more” (per year). A group gift for a teacher/classroom where individuals contribute smaller amounts cannot exceed $150. Classroom supplies/contributions do not fall under this policy. I ask for your cooperation in adhering to this policy. Teachers feel awkward accepting gifts knowing that it is prohibited by the system, yet they also feel uncomfortable refusing a gift offered by a child or parent. This also creates a confusing situation for students that follow the policy and see teachers receiving gifts from other students. If you wish to express your gratitude to a staff member, cards or notes are greatly appreciated. We realize how much time and effort goes into writing a sincere note of thanks and appreciation, drawing a lovely picture, or writing a poem. Teachers truly treasure the pictures and notes they receive from families. Other alternatives include purchasing a book for the library or making a donation to the Newton Schools Foundation. Each of these can be dedicated to honor a special staff member.