BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Great Barrington                   Stockbridge                 West Stockbridge

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

Meet & Confer

Professional Development Room, District Office, Stockbridge

June 7, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.

Present:

School Committee:                S. Bannon, J. St. Peter, D. Singer, A. Hutchinson, R. Dohoney,

  1. Fields, S. Stephen

Administration:                      S. Harrison, P. Dillon

Staff/Public:                            B. Doren, M. Berle, K. Farina, S. Soule, K. Burdsall

Absent:                                   K. Piesecki, D. Weston

List of Documents Distributed:

RECORDER NOTE:  Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB.  Length of meeting:    hr, 52 minutes.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 7pm.

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
Meet & Confer Topics:

  • Tentative Enrollment Projections – P. Dillon – typically, we share the enrollment numbers after October 1st which is when they are finalized but we were asked and we ran some early projections now both in terms of total enrollment and projected choice. Sharon ran it and will speak to it if you want her to.  Obviously, we don’t accept choice students in Pre-K or EK because we are not allowed to.  The rest of it is fairly straightforward.  Harrison – the one item I wanted to point out, Mary can also fill in; if you remember during the budget we were talking about potentially having another EK class and we were talking about the kindergarten numbers coming in and what we have discovered since the budget, is the kindergarten census numbers have come in pretty high so we will absolutely need to have another kindergarten.  The 2nd grade sections that we reduced to three, we will need that teacher now in KDG.  We did put in the second….M. Berle – in the budget process we projected numbers and we also talked very specifically about the need for two PKs based on needs.  As part of the budget process, we dropped one 2nd grade position because we currently have four and we couldn’t do that as a transfer because the PK position requires two licenses (moderate disabilities and disabilities) so we do have a riff in 2nd grade and we have hired a PK teacher.  That is one piece.  The new piece is, in the budget process, our census data and our projection was for three kindergartens.  The census data was 54 students or less.  It is not the census data that has changed but the actual enrollment is actually higher than the census which has been unheard of in the last few years.  We were thinking, and what we talked about all year is that we would have probably two EKs and three KDGs then we introduced the idea that we might have one EK and a four/five and three KDGs because our commitment is to fill all of the classes and it now turns out that we don’t have the FTE’s to do that because we need four KDGs.  What that means is that we will have one EK and four KDGs to work within what was budgeted.  S. Harrison – can you talk about the waitlist.  M. Berle – as part of the lottery, as you know for our general education PK students and our EK students, we run a lottery that is exactly according to state law and we have 24 students on the waiting list for the EK lottery.  We could fill another whole class if we wanted to.  It is not in the budget.  Those families are waiting.  We have four KDGs and I think what will happen is Berkshire South will run a full four year old program and we have been in conversation with them.  That is the whole picture and I am happy to answer any questions.  We have been working really hard to get the numbers right and to fill every class we are offered and to offer a robust early childhood program as possible.  It is very hard to predict the numbers and it is actually great news that this many people are at Muddy Brook.  In terms of choice in KDG, those are all siblings with one exception.  P. Dillon – for people who don’t understand the state choice process, siblings are given preference.  It is like we do two lotteries.  Each grade level and siblings are in one pool and if there are seats we take as many as siblings as there are space and then after the sibling pool is exhausted, then we go into a broader range.  M. Berle – historically we have felt our padding has been to accepted if we possibly can because once they are our family, they are our family.  J. St. Peter – so how many choice kids are scheduled for the kindergarten next year?  M. Berle – there are currently seven and there is a waiting list.  We have a many kindergarten families that would come if they could but I am not accepting them at this time.  R. Dohoney – filling our classrooms is showing how choice works well because with 58 resident students, three classes doesn’t really work.  M. Berle – the challenge for the committee and for of you moving forward is there could be opportunity in a four/five class and that could be a way to support more residents.  There are many family in that four year old age group that would love to come now.  That is just something to think about.  R. Dohoney – we are offering four kindergartens to 58 students which is about 14 kids per class.  M. Berle – correct.  R. Dohoney – now you accept seven choice students which gets us to 17 ¼ students per class.  M. Berle – I also expect that six or eight more people will register over the summer.  R. Dohoney – you said you are comfortable with the seven.  Why not more?  M. Berle – That is a very good question.  The numbers game is a tricky game.  What I would say is in August – it would be very wise to look at the numbers on July 15th and August 15th and if there is room at that point, maybe August 20th, then it might be fine.  But I think it is too early.  S. Bannon – I guess my question is if we have 24 on the waiting list and they are all district students and we budgeted for them and we are using it somewhere else, that bothers me more than anything.  I would like to take advantage of those students starting with us as early as possible.  M. Berle – I think that is a really good point.  S. Bannon – I understand budgeting.  Is there a way to do that?  Sharon, do you want to speak to it?  S. Harrison – one way to do it would be to use additional school choice money and the use of school choice money is at the discretion of the school committee.  P. Dillon – it is a revolving account.  If it is there, you could have a separate vote at our next meeting to do that.  M. Berle – I think a proposal is important and I think we need to look at space.  We should look from that list, as people are starting to make other decisions because they were told there we on this waiting list so we should look at all of that.  S. Bannon – does everyone agree that we will come back at the next meeting with a proposal or not depending if there is only five students left on the list.  R. Dohoney – so the 30 PK students, how many of those were under obligation and how many of those are ….M. Berle – good question.  The way that the integrated PK which is federally funded in part, is that there are eight peer partners and seven students with special education plans.  Those are seven students with comprehensive plans with a variety of services.  The max that we can put in those classes is 15 and it much be eight peer partners and seven students with disabilities.  R. Dohoney – so that is two classes of 15 with eight peer partners each.  M. Berle – correct.  We don’t have flexibility to change those numbers.  R. Dohoney – ok, I get it now.  M. Berle – the other piece around that one to think about going forward is we have focused on three years olds for those classes so we are going to have 30 next year and this really needs to be in the thinking around budgeting next year.  There will be 30 families that are currently engaged who are three and will be four.  Most of those children will not qualify for kindergarten so if we are going to retain them, we need to be thinking about two EK classes for next year.  R. Dohoney – so the 16 peer partners of the 30 are all residents and no of them will be ready for kindergarten next year?  M. Berle – I’m not sure it is none, but it is very close.  R. Dohoney – how many of them would be eligible for EK this year if they weren’t in PK?  M. Berle – very few.  There might be two four year olds but it is almost all three year olds.  R. Dohoney – we they looking to get into the EK program?  M. Berle – I can tell you exactly how we did it.  We did the lottery according to the state.  We put all three and four year olds in the lottery together and we picked them out randomly then we put the younger kids in the PK and the older kids in the EK.  P. Dillon – we will come back with a proposal.  One of the things that we need to do on our end is not just to look at this year starting in September but the implications for space for multiple years.  There are places where we have bubbles of kids and valleys that will put pressure on space.  M. Berle – looking at space not for next year but moving forward because now you’re going to have four kindergarten classes that are moving up and we currently have three first and second grade classes.  There will be some work to so to make sure this all works out.  S. Bannon – this is a really good problem to have.  M. Berle – I have to say I am so proud of our early childhood teachers and families.  It is magic in that part of the building.  Kids are happy.  Teachers are having a good time.  S. Bannon – so it is possible that we get word out to the 24 on the waiting list that the school committee will make a decision in a couple of weeks so they don’t go somewhere else.  M. Berle – I think the one thing I do need to say is Jenise Lucey and I have been in a conversation about Berkshire South and their hopes to have a full program.  That is just one piece.  R. Dohoney – the 17 cap for EK; where did that come from?  M. Berle – in our contract it says that it can be up to 20; 17 four year olds with two adults is a good number.  I think what I presented to you a couple of years ago, our goal was 15 or 16 and we felt comfortable with 17 but I don’t think it would a great idea to go higher than that for four year olds.  P. Dillon – you should also draw your attention to the 9th grade class and the projected incoming in that class.  That is a big deal on a lot of levels.  That also happens to be the class that Garth Story and I mislabeled in my first year in the district when we didn’t count correctly.  So that is the bubble over my nine years here and is now in.  This is the bubble Ben had this year that was hard there.  It is interesting, the high school is going to be much bigger next year because of this class.  R. Dohoney – an interest fact about that class is they have a disproportionate amount of girls to boys by a large percentage.  If you are having programming issues already and you have programs that have equal numbers of girls and boys in then you have a problem.  There are few spots on the soccer team, the basketball team, the ski team and the play for kids in this class than for others.  There is almost a third less.  It gets more skewed for the girls because they are a higher percentage.  I think people at the high school have to be sensitive to it particularly even when it is not a natural girls’ team/boys’ team thing but when there is unregulated gatekeeping and there is this subconscious thing when you have half boys and girls you can have some disparities.  P. Dillon – this is very exciting and in all likelihood the numbers will go up and not down.  Any other reactions or responses to this?  P. Dillon – this year I think we are getting just about all of the Richmond kids and last year some of them went to Lenox.  It is a bigger class and the same with Farmington River is bigger this year for 7th grade.
  • Next Steps – Monument Mountain Regional High School – P. Dillon – last night we had our first meeting of the Monument Next Steps committee and there was a nice range of representation from all the different communities. West Stockbridge was really in the house and was Great Barrington always and we are looking for a few more Stockbridge folks.  I will reach out to the elected officials around finance committee and selectboard reps from those two towns.  A good discussion set the stage and minutes will be available shortly.  We talked about the state of things.  Where we are.  What has happened and a range of possibilities going forward.  We decided to schedule two additional meetings and that we are going to bring in some outside experts to give us context on both a continuum; the MSBA process on one end and a do-it-yourself approach on the other.  We also want to bring in somebody to talk to us about public procurement and the rules around that.  Maybe one of those two people or may just one person who does it all, somebody to talk about the rules of the game in terms of building codes and standards, etc.  I think it was a good first start.  A number of people who are for that, do you have anything else to add?  Dohoney – what do you have for a schedule?  B. Fields – June 19th is the next meeting and then July 14th.  S. Bannon – what I think we want to do is get more representatives there and the next meeting will form the chair and vice chair and then they will decide on a schedule.  R. Dohoney – so you’re not there yet?  S. Bannon – not yet.  It was a good turnout but we need to fill the bench.
  • Re-imagination – P. Dillon – these next two are very much interconnected. Kristi is here to talk about them.  We have done a lot of work around re-imagination and we are transitioning or that word has been built into much of the work we are doing now.  Dillon – you have a series of handouts and copies of slides in front of you and while it would be slightly friendlier for the TV audience to project the slides, we also thought it would be too formal so Kristi is going to talk through it and you can look along.  K. Farina – this is a modified presentation that we also did with the faculty in each building to give an overview of the work we have done this year and where we are heading as we go into next year.  You might recall when I presented the district with an improvement plan in November, our intention was to write a district and schools improvement plan this spring.  The admin team had a conversation about that and with the change in principals in two of our buildings, what we decided was while we have goals and the kind of framework for what we think will be going into our district improvement plan, we really wanted to include the two new administrators in the process of the development.  So that is work we anticipate we will be engaged in over the summer based on what I am going to talk to you about this evening.  This year, we had three goals as part of our district improvement plan.  They are on the first three slides in the handout.  The first is that we were working on an equitable and exclusive system that makes advantages of education accessible to all.  There was quite a bit of work that we began this year toward this goal.  We had vertical sessions connected to proficiency-based learning and we did that three times during the year where be brought teams together.  We started with the four core curricular areas bringing teams K-6 and 7-12 together to begin to look at what proficiencies would be in those particular areas and have conversation about alignment.  Our huge focus this year was around social/emotional learning and trauma sensitivity in creating safe and supportive schools which that connects to both goal one and goal three so it is listed twice here.  We had professional development where we shared the film Resilience with staff and brought in a social worker from clinical support outreach that did a training with staff.  Kripalu partnered with us to do professional development with staff.  We also brought in an expert to discuss with staff brain based learning.  We began an inclusion professional learning group who went to a training with Lisa Deaker who is kind of a guru in co-teaching.  She is out of the University of Central Florida.  She came back to us in March and one of the handouts in the packet which I will get to more, she wrote a report for us based on what she saw in the school district when she joined us in March.  She spent an entire day with us, met with faculty, met with admin team and visited all three buildings then gave us some feedback on co-teaching.  That was a big initiative that we began.  Most of these things were just list first steps so we are going to be continuing this into next year.  Then we also had Lesley Wade come and work at the middle school only on self-regulated strategies development which are strategies to support students in writing.  That work was exclusively with ELA folks at the middle school and we are looking to expand that next year.  I did note that particular goal we are intending to continue next year.
  • District Goals & Improvement Plan. Vertical discussion is when teachers at various grade levels meet together to talk about a strand or a curricular area.  When we brought together a first, second and third grade teachers to all talk about english language arts or science curriculum.  Our second goal was around instructional materials and assessment strategies that focused on student engagement and rigor though complex thinking and connections to the community, history, environment and culture.  Some of the things that I mentioned already and some are connected to this particular goal.  A few additional ones on the list for this particular goal is the service learning work grant.  That is connected the middle school.  I shared with you that we got the high quality instructional grant for $17,000 and there are teams at the middle school that are using that funding to work on service learning projects for 7th and 8th grade students.  We had the new fundations curriculum at the elementary school and we had teachers participating in training throughout the year with that.  We also had teams of teachers working with Flying Cloud on a science curriculum.  That goal is going to have some modifications moving forward.  The third goal the implementing strategies and programs that provide safe, positive and healthy inclusive learning in environments that address all student’s needs, that was updated for this year and I think there are two items on this list that I haven’t yet discussed.  You already saw at the last school committee meeting that you had the presentation on the collaborative care model, that is something that we continue to work on and birth to five projects that are supporting the kindergarten readiness.  We also received our grants for safe and supportive schools.  We had teams of teachers in each building participating in an analysis of the working being done in the schools using the behavior health for public schools model and we are in the process of finishing up action plans.  In your packet, you have the draft first page of overarching outcomes goals at the district level and this is the draft work that is coming out of the safe and supportive schools grant.  This is not finalized yet.  The teams are meeting again next week and once I have final action plans,  we will present those to you.  There will be the district action plan and an action plan for each of the three schools around that work.  The last two slides are some of the moving forward.  Particularly from our recent deeper visit that I alluded to where she provided the district with a report, the report was very extensive and we pared it down to three pages for you where she identified strengths she saw in the school district and critical areas for us to consider.  She has seven areas so at some point you can take the time to look this over.  She has various strategies that we should be addressing to become a more inclusive school where we are better supporting students with all needs and abilities.  To that end, both from her work and our safe and supportive schools grant project, we have identified a need to have a written vision for the district and a five-year implementation plan to go along with that.  What we are thinking is that will become part of our district improvement plan next year.  We also are in the process of restructuring teacher leadership and supporting the development of strong educator facilitator leadership in the buildings.  We have identified a need to align our school policies and protocols both in addressing the students’ safety and in addressing discipline.  We also next year intend to embark on implementation of universal design for learning.  How we are thinking we are going to make that happen, probably the biggest news is that we have signed a contract with the Great Schools partnership.  The Great School Partnership is a group of consultants that will work with schools districts to help them define and identify their vision and mission and then support them in achieving that.  Next year our contract is to work with a consultant for 40 days and their time will be divided between the three buildings and also work with the teacher leadership team and the admin team.  They will be helping us with professional development around universal design for learning, around the alignment of proficiency based education and also supporting our new teacher leadership structure.  Dillon – just to interrupt for a second, somebody should ask this question.  Kristi, this is so wonderful.  How are we going to pay for it?  K. Farina – so the funding to support the contract that we signed with Great School Partnership is coming from the resource reallocation grant that we received; the $50,000. Then the professional development money that you supported for all three schools, a piece of it from the three schools plus a part of the money from the $50,000 grant is going to be paying for that contract.  I did include a handout with some brief information about them.  You can also find them online and get some more information.  I would encourage your to do that.  We are very excited about the possibilities of partnering with them.  P. Dillon – one of the other things that is important, and I shared this with the faculty, as we are bringing in two new principals, we are not waiting for them to set a direction, we are having them meet them in the direction that we are all starting together.  K. Farina – we are also looking to expand the inclusion and coteaching pilot.  As a piece of that, is Lisa Deaker has been working with the Westfield School System and I contacted the curriculum director in Westfield and she is doing a three-day training this summer in August for them and Westfield has generously opened up ten slots that they are not charging us for to send ten folk to the training.  We are going to be sending ten people to participate then we are going to try to bring Lisa back with us for probably four days next year to do more work with that team.  To be clear, co-teaching…there is team teaching and there is co-teaching.  Co-teaching is specifically a special education and a regular education teacher working together to teach curriculum.  It is not intended to be tutoring or support.  It really is co teaching which means they are both delivering the curriculum in a classroom.  The resource reallocation grant, what we specifically have identified for data that we are going to look at is math achievement for grades 2 – 10 and so connected to that we are going to be doing some specifically targeted math professional development with our math teachers.  I mentioned that we are expanded the SRSD, we are going to be bringing that into the elementary and the high schools so it is not just the ELA folks in the middle school so we have the alignment.  J. St. Peter – regarding the school partnership contract, is there a length to that?  K. Farina, it is a one year contract but we can contract with them the following year but maybe not for the same amount of dates.  For this first year, they are with us for 40 days.  I would think in the second year, it would be a much smaller number.  J. St. Peter – is the grant a one year grant?  K. Farina – yes.  P. Dillon – we may apply for other grants that will cover it in years to come.  If we apply the same amount we are applying this year, we could cover our anticipated use of these folks for the year after.  We are not setting up a situation where we are  committing now to have to invest tens of thousands more.  Within our existing budget we can cover a second year.  A. Hutchinson – in terms of the collaborative care model, and maybe Peter can speak to this, is there a key person?  K. Farina – after the presentation at the last school committee meeting, I did a little research and found a grant opportunity and we pulled a team of folks together that include representatives from Fairview Hospital, CHP, Austin Riggs, Berkshire United Way, etc. and there is a team working on applying for this grant.  Fairview Hospital is the one that will hold the grant if they get it.  What the team discussed is even if they don’t get this grant, what we are doing is setting up a team that will be able to be able to apply for a future grant to move forward.  P. Dillon – one of the nice things is the giant federal grant as a requirement that there be someone with a strong research background and Austin Riggs has recently hired someone with extraordinary research background who has managed two big grants and he is going to participate in this with us.  I am hopeful that even if we don’t get the big federal grant, this renewal of people coming together and more people sitting around the table will set us up in a way we can apply for other grants.  A. Hutchinson – is there a plan for the upcoming school year?  M. Berle – The good news is Deb Phillips who let the Rural Health Network is putting forward the collaborative care model as  the number one priority for the Rural Health Network so there is a planning grant that we will apply for and would be for expanding this model not just for students in the school system but for the entire population of Southern Berkshire County, all ages.  The grant Kristi is talking about which is a very positive grant, this one that Deb Philips and Fairview agreed to take the lead on, this week we learned that to be the lead person you have to be a group that is employing licensed mental health people who are serving infants and Fairview isn’t currently doing that.  Claudia Gold has stepped in with Austin Riggs to help and we haven’t figured out yet if Austin Riggs or Fairview would lead that.  There is a really good collaboration happening.  In terms of the evaluation program, everything that Peter said is absolutely accurate and Austin Riggs is agreeing to take the lead.  Also, significantly Everett Lamb who is the medical director at Fairview Hospital, Kristi as the director of learning and teaching representing the schools, Fran Burke who is the medical director for Fairview, Deb Buccino have all agreed to lead at their sites, implementations of the evaluation plan.  That is what we are writing up.  Additionally, Colleen Meaney and Melinda Olds and I are working very hard on the portrait for Muddy Brook and what we have accomplished there.  I think that is all moving forward.  I nominate Kristi as the lead person because she has really done a great job supporting social/emotional health.  It does need a lead or it will fall apart.  B. Fields – Is it going to be occurring in September?  K. Farina – we are setting up the collaborative Care model, yes.  It is our intention.  (M. Berle – away from microphone; inaudible).  P. Dillon – while we are going after the bigger federal grant that would really be remarkable, the odds of getting one of a dozen federal grants might be small but the process of everybody coming together will really position us to go for small local grants, turn to businesses, turn to philanthropic sources, state grants, etc.  We will put together a really good application about what we hope to do and if we get the federal grant, that is great but the application that will be such that we can shop it around in various formats for lots of opportunities.  A. Potter – is this inclusive of the re-imagination project?  Are there other items?  Early on we were talking about perhaps adjusting the school day for the high school; normalizing the bus schedules.  K. Farina – some of those conversations have not gone away.  They are essentially getting rolled into this process and though our work with Great School Partnership, when I say what we are going to be working on is creating a clear vision then a five year action plan on how we are going to accomplish that, some of those pieces that weren’t part of the conversation in reimagination that have continued but we haven’t acted on them, will likely get rolled into that.  Things like aligning the three schedules in the schools so that when we are sharing music, staff between the three buildings, we don’t have some of the issues we have.  Those are all on the table for discussion.  Schedule is a complicated conversation.  It affects everything.  A. Potter – it was one of the first things we discussed in the reimagineering process almost a year and a half ago.  K. Farina – I appreciate that.  Some of those conversations are still ongoing.  They haven’t dropped off.  Having the conversation then turning it into action plan is complicated especially when you are talking about something like schedule.  It impacts every single other thing that happens in the building.  P. Dillon – you need to spend a year and half or two years of significant community engagement before you do it.  Newport RI did it very quickly and it blew up.  They went back to what they were doing.  It was a mess.  A number of other communities pulled it off.  The three big rubs around it will be the impact on athletics, the impact on jobs after school, and impact on younger siblings particularly if older siblings have childcare responsibilities.  We need to pick it apart.  To roll it out without many conversations, won’t work.  B. Fields – Boston did it without conversations with parents and it failed.  They rescinded it.  They just said we are going to change the schedule.  P. Dillon – the places that did well, had great success.  The pediatrician’s, the psychologists, everybody is saying it is terrible.  The good news is we start earlier than the reach suggests but we don’t start terribly early.  There are a bunch of schools that are having 14 years olds start at 7:20am.  A. Potter – I am all about conversations but we talk about it and it goes away.  K. Farina – I think it has gone away from your perspective because you haven’t heard the conversation but Amy joined us this year and took the first half of the year to get to know the staff then the second half working with the department deans structure around schedule and now there is going to be a change in leadership.  The conversation hasn’t ended and we know we need to address it but in a way that is thoughtful and we make sure that we don’t roll something out that we create problems that we haven’t thought through completely.  A. Potter – just drop me a line and I am there.  B. Fields – it has been years that we have been prisoner to the schedule.  I remember being at one meeting a course was offered and a question was where are we going to fit it in.  I feel with this Great Schools, in order to do some of this really positive stuff, you are going to have to look at the scheduling because the current schedule doesn’t allow it as well as the building.  Our building is not conducive to some of the stuff we are looking at.  The building itself is constricting for what educationally can be done.

MOTION TO ADJOURN TO EXECUTIVE SESSION:   R. Dohoney                   Seconded:  B. Fields                       Accepted:                                     Unanimous

Executive Session Agenda:  Negotiations – Unit A

The next school committee meeting will be held on June 12, 2018 –  Monument Valley Regional Middle School, 7pm

 

Meeting Adjourned at 7:52pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

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Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

 

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School Committee Secretary