Great Barrington                   Stockbridge                 West Stockbridge


Regular Meeting

Monument Mountain Regional High School – Library

May 17, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.


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

  1. Fields, K. Piesecki, A. Potter

Administration:                      P. Dillon

Staff/Public:                            B. Doren, M. Berle, K. Farina, K. Burdsall, N. Thompson, P. Melville, D. Buccino

Absent:                                   S. Stephen

List of Documents Distributed:

April 12, 2018 School Committee Meeting Minutes
May 3, 2018 School Committee Meeting Minutes

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:    1 hr, 26 minutes.


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


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, once approved.


April 12, 2018 School Committee Meeting Minutes
May 3, 2018 School Committee Meeting Minutes

MOTION TO APPROVE SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MEETING OF APRIL 12, 2018 AND MAY 3, 2018 – R. Dohoney             Seconded:  A. Potter    Accepted:  Unanimous



  • Good News (See Below) – P. Dillon -Today, the search committee and I interviewed three candidates for the high school’s principal position.  I will be checking on references over the next couple of days and reaching back out to the candidates so hopefully we can move forward.  We are going to have Mary share some interesting and really cool data set that Christine Kelly helped put together on Kindergarten and the impact of some of our early-childhood programs on that.  That will be our one good news piece.  Then we will jump into the broader presentation on the collaborative care model.
  • Collaborative Care Model – Dr. Debra Buccino & Mary Berle: We wanted to present this in a more cohesive way and review what we have been doing over the last four years.  We do have our support group back here and we appreciate them coming.  They have heard our stories through the years.  We would like this presentation to be informal.  If there are comments or questions along the way, please feel free to speak up.  The first slide shows the key successes for the way we have grown this by collaborative coordination model has been relationships.  There are relationships now between Berkshire Health Systems, the school district, CHP, United Way, Berkshire Taconic Foundation, Brien Center, Austin Riggs, all were involved in this collaborative care.  We started by tracking data on what things looked like at Muddy Brook in my first year as principal and part of what we learned is that there were many unmet needs.  In the spring of that first year, we brought a large group of folks together to look at where the gaps were and identify the challenges and see what we can do to work together.  This group, Deb, myself, Adrienne Conklin who is the nurse care coordinator who was based at Macony until a few weeks ago, Amy Taylor which is the South County liaison for United Way, Cynthia Sequi who is also the director of the child home visiting program and Everett Lamb who is the chief medical officer at CHP.  We met pretty much monthly for the past three years to look at how this model was developing and problem solve and support each other.  (presented slide showing list of others that contributed – see attached for all slides).  Ed Shapiro also spent about 40 hours with me my first year at Muddy Brook and he helped us to see what are the problems we are trying to solve and what are some of the solutions.  The big problem we were facing is we have a 700% increase in students with social and emotional disabilities.  The result is socially economically stressed families and part of the challenge, and Brenda Butler, who is the one child psychologist in Berkshire County, we were not connecting students to services.  In 2015-16, we made 34 referrals for behavior health and from the school perspective we were only able to land two of those.  Buccino – Mary and I basically got together on bike rides and started talking about this.  The pediatricians were having the same problems.  We would refer and give names for therapists and three months later in our office with the same problems and no services in place.  M. Berle – initially what this looked like is 8pm, Brenda, Deb and I were talking on the phone trying to figure out how to wrap around a particular situation but we don’t have open pathways with certain agencies.  We had Nan on the frontline trying to help families and kids and it was just not sustainable.  I think at that point we were going to really work on relationships and break through and improve coordination and accountability.  You listened to me at that time request additional funding and you funded both a second clinician and an additional special education teacher.  With that funding, Nan and I, which our clinical team and the support of teachers, made some really significant changes in how we run a school.  We recognized that some needs are beyond the school and require collaboration.  We increased resources.  That was with your excellent support.  We built three tiers of social/emotional curriculum and we also built a therapeutic program that you have heard about.  We have a school within the school for students who need additional support and are not successful in a regular classroom.  D. Buccino – I think the other thing that we would point out, but what this looked liked in a school before these kinds of changes were made, was how radio calls a day of crisis?  Mary and Nan were responded to crisis that took all of their time.  M. Berle – we really were on defense.  D. Buccino – dysregulated kids doing things like throwing chairs, etc.  M. Berle – we were seeing, and what worried me the most was the overall suppression of achievement for cohorts and once you start impacting life for the whole cohorts that is irresponsible and we have to act.  The big piece and this was hard for our initial … it was just Melinda Olds for our original team member but she had been really focused in the school so we shifted her role so she was meeting with kids but also starting to do outreach and coordination.  That did require modeling and support.  With the addition of Colleen Meaney, we have been able to do really good work with that.  Their roles are solidly different than they were.  They have probably 60% of their time supporting kids in school and the balance is outreach and coordination with outside services.  This year, Kristi Farina joined the team and she created a year long, very thoughtful program in social/emotional learning making sure all staff had access to trauma informed care and really thinking about how to best support students who need that care.  The final thing that we are doing and Nan has been a tremendous leader on this, is identifying and establishing a clear protocol for teachers so when they have a student who could benefit from care, there is a process within the school, it is part of the student support team process; the teacher will connect with Nan, make an appoint on a Thursday afternoon and that teacher will bring a team of folks to talk about that student and decide if the situation warrants that outreach beyond the school.  I have to hand it to Nan, she has done extraordinary work on this.  D. Buccino – when they had this structure created in the school, at the same time we were creating the outside structure of care collaboration which Adrienne Conklin our care coordinator was really key in all of this.  Adrienne at the time had some funding from the health service as an active care coordinator.  With my guidance and the team’s guidance, we ended up creating a live database which is an excel spreadsheet basically that lists all of the therapists in the community, what insurance they take, their specialities and also community resources.  Adrienne really built this huge database for ages of 0 up through high school to include in-home services, nutrition, housing, etc.  Connecting to Railroad Street Youth Programs, transportation, a program called Transition to Adulthood which now has an individual counselor that will go meet with families for kids 14 and older.   It can be medical or psychosocial and help navigate.  The system is very hard to navigate for these children and families.  The other thing that Adrienne did was develop relationships with these therapists as did I and some other people, members of the team, my office staff, so that we could actually call people up and say “we really need to get this child in” and they would work it out.  We also learned who tended to have openings, what a given therapist was good at and what we realized in reality if a therapist if busy and you give three names to a family and then you call the family, so when my office follows-up to see if they had success, they will say the therapist didn’t call them back.  A lot of times they didn’t because unless there is some context and a therapist is busy, a lot of times they don’t.  Adrienne would step in and call the therapist to make that connection.  It was much more effective as far as making actual referrals.  The other piece that Adrienne did was meet with families in person and listen to what they felt their needs were.  M. Berle – one example of a gap that we were able to break through with this is we learned things like if we made a referral to the Brien Center for intensive care coordination, they had a protocol where they would call the family twice and if the family didn’t answer the phone, they would drop the case.  We were able to find out that some of our families use a phone two weeks of the month but then they are Facebook messaging.  They don’t even know that the call came in.  Once we were able to bring that information to the attention of the Brien Center, we were able to start shifting some of the protocols and that really helped.  D. Buccino – The pediatricians’ office is really the bridge to connect families to these kind of services because there is a lot of distress out there particularly for families that have been involved in DCF and the relationship over time with a pediatrician is a trusted one.  Through Macony alone we have had 125 families involved in this program.  M. Berle – this measurable increase in the BAS reading scores this is about a particular cohort of students who invited us to start collaborating in deeper ways.  Nan and Patty Melville who are here and both speak to this as well but this group was in first grade when Nan and I started at Muddy Brook and there were 5-8 students depending on how you look at it who really needed a much higher level of care than the school at that time could provide.  What we were seeing was an overall suppression of achievement for entire cohort because the classes were not…and I don’t care what teacher you put in those classes, if a student is struggling to get a higher level of care, Superwoman or Superman can’t actually make it great.  In December of their second grade year, we had the wrap arounds in place and at that moment, 48% of that class was reading below grade level which is not good.  With care in place, their achievement we started seeing dramatic growth.  Last year only 28% of the cohort was reading below grade level.  In December of this year, this is our current fourth graders, less than 11% of them are below grade level.  I think when we look at this work, it is not about letting a few situations just consume all of our energy but really making sure we are providing a public education where every child has a pathway to success and that we are paying attending to life outcomes for everyone.  Classrooms are increasingly calm and productive as an outcome of this level of care.  Patty, do you want to say anything as to your perspective.  P. Melville – when Patty first came in I was teaching first grade then I went back to being a librarian.  What I discovered especially being a parent in the district was a change in student functioning over the years.  My daughter is 28 now and had gone through Bryant and Searles and the high school.  I taught in this district for 16 years now and watching the level of student who need more and more social/emotional assistance has just gone through the roof.  Until this collaborative care model came in, the building had an electric energy in it of putting out fires all day long.  There were pings all over calling people for emergencies.  There were teaching leaving rooms to go put out fires somewhere else.  I had students where I had to evacuate my room with a class to keep them safe from students in my own classroom.  As teachers, we couldn’t teach and our other students couldn’t learn.  Nothing seemed to be changing.  It was like bandaids all day long.  The difference that this program made in terms of coming in a looking at the very big picture and saying how can anyone learn in this environment?  What needs to be done?  What are the problems; how are we going to solve those problems?  The effort that Mary and Nan and Deb and all these people put in over the last three or four years, you can feel it in our building right now.  You can feel the difference.  You can see the kids who needed that super high level of care, getting it.  Now that we are about to go through a transition, I am absolutely hoping that this model stays and further develops but things are not leveling out.  These students in our community and I am believing this is nationwide, struggling from ten things and all of you could name them as well; these students’ level of anxiety is just growing constantly.  To us as teachers, more and more students now who are on the brink and they need addressing so they can help keep them out of that higher level.  D. Buccino- it really is to the benefit of the whole school.  As you said teachers can’t teach.  Kids can’t learn when others are dysregulated in the classroom.  PM – we are not in trained in dealing with children with this level of mental health needs.  Thank you for listening.  I think this is an extraordinary few years that should be a nationwide model.  M. Berle – I think it is also important to share that families have really appreciated the support because it is impossible to navigate.  I even took me a year to understand the landscape.  If one of my own children needed help, I don’t know how we would have done it.  With people on the inside of the school and externally who do understand the ecosystems of supports, great things can happen and happen very quickly.  We have developed over a few years, so we weren’t perfect in the beginning so we got better over time.  We tried some things that didn’t work.  In the beginning we tried offering therapy in school and we quickly realized that school is a place for support readiness to learn so it is better for our clinical team to focus on that but to have the clinicians both in and out speaking with each other.  There was inspiration to get to a successful place.  D. Buccino – we unfortunately lost Adrienne to somewhere in the health system but she really set the model for what a care coordinator can be so someone else can step in and do that role.  We don’t have someone in that role right now.  B. Doren – I would like to speak for a moment about this as well.  We started to feel the same pinch in terms of students coming into the school who needed a real strong network of support and we didn’t have it so we were reaching out to the Brien Center.  We were trying to coordinate with pediatricians.  Everyone was working triple time to coordinate supports.  What we were doing is we were using high quality practitioners not to work with kids but just to get some wraparound services.  We were creating a network and we were failing really horribly.  As soon as the collaborative care model came in and working with Adrienne, which was just amazing, all of a sudden Adrienne was doing a lot of the networking, the connection, the making sure the families were getting connected to care coordination, medications they needed, getting connected to therapists; all the different services out there and we were able to just do our jobs which is to teach kids and to regulate kids.  It was really a night and day experience over the course of one year.  In the same way we’re trying to make referrals to the Brien Center, trying to get kids help and it just wasn’t happening then all of a sudden it was happening and we started to have weekly meetings for some cases, monthly meetings for others and things just petered off and we were able to keeps kids regulated and come back together.  I cannot tell you how important to our practice at the middle school to have this model continue.  If not, I am more than a little frightened because it means back to lots and lots of work which is not really appropriate for school-based practitioners but for folks in the community to do it and have us do our jobs.  Thank you.  M. Berle – a very critical need is the model is dependent on the sustained funding for the nurse care coordinator that this placed in the health system.  On the school level, there is also some important next steps.  D. Buccino – you said it was based in the health system but unfortunately the health system isn’t supporting it right now because it is not a reimbursable thing at least in pediatrics.  It is very poorly reimbursed.  It is slowly moving in and they have a Medicaid ACO and supposed they will provide some of those services.  We were hoping they were going to take over some of this but it turns out that they are very driven by Fallon Insurance and Medicaid and they have certain ways they have to do it.  It doesn’t include a lot of this personal relations and connecting work.  I am disappointed and in reality, I don’t think we are going to have funding coming from the health system to have a pediatric nurse care coordinator.  M. Berle – Kristi Farina applied and got a Safe and Supportive Schools Grant and there are teams at the elementary and middle and high schools have been looking at school policies and our current practice in identifying areas where we need to improve.  The number #1 thing that has come out of that is that we need to align school policies for teachers and protocols to address student and staff safety and discipline.  Thinking about that context, next steps for care collaboration are (see presented slides from presentation).  D. Buccino – I think as a community, we need to really think about where we are now.  I have heard the importance of the model.  We have put a lot of time and energy into creating this and in fact a lot of it has been nights and weekends, volunteer time by the three founders.  The model is successful.  The schools benefits.  The whole community benefits.  Families benefit.  Other schools have experienced the same benefits.  The fact of the matter is Adrienne has been reassigned in the health system and basically the issue is the Medicare ACO is where the reimbursement is so they put her there because they needed her skills.  Mary is shifting roles to the museum sector and as I said a have a full time job running a practice and seeing patients.  This model is, and it is important to realize, that it has really been created and run on night and weekend time with volunteer time.  We can’t sustain it.  We are losing two key players.  We don’t really know what the solution is but we are throwing it out to the community at this point.  My practice will try our best to continue to do our best.  My idea is there needs to be some third party of forces.  This is a collaboration and we have tried for the last four years to get people like United Way, Berkshire Taconic, the health systems to fund us.  We haven’t been successful.  I don’t know what the answer is but I will continue the same way unless we can achieve funding.  There needs to be one person coordinating all of this and then there needs to be a nurse coordinator.  Smitty Pignatelli showed some interest in this through legislation.  I feel like we put so much energy into this and I don’t know where it is going to go now.  P. Dillon – one potential next step is to articulate a clear ask.  You might not be ready to do that now.  Your volunteer time, that is hard to translate into dollars.  What is the cost of a nurse care coordinator with benefits.  M. Berle – $40,000.  D. Buccino – $40,000 for 20 hours a week.  M. Berle – The Rural Health Network is coming and saying their number one priority after looking at 30 plus projects as potential priorities for the South County  coordination effort is collaborative care for the entire population.  That would likely end up being grant funded but right now to fund what has been happening in the schools is about $40,000 and that is half of an Adrienne Conklin’s time with benefits plus or minus a few thousand dollars.  We have shared that number repeatedly and what we haven’t done, and while we are running this and taking care of all of these kids, it is not easy to also write a grant for it when everybody hasn’t decided if they want to do it.  There are a number of side conversations going on.  You are talking with superintendents and Austin Riggs a bit so maybe it is not a side conversation but good things happening there.  P. Dillon – in my mind, that is pretty small money and it shouldn’t be particularly hard to raise that.  D. Buccino – I will say $40,000 is the minimum because Adrienne actually put in much more than 20 hours.  It won’t have any room for growth for $40,000.  P. Dillon – I think part of building a sustainable model, let’s get an accurate number and pitch that number aggressively to several places.  I wouldn’t be surprised if you can do that in six months.  D. Buccino – I will tell you, I need help with that.  I feel like I have done that over the past two or three years and I don’t have the energy to keep leading the charge.  P. Dillon – It shouldn’t be on you.  M. Berle – I think if the district says it is important, that is a new day and that helps too.  D. Weston – this seems to me that there is also a desire to expand this beyond Berkshire Hills.  If we are talking about the South County districts working in collaboration and obviously if you expanded it beyond Berkshire Hills, they key piece in this puzzle seems to be that care coordinator in additional to everybody’s time they donated but if you had three districts in South County working together on this you could fund a full time care coordinator and we would be more likely to get grants or donations or put in some of our own assets.  $20,000 out of each school’s budgets is relatively minimal.  I seems that there is a way to bring in more people to benefit more population and to share the burden and that may be good for the collaboration.  M. Berle – Dan, I can say that the five elementary principals did meet with Amy Taylor and the number one priority for that group including Mary Trurow at South Berkshire is social/emotional health for children.  Everybody would love this.  Obviously, internally, the school, like the shifts that we made and in terms of how we are using our staff is part of the solution so it is not just the care coordinator.  It does require the clinical team, assistant or vice principal or principal having some focused work to have staff see themselves as part of a larger thing.  D. Weston – my question is for students who are already working with DCF, does that work in conjunction with this separate from this, parallel to this…how does that work?    M. Berle – one of the great benefit of collaborative care is it has shifted our relationship with DCF to be co-collaborators as opposed to using DCF as more of an authoritative and very often we can get support to folks in ways where therapeutic teams and medical teams are all working together.  DCF becomes part of the team and it is productive and positive and helpful.  We get people around the same table and work productively for the child’s and family’s success and the school’s success.  A. Hutchinson – I sent 30 years in primary care so I am blown away by this.  I worked in those silos and with DCF and I tried to coordinate with them.  The family doesn’t trust anybody or any authority so they are not willing to walk into this system.  I don’t know if Adrienne is the magic person in this that pulled all these people together where the families could trust and be open and let people in their house and come to meeting and made sure they got to meetings.  That is a huge piece.  M. Berle – for a family that has had a tough incident happen at school where they have to meet with the principal and have the principal say we can help and here are some phone numbers and we will call some people together.  That is a different day.  It just changes the game completely and what we found is that the principal is not the person but if we can connect people to support and form trusted relationships then we can become a part of the trusted team and that is very effective.  B. Fields – what point are you at now with Adrienne leaving?  D. Buccino – right now we really don’t have much availability for care coordination.  We are maintaining the database in our office.  We are maintaining effective mental health referrals but we are losing the coordination to coordinate meetings with the school and all these other pieces that Adrienne did.  B. Fields – so you are losing the heart of the program.  D. Buccino – totally.   We have lost it.  B. Fields – if this position could be sold that the districts in South Berkshire…are Lee and Lenox on board.  M. Berle – They are very interested in social/emotional learning.  B. Fields – we do have our committee that has formed to meet, where South County meetings take place.  Would this not be possible for you to do a presentation and ask each school district to give a certain amount then advertise for a nurse care coordinator.  You just don’t want anybody.  I know Adrienne really well and she is amazing.  To take that position knowing what comes with it.  Without her, I see this program stopping as of next academic year.  We are going back to 2015.  M. Berle – We are already having trouble with some of our certain cases because there is a wonderful nurse at Macony who is trying to pick up the slack but she doesn’t have time and they are not budgeted for it.  B. Fields – so you need somebody that this is their job.  Nurse Care Coordinator for a wonderful collaborative model.  What does Pignatelli and Hines reaction here?  M. Berle – They are supportive.  Peter can probably speak more to that.  I think there is also a piece that the sooner the districts who are trying to work together focus their attention on solving problems like this, the sooner we are all going to be collaborating.  B. Fields – this seems to be what Peter referred to in the past as long-hanging fruit.  P. Dillon – yeah, to take an existing model and have each of four districts putting in $10,000…B. Fields – if people would remove their mind from the figure of that and say look at what it does for the schools and for the teachers and for the figures you have given earlier, you will be getting that back threefold.  You are avoiding problems that this committee sees coming up for budget problems in two or four years when we are looking at the middle school.  Do we need another guidance counselor.  M. Berle – it is the most proactive, smart thing you can do.  B. Fields – I have always felt schools are not the…teaching is what we should do.  M. Berle – Correct.  B. Fields – I continually hear, schools change; you have to adapt.  No.  This is way beyond that.  M. Berle – this is the whole point.  We have to be clear on what is the schools’ roles and where does it end.  We built this so we can be clear about that.  That was Ed Shapiro’s advise.  You cannot be a hospital and a school.  You have to have a boundary.  Frankly the school team is not qualified to do the more intense work.  B. Fields – another overarching question.  Gene Dellea is the head of the whole thing is South County and there is another up in Pittsfield and they are going through problems with nurses.  Has anybody gotten to those administrative leaders up there to look at what you are wrecking if you don’t fund this position.  P. Dillon – can I suggest something?  I don’t think a public forum is the place to have that conversation.  That whole thing about getting more with honey than vinegar, I think some very careful conversations outside of this might be better.  D. Buccino – I just want to make a point that the other thing we have noticed is there are a lot of parallel conversation that have been happening around this kind of thing.  If somehow we can hook in, I think Smitty has connected with the superintendents or something, just think we need to bring it together.  He came to one of our first meetings.  He said give me a model and I’ll figure out a way to fund it.  B. Fields – well, there it is.  P. Dillon – the only thing that is a little funky is the timing of it.  Budget stuff is largely done in Boston.  The opportunity to submit things has passed.  All the school districts have set their budgets.  We are going to have to be creative about what happens in the next six months and how we que things up for other typical budget cycles.  D. Buccino – I do think it is worth going back to Smitty at some point.  A. Hutchinson – where is this person based?  D. Buccino – I would reach out to CHP again because then you would have full coverage.  If you are doing multiple schools, you also work with multiple pediatric practices in South County.  I think you decide where the patient population is and it would be half and half.  It is worth involving CHP in this conversation.  A. Hutchinson – but you can house somebody half time in your office?  D. Buccino – oh yeah.  I could house somebody full time in my office.  A. Hutchinson – that is the thing.  It is really expensive to set up an office.  S. Bannon – any other questions before we move on?  J. St. Peter – I just have one question for Dr. Buccino.  For this district specifically, nurse care coordinator, how much time for this district would you recommend having a specific care coordinator?  It is my concern if we do a collaborative that our district wouldn’t be getting enough of the services that we need in this model.  Do you think one full-time nurse care coordinator for four Southern County districts would be adequate?  Do you just think it should be our district itself?  Would it be efficient to hire one full time for our district individually?  D. Buccino – in reality, Adrienne did about ¾ of the full time position into … and we were primarily working on the elementary and middle school.  We didn’t reach out to the high school because it is a little different entity.  I think they could definitely fill a full time position and expand.  We haven’t been able to serve everybody.  It would be great to have more focus on the elementary school.  B. Doren – for me it is clear, the large focus we do on K-2, allows early intervention and prevents anything from developing significantly after that.  Then the 3-6 is the next real level of need.  Then 7-12 is after that.  D. Buccino – I am saying the reality is ¾ of a full time position is what Berkshire Hills needs.  J. St. Peter – so if we went in with Lee, Lenox, Southern Berkshire and us, we would be basically be getting 10 hours a week which would be severely inadequate.  It is better than zero but… B. Fields – what do you want from this school committee.  What would you wish from us?  D. Buccino – what I would wish is that you take a leadership to figure out how this can work.  I will be there to support it but to create the funding, to get a nurse care coordinator…..S. Bannon – thank you very much.
  • Security and Safety: Dillon – Steve Soule and I have been meeting with several officers from the Great Barrington Police Department and the State Police Officers and we did a series of drills in the last couple of weeks at all the schools; more formal evacuation drills than we have done in quite some time.  Those went nicely.  We have a meeting coming up where Steve and I are also going to go but the assistant principals are also going to as well.  That should set up some additional shifts going into the new school year.  We are excited about that.  The Great Barrington Police and the State Troopers together are going to do walk-throughs of our buildings but also of observing us do a range of different drills.  I am excited about that collaboration and their willingness to work with us and the amount of time that the principals, assistant principals and staff are putting into that.


Mary Berle, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School:  I want to first give a shout out to Christine Kelly who enrolls all of our students at Muddy Brook.  Over the last four or five years, has really done a wonderful job of collecting student information and data.  As you know, we do a Brigance screening for any incoming early-childhood or Kindergarten students.  In the last four years we have been compiling the data and looking at it.  As you know, in the last two years, we worked extensively with community partners on birth to five projects so our kids will come in more ready.  I am just going to show you briefly some trend lines that are positive.


Four years ago, the first year we were compiling the data, 33% of our students entering Kindergarten screened at risk on the Brigance screening tool.  We would hope for more kids to be ready.  The following year, 42% scored at risk.  Then the early home visiting program came in from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation.  We went from over 40% to 16% students coming in at risk for failure; also with a nice increase in advanced.  This year we are at 27%.  Most of those students in that 27% are already identified and have IEPs which is also a big change.  R. Dohoney – you said all of them?  M. Berle – no, not all of them but a good percentage.  What we are doing is closing in on the numbers of students who could perform and are performing well and here is the trend line as a bar graph.  What is notable is we are seeing a decrease in risk and many more students advanced.  It is a combination of expanding early childhood within the school; pulling kids toward Muddy Brook that need more supports and getting those supports to them and also the home childhood program based out of CHP funded by United Way and also by Berkshire Taconic Foundation.  This made a huge difference.  That is our Kindergarten data.

In the last four years our incoming three and four year olds, we had 52% at risk four years ago.  35% the following year.  This is a beautiful slide.  This was last year and that was the first year of the home visiting program where we are identifying families who benefit from home literacy and home visits and support.  Then this is this year.  I think today, I believe there was a vote on the floor whether the home visiting grant would have continued funding and I just feel the difference for our teachers when our kids come in ready and what we can do with them is phenomenal.  It has been very helpful to have this data to get support for the program.  Starting next year, the other four South County elementary schools will be also collecting data and compiling it so we will be able to look at the whole.  P. Dillon – Mary can you also talk to people about the group is doing to ensure interrelated reliability; that we are using the same assessment in a way that makes sense.  M. Berle – we have been using the Brigance screening tool for seven or eight years.  Initially, our folks were trained.  In conversation with the other South County principals this last year, there was a decision, and Amy Taylor led this from the United Way perspective, along with Lucy Praskar and Chris Hazzard being big proponents, all the South County elementary schools have agreed to use the same screening tool.  We have modeled how to compile the data and look at it.  Everyone is going to follow this model.  I am going to present it tomorrow at the Chapter One meeting for United Way and we are really going to start to track the impact of all of these early childhood programs for South County.  It is exciting that we had some good data and we have developed a model that other schools can us and it will help the whole community.  I think the really good news is to see such a positive impact with an intentional targeted effort that is a group of community partners is wonderful.  It really gives our teachers a way to be successful as kids are walking in the door.  P. Dillon – it is a really neat initiative that has been going on for a few years.  It is a neat data set that supports that.  M. Berle – we realized that it made sense to start looking at it and to use the data to build collaborations.  That was the big thing.  A. Hutchinson – are you going to talking about the home visits?  M. Berle – I am happy to.  The home visiting program is a national program.  Families who sign up  have two visits a week from a trained person who, in our case, we have sent Susan Ebitz, a former fourth grade teacher from Muddy Brook; Nina Carr is a former paraprofessional and is a great member of the team.  Those are two of five folks that are visiting about 50 families.  Each home visitor has up to 10 families and they are going twice a week.  They bring a book and a toy.  The focus is attachment, play and literacy skills.  They collect a lot of data about how kids do and they create a really nice rapport with families.  Cynthia Sequi is the leader of the program.  She is the director at CHP.  Maeve O’Day is the person who really brought the program to our community.  She is based at Berkshire Taconic Foundation.  I am the person who signs all the checks for it and I would with Cynthia and we use some of our data to help to identify families who have benefited.  Cynthia meets weekly with all the home visitors.  It is an example of a program that is not trying to meet everybody for everything but it is fairly targeted and fairly successful.  Now it is part of a string of projects that we built starting with the infant and child program that Austin Riggs is initiating with nurses at Fairview Hospital.  What Amy and the Chapter One initiative, and I try to be very supportive of them, is to build a series of projects.  Any child born in South County and that child’s family has a group of coordinated opportunities for best case scenario outcomes.  It connects to collaborative care, it connects to a lot of things we care about.  It really sets children and families up to be successful which is what we want.  A. Hutchinson – do you have families reviewed?  M. Berle – Cynthia is an extraordinary clinician and my sense is that it is not quite how it works.  She builds the relationship then she offers for families to feel supported and I believe they do.  I don’t know the exact numbers on that but I could ask her.  I think the idea is that it warms around real support.  A. Hutchinson – are services available in Spanish?  M. Berle – I can’t answer that right now.  I don’t know but it is a great question.  Alana at VIM is doing extraordinary things in Spanish and we also have a wide-open pathway with her now.  When she has a child who comes to her…we have enrolled a couple of students just this week because she called me and asked.  A. Hutchinson – so referrals can come from anywhere.  M. Berle.  Yes, referrals can come from anywhere.  There are criteria we are looking for but yes.  I think the main thing with all of these different projects, we are breaking down the silos and people are talking with each other and that works for kids and families.

Sub-Committee Reports:

  • Policy Sub Committee:
  • Building and Grounds Subcommittee:
  • Superintendent’s Evaluation Subcommittee:
  • Technology Subcommittee:
  • Finance Subcommittee:
  • District Consolidation and Sharing Subcommittee:

Personnel Report:

  • Certified Appointment(s)
  • Non-Certified Appointment(s)
  • Leave of Absence(s)
  • Resignation(s)
  • Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
Certified Appointment(s):   
Lee, TimothyElementary School Principal

Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School

 Effective 7/1/18 @$114,000

(work year-220 days)

(replaces Mary Berle)

Zigmand, KarlDirector of Athletics & Co-Curricular Activities Effective 7/1/18 @$70,000

(work year – 202 days)(new position)

Non-Certified Appointment(s):   
LaBrasca, JaneParaprofessional-MB Effective 4/30/18 @ $12.25/hr.

6 ½ /hrs./day (workday 7 hrs./day)

(replaces Lori Crum)

Leave of Absence(s):   
Petersoli, VictoriaFood Service Helper – MB Effective 5/22/18 – 6/2/18
Crum, LoriParaprofessional-MB Effective 4/20/18
Lindsey-Negrich, AngelFood Service – MMRHS Effective 4/25/18
Filippini, ThomasLong-term Substitute – MMRHS Auto Effective 3/9/18
Boudreau, MathieuParaprofessional – MMRHS Effective 3/3/18
Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)

(all 2017-2018 unless otherwise noted)


Business Operation:

Education News:

Old Business:

New Business:

  • Proposed Request: Letter Supporting Senator Hinds & Representative Pignatelli Pending Legislation Increasing Ch. 70 Formula – R. Dohoney – I am assuming everyone is following the legislation in the Senate to change the formula for Ch. 70 funding.  It passed the Senate; it’s now going to the House.  Dillon – do you want to explain to people what Chapter 70 is?  It is the money we get from the state to fund our schools.  The formula was created 26 years ago and it’s terrible outdated and the couldn’t possible anticipated the cost of health insurance or special education costs.  R. Dohoney – those are the two big ones.  The way the calculate for changes was in health care and special education which then drives the  Chapter 70 money.  My only thought about bringing it up is we always sit here and consernate around these state law issues.  I think we should do a letter to Senator Hines and Rep. Pignatelli encouraging their continued support for it.  Senator Hines did propose his different addition formula for rural funding which then went nowhere.  I think a letter should include support for that as well.  S. Bannon – I take that as a motion.  Do I have a second.




  1. Bannon – Rich and I talked a little about this and I know Sharon is away but when she gets back maybe we can run some numbers to see how this would affect us. P. Dillon – Do you want me to write the letter or do you want to write it and send me a draft then I will send it on behalf of the committee? What do you want to do?  R. Dohoney – I don’t mind taking a first cut at it.  I think it will just be three or four lines expressing our sentiment.  I think Steve signs it but I don’t mind taking first cut at it.  My second thought is that we should do a letter encouraging the three towns to join us in this effort.  One week a year they all like to talk about the school budget and they all disappear like ghosts into the wind the rest of time.  We need to wake these people up and send their own letters.  Our a copy of the letter to the three selectboards.  If this goes through, we will be getting more Chapter 70 money and how that MLC breaks through these towns will also increase.  B. Fields – from my understanding of it, they are not changing how MLC is formulated.  R. Dohoney – this changes the foundation budget so what we collectively as partners with the state are required to appropriate is going to go up.  We get more money from the state but the appropriation goes up too.  I am pretty sure that is how it works.  S. Bannon – we send the posting at the finance subcommittee meetings; when we meet should be invite selectboards and finance committees from all three towns to keep them; hopefully some of the show up.  Sending a posting could fall through the cracks.




The next school committee meeting will be held on June 7, 2018 –  Meet & Confer, Stockbridge , 7pm


Meeting Adjourned at  8:26pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder


Christine M. Kelly, Recorder



School Committee Secretary