BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Great Barrington                     Stockbridge                  West Stockbridge

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

Teleconference Meeting via Zoom

April 1, 2021 – 6:00pm     approved 5/6/21


Present:

School Committee:                 S. Bannon, J. St. Peter, A. Hutchinson, C. Sprague, R. Dohoney, B. Fields, D. Singer, M. Thomas, S. Stephen, B. Bonn-Buffoni

Administration:                       P. Dillon, S. Harrison

Staff/Public:                             T. Lee, K. Farina, B. Doren, S. Soule, (student member)

Absent:

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:  2 hour, 27 minutes.

CALL TO ORDER

Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 6pm.

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.

  • Minutes: March 11, 2021 – MOTION TO ACCEPT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MEETING FROM MARCH 11, 2021        DOHONEY          SECONDED:  C. SPRAGUE       ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS
  • Superintendent’s Report:
    • Reopening Plans – P. Dillon – we completed our first week of pool testing. It went very nicely.  We got back our results and everybody was negative.  We are easing into that.  As a reminder to people, I sent a note again to parents today about participating.  This is the low-impact, no complicated one.  It just goes into your lower nostril.  Most kids administer it themselves.  It is not painful at all.  It is very easy and if you want to sign up, you will see that link and you can just click on it.  I will send that around occasionally.  It was also in the week-at-a-glance newsletters from the three buildings.  We are watching the data very carefully.  Some of our neighboring districts have decided to go fully remote.  I think that is largely due to specific clusters of cases in the buildings.  We had a couple cases but I don’t think as many as our neighbors.  For the time being, we are good and will continue with what we are doing.  On Monday, Muddy Brook will transition to fully in-person five days a week; we are adding Wednesdays there as well as the 5th grade at DuBois on Monday.  On the 28th of April, which is a Wednesday, we are going to bring in the 6th to 12th graders fully five days a week.  That is good news.  We have all sorts of plans to make that transition smooth and good.  There are two things that you will notice.  I am recommending strongly that we dismiss students from the middle and high schools at 1pm on Wednesdays and from the elementary school at 1:45.  We still meet the state requirements for time on learning and that affords a little bit of time for teachers to work together to plan and meet about students.  I know for some families, that poses an inconvenience mostly for the elementary school families.  We have partnered with Berkshire South and they are running an after school program on those days.  As students get older, it is probably less of an issue and high school students largely can take care of themselves. You will also notice in the calendar that there have been some half days and whole days for professional development.  I cancelled all of those.  If you do the math around what we are losing in matters of time on Wednesdays between now and the end of the year and what we gained by converting those half and whole days into the schedule, you will see that it is ok.  That is my proposal there. There might be some reactions to that.  Dohoney – did you circulate a new calendar?  P. Dillon – we have been updating the district calendar regularly as we dropped days.  R. Dohoney – so you didn’t circulate anything to use as a proposal?  I thought you said, “as you see”; I haven’t seen anything.  P. Dillon – I’m sorry…as I explained.  Slip of the tongue.  R. Dohoney – ok, I thought I missed something.  I am really excited to get kids back to school.  Obviously we will watch the data.  The data a few days ago was really trending up which made me uncomfortable and then it started trending back down again.  As people get ready for this weekend, particularly Easter celebrations and then the April break, please try to keep it together and follow the guidelines during this pandemic but I don’t want to see a mini surge.  The other really good news is to my knowledge all school staff who have wanted a vaccine, have been vaccinated at least once.  Many staff have been vaccinated twice and I would really like to thank Heather Barbieri in the clinic and her team there that they got all of our folks vaccinated.  If you go there too, you will also see there are dozens of volunteers; Steve Soule I think has been at every clinic so far and Becki Touponce from Muddy Brook has also been there and lots of other people too.  R. Dohoney – why are you treating 5th graders differently than 6th graders?  P. Dillon – most schools are configured in the Commonwealth, K – 5th grade.  The Commissioner’s guidance was to open K – 5 schools by April 5th.  We made the decision to do that because the school committee was clear and the Commissioner was also clear.  We didn’t want to submit a waiver and the Commission was not going to approve many waivers.  We took the guidance of the K – 5 literally and are starting K – 5 on the 5th and 6th – 8th on the 28th.  You can if opening up the middle school why aren’t you opening up the middle school all at once.  Using the Commissioner’s guidance….the elementary school has been open largely with all the kids present for quite some time.  With the exception of Cohort A, the middle school has largely been operating with Cohort B and C two days in and two days for the other group with Wednesday off.  We are bringing in the 5th graders to phase in that so then we can figure out how to make this work in the new context.  R. Dohoney – you keep using the word guidance.  That is not what the state did.  They had minimum requirements for school that are in a far different facilities standpoint than we are.  They are not saying this is the best thing to do.  They are saying this is the minimum you have to do to give some kind of education to our kids.  That is forcing schools to do it that otherwise wouldn’t be.  It seems to me that we could bring back the 6th graders with the 5th graders and it wouldn’t be that big of a difference.  P. Dillon – we are talking about doing this on Monday.  That’s the rub.  I think Ben and his team have built a nice plan to bring people back on the 28th and that’s what we are planning to do.  I can’t turn around on a dime and do it on Monday.  R. Dohoney – I get that.  P. Dillon – and schools aren’t even open tomorrow.  R. Dohoney – I was just looking for an explanation.  As a general matter, I think we should be treating 6th graders like 5th graders going forward.  We always have before and I don’t think we should do it any differently.  They should be in school full time just as much as anyone else.  When do the 6th, 7th and 8th graders come back?  P. Dillon – the 28th.  C. Sprague – there is a school break in there too.  R. Dohoney – I would prefer the 26th but I’m not going to haggle over two days.  I would like them to be back right now full time but two days aren’t worth debating about.  When is the last day of school scheduled to be right now?  P. Dillon – the 16th of June barring any other snow days which is possible.  R. Dohoney – so that’s like six weeks of regular school?  P. Dillon – yeah.  R. Dohoney – well, I guess that’s the deal.  You mentioned this early release on Wednesday.  I learned about that this morning with you.  That isn’t an administration decision; that’s a school committee decision.  There was nothing on our agenda.  S. Bannon – why do you think it is a school committee decision?  R. Dohoney – Policy for school days.  The length of the school day established in the collective bargaining agreement with the various employees with specific openings and closings of schools will be recommended by the superintendent and accepted by the school committee.  S. Bannon – I would like to think that at this time we have to take into account the pandemic.  It is a very temporary thing.  I think if this is proposed for next year, then I would agree with you.  If this was going to continue, but I think at this point we are giving up one thing to get something else.  We are giving up professional development days to get an early release on Wednesday.  For six weeks, it is temporary.  You can argue the other way and will probably win.  R. Dohoney – we have a policy that says we do it but we have a policy that says we can do acceptions for other policies.  Neither one of those have been brought to us.   S. Bannon – the exception to policy, we can do tonight.  It doesn’t have to be on the agenda.  We have done this in the past but no recently.  We can make two motions tonight.  One to accept policy and make the exception to the policy.  You have to invoke the exception if my memory serves me correctly.  R. Dohoney – the exception would be the exception of letting the superintendent to set the school day.  It doesn’t say what the school day is, just that we set it.  S. Bannon – yes.  It wouldn’t be unheard of, maybe in the last ten years it would be.  P. Dillon – I guess it hinges on whether this is considered a major or minor change.  If I am recommending swapping out half days and whole days then might say this is a minor change.  One may say that this place is an undue burden on working parents so it is a major change.  There was already an undue burden on working parents within the half days.  R. Dohoney – the minor/major distinction has to do with the transportation so the superintendent is authorized to make minor changes to opening and closing time to simplify transportation scheduling.  However, major changes in scheduling will be subject to school committee approval.  S. Bannon – we can vote on it tonight.  There is no reason we can’t.  You would have to look up the exception policy.  R. Dohoney – I don’t think we need an exception.  I just think we need to vote on it.  It wasn’t on the agenda.  S. Bannon – I don’t think the agenda has to specifically say we are going to vote on this policy tonight.  If you feel strongly, we could take a vote tonight to endorse the reopening plan and ignore the effect it has on policy because the reopening plan is definitely on the agenda.  It’s your call.  I have no problem endorsing the reopening plan which does not meet the policy per se but it does give the school committee the ability to say no I don’t endorse this plan.  We don’t have to do that but I’m telling you.  We could also just make an exception to that policy for the remainder of the school year.  R. Dohoney – there is a clear path to having a shorter day.  It is clear as day in the policy.  S. Bannon – just so you know when you make the motion…R. Dohoney – I’m not making any motion.  S. Bannon – when a motion is made, it is per the reopening plan brought to us tonight so you don’t give anyone a clear path to close school one day a week for the rest of the year.  R. Dohoney – I figured your proposal was for what times and what times?  P. Dillon – 1pm for the middle and high school and 1:45 for the elementary.  R. Dohoney – my reading of that is that it has to get approved by the school committee because that is not our established closing time as set forth in any of the student handbooks or the calendar we approve at the end of the year.  S. Bannon – would someone like to make the motion to make an exception to policy?  R. Dohoney – I don’t think it is an exception.  You just have to approve.  C. Sprague – do you have to approve the changes to…R. Dohoney – to the specific opening and closing times have to be approved.  S. Bannon – would someone like to make a motion to approve the reopening plans as presented this evening?  MOTION TO APPROVE THE REOPENING PLANS AS PRESENTED         C. SPRAGUE           SECONDED:     J. ST. PETER              ACCEPTED:    UNANIMOUS                    MOTION TO AMEND THE REOPENING PLAN TO HAVE 6TH – 8TH GRADES START ON APRIL 26TH RATHER THAN APRIL 28TH        R. DOHONEY         SECONDED:  D. SINGER               NOT ACCEPTED:  9:1        Discussion on the amendment:  B. Fields – what is the difference between the 26th and the 28th Rich?  R. Dohoney – it is two days.  B. Fields – so what’s the big deal.  If you are a teacher, you might need those two days.  I was talking to one teacher who said that this is a big change.  Teachers have a better chance to work with what is happening on Wednesday which is a totally different experience they have had since September.  R. Dohoney – Bill, they are working on those days anyway.  B. Fields – I kind of disagree with you.  I think the tenor of the building changes when the students are there.  When you have 500 students suddenly on one day…I think, from a teacher’s standpoint,  I would rather see an ease into the school building.  Maybe I’m off the wall on that but I just feel having worked there..I talked to one teacher who earlier in the year was talking about when the students come back they are going to be going through PTSD because they worked with basically a very different building.  I think the 28th is fine.  I don’t see what’s the big deal.  C. Sprague – I have always appreciated the slow roll into the school year with the middle of the week start, then you get Labor Day thrown in there, in some ways it literally helps the kids get back into the swing of things.  As excited as most kids and parents are to get back into school, let’s not underestimate what a toll being there five days a week is going to take on the students as well as the teachers.  B. Fields – the working experience is totally different being remote than it is being in live five days, six periods a day with a full classroom of 20-30 kids.  R. Dohoney – should we give them 10 PD days to prepare?  S. Bannon – any other discussion on the amendment?  J. St. Peter – just to set the record straight, if we come back on the 28th and end the 16th that is seven weeks plus a day so that is 36 days minus Memorial Day so 35 full days.  I would actually like to get Kristi then Ben’s opinion what they think about starting.  Would that be doable from your perspective?  K. Farnina – the advantage of starting on the Wednesday is, and this is something we were just in discussion about, is having Monday be a day with B students and Tuesday a day with C students so that we can actually review with students, the changes in protocols and lunch and all of those things that are going to have to happen on Wednesday.  If we don’t have Monday and Tuesday, then we would have to be prepared to review all of that actually on April 12th and 13th.  It would be the Monday and Tuesday of the following week.  I am not prepared to do that.  I can get prepared but it’s an added lift.  B. Doren – I want to echo what Kristi just said in terms of the transition.  Transitions are hard for any students, preparing for them makes them much less hard and much more smooth.  If we prepare correctly and well, then when we launch, things go well and we accelerate but doing it before vacation, especially for 10 year olds and even 12, 13 and 14 year olds, it is tough.  It is 10 days in between the last time and the return.  As Kristi said, some of our Cohort B students, it will be 14 days or 13 days.  That is a really long time.  If we can bring some kids on Monday and prepare them and the other set of kids on Tuesday and prepare them, the staff is ready for the transition and we just run on Wednesday.  Otherwise it is pretty choppy and overwhelming for everybody.  I appreciate those extra two days to do it.  That’s what is nice about talking to the kids today.  The 5th graders, there is a three day weekend but we are starting on a Monday and they have been prepared this week and will jump right into it.
    • Equity, Access and High Expectations for All – P. Dillon – Kristi and Jon will talk through some slides. What we are going to do with these slides is update you on the work we have been doing for several years.  We are then going to ask for your support for our plan for equity and access for all.  While I have the authority to move forward, I also want and need your support.  While a plan or rollout has been perfect, in my professional judgement waiting any longer doesn’t make sense.  It is time for us to be a little bolder and to address inequities head on while we maintain excellence and create new opportunities.  This approach we are proposing raises the bar for all learners, shifts how students learn and teachers teach and will significantly improve student engagement.  In making this shift, we are aligning ourselves with some of the best and public and private schools in the nation.  Our plan is deliberate and phased.  I believe in it so much that I am supporting it as my own youngest son enters 9th grade.  We are going to share some slides to make the case then we are happy to respond to questions and have a good discussion.  Slides presented (see attached).
      • Discussion: Grossman – we just heard a 30 plus minute presentation and there may be 30 parents on this call and maybe on the last one there were 25 and you are presenting the biggest change that has been made by your own admission in this recommendation document that has been done in sixty years, and three minutes of parental feedback from each person is all you are allowing.  I feel like I am being sold here.  There is so much work that has been done here.  I want to understand this work better.  I think everybody does.  We are talking about huge changes.  When the change was made, and I’m not a historian here, but I think about 15 years ago some of the smaller schools were closed and there were a series of public hearings on that where stakeholders, parents were allowed to share their opinions, their thoughts on that process.  None of this has occurred.  I know there is a statement that we have been discussing this for years but I will tell you when a lot of these ideas have been presented in the past with looping for example, there was a lot of parental pushback on this.  I’m a little disconcerted about this.  The first thing I would say on this is I’ve read through this and it seems like the way it is being presented is a slam dunk.  I would tell you if my kids were in school and only one side was presented in their classes, I would be extraordinarily worried about this.  I know quite a bit about ability grouping and tracking and there has been a big debate on this for at least 50 years.  It goes back and forth and there are strong advocates on both sides of this.  You would know that from what you hear here.  Proficiency-based learning, I don’t know a lot about that.  I do know that they did roll it out in Maine.  Everybody can Google that and they had a lot of support among different foundations, they lined everything up and pulled back dramatically.  If you look it up they say it has been a disaster.  I don’t know; I believe it can probably be implemented in a good way but that hasn’t been the experience in Maine but we wouldn’t know that because that is not being presented to us.  We hear in the document they talk about COVID showed us that we can do this, we don’t have to have tracking, we can have everybody in the same class. We have seen that.  I haven’t seen any data on that.  In fact, I am really worried about it because everything that I can see, all the data I have seen, has shown me that during COVID those who need the most attention, those who are most at risk, are the ones that have been hurt the most by it.  I guess the third point and this is the major point I am making here is I would think given how big of a change this is that these recommendations would be after stakeholder feedback, not before it.  Hearing from parents, hearing from students, hearing from other teachers especially with as much as is there and prototyping this but that hasn’t happened.  I would think it is an oversight except in my time in this county, there have been three instances that have required the most parental feedback.  The first was the looping and it was rolled out exactly the same way this is being rolled out, before any parental feedback was received and then it was just rolled out despite parental feedback.  Second, is recommendations on COVID and school closings.  Those were provided ultimately parents pushed back and their feedback was heard but initially they were rolled out without them.  This is a third example of how this is being done.  I am crazy enough to believe in democracy and all power emanates from the people even the power of the school committee, the power of the administrators but I am not seeing that at all here.  I have three recommendations then I will leave it.  Thank you for letting me talk a bit longer.  Please don’t rush into this.  There is so much here and I know that together as a community there are a lot of great ideas that we can do this successfully but don’t rush into it especially after the pandemic.  Please involve stakeholders not in a forum with 25 people here but everybody within this community.  Make sure all parents know what is happening so they have a chance to provide their perspective.  Let’s take this piece by piece and use data to tell us what is working and what’s not.  We bite off too much, we don’t have data to back it up of what is working and what’s not.  We are headed for disaster.  My final thought is we are coming out of a pandemic and teachers have a lot on their shoulders.  To expect them with everything else to meet these deficits that we are now facing with a lot of students and then add this onto their plate at this time in the full rollout that is being suggested even in the phased way is a lot for them to handle.  I am asking the school committee … I know it was suggested there be a vote tonight.  I don’t see how that can be done when parents have not weighed in and we don’t have enough information or time to process it or to make a good decision.  Let’s have some balance; let’s wait and I’m sure the community can get together and all agree on our approach that will knock it out of the park.  Thank you.
      • Steve & Stacy Shultz – we had just a couple of quick things. Grossman, I really appreciate everything you said and I agree with just about everything and I would ask careful consideration to be given to a delay based on the little that has been pushed out.  The slides that were presented tonight were different from the slides we saw just a couple of nights ago.  I don’t know if that was something intentional or there were changes made in the last 48 hours but I think this thing is still being unwound and I do think there is a lot of good intent and thought behind it.  I don’t think there is any ill intent at all.  I think what I would like to see dovetailed into what Brian is talking about is something that is baked into the process about assessment.  We shouldn’t have to get caught by surprise every few years when our metrics are tanking.  We are going in the wrong direction.  When I looked at that one slide that talked about post-secondary education, the high performers are going down and the high needs students are going up.  What I didn’t see was why.  I don’t know if any of that analysis went into it.  Maybe it did.  That is part of what Brian is getting to is we don’t know what is really behind the data.  I think we have all seen folks slice certain sections of data to support their arguments.  I would be mindful of that and I would ask the same points that Brian brought up, we don’t need to rush into this.  We were concerned about bringing students back full time and asked for a few extra days to do that because we didn’t think we could bring students back full time because there was too much of a burden on the teachers and yet we are asking to make a fairly tectonic shift in our education process here in the school district in a very short period of time.  The same philosophy carries here.  If we need extra time to bring back students to go full time and avoid PTSD, which actually I saw published also.  It can be pretty serious.  I would ask that we take even more time to make sure this process works.  400 schools out of the entire world is a very small percentage of schools.  I am personally for a proficiency-based learning shift but I don’t think it is much of a shift having gone to Monument the way that the assignment was presented.  It was orally presented.  We had class dialogue about how to approach it so your example, I guess I don’t 100% agree with this huge shift but I also want to know what the evidence-based positive changes are that caused you to adopt this proficiency-based approach and what is the evidence and how does this directly correspond with the inequities identified in our data.  How much of a gap should we anticipate between high needs and non-high needs students because I believe there is a baked in gap that you are never going to solve there.  I think we should eliminate that from our data points or adjust for it.  Can you give a real-world example.  I am thinking to myself right now, I was in Kristi’s math class in high school.  If I really got calculus and I wanted to learn more, how do I communicate that to her?  If she is teaching me more in class what about the other 12 people that don’t understand calculus.  What are they going to be doing?  If we have this B level classroom, you are going to have a percentage of the students not being engaged in some portion of that material being presented.  This is where we have seasoned veteran teachers that are frustrated with this idea because the boots to ground application has not been explained.  How can you effectively do this?  I am all about upgrading and including everyone and allowing everyone to succeed at every level.  I don’t think it is anonymous that proficiency-based learning means deleveling.  Thank you.
      • Boyd – Thank you. I appreciate the time.  I would echo some of what was just said.  I am a supporter of proficiency-based learning.  I think that it makes sense and we have certainly plenty of annidotical evidence that suggests we need to do better by equity and inclusion.  I do have some pretty serious concerns about the process around which we are implementing this plan.  We did just hear a pretty significant debate about two days of engaging in full student participation, in-person learning.  Two days.  48 hours was going to completely overwhelm the teachers at a time when they spent most of their careers with 500 students in the high school.  I have pretty serious pause about the ability for that same faculty to pivot in such a short period of time to a significant proficiency-based learning pedagogy.  I would like to see much more significant engagement in a process that engages the community as well as metrics that makes sure we are guiding that process in a way that it is done well.  To me, it seems like leveling equals settling.  Most of the schools that I have looked at, I understand, Jon, I see you shaking your head and I have all the faith in the world that you can lead us through this but we have had a real engagement problem from the faculty in terms of getting kids back into school and to engage in really meaningful ways.  I say this as someone who is entirely engaged and trying to provide access to children in areas of project-based learning and other progressive opportunities for students in under-served communities.  Most of the schools that I have had a chance to look at and I will defer to you guys as the professionals that have engaged in proficiency-based learning have started in the lower grades, in the elementary and middle schools.  To do this at the high school first seems like the reverse order for the way we should do it.  It should be a systemic approach.  I would like to hear more about what the plan is.  What I heard last night when we rolled this out was much of proficiency-based learning was going to be benchmarked against the portrait of a graduate which we hear alot about across a lot of school systems nowadays and yet the goal for the portrait of a graduate to be completed is in January of 2022 so my question for you is how are you going to enact a proficiency-based learning system that uses the portrait of a graduate as the definition of what success or progression looks like when that portrait hasn’t even been painted yet.  How are you going to start something that has its end target yet to be defined?
      • Pink – I am a special education teacher at Monument Mountain and I have three kids at Muddy Brook. I have to say, I had not seen that video before.  It was my first time.  Those numbers of the needs of our students rising is incredible and I am not hearing a whole lot of concern over lost time for what these students who are disadvantaged need.  I think we are becoming an underserved community for a significant portion of the population.  The way it is being approached by parents is that you have something to lose when there are so many that have not even gotten to play the game yet.  The second thing  I want to say is the problem we have with Massachusetts having been a later adopter of what is nationally practiced and a lack of development, we have long-standing teachers who have been doing the same thing.  I was also a student at Monument and I did have Kristi Farina also as a math teacher and I do feel like we have a way to go to get proficiency-based learning.  We need to develop critical thinkers.  We don’t need to develop people who can do well on a college entrance exam.  That is even beyond the scope of just access.  What do we even want out of our students?  I think that is all going to become “baked in” to the portrait of a graduate, that critical thinking, that movement away from rote memorization.  The last thing I want to say, I just made a note, is looking at the number of honor students that I heard from that video as well, to have more honor students than CPA students doesn’t even reasonably make sense given our test scores.  I think even if we move at a slower pace, I think that we need to acknowledge that there isn’t really any criteria for earning honors distinction at this time and that itself is not a practice in equity.  Thank you and I look forward to the rest of this conversation.
      • Wohl – I teach history at the high school. My son Nico graduated a couple of years ago and my daughter Sarah is an 11th grader and I have had the good fortune, and I am being sincere now, of having many of the folks in this call, your children as my students.  I am going to keep this very brief.  I really appreciate the call that I have heard so far from Brian and Steve in particular about allowing this to unfold in a way that allows voices to be heard.  I get that and I hear that.  All I am going to say is that I believe what Kristi and Jon are proposing will allow me as your children’s teacher to do better work but more importantly will allow all of your children to do better work.  I embrace this proposal; I look forward to working in the system that we are developing.  I unequivocally and wholeheartedly support it and that is with all of the folks who are here and also to folks who aren’t here with your children in mind.  I think that my dedication to them and care for them is clear and their well being really matters to me.  I am not saying this lightly.  I full endorse what Kristi and Jon are bringing to the table.  Thank you.
      • Mielke – I wasn’t going to comment on this because it is all very new to me but Arielle’s message really struck home for me about our district becoming an underserved community for a large portion of the population and it is making we think a lot about this podcast “Nice White Parents”. I don’t know if anyone has listened to it.  I strongly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t.  There are all these parents who are white who wanted integrated schools, they have this great idea for how to make racial equity and outcomes more fair and equitable but when it really came down to it, they didn’t want it to have their children.  They were pushing for the school, then decided how it was going to be but zero of them actually ended up sending their children to this school because they felt it was too much of a risk or they just wanted to play it safe.  I am really thinking about this.  I am assuming the people who were presenting might be concerned about their children not having the….I’m sorry, I don’t know you personally…about being worried about your children not having the best college prospects or the best GPAs.  I don’t know what the fears are.  I am thinking about how putting our money where our mouth is or if we really care about equity and inclusion then changes need to happen because what is happening now is not equitable.  I am somebody who was on the AP track and at my school they were weighted a whole point up.  I think it is really important for change to happen and it isn’t always easy to push it down the line and assume I support equity and equitable outcomes but not when it affects my own is like making the system continue.  I think it sounds like a really great idea and I would like to help support the work.
      • Dalton – I am an art teacher at the high school. I have been there 20 years.  I have had two kids go through the school.  I am on the Mass Ideas Grant Committee and I also lead the adults transforming school committee and I also went to California to look at proficiency-based learning schools through the grant and saw the success that had occurred in the three schools that we looked at.  Matt Wohl went with me with Kristi and Jolynn.  I teach proficiency-based because I am an art teacher and that is what I have to do.  I teach multiple levels and multiple grades all at the same time.  It is not easy.  I will admit to that.  It is very rewarding.  I want to tell a quick story that happened to me yesterday and I don’t know why it happened but I had a student come into my room and she was sent on a SPED track group and she had an opportunity through three different schools to finally take an honor-level class at Monument and she said someone finally believed in me.  It was really amazing for me.  She said I finally could learn the way I wanted to learn and no one would allow me to go to that level.  She felt like it was the first time she was learning the best way she could learn and switching schools got overlooked so she could do that.  She is really blossoming and it really resonated with me.  I just happened yesterday and it was really incredible for me to hear her talk about how she had to fight for her to get out of SPED and move into an honors-level class and it wasn’t easy.  Thank you.
      • Fields – I taught for forty years in the social studies department along with Matt and Gordie and with Kristi on the staff. I think we were doing a lot of this before we knew we were doing it because the elective program was heterogeneous with open enrollment.  Kids were told this is what the course is going to be.  I will reflect on what Kristi said.  I had many students say that this was the first time that they were able to do something out of their comfort zone or also something that was challenging and they thought or were told they wouldn’t be able to accomplish.  I think this is a well-needed step for the district.  I ask those people who say we need a lot of study and we need more input to do what Martin Luther King did in his letter from Birmingham jail basically it said “if not now, when?”
      • Sprague – I am thinking as a school committee member but also as a parent. I have two children that have graduated from Monument and jumped through the hoops and two that will be going into junior year next year.  While they will not be necessarily impacted by these changes,  I would in a second tell them to dump any honors class if it meant they had a chance to take a class with teachers like Matt or Krista who are ready to embrace this.  I think this is a thoughtfully constructed plan.  I do appreciate and understand that parents are feeling like it came out of nowhere but hopefully some of the presentations that have been put out there show this. (inaudible).  In my estimation this plan is allowing us to stay accountable to the policies we laid out.  I think it is thoughtfully addressing gaps that we have highlighted and uncovered in our school improvement plan.  I think it actually continues the work that we already started and is underway at Muddy Brook and at DuBois.  We are actually in the next phase of this in work that is already being done in the lower grades.  At the end of the day, at some level, we should refer to the professionals and that’s why we are sending our kids to school and staying in this district.
      • Dohoney – The majority of the complaints that are coming through on Zoom are process oriented. The superintendent kicked off by saying he had the authority to do this, or thought he did, but then maybe wants a vote.  Our policy says that the school committee will consider and officially adopt programs and courses when they constitute and extensive authorization in instruction content.  By all the language in today’s presentation, clearly they are proposing an extensive authorization in instruction content.  That tells me we need to vote on it.  I would like to know the consensus around that.  S. Bannon – you don’t need any consensus.  Although I will disagree with you on reading that policy, Dr. Dillon has always asked for the school committee’s buy in with any major changes and this is no different.  He has asked for a vote and we will vote on it tonight.  There is no sense in debating although I do enjoy discussing it with you but if we need to, we will.  Whether we do it tonight or at the next meeting.  R. Dohoney – that is the bigger issue.  When are we going to vote on it?  When it was first introduced, we didn’t think we were ready.  We are having a meeting tonight and we were told that this was the start of a conversation.  There was no indication and by implication I didn’t think there was going to be a vote even at our next school committee meeting because this meeting wasn’t even scheduled.  I support the whole concept behind this.  The rushing it I think is a major strategic error.  I don’t think anything can be successful without community buy in.  I don’t think we are under any type of rush to do this.  If a more thorough process is decided to be pursued, it could be paired with an amendment of proposal.  If a process requires delaying it a year, then we start with 9th and 10th the following year so we don’t lose any progress.  That’s just an idea.  School committee members all have our own ideas but we are representatives in a democratic body and I love being on this committee but I am sick of being the buffer between the administration and the community when the administration chooses to ignore them.  It is grueling.  P. Dillon – that is an assumption that we are choosing to ignore people.  R. Dohoney – I think by rushing tonight, we are.  S. Bannon – let me just answer that a little bit.  There are roughly 50 people on this call.  10 of those people may be parents but they are also here because they are school committee members.  40 people have chosen and we have heard three or four who I respect, said this has been rushed and this is not a good process.  The percentage, if I was a betting man, is not very high, not the percentage or people.  What I suggest we do, I think the school committee has a discussion tonight, we put this again on the agenda for the 15th.  I’m not saying we are going to vote then, but I think the administration, who I have a lot of confidence in, I’m not saying you don’t, can continue to roll out a process plan for the 15th as how this is being rolled out.  I heard some respected educators tonight endorse the plan, both on the video and in person.  Again thought, I’m going to give both sides, those are only a few educators.  There may be others.  Again, if I was a betting man, I wouldn’t bet on just those six or eight people because there are many more educators.  I’m hoping they all support it also, most of them.  I say that we have this discussion tonight; we come back on the 15th and we have a discussion again.  If we are ready to vote on the 15th, so be it.  Peter has taken copious notes of what people have said.  I am sure he is going to come back with some answers.  I’m sure he could give them now but I am not going to put him in that spot.  Also, we look for more of a process; what are your timelines, what are your goals and is this being phased in? As you said it’s 9th grade next year into 10th, then the rest of the school.  I have been on the school committee a long time and I don’t pretend to be an educator.  That’s the first thing because I’m not.  When I pretend to be an educator, don’t lump be in because that is dangerous.  I need to listen to Jon and Peter and Kristi and they need to make sense to me.  What they have said really strikes a chord to me that every student in the high school needs to have equal access.  That really strikes home.  When you’ve had three kids, it would be pretty unusual if they all were exactly alike.  They are not.  I saw with my three kids and myself and I went there a long time ago, the access wasn’t equal.  It wasn’t unfair.  It was a good school then; it’s a good school now and we are trying to make it better.  My whole goal has always been to be one of the top schools in the state consistently.  We can’t forget the elementary and middle school.  They are also excellent education facilities.  Changes can come hard to some people.  There is no doubt; change comes hard.  This is a change that can make a difference.  Danny Brown used to say behind every idea or every discussion is a face.  When he said that I would cheer up.  We are not only talking about programs and rooms and teachers, we are talking about individual students, some of which will thrive in this.  I also believe and I know you want to know this, will the top students continue to thrive?  I am being assured that they will and not only will the top students thrive, ones in the middle and ones who are disadvantaged will do even better.  I think the concept here is really good.  Now we just have to work out the details.  The devil is in the details.  That is why we will give the superintendent two weeks and if we have to come back two weeks later or a week later, then this committee is doing their work.  We will do it until we are assured that everything is in line.  Will that mean that we will do this until everyone in the audience agrees with it?  No.  That will never happen.  Not everyone will ever agree with anything.  At least let’s get as many questions answered as possible.  P. Dillon – I can commit in two weeks to work on articulating.  We won’t do another giant presentation.  What will do is share specific work plans in particular areas so if this is where we want to be when school opens on August 26th then this is what we would have done with the 12 teachers who are teaching 9th grade this year over the summer.  In a similar way we are talking about proficiencies for kids, proficiencies for teachers in a really concrete way.  These are the materials that teachers will have in hand from that time to hit the ground running.  Thankfully with the exception of some investment in curriculum and some professional development, this isn’t a huge shift in resources so we don’t have to spend a lot of time on that.  S. Bannon – my one question is, whenever we have done major projects, we have identified stakeholders and I ask you to identify the stakeholders at our next meeting and one of the stakeholders that may or may not be underserved at this point is parents.  We have heard from some people that parents don’t feel they know enough about it.  Just tell us how you are planning to let parents have a buy in.  Parents have a huge stake in this because it is our kids but some parents are not educators and just like many of the school committee isn’t, some are and they may have an advantage or disadvantage, but just make sure that parents understand this and understand what it means for their kids and for them.  When it affects your students, it affects you.  P. Dillon – one of the hard things about this is what we are doing is looking at ourselves really carefully in the mirror.  The underbelly of our school system is most of the time we are really rah rah about who is going to college and where they are going to college and who is going to community college and who is enlisting in the military; we are still a very good school district.  We are doing good work but we could do better work for more young people so we have to look at that.  About 40% of our students are super high-achieving, college bound and on the surface everything is wonderful and rosey and you have a conversation with them and they are wracked with anxiety and self-doubt.  They are sleeping four hours a night and getting 5’s on AP exams and they are exhausted.  How do we work with them to set them up better?  How do we work with kids in the middle to set them up better?  Folks are occasionally disengaged for all sorts of different reasons and the answers to many of those may cut across all of these groups.  S. Bannon – I have always been under the impression, try not to hang your dirty laundry outside but in this case, if you really believe in this plan which obviously you, Jon and Kristi do, you have to, you have to give a rationale why you are doing this.  You can’t on one hand say everything is 100% perfect and on the other hand say we are going to make these changes.  You have no choice.  C. Sprague – didn’t they already do that?  R. Dohoney – no, that’s my point.  I do accept this.  I did vote on the school improvement plan and I read every word of it.  I am accepting the premise we have a problem but I have not seen one shred of data that this is the answer to that problem.  We heard that there are 400 other schools who have found that this is the answer to that problem but none of the data around that.  I think the airing of dirty laundry is done, for me, I don’t speak for anyone else.  I have accepted that we have progress to be made in this area.  I need to see data.  I need a new presentation showing why this is the answer; what the other possible answers are and why they might not work or don’t fit us.  I’m a glass half full guy.  I want to see the positive side and evaluate what we can do.  P. Dillon – in two weeks we will share that.  R. Dohoney – the little bit of what I understood when I read the concept paper last week was, or my only point of concern frankly was this change in the waiting.  I worried about it for two weeks and I had all these questions lined up for it.  Clearly you guys changed your minds about it.  We are getting better with public input.  S. Bannon – I mentioned Danny Brown before.  The other comments and he had a lot of really neat comments, “there are no problems, only opportunities”.  This is an opportunity for us to improve.  P. Dillon – the other thing you may have noticed in us revising our approach to waiting, one of the most important things we did is redefine what advanced work was.  Historically, you could do advanced work only at the AP level or in Krista and Neil’s highest-level portfolio classes.  The range of other advanced work was really limited.  If you are in your third year of automotive and you ripping apart an engine in some super complex way, that should also be conceived as advanced work and be weighted appropriately.  If you are working with John Hartcorn and making the most lovely spindle chair that is advanced work.  Let’s credit it as such.
      • Bonn-Buffoni – The theory of the idea I think is great. I have two kids that have graduated from Monument; I have one in Monument and two in the middle school.  One had an IEP, one had a 504, one is in honors classes.  No child, no student is the same.  I do worry with how it is such a large change at this time to be happening so soon with the kids having so much to deal with, remote/hybrid, I do think that it might be a little bit too much at once.  I think it could be approached just a little bit differently.  I was an alum; I had some of the teachers here.  I loved my time at Monument.  I wanted to have my children have the opportunity that I had.  I wasn’t all great and peachy keen, but when I look at my time at Monument, I am very happy.  I am grateful for what I had.  The kids, even when they are coming into the middle school, and the recommendations are made to the high school as to what level…back when I was going into Monument it was Level 1, 2 and 3.  The kids that were taking the level three classes didn’t feel too good about themselves.  The kids that were taking the level 2 which is now CP, that was average.  I think how the kids are assessed coming into the high school.  My kids filled out scores and then teachers gave their recommendations.  When I was coming in, I was a high honors/honors student in the middle school but yet, I ended up in all level 2 CP classes, moreso, I didn’t know that there was a way that I could change that outcome and neither did my parents.  They never questioned it.  They said ok, well the school says that you should be in level 2 classes.  I think a lot of little things can be tweaked a little bit, even my child that is in honors classes, some kids, even though they have the ability to be in the honors classes are almost scared to be there.  I’ve had my son who is in 11th grade, classes that were honor levels that he was in, the next year when he went to sign up for classes, he signed up for CP.  The schedule comes out and I find out and poor Marci Valesco, because I was saying that is not happening but I wasn’t aware that he had changed all of his classes to the last second.  I think there is a lot more communication in how the kids are assessed and how classes are being signed up for.  I do believe in this approach of learning.  We are missing kids.  My kid that had the IEP, he definitely fell through the cracks of our system.  Sometimes that is just going to happen.  If we can just have the procedures and policies in place so as few students as possible that happens to, as a district, we are doing a wonderful job.  We are not going to make all the kids happy.  We are not going to make all the parents happy.  That is just impossible.  I think we just need to look at giving each student an equal opportunity to do the very best that they can and not be limited in what people think may be able to do or may not be able to do.  Maybe it needs to be reworked into how it is moved into.  I would like to hear from some other teachers, other than the ones that are presenting, what their thoughts are about it.  When I am looking at that, I am thinking this gives me anxiety.  I am thinking about the teacher having to look through each student separately and going through that process.  I know they are doing it already but when you have a group of honors kids or CP kids, typically you have kind of the same level of kids where this is kind of jumping back and forth.  I am just wondering what the other teacher’s thoughts are because it does seem like it is a lot to take on.  I don’t doubt that they can do it.  Absolutely, we have some of the most wonderful teachers out there but I would like to definitely hear from some other teachers as to what their thoughts are.
      • Singer – What I found really disturbing is the amount of kids that really either hated school most of the time or part of the time. I would say with my own kids and their friends, that is probably accurate.  I think that for our kids, we need to do better.   For me to really embrace a new policy it would really help me to look at one class and see how the approach might change for all of the kids because I think it is really important for us to include all of the kids but also to engage everybody in a different way.  I would really like to see the engagement in a different way.  I would really like to see an example.  If we took Mr. Wohl’s class or a math class and how would things change in terms of content and student experience.  That would really be a good example for everybody.  I love thinking that everybody could be included and no kid would start any of these schools thinking that they would be less than able to handle everything that was thrown at them.  As a school, we should get kids the opportunity for building confidence in every way that  we possibly can.  In making the school a better place, we should also think about how to make it more fun; to have kids say, I really want to go to school.  I would really like to see how that looks.  Thank you.
      • St. Peter – First of all I want to thank all of the parents who spoke up tonight. As we saw a couple times in the presentation, it was quoted that all parents want is best for their child.  I really applaud all the parents who spoke up and did just that, speaking up for what is best for their child.  The parent’s #1 job is to advocate for their kids and it is our job as the school committee to take all the kids, all the parents and do what is best for every single one of them to the best of our ability.  Thank you parents for speaking up.  I had a couple of questions.  During the presentation, the data showing the gaps in the first slide, this new system, is there any data showing this will actually reverse that or improve that?  Obviously, it is a big problem; the lack of numbers of CP and IEPs in the honors courses.  Is there any data or anecdotal evidence out there showing that switching from a tracking to a non-tracking will actually improve this?  I would like to see if there is or isn’t.  Will this enable people in the high needs to complete honors courses.  If it is, then it is important for us to see that.  Dovetailing on Diane’s point, looking at the table with students hating school, etc., in and of itself it looks alarming.  I want to know how this compares to other schools?  How does this compare to other different tracks or tracking vs non-tracking?  Are we on the low end of this; are we doing better; is this just normal teenage angst that throughout the country this is how kids are feeling; are we doing a bad job?  I would like to see some perspective there.  If it is a nationwide issue, and it is for both tracking vs non-tracking, then I think that is also important.  Since the last meeting I dove into the radical areas of the internet as far as the tracking goes.  There is more than enough information and data to keep you up all night, so I am not an educator and the professionals here, Peter, Jon, Kristi, I am really excited to see you working on this.  What I have learned with this non-tracking system and what seems to be apparent is the critical step in this is the student/teacher ratio.  Going on what Stacy said earlier and what Bonnie said as far as on the surface this looks like it is going to be more difficult for teachers and they are almost going to have a personalized lesson plan for each student which I think is great and if it gets moving in the right direction, it is a way to increase our equity but it is going to require, in my feeling, lower teacher/student ratios to the low to mid teens.  I would like to see what the proposal is and how exactly that is going to happen.  Do we have enough teachers to handle that?  What are the student/teacher ratios going to be in this new system?  Finally, I would also like to see, I know there was mention, starting with this incoming 8th grade class and going forward, that there will be a change in the curriculum.  Are there classes that are going to be added?  Are there classes that are going to be cut?  What exactly are those changes or do you not know at this time?  I would also like to find out that information before going forward.  P. Dillon – those are all really good questions and we will be responsive to them.
      • Dohoney – in the finance committee meetings, you guys have given us the complete number roster in each class for the high school. I would like to look at that.  I know we did it two year ago so for the last three years, how many kids were in each class.  P. Dillon – we may have it. This particular year is a weird year.  R. Dohoney – I know this year doesn’t really represent it, but let’s look at the years before that.  P. Dillon – one of the things we have seen in the finance committee is, our overall class averages are great.  High school classes with 16 to 18 kids is great.  The upper end can be almost 30 which is not so good and some discreet electives could have as few as 4 or 5 kids in it which is also problematic.  One of the neatest things that might come out of this is to distribute students more evenly so all the classes sizes are not too extreme.  A fascinating thing, if you ever make a high school schedule, every decision you make ripples through the whole thing.  If a student takes french or spanish, it splits the group in half then if you take this kind of math or this kind of math, then it splits the group in half.  If you are in art, woodshop or auto, then it continues to do that and the impact on that should be really interesting.
      • MOTION TO FORMALLY ELIMINATE THE LEVELING OF MATH IN THE 8TH GRADE DOHONEY – WITHDRAWN
        • Dohoney – I have been addressing this for many years. It is stupid.  I never know why we did it.  Everything I heard tonight confirms that it is stupid.  We should not be leveling math in the 8th grade and we certainly shouldn’t do it if we are going to this starting in the 8th grade.  P. Dillon – if we were arguing about coming back two days early or not, then we need a little more time to address that.  S. Bannon – can we put that on the agenda for next time?  P. Dillon – in spirit, I support it.  R. Dohoney – you have been telling me for years, you support it.  I don’t know why we have it.  P. Dillon – Ben would have to weigh in on the conversation but let us have a whole conversation about it and come back to you.  S. Bannon – it will be on the agenda for the 15th.  R. Dohoney – how about the enrichment program at the elementary school?  That should be gone too.  P. Dillon – ok, so we are going to rip off all the scabs.  C. Sprague – this is something that has to be all decided on at once.  There is a vote to either move forward with this change or not but then there will be a lot of nuance discussions that will happen.  R. Dohoney – I’m not trying to group these together.  Those are two that we have talked about for years, it is low hanging fruit that we haven’t dealt with.  B. Fields – this policy would help address that.  P. Dillon – the math thing in the 8th grade is a real interesting one.  There are two ways to go on it; maybe three.  One is continue to do what we are doing which you described as problematic and I agree.  The other is, like much of the nation is doing, have 8th graders everywhere take algebra so that when kids get to high school, they can do a more rigorous sequence.  Then there is a counter argument that some math people make that the rush to do algebra early before kids are developmentally ready is problematic so doing it in 8th grade is challenging.  Let us come back to you on this.  R. Dohoney – that is completely fair.  I withdraw my motion.
      • Sub Committee Reports:
        • Policy Sub Committee – N/A
        • Building and Grounds Sub Committee – J. St. Peter – we did meet on the 25th to access the space in schools for the rest of the year once we heard the kids were coming back. Steve Soule led us though so I will keep the high points here.  The elementary school is in good shape.  They have already been full time, four days a week so we are just adding the half a day Wednesday.  They might just need a couple more desks.  Going forward, it just needs a good spring cleaning before the school year ends.  With this pandemic situation, there have been a lot of odds and ends that have built up over the years and it is probably a good idea to do a good purge.  The middle school is very confident they can swing it very easily.  The custodians have already started moving the furniture around and replacing some desk to get the spacing.  The storage container should already be there so over vacation week they can get some storage done.  One container should do it to just maximize the space.  At the time of the meeting, the high school didn’t have a date set for bringing back the students.  Steve is working with Kristi on this and he didn’t think there would be very much trouble.  Storage pods are easy to get so now that there has been a hard day set for the high school, all the stuff that needs to be put in storage that is in the gym or auditorium or cafeteria that can be used a class space will be put in pods and there will be no excuse for not using the space because it was being used for storage.  I am assuming we will meet again to discuss the high school and the rest of the middle school.
        • Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee – N/A
        • Technology Sub Committee – N/A
        • Finance Sub Committee – N/A
        • District Consolidation & Sharing Sub-Committee – N/A
      • Personnel Report: Dillon – yesterday, Cathay Bourquard, who has been with the district for 15 years as a payroll technician, retired.  We celebrate her and thank her for her service.
        • Non-Certified Appointment(s)
        • Re-assignment(s)
        • Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
      • Business Operation
      • Education News
      • Old Business
      • New Business
        • Public Comment – S. Boyd – I know it has been a long meeting and I appreciate the due process that you guys went through. I want to clarify, because I think there were some comments after the parent comments that suggested that many of us were concerned about our own children.  While certainly we show up here as parents, I want to speak also as an employer and someone very much concerned about the fabric of our community.  I support proficiency-based learning as does Ellen.  I hope you do it this year.  I hope you rip the band-aid off, I think it is the right thing to do.  My comments are focused on the professional development and the process that I think is required to implement this change with effectiveness.  As you approach the next meeting in two weeks, what I am eager to hear about is how will teachers who have traditionally taught standard English approach students who would have otherwise been in honors English and vice versa.  While I can appreciate that teachers like Matt Wohl have tremendous range, my experience is that not all of them do.  I am very eager to hear about the process and the professional development that will make this plan really effective.  I think it is critical.  I support it and I hope that you do it.  Dillon – thank you Steve.  We will talk about this and Kristi will work with her faculty on it but this is the kind of innovation that you select and ask people to volunteer to be a dream team.  Two things you want, people who are really committed to making it work, people who have a wide skill set or people who are so committed to making it work, they will grow through the skill set.  A lot of time over the summer, framing and meeting and providing support and structuring ways so when we open school in August, everyone will have an exceptional experience but particularly the 9th graders in a new model will have an exceptional experience.  I agree with you on that.
          • Steve & Stacy Shultz – I just want to thank you for hearing what we had to say and thank you Steven for clarifying because I echo that. The proficiency-based learning is not what I personally question.  It is really about the process of implementing it.  Seeing what a classroom would look like, having a deleveled experience would make me feel better.  I think part of this mistrust or distrust because we have experienced that our children have not been adequately challenged and it is not about a piece of paper or a qualification of how many AP courses they have on their transcript, it is the fact that we want them to be life-long learners.  If they are not interested in their learning, they are becoming disenfranchised with the experience.  We are right back with that group of people who are like, do I want to go to school, do I like it?  Right now my kids like it.  They want to be in school.  I want to foster that.  Almost at every turn they have been questioned.  Do you really want to sign up for that college course?  You’re a sophomore.  Are you capable of that?  Yes, so much capable that they are getting As.  So how can I continue to give them the support that they need and also support everyone at every level because as an invested person in this community I want the other children who may not be performing at my kid’s level to have those opportunities because it is important for us to have these qualified people in our community.  I question this needed focus on pathways.  I wonder if it is going to fulfill its purpose of reducing high education or post-secondary school enrollment because we are having these wonderful trace people not go to college.  We need the data points and how we are collecting that and using them to make our decisions are going to be key moving forward to building trust and valuing everyone for what they are contributing to our society.  Some of the secret sauce that we have brought to the fight is our involvement.  How many people are on this meeting?   How many parents?  How many parents have been at other meetings?  What are we doing as a community to engage parents that aren’t here?  I would argue that the parents that are at this meeting might be the ones that need to be to help get their kids up to the next level because quite frankly it shouldn’t be the teacher’s responsibility to make sure that the kids excel.  I would also like to be part of that discussion.  How do we engage other parents to be part of the solution?
          • Grossman – I want to say a couple of things. In most of the meetings I have been on, the refrain of parent’s input is not as valid because we are not professional educators.  Honestly, it’s tedious and it’s wrong.  Parents asking for more information about their kid’s one shot at a secondary education is entirely valid.  I say this with my own kids not being impacted by any of these changes.  They are older so they are not going to go through it.  We are here actually representing what we think is an important viewpoint for all parents in this district.  That is why we are spending our time on this tonight and on these meetings, not for our own children.  Let me make that clear.  Parents represent a critical stakeholder group in this process and please, you can tell I’m a little bit tired of this but we don’t deserve to be patronized as we have been with some of the statements that have been made about that we don’t have a valid view because we are not educators.  Some of us, actually like me, have deep experience in exactly what is being proposed.  I have led faculty tours to high tech high, I’ve met with the Stanford University next generation science people, Paula Blickstein of the Inventor of  Fab Labs, I’ve worked with the Brookings Institution and with the Institute of the Future around 21st Century education and I worked for seven years at the Aspen Institute alongside the research program that is sited in the districts own research and I worked for two years just around faculty development around project-based learning.  So I actually know something about this and am really concerned about the district’s way they are proposing this.  The sweeping over all, not prototyping something small, not learning from data and especially with class sizes the way they are, this works best with 12:1 or fewer; it works best when teachers are either are exceptional, like with Mr. Wohl who I get the pleasure of listening to whenever my kids are zooming.  He is an exceptional teacher and he could actually do this.  He could do this tomorrow.  I worked with a faculty of 100 and trying to get them to work through project-based learning which $100,000 budget I had was a huge lift.  I think the rapidity with how this is happening and the sweeting nature of this is not right and of course I think we need to address parents who are not in this room.  Thank you for letting me speak.  I really hope there is more research done.  Deep research on what has worked well for districts, what the context of those schools and why does it work well for High Tech High?  Why does it work well in Casco Bay and what is different about this district and take a more gradual approach and possibly even bring in some consultants from those schools who can talk to you about how this might work in our own context.  For the kids who are younger than my own, this is one chance at a secondary education.  They have practically already lost a year and a half because of COVID so let’s really pay attention to what we are doing to our students.  Thank you.
          • Caroline Sprague – I wanted to chime in quickly. I am an alum graduate of Monument and I graduated in 2016.  I am so wholeheartedly in support of joining the classes.  I think this is a really exciting opportunity for a couple for a couple of reasons.  I want to speak first to the fact that to a certain extent these opportunities already exist at Monument.  That is part of what makes it so special.  I noticed it in really small ways.  For example, my senior year, I was taking AP calculus and we were offered the chance to split into two classes near the end of the year; those who wanted to take the calculus AP exam and the calculus BC exam and through collaboration with two different teacher we were able to make a class that achieve those two different studying and learning modes and that particular point in the year.  It was successful in that we got to have a combination of learning together and separately.  I think that tiny example is a microcosm of what this plan could look like.  I know there is a lot of evidence going into this decision and I think that is wonderful.  When I was applying to colleges, I was sort of tracking into what some would call higher-level colleges.  I was applying to some Iveys and I can say without a shadow of a doubt that it was not the number of AP classes that I took or the grades that I obtained that did end up resulting in my college acceptances.  I was waitlisted at six out of the 10 schools I applied to and I was not accepted to Brown which is ultimately where I went.  It was actually after I submitted an additional letter to Brown and explained all of the other opportunities that Monument had provided me with, which was when I was a second semester senior, I was allowed to do an independent study.  I got to direct a show with partnership with Berkshire Theatre Group which was a flexibility given by Monument.  I can really say it was that experience and being able to explain that experience that made me a different candidate for the school.  I think Monument is an innovator and this is a really exciting opportunity for it to continue to innovate and as many have already said the current system is inequitable.  I think this isolated opportunity to just try the incoming grade is a great way to test it out and to go from there.  I think it is really exciting and I look forward to seeing what happens next.
        • Written Communication

MOTION TO ADJOURN – R. DOHONEY               SECONDED:  M. THOMAS                        ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

Meeting Adjourned at 8:27pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

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Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

 

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School Committee Secretary