Great Barrington           Stockbridge        West Stockbridge


Monument Valley Middle School- Library – 7:00 p.m.

 August 18, 2016


School Committee:   D. Weston, R. Dohoney, S. Bannon,  J. St. Peter, W. Fields, F. Clark

Administration:        P. Dillon, 

Staff/Public:      M. Berle, B. Doren, M. Young, S. Soule, J. Briggs, Kate Burdsall

Absent:   K. Piasecki, R. Bradway, C. Shelton, A. Potter, S. Harrison

List of Documents Distributed:

August 18, 2016 revised agenda; June 16, 2016 Minutes; MMRHS Self Study Report and Programmatic Overview

 RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed, after the fact, from DVD provided by CTSB . Length of meeting: 1hr 42 min



Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order @ 7:00pm



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 and will be broadcast at a later date. Members of the audience may record with the Chair’s permission. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, once approved.



BHRSD School Committee Meeting: – June, 16 2016 minutes

Motion to approve minutes: J.StPeter    Seconded: F.Clark       Approved: Unanimous





P.Dillon: Last week had two-day retreat for administrators: beginning discussions and brainstorming around reimagining, worked with experienced person regarding the national

reform process. Written report will be shared with the School Committee and eventually with the Union.

B.Doren: Local family was able to purchase two tickets to an early August James Taylor concert in Foxboro w/ box seats, meeting James Taylor. They put the two tickets up for auction on the Charitybuzz website and were purchased for well over $15,000 which was donated to Monument Valley.   Use: $5,000 band; $5,000 to support Shakespeare and Company;  $5,000 to support scholarships for our nature’s classroom and Washington DC trip so we can guarantee that all children can participate.

S.Bannon calls for motions to accept the donation and then also for acceptance of proposed use.


R.Dohoney makes a motion to accept the donation from CharityBuzz through Berkshire Taconic in the amount of $15,521.55 to benefit middle school enrichment programs.          Seconded:  W.Fields


F.Clark: Can we accept donations that have a condition on them? What is the basic policy?

R.Dohoney: The motion has a restriction (enrichment programs) but the donation does not, other than it’s for DBM.

Policy: Peter Dillon reads: Policy KCD- Public gifts to schools.  The school committee will have the authority to accept gifts and offers of equipment for the district in the name of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District School Committee when the gift is of educational value. In the

case of gifts from industry business or special interest groups no extensive advertising or promotion may be involved in any donation to the district. Gifts that would involve changes in district plants or sites will be subject to School Committee approval. Gifts will automatically become the property of the District. Any gift of cash, whether or not intended by the donor for a specific purpose, will be handled as a separate account and expended at the discretion of the School Committee as approved by law. The School Committee directs the superintendent to ensure that an appropriate expression of thanks was given all donors.

Motion Accepted: Unanimously


  1. Dohoney makes motion appropriate the money as set forth by Principle Doren, Seconded: W.Fields Approved: Unanimously to have a second now discussion all


P.Dillon: If Marianne Young could give context about how we came to the self-study, where we were with NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges), then open up Q&A.


  • The self-study received in packet captures Monument Mountain really well & serves as both the self-study and a programmatic overview. We moved to this initiative about five years ago when we were facing significant budget cuts again. The New England Association of Schools and Colleges site visit evaluation cost was $20,000 for us to host a 15 member team; about $17,000 of the $20,000 was for hotel rooms, mileage, and food. It was recommended to the school committee at the time that we not participate in that because of the expenditure but that we could do our own.
  • Another piece of info: The New England Association of Schools and Colleges became the accreditation arm for public high schools 40-45 years ago when there were no other measures for colleges or universities to really know what was happening in high schools. With the advent of No Child Left Behind and the internet’s ability to access data about our school systems, seemed no longer necessary. We surveyed colleges and universities (Yale, Williams, UMass BCC) asking if we were not part of the New England association with that impact our students ability to get into those schools and they said it would not,
  • Came to agree that what MMRHS would measure itself by its our own mission statement. “This is who we say we are. This is what we say we do. Do we do it?”
  • In doing a self-study, the people we should hear from are the colleges and universities, businesses, community members who support our school. The people who are receiving our students after they complete their high school program at Monument and do they see evidence that we are preparing our students to enter their schools/businesses/ programs/our community to the degree they expect and need.
  • There’s a long standing phrase, “That’s not the Monument Way”. First foray into this in 2012 was to define what that meant; can be used as an accolade, it can be used as a statement of pride, but can also be used as a criticism. Needed to understand what “The Monument Way” was.


  • Asked- “Are we who we say we are and how do we know?”
  • Self evaluation and examined expectations through whole leadership structure and departments.
  • Bring in people and ask them questions about our program: “What do you see? What would you expect to see?” and get that feedback.

Where we are now:

  • Left with wonderful comments about our strength and very clear criticisms about where we are missing the mark and where we could do better.
  • Result are of our own self-assessment and of the observations of our community partners and the beginnings of the next steps.
  • Asked teachers in last meeting 1) ID the low-hanging fruit that we could address this coming year that needed no money and no change in staff, just simple willingness on our part to do and think  differently and to think a little differently about what we’re doing; 2) List long-term  initiatives/ ideas that are going to cost money and need more review.
  • Data: test scores, school profile, report card. Feedback directly from teachers and community partners. Leadership structure: people feel very strongly about needing some form of department chair or department supervisor back.
  • Almost every department talked about our middle level CP students & where are we with them. Strong programs for struggling students, strong programs for honors and advanced students but almost all teachers felt that our work with the middle level or the college pre needs attention and some more innovation on reaching and connecting with those students.
  • In the back of the document all of what we offer for a sense of what’s going on in the school but that piece of the self-study will commence this year and probably won’t take as long but we need to do a similar review of of that piece of our program

Conclusion:  “Yes, we are we who we say we are but we can keep going, we’re not finished yet.”


R.Dohoney: Re: DEPARTMENT HEADS. Where are we with that?

M.Young: No faculty feels need to abandon current shared leadership model. But is there

a way to respond to the need that our faculty feels in a creative model? Could there be four department leaders? We’ll be taking on right away in the fall is what could a model look like because we need to do that now to propose anything for FY18.

R.Clark: breaking down or blending departments?

M.Young: Maybe. Common theme was need for management roll around ordering and substitutes. Facilitating change but also connecting departments.  Almost every department talked about wanting to know more about what’s going on in other departments.

R.Dohoney: Talk of supplementing the administration to fill in that gap in the day-to-day stuff?

M.Young: No one said we need a dean of students or assistants. It’s more about the

shared / distributed leadership and giving some teachers more authority in time.

Themes: communication, follow through, content area knowledge- a teacher leader with more authority but not be an administrator.

F.Clark: CURRICULUM BLENDING- Does a comprehensive high school model still work? Can we be all things to all people? When talked about renovating Monument and we talked about the division between career education and the STEM program or can we work towards something that breaks down the division and the curriculum gets more blended.

M.Young: MMRHS is more blended now than it’s been in a long time.  REPORT: Has both science & art feedback, mentions design & design-thinking. Design thinking similar to the engineering mind & shows up in CBTE section . Community partners said design way of thinking, traditionally vocational programs or science, needs blended and cross-curricular. Horticulture & automotive technology still strong supported by the state. Woodworking numbers are climbing-a lot of blending of art and woodworking. Computer technology and business – blending all the time. The comprehensive high is still essential.

F.Clark: 3 parts- Current snapshot; deficiencies or opportunities; forward-looking (5-10yr) plan.

Looking for self-study to help to inform when coming back to renovating the building.

M.Young: “Next steps” section shows our forward thinking plans.

Departments identified what they can do now and what needs to happen.

Faculty & department meetings to start setting that direction including collaboration and cross-disciplinary teaching.

F.Clark: ASSESSMENT: Are we testing what’s needed, are we getting good results, are we being informed?

M.Young: Standardized: state and national level – doing well; MCAS: Required to pass to graduate- results back: All passed English language arts. Two failed Math; AP scores- doing well; SAT results not yet in for 2015/2016; ACT: at or well above state and national averages.

School based assessments:  we are moving from mid-term & final exams. Now have mid-year

assessments & end-of-course assessments: asking teachers to design an assessment with/for students that helps them here and see what the students have learned. Some teachers continue w/objective tests (math and science) but most are turning it over to students to demonstrate what was learned, how thinking has changed and how students informed by the time in class. Teachers getting good feedback and students are taking more ownership. Self-study: indicated need to do a better job of giving students opportunity to demonstrate what they’ve learned in ways that are authentic / engaging to them. Discussed end of unit performance assessments having students

demonstrate more frequently through  semester / year their learning through benchmarking.

For 2017 exploring and defining in common: College Prep, AP, Honor Student, Honors level class, “A” paper/performance- what these look like and are we on the same page about that so I

W.Fields: STRESS: Worked on study. Through teaching and Committee, always been concerned about the amount of stress put on Monument students. Taking on overwhelming things out of expectation, especially in the AP program. Student interviews showed the “Monument Way”: that people care for students at MMRHS. Because of pressure there are many students that get lost. 100-125 students per guidance counselor. “AP track” is very popular. During exit interview, many students look back and say, “Wow, I missed a lot and I was under a lot of pressure and now i’m just off. Thank God I’m outta here.” What is Monument’s plan for keeping that personal connection that every student so badly needs?

M.Young:  Community partners felt mostly students were glad to be in school, were respectful, pleasant, & engaged. Unrealistic thinking for 550 or 600 students being known well by just the guidance department, it’s a shared responsibility with all adults in building that every student find an adult advocate. Advocate: 1-on-1, when stressed/overwhelmed, help students navigate life. Guidance section: counselor’s said we’re missing the mark and some of the practices that we were putting into place need to expand and shift the role of the guidance counselor to start that career-plan-thinking to talk about where students are headed.

Need for Senior Seminar: Can we bring in people from our community to teach these kind of courses and give needed feedback for supporting students?

Special Ed program observations: Feedback- SPED students are segregated just by learning lab locations. Needs more integration with the general education or academic program AND

the general ed teachers & special ed teachers are working more closely together.

It’s going to have to be innovative, but facing challenges & finding solutions with effort from students and staff has always been “The Monument Way”.

W.Fields: SCHEDULE: How do we make the day/schedule work with so many options with so few hours without overdoing the stress? Take into account: sleep schedules, productive times, length of school day/school year, enrichment/extracurricular/sports practices, amount of homework.

M.Young: It depends on what question you’re answering most. Schools manage between 500-1,000 teenagers. Schedules are more than designing opportunities for kids to be engaged in subject study. It’s about: feeding them, running buses, managing behaviour. One school looked at does a three-day one-subject rotation, so students not dealing with seven subjects of homework and moving their brains 7 times in a day. Interesting model. We came up with a really interesting schedule a couple of years ago, liked it but was really challenging for the teachers and we moved off it quickly. Did I let us off the hook too soon on that? If we had stayed and tried one more time would we have gotten better at it? We tend, especially w/ schedules, to move & make decisions quickly.  When we make a change, do we not stay with it long enough to see if we can really adapt our practices and the culture of the school? We’re going to have to look at the schedule because we can’t keep doing what we’re doing and expect the same result with fewer resources. Changing a schedule is more than just getting more time for less money. It’s about teaching practices, how we engage students and how they learn. The self-study gives the foundation to be creative.

P.Dillon: Part of the reason we brought in Janet Price to the administrator’s retreat is her strong background in scheduling.

D.Weston: SCIENCE LABS: I’ve been astonished with how few labs my children have done at MMRHS and DBM.  I expect them actually do a lab when they have a lab period.

M.Young: Came out of the self-study is traditional teacher-led labs are being  flipped around where the students are using that lab period to explore/ experiment/ research to answers intriguing questions & of trying to empower students for their own education and becoming

informed learners.

F.Clark: Education through questioning and inquiry and not the old model of the teacher standing up in front of the classroom giving out history dates. Seems there’s a good component, an underlying thread that we can build on in that direction.

M.Young: Lots of beautiful schedules and creative approaches to positive educational experiences. On October 21st, half day afternoon, every teacher will be visiting another school and be observing their content areas (sitting in a couple of classes) in their area, then talking about schedule and the strengths of those schools/teachers in their own environment.

D.Weston: STAFF- Up to full staff to start year? All positions full?

M.Younge: Yes. We just a paraprofessional resigned today but in terms of teachers, everything is in place.

R.Dohoney: STRESS CHANGES- Question for Bill Fields and MaryAnn: Stress issue is any different (Bill) now than it was 20 years ago when you want like teaching there?  and (MaryAnn)

versus statewide and nationally?

W.Fields:  I think it’s much more now. The expectations that the students have internalized from somewhere are greater. Ex: Student said, “I was AP track. I was honors freshman year then AP sophomore, junior, senior years. I was stressed but it was my choice.” and when asked if she felt good about it, she said,  “I feel good. I got into where I want to go. I’m prepared but I missed out on a lot….I never took an art course. I didn’t have time.  I regret that because we have such a great art department that I never took an art course.”(She took music as her graduating art requirement.) Then a friend next to here said, “See you should have done what I did, I

just took honors. I took CP chem and I wasn’t stressed out.”

M.Young: Is the same across the country. What’s interesting is that people are seeing it,

people are acknowledging it, educators are saying, “This is too much.” and yet no one jumped enough yet to say, “We’re not going to do this to our students. We’re not going to offer AP.” Very few at all, especially public schools. When you are in school, anything that you did was compared to other kids at Monument maybe other students in Berkshire County. We didn’t have the data that compared you to your counterpart in Virginia or Washington. With the advent of the internet and really simple things like Facebook or Instagram, the the pressure that is on young people (and people in general) to perform now is crazy. The combination of pressure from schools and colleges and this very public persona that people have now make for a lot of pressure for anybody but certainly for a 16/17 year-old.

D.Weston: I’ve been told at colleges on the West Coast & on the East Coast that they are looking to see that a student took the most challenging level classes you school offered.  So they look at your school’s profile to see what the high-level classes are. If we got rid of all AP and honors they’d be happy with that but I don’t think that’s a good solution.

M.Young: To say to the School Committee of Berkshire Hills that our faculty recommends no more AP, the risk to students of not getting into the schools they want to get into is pretty high. We’re dealing with students’ lives and futures and families and emotional well-being. We have to be careful and have to know what we’re talking about and what I know is that every program that we’ve offered at Monument has helped students get into school. If they choose not to be an AP class but they choose the independent project or the internship or the independent studies, our students have done well. The three-page lists of colleges that our students have been accepted to in the last five years is very impressive, and across the board they’re getting into those, but they have to show something that demonstrates that they made the conscious choice to push themselves to do it.


P.Dillon: Handbooks– updated every year. Ready to share with parents and students.

S.Bannon: We need to approve then we can discuss.

D.Weston made a motion to approve the three school handbooks,    Seconded: J.StPeter


W.Fields: There is a District Policy on vandalism. Mention made in MMRHS handbook page 26, but not DBM or MBE handbooks. That statement should be transferred to the middle school and elementary school handbooks. Something should be specifically said about vandalism and that breaking of windows is unacceptable. Specifically stated that if the perpetrator or perpetrators

are are caught “this” is going to be what the result is.

P.Dillon: Asked to W.Fields: As a point of clarity- 1) What do you feel is our obligation is a district? Is it irresponsible that we have lots of little rocks around a building that’s filled with elementary and middle school-age kids and do we have an obligation to do something about that;

like move the rocks? 2) What would you think would be a reasonable response?

W.Fields: 1) First thing is that I would expect/hope that the kids wouldn’t be picking up the rocks and throwing them, as part they are of the drainage system. Maybe it’s a supervision problem.

2) Was there an internal suspension or some other order of disciplinary action? Is there a school meeting at the beginning of the year talking about respect for the building?

F.Clark: There’s a section regarding restitution for vandalism in the middle school handbook

that says that we have the right to bill and collect for the cost to repair damage done. Is your objection to this statement about discipline or behavior or is your statement about monetary restitution and being held responsible?

W.Fields: Being held responsible.

F.Clark: It’s already in the handbook, we just need to enforce it.

We have a statement on positive behavior. Is there a statement about punishment for negative behavior? Not limiting it to vandalism but to social behavior, like bullying?

B.Doren: We have a discipline policy. There’re suspensions for activities like this. We also bill the families when that happens. I welcome any language that you suggest that to consistently align the elementary middle and high school. We do restorative practices because once you do all of that, you have to heal the community.

W.Fields: I’m totally in favor of restorative practices but the being on the building and grounds committee, wondered what’s being done to stop the behavior. Then it happened again and again.

B.Doren:I addressed what you said with some really clear responses: We have ways of dealing with it from a disciplinary standpoint- that’s part of what the school committee in the district has in terms of policy. We bill the families and collect the money and we do the restorative work. That’s really about all we can do in terms of being immediate, swift, reactive but also visionary and then proactive about trying to prevent it.

Happy to come to a buildings and grounds meeting to talk too.

W.Fields: I think there’s something should be said about what would that these windows that this action was done and that you know this is we can’t accept this

D.Weston: Bill your passion for protecting the district it’s not lost on us.

Motion Approved: Unanimously



  • Southern Berkshire Shared Services Project (SBSSP)-P.Dillon: Spending most of our time in the 6 South County Districts is getting ready to do technology work and look at technology across the district. Share updates on that going forward. Lots of professional development & curriculum work to
  • Regional Agreement Amendment Process- Skip
  • Discussions with Shaker Mountain, Lee & Farmington River -R.Dohoney: Met earlier. Made a list to add order to the district’s we’re going to be meeting with. Another round of meetings w/ Farmington River, Lee, Richmond. Not delving into the tuition agreement, still going to identify areas where we can talk about tuition but this will be a threshold to see if there is interest to continue talks. Decided to initiate some contact w/ Southern Berkshire, adding them to the list of people were hoping to meet with.



Policy Sub Committee- S.Bannon: Two second readings, did the first reading so these we need a motion and a second to vote on these:

F.Clark made motion to accept policy JKAA-Physical Restraint of Students and policy JICFB-Bullying Prevention. This is the second reading.     Seconded: W.Fields   Approved: Unanimous

D.Weston: Post Comment-Policies like these get related to the staff because of

the beginning of year prep practices that take place and there’s legal mandates that they get updated on those particular things but coming from a teacher point of view, changes to the policies should require notification to all employees.

S.Bannon: Agreed

P.Dillon: We’ll figure out the best way to send regular updates to staff and students.

Next Policy meeting: September 1, 2016 @ 5:45pm DBM

-Building and Grounds  Sub Committee- J.StPeter: haven’t met

-Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee- D.Weston: Next meeting: Tues Sept. 30 @6pm

-Technology Sub Committee- S.Bannon: I would like to see the technology sub committee either meet or disband by November since haven’t met recently.

P.Dillon: Dave Long is working on a presentation/paper. In process of getting feedback from the principles & some other staff. When data is in graph form, will schedule a meeting.

-Finance Sub Committee- S.Bannon: Next meeting tentatively scheduled for September 14th @ 6pm

-Regional Agreement Amendment Sub Committee- S.Bannon:  Cancelled August meeting. Next meeting is September 20th

-District Consolidation & Sharing Sub-Committee- R.Bradway


PERSONNEL REPORT- P.Dillon: All hired up. Principals, teachers and hiring committees did a nice job early in the summer. Refilled all our positions with exception of the one para position.


       Name                                                         Position                                                                 Fund                      Salary/Stipend

                                                                                                                                                             Source                 Effective Date:

Certified Appointment(s):
Tierney, MaryScience Teacher – Gr. 5-8 Monument ValleyEffective 8/29/16 @ BA Step 3 ($43,130) (replaces Randall Koldys)
Leslie, BrianSocial Studies – Gr. 9-12 – MMRHSEffective 8/29/16 @ MA+60 Step 14 ($74,312)  (replaces Emily Olds)
Freadman, HollyOne Year Appt. – Gr 9-12 English – MMRHSEffective 8/29/16 – 6/30/16 @ MA Step 7 ($53,057)(replaces Meghan St. John)
O’Dell, DannyTech Ed/Design Teacher – Monument ValleyEffective 8/29/16 @ MA Step 4 ($47,509) (replaces Deb Tesoniero)
Herraez Hernandez, ElsaBiology Teacher – Monument MountainEffective 8/29/2016 @ CAGS Step 1 ($59,289) (replaces Kathryn McDonnell)
Long-Term Substitutes:
Martin, Dennis.4 Long-term Substitute – Social StudiesEffective 8/29/2016 – 1/30/2017 (aprx.)
@ .4 of BA Step 1 – $86.80

(replaces Anne D’Aniello)

Olds, Katelyn.5 Mathematics Teacher – MMRHS08/04/2016
Extra-Curricular Appointment(s):

(coaches/advisors/project leaders, etc.)

(All 2016-2017 unless otherwise noted)Fund Source
Monument Mountain   
Hankey, ThomasVarsity Baseball CoachStipend: $4,108
Roy, ThomasSummer Fellow92ship – RoboticsTitle IIAStipend: $500
Campbell, MichelleAtlas Summer Fellowship – NutritionTitle IIAStipend: $500
Mooney, MichaelJacob’s Pillow Curriculum in Motion LiaisonStipend: $500
Saporito, MichaelBoys Varsity Basketball CoachStipend: $4,108


Kelly, ChristineWellness Coordinator(20682)Stipend: $1,500


BUSINESS OPERATION______________________________________________________________________________





 NEW BUSINESS______________________________________________________________________________




S.Bannon called for motion to adjourn.

Moved: D.Weston     Seconded: W.Fields      Approved: Unanimously


Public Session Adjourned at 8:42 pm

The next meeting is scheduled for September 1, 2016 @ 7pm – MBE Library


Submitted by:    Rebecca Burcher, Recorder


Rebecca Burcher, Recorder



School Committee Secretary