Minutes – December 12, 2019
BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – Library
December 12, 2019 – 7pm
School Committee: A. Hutchinson, J. St. Peter, S. Bannon, A. Potter, B. Fields, M. Thomas, S. Stephen, D. Weston
Administration: P. Dillon, S. Harrison
Staff/Public: K. Farina, B. Doren, K. Burdsall, T. Lee
Absent: R. Dohoney, D. Singer
List of Documents Distributed:
RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB. Length of meeting: 1 hour, 44 minutes.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 7pm.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
REORGANIZATION OF SCHOOL COMMITTEE:
- Election of Officers
- Chair – MOTION TO ELECT STEVE BANNON FOR CHAIR WESTON SECONDED – B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Vice Chair – MOTION TO ELECT ANDY POTTER FOR VICE CHAIR – J. ST. PETER SECONDED – B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Assistant Treasurer – MOTION TO ELECT DAN WESTON FOR ASSISTANT TREASURER
B. FIELDS SECONDED – A. POTTER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Secretary – MOTION TO ELECT DIANE SINGER FOR SECRETARY – A. POTTER SECONDED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Treasurer – Richard Jette (appt. 06/06/2019 for FY20)
Recorder – Christine Kelly (appt. 06/06/2019 for FY20)
- Chair – MOTION TO ELECT STEVE BANNON FOR CHAIR WESTON SECONDED – B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Appointment of School Committee Representatives to Other Committees
- Negotiating Subcommittee – Stephen Bannon, Daniel Weston, Anne Hutchinson, Molly Thomas
Policy Subcommittee – Stephen Bannon, Andrew Potter, Sean Stephen, Jason St. Peter
Warrant Subcommittee – Richard Dohoney, Stephen Bannon, Daniel Weston, Andrew Potter, William Fields
Building & Ground Subcommittee – Jason St. Peter, William Fields, Molly Thomas, Diane Singer
Superintendent Evaluation & Advisory Sub-Committee – Andrew Potter, Anne Hutchinson Sean Stephen
Technology Sub-Committee – Andrew Potter, Stephen Bannon Sean Stephen, Richard Dohoney Daniel Weston
Finance Sub-Committee – Richard Dohoney, Stephen Bannon, Daniel Weston, Andrew Potter, William Fields
District Consolidation & Sharing Sub-Committee – Stephen Bannon, Richard Dohoney Anne Hutchinson, Sean Stephen Molly Thomas
School Center, Inc. – Diane Singer, Jason St. Peter, Stephen Bannon
Fund for Excellence – William Fields Diane Singer – Alternate
Vocational Advisory Board – Stephen Bannon, Andrew Potter, Molly Thomas, Sean Stephen, Jason St. Peter
MASC Representative – Andrew Potter, William Fields
Educational Committee (formed for the purpose to discuss consolidation with SBRSD) – Steve Bannon, Sean Stephen, Andy Potter, Anne Hutchinson, Molly Thomas
8 Town School Consolidation Committee (formed for the purpose to discuss consolidation with SBRSD) – Steve Bannon & delegates from member town boards
- Negotiating Subcommittee – Stephen Bannon, Daniel Weston, Anne Hutchinson, Molly Thomas
November 7, 2019 School Committee Minutes
November 21, 2019 School Committee MinutesMOTION TO ACCEPT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF NOVEMBER 7, 2019 AND NOVEMBER 21, 2019 B. FIELDS SECONDED: J. ST. PETER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Dillon – prior to this meeting we had an executive meeting. This has been a busy month or so for us relative to incidents at the middle school about a month ago, and I think we made some real progress there. We did a lot of work in the community. We formed a very proactive and positive group; faith leaders and community leaders, and there are about 25 people part of that; rabbis and priests and head of NAACP, Railroad Street, Bridge, Berkshire South and other organizations like that. We met and it provoked some letter writing. Ben has a very interesting plan to bring that group together with some students in January to really activate student voices, and out of that there is additional work with the ADL and our staff on Friday, tomorrow. We are excited about that. The most recent thing was this unfounded, unsubstantiated allegation of a bomb threat or a shooting or something at the high school. It is unsubstantiated, it is unfounded. We work very closely with the Great Barrington Police Department and an in turn with the State Police on this and there is no evidence of what people have been talking about. The other side of it though is there is a heightened level of anxiety in the world and particularly in our community particularly around the high school. Even though there is no evidence of the threat, people believe there was a threat so we have to work through that. In the newsletter going out tomorrow in all the schools, there will be some information about how to identify and manage anxiety. That was put together by the folks that have the closest handle on that in the district so social workers, guidance counselors and nurses. That will be a resource and there was some stuff we generated and it contains some links to documents from the Brien Center. Hopefully that will be a productive thing to share with the community, families and parents. The other thing is when something like this happens, whether it is substantiated or not, we reflect on what we do and how we did it and could we do things better. It is pretty clear that our communication wasn’t as clear as it could be and we are going to work hard on that. A couple of shifts, I already talked to the principals and other administrators about this, our community in many ways is like the Norman Rockwell gossip thing but on steroids in the context of social media. When a story goes, it really goes. The way to combat an incorrect narrative is to be crystal clear about it. In the future if something happens in the high school, and I hope it doesn’t or in any school, I have a list of about 1600 people and going forward if something happens, all 1600 people are going to hear about it directly from me in what is hopefully crystal-clear language, very quickly. That will squash some of what we experienced in this last incident. We will work hard on that. We will continue to work with the police as well. The other thing too and I said this a couple of different ways in different times, if somebody thinks they know something and they think they understand something, reach out to the people that can take action on it. Reach out to principals, me, teachers, local police or state police before you post something on Facebook, think about sharing it with somebody who can actually take action. It appears in this case, much of the information that was being shared was not correct, might there might be a situation where somebody hears something from there son or daughter or grandchild and we really need to know about it in minutes. If you have information, please share it with us. I would rather sort through a lot of inaccurate information and get something than miss something because people decided not to share it.
- Dillon – every once in a while someone calls me and says you need to come see something and I got to drop in on the Jacob’s Pillow collaboration. The next time that happens, everybody needs to be there and we need to do it in a bigger space. It was so engaging and so wonderful and such an antidote to all this other stuff. Teachers, kids dancing and moving in super interesting ways. There were English classes, the Acting and Directing class, English as a Second Language class composed entirely of recent immigrants, a horticulture class that did this super complex dance around holiday wreaths with holiday lights and ribbon and wire. I am not doing it justice but it was remarkable. How the kids were not embarrassed to work with each other and how they worked entirely intentive to their peers and respectable to all; people taking tremendous risks in their moments but also not being embarrassed around what they were doing and the performing artists worked with them both to model things and to hold them to a high standard. Some of the most interesting stuff I have ever seen.
- Good News Item(s)
- Tim Lee, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – A tradition at our school, the Thanksgiving for All drive, has been happening for a number of years. It is a collaboration of school staff, Project Connection staff and agencies and resources from around our community. It is basically a collection of Thanksgiving foods that we distribute to some of our needier families. It happens from the middle and later part of November. Some data that I would like to share is the number of families served presenting kids from both MBE and MVM; 36 families this year. That totaled to about 2,992lbs of food, that is 82lbs per family. Our friends at Price Chopper and Big Y provided turkeys for us at a discounted price and there were cash contributions and grant funding from Berkshire Co-op members and staff and families of our two schools. The Jewish Women’s Foundation – total amount spent in the effort on top of donations was about $1,000. I just wanted to recognize some of our school staff between the two schools, Tom Kelly and Jack Cowles from Project Connection, Patty Melville, Barb Minkler, Mary Auger, Carol Way and many volunteers from within both schools. Thank you all. It was a very successful event. Another thing that is happening and it warms my heart is the PTA is very involved with something called the holiday toy drive. This is a collection of gifts for children. The way it works is pretty simple. We send out a letter in early November and families can indicate if they would like to be on a list of receiving gifts of if they would like to be considered for a list of giving gifts. The lists go to two individuals, Mrs. Kelly and Ms. Thompson our assistant principal. They sort all the information and create numbered stars which is a family profile indicating the number of kids, gender and what they might like to have. Then members of our community take the stars and they go out and buy gifts for the families. We distribute next week. So far this year, we have gone through all the stars already and we are in our second round of stars. The Muddy Brook is largely responsible for making it happen. Kelly and Ms. Thompson are the keepers of the private information. It is rather anonymous. We give a lot of support to families and kids who need it this time of year. I am very proud of our community is doing so. Last Friday and into this week on Monday and Tuesday, we had a professional development trainer come from the teachers development group in Portland, Oregon. She was working on a topic for us which we were working on last year and again this year, called Math Habits. It is all about teaching teachers and eventually students different ways of learning mathematics that are intended to create deeper conceptual understanding and more capacity to have the students apply mathematics. It is somewhat involved practice that the teachers go through and the training. One central part of the training is the teaching of two studio days and this is where one teacher in the grade level teaches what is called the studio lesson modeling some of the techniques that have been learned in the training and then the teachers from the grade level team observe the lesson and there is some feedback and exchange that happens after so they all learn together. This was the first studio day that we have had this year. We have two more planned as the year goes on. Grade levels participating this year were 3rd and 4th grade. I asked Kristi a little while ago what funding actually supports this and it is quite a combination of grants and school based budget funding that probably six different sources within our budget which put together to make this possible. It has been really successful with the teachers and students enjoying it and I have already seen some of the techniques that have been taught to teachers and put into practice in the classrooms as I have been observing and walking around this week.
- Ben Doren, Monument Valley Regional Middle School – As Peter said, I have a lot to share but I will respond to the hate speech that was going on at Monument Valley. It is really unfortunate but it is part of the world we live in, within the community, the county, the state, the nation, the world. There is a lot of hate and we are trying to address it. We started many years ago as you know with trying to recognize through social/emotional learning and a lot of work at the elementary school that has morphed into our advisory program and the values that we have, creating the opportunities for kids to talk about things that are important. I am really proud of our faculty. They have stepped into this program through the years, asking questions, giving feedback, trying to build it up. This year what we have been able to do, we had a lot of planning about what we want to do regardless of what happens, we just want to do well by the students and community but because we have structures in place, we are able to respond. When something like this happens, it upsets families, it upsets students and we try to communicate it out to folks but the biggest thing we want to do is have students talk about it. We have that ability and I am very impressed with all of our grade teams. It started with the 6th grade with a community forum where I get to speak about hate speech and some values that the district, the school, myself, share with the faculty, the adults have about hate speech. Students were able to listen. We are using a lot of lessons out of a group call Teaching Intolerance and there are some great lessons. It really gets kids thinking about it and they talk about it somewhat but in the community forums it is more about speaking to kids and what I am so proud of our facility is they follow up the next day or two in an advisory level where we build lessons to allow students to respond to and think about both the hate speech that is going on here but also goes on in our world and what to do about it. We follow that up with 5th grade. I was super impressed with our 5th graders and that says a lot about preparation from Muddy Brook and being able to talk about pretty heavy topics as 10 year olds but also the 5th grade team in the past several months really being able to hold these kids and teach them how to take the time to think. Last week, Miles and I both did the 7th and 8th grade; he took team orange and I did team green. That is a heavier concept and conversation because a lot of these incidents happened with our older students and also our older students are capable of talking about heavier things. The conversations in advisory were intense. We used the anti defamation league’s pyramid of hate as well as what you can do to be a good ally, they call it in the ADL program, not being a bystander but an upstander. What can you do when something happens. These are skills our children need. These are things we need to talk about regardless if incidents happen in schools or not. What I also like about our proactive plan is several years ago Peter connected us through the superintendents and the county work, the ADL Does a World of Difference program. We trained 28 students last year; about 8 of them moved up to the high school and a few dropped out but we have 18 students who were trained last year and are already working with the 5th grade and the 5th grade teachers are so welcoming being the 6th, 7th and 8th graders into their advisories to lead conversations. These are peer to peer conversations of our 6th, 7th and 8th graders with our 5th graders. We are doing a training again. We recruit a lot because we think that we are going to have some fall off. We recruited about 28 kids for the training; unfortunately we are only down to 26. 26 plus 18 is a whole lot of kids that are trained to do this work and that is wonderful. I am very proud of our students for stepping into it. I am proud of our faculty engaging the kids and am not proud of the fact that we have to deal with it but here we are so let’s take it seriously. The other thing that is a component of the program, with ADL is a staff component and a family and community component. Tomorrow, which I was hoping to wait and do it in the spring but because of what has been going on in our community, we are doing it tomorrow. We moved parent/teacher conferences to January, but it is important for the faculty, the teachers and paras to really get the kind of training to think about this stuff and the big picture and more tools. Difficult times but I feel like our faculty are really stepping up to the challenge and I am super proud of them. Peter was talking about some really good news; high school has been really pushing and rethinking about how they can go about the Mass Ideas grant. It is really exciting progressive work. We connected with the Great Schools Partnership to do proficiency-based education; this idea of changing the way we are doing learning and teaching to get kids integrated and interdisciplinary units of study and really trying hard to think about 21st century skills. Preparing kids with not just reading, writing and arithmetic but also the social/emotional skills, collaborative skills, even the soft skills such as empathy, compassion and other types of things that are important for kids out in the real world. There was an opportunity that came up and we are very excited, it is called the Kaleidoscope Collective. The new commissioner is committed to this new way of learning. I am kind of surprised because Massachusetts has been part of the standards movement for decades. In fact, they were the leaders on the assessment program MCAS which has been a hallmark of the county in terms of assessing standard-based learning. What is really important is that we need to shift and the Kaleidoscope Collective is a grant program where they are going to give us resources to try to pilot deeper learning which is interdisciplinary units of study, getting kids to do project-based learning, getting kids in the driver’s seat, deciding on what they need to do to move through the standards and to become not only educated but leaders and citizens of the world. This was a super competitive program; over 500 schools in Massachusetts applied. There are about 460 districts in Massachusetts so you can image. There is money there but this is also very exciting because they are really opening up a progressive view. 22 schools were chosen and Monument Valley was one of 22 out of over 500 schools. Kristi and I wrote the grant. We got a lot of feedback from one of our parents, Cori Sprague, who is also part of I2 learning which is part of science week as well as Dan Liebert our coach from Great Schools Partnership. We had an incredible amount of coaching as well as framing for writing it. We got a lot of great feedback from our admin team as well as several teachers. The project is amazing. Basically, we start with the 5th grade team, doing the work that they are already choosing to do. They were so inspired by science week they want to do a unit on westward expansion. It is integrated studies. They are already starting to do this stuff. This is a way to show this is what we want to do. We want to pilot it and then move it through. It dovetails with a lot of the ideas they are thinking about in 9th and 10th grade. We were accepted and they tell us about money in February. Even though we were accepted, I don’t know if we are going to get $2.00 or $540,000 which is what we asked for. They said propose what you want so I proposed it. We will see what we get. I can tell you how serious Massachusetts is. We went to a conference on Tuesday. Donna Astion, myself and Cori Sprague. The commissioner was there and he came early. He was actually the star of the show; this was his deal. He wants this to happen. This is how he explained deeper learning to us. He lead us in a lesson, our history, you remember these slides, greek, roman, egyption, art all the way through medieval art and then he showed us the sistine chapel and this idea we are going to learn how to Michael Angelo painted the sistine chapel so there it was. He gave us smocks, headlamps, paints, he turned out the lights and made us paint under the table. The Commissioner. He said we were the second set of people he did this with. He did it with the board two weeks ago. It was crazy. That is how serious he is. Instead of showing slides of Michael Angelo, we are making you paint; upside down to get a feeling of what it was like. That is what we would like to have kids do at Berkshire Hills, is doing authentic, engaged activities. The other thing that he said that I loved was we have been leaders in the standard-based learning, we have been leaders around assessment and understanding how successful we are but since 2006, Massachusetts has been flat on the NAEP. The rest of the county has been flat too but that doesn’t give us an excuse for Massachusetts to be flat. He said we need to change, we need kids to have 21st century skills and we already know that we haven’t been doing real movement since 2006. We need to change the way we think about teaching and assessment. The other thing that he has done meeting with DESE is they have applied to the federal government for a waiver from the MCAS for 5th, 8th and 10th grade so there would be different assessment and deeper-learning assessment to actually assess the 21st century skills that they need not just the standards. He asked who wants to be a part of this and I raised my hand of course. I would love to do that. I was pretty excited that the commissioner kicked it off and the rest was amazing as well. We were all giving each other feedback about how to go to the community and get feedback from them, that means faculty, students, school committees, families, community leaders which we are doing in January. This is a quick turn-around. They will make a visit to us in January. The other nice thing is the I2 learning that helped us with science week is looking for partners to help us with this kind of work. They are looking to partner with school to not to interdisciplinary work for about a week but for a year. Not for just a grade but for a school. We are looking to work with them because they are going to bring funding and resources around stipends, coaches, resources and materials. They are not looking to give us curriculum; they are looking to work with teams to build curriculum and approaches. I am just super excited. All the teams were strong. I am gushing about it. It is a real dream.
- Kristi Farina, Monument Mountain Regional High School – I am happy to follow Ben because what I am going to share with you is in direct alignment with everything he just shared. First is some of the reflection Peter shared in regard to our response to the situation we found ourselves in earlier this week. Peter shared our thinking with better communication with the community but I think another piece of that is better communication with our own students. In hindsight we have been thinking about how we could have done a better job in the moment or wrapping around our students in school and sharing the information they needed so that we could have reduced their anxiety in the moment and made them feel better and safer about what was going on. In thinking about that, what we are putting together for Monday’s advisory an opportunity to use the restorative practice that we have been using and the new advisory structure that we just created to have a circle conversation about what happened, how the student felt during that and give them a chance to process. We think that is really important before we go into vacation and then we need to think about moving forward when these things happen; how we can initiate that structure in a way that is more immediately responsive so we get the information to the students in a way that they need and feels supported and feel like the are heard and can ask questions and we can give them that information directly. We think that will help in a real way. We also recognize that we have some issues to address at the high school in regards to tolerance and diversity and we also are starting work with ADL. We just set up training that is going to happen in the last week of January or the beginning of February. That will be connected directly to our restorative circle work but we think it will be a needed addition to the work we are trying to do specifically to those concerns that the community shares with us. We are forging ahead with that. On the note about the grant, I just came off of a trip last week with four teachers, Matt Wohl, Jolynn Unruh, Krista Dalton, Beth Cook and I were out in San Diego. We were on our next generation learning excursion. We had the opportunity to visit Hi Tech High, Mission Vista and Del Lago Academy. Those are three schools that are all very different and the four teachers do what to come share directly with you so they will come do a presentation but they are engaged in personalized learning and project-based learning experiences for students. One of the biggest takeaways for me was the importance of culture and structure in developing these things. Everything ties back to core values and vision being really clear about that. All of the social/emotional learning work is critical to the success of students in those models. I think we are on the right track with the work we are doing and it is very exciting. The final thing I want to share that tomorrow night we do have our winter concert at the high school at 7pm. I hope a lot of folks will join for that.
- Dillon – today Beth Regalutto and I submitted a grant application to the state for our joint collaborative work around assessing needs between Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire.
- Mass Ideas – Sean Flynn – Kristi is pointing to one of the opportunities that have come from the work that we have done through Mass Ideas with the opportunity to apply for and be accepted into one of the learning excursions by Next Gen learning to San Diego. I came to you about a year ago and gave a report on a number of different initiatives we are working on specifically around grants we had applied for. The first was the Innovative Pathways grant that we got through the state of Massachusetts which was focused on developing hybrid career pathways in our school using existing talent in our building, tying it into community partnerships like Boyd Technologies and Fairview Hospital around healthcare and advanced manufacturing. That resulted in, and Kristi was instrumental in that as Director and Learning and Teaching, in helping me to apply for that. We were able to receive that grant which then led to the curriculum with Project Lead the Way which gives and additional $80,000 to support our faculty in training for Project Lead the Way which is an engineering curriculum specific to supporting advanced manufacturing which we know will hopefully be a huge market for students in our area upon graduation as well as healthcare. That resulted in another grant coming our way that we decided to go for which was Mass Ideas which is supported by the Barr Foundation and Ellie Mae. So Mass Ideas is a planning grant specific to whole school redesign. We decided to go for it because it values and the guiding principles was they were reflective in some of the things were baked into our culture and also were helping to support us moving forward to sustainability and growing that into essentially having a 21st century lens on our approach to things. We have been working for the last 6-9 months on a number of initiatives that have been supported by that funding; $127,000 and specific to that, we really felt the big thing we were trying to focus on making sure we are providing better equity in our approach to the delivery of our program as well as addressing some other things we thought were important for us to become more sustainable in our practices, more systemic in terms of baking things into our structure and systems and also leading with a more collaborative approach in which students who are at the center be given an opportunity and a voice to where we are going as well as their own learning and also trying to look at better ways we can integrate and build collective ownership to our students and also in the way we work with each other. That is the overarching approach we have taken with that work. I gave you a copy of our December interim report that we submitted to Mass Ideas which gives you…..What we reported on was essentially line items that we budgeted for specifically from Mass Ideas but we also in our reporting incorporated a number of other initiatives we are involved in as well so you can get a sense of all the different things we are doing that are hopefully tied together as we are moving forward as a school. A few things that I want to highlight for you are the five essential practices that Mass Ideas wanted to see schools use in their planning which was planning big and bold, learning exemplars, piloting ideas, making database decisions and monitoring our progress and using systems and structures effectively. An example of that in one of the initiatives we have embarked on was specific to wellness. We knew from the data from our professional needs assessment survey is that we clearly have some issues that our students are struggling with around substances, jeweling and a number of things like that but we also know that there are some key elements relative to stress, anxiety, depression, feeling connected to somebody in the building or their lives that is supporting them and there were some gaps we were seeing between 8th and 12th grade. We felt that there were some opportunities there that we could be doing differently. One of the things we did was look at how we were budgeting and talked to two consultants to look specifically at wellness which people perceive it being specifically focused around physical education and health. That is definitely a central point of it but there are a number of other ways that we can be crosswalking it with other disciplines in other areas to better support our students. Wellness demonstrates a more holistic approach to things but essentially what we did when we convened this team, we took advantage of some of the things we felt were reflective of the best of our school and our community. We have a student from Monument named Sarah Rosen who is the co-facilitator with the Berkshire Health Coalition who is really the driving force in the prevention needs assessment survey being put out and ultimately Railroad Street Youth Project came into being so it is a really important responsibility. Sarah is the co-leader of that and she and Mae Whaley gave the report to you on the PNS data. I asked her to take that on as an internship specific to her leading that group along with two paid consultants with a background in health, physical education and wellness with my wife Kristen and Inoa Smith from Kripalu and Railroad Street Youth Project to guide Sarah as well as the committee of people who are really going to look at where we are right now. They are going to come speak to you on the first committee meeting in January around the results. It is a really compelling PowerPoint and they did a lot of really good work. In addition to that, we comprised that team of people to ensure that we had equal representation of the people that were coming onto that committee with Sarah as a student leading that group, along with two additional students. We have had solid participation from three faculty, Ryan Kelly a PE teacher, Pam Morehouse our school adjustment counselor, as well as Rhonda who is our school nurse and community volunteers, Deb Phillips, Ellen Boyd and Bob Redpath. All three of them are parents in our school and are very active in our community. That team of people really looked at that and what we did in terms of approaching and using Mass Ideas, a few things I wanted to point out was we started specifically with a look at an early win; we looked at the issues around jeweling as well as the approach to jeweling which has led to a website that is being developed in an approach to supporting students who what to quit because it is a significant addiction in a way they can safely reach out and get the support they need without feeling like they are going to get punished for trying to reach out. We wanted to create safe zones and resources for them. That jeweling program came from the work of the wellness team. Second to that we wanted to look at exemplars so that team of people along with another group of students went out to visit Needham High School. They have an approach to wellness that is district wide specifically they have found a way to look at the best practices and the national PE standards and crosswalked it with the social/emotional learning standards. They interface with guidance and came up with a curriculum 9-12 that builds upon itself. Essentially, we took that information back thought about how we want to take our first steps. The two PE teachers just submitted a curriculum proposal for a new 9th grade introduction to wellness course. Secondly, we have been working with the wellness committee as well as Kristi and Peter, on submitting an application for the impact funding that is coming out of the cannabis tax that we are hoping will lead to potentially somebody coming in and do some instruction at the high school as well as do some coordination with us in a way we haven’t really had in a really long time. Health and wellness have been an issue that we haven’t been able to tackle in a comprehensive way and we think it is essential to our building. We are really hopeful that we have a well thoughtful proposal that we are going to go forward with. Those are the first couple of steps we are taking. The goal here is to come up with a vision and a plan that we would like to go forward with in terms of implementation. The first round of the implementation grant will be offered by Mass Ideas is due in the middle of January so building off of this to hopefully put in a proposal. If we are accepted which we won’t know until probably sometime early spring, that is a grant that could be up to $400,000 that would support us toward an implementation that would be needed to be focused on in FY21.
- Superintendent’s Evaluation – You should have a copy of my evaluation. Once a year I get evaluated. The person who ran it this year was Dewey Wyatt the Richmond Chair. We do it jointly with Berkshire Hills and the Shaker Mountain Union. The folks on this committee that are involved on it are Anne, Andy and Sean. As you look through it, there are some places where I am proficient and some places where I am exemplary then there are direct comments tied to the rubrics tied to all of this. The comments are identified by the people who wrote them, and in some cases said them. Personal areas for growth are areas I continually try to work on and manage my time in the context of all the work we are doing in this district but also within the school union and the days can be really long. We may go until 9 tonight and the night before I was in Richmond until almost 10 and that can be challenging. That is the need for everybody’s need for more facetime. Just a technical thing, sometimes the comment is not in the box because it was a split vote between two boxes so you will see that in few places. I would like to do some more around using data; some more work around communication. I think my one-on-one communication is very strong, my emails to 1,500 people could use some work. I will work on that. It is a little weird to talk about my own thing. I think going forward, the state is yet again changing stuff in the evaluation system. You look at this and it is hard to tell how onerous it is but if you add up all these boxes it is like 40 boxes. The people that are providing feedback are clicking 40 boxes in an electronic survey. In some cases, it is about things they have no direct knowledge of. Hopefully the new evaluation tool will be simpler. Fields – Last year, you sent out a survey. I am wondering if your work on that survey and, with the teachers association, Dan mentioned that maybe it needs to be a teachers one also. From my personal view, I would like to see a survey sent out every year and that every teacher and every employee of this district has some feedback into who they work directly under like a principal or in some capacity and overall as to the superintendent and actually it should be probably us that should be comments by the various employees that work under us. P. Dillon – in a perfect world we might all be doing some 360 survey and the same where I would invite feedback from 180 teachers and more if you include staff. It might make sense for us to so surveys in all sorts of ways. There was a plan to have principals do a similar thing. In a past contract we had, teachers do it but they did it and only reflected on it themselves. The state had a proposal to do surveys and it lost steam. There is a big debate about whether it should be evaluative or not but to gather information from your peers about your successes and your areas for growth is invaluable even if some of the feedback can be tough and it is helpful. I am supportive of it and I think it would be nice if we all explored all different ways to get feedback. B. Fields – having been on the teaching side at the end of the year is very hectic but it would be wonderful to get teachers and administration together to use a form that is comfortable from both sides and know that at the end of the year something is going to be given in regards to evaluative from the teacher to the administrator. Usually the teacher is evaluated by the building principal or the department head but maybe it would be a good time to look at a common form that everybody would agree on and it is done every year.
- FY21 Preliminary Budget Overview – See PowerPoint attached S. Bannon – I have been doing this for a long time. I would challenge anyone to find a more organized budget this early in the year. Literally the finance subcommittee started meeting after the town meetings to debrief and start talking about next year being this year. It is a lot of work by the administration to get this all done early, especially when there are a number of things that are variable that are just unknown. We don’t know what is going to be the minimum local contribution. I would like to thank Sharon and Peter for the amount of work that has gone into this and the finance subcommittee.
- Policy Sub Committee
- Building & Grounds Sub Committee
- Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee
- Technology Sub Committee
- Finance Sub Committee
- District Consolidation & Sharing Sub Committee – P. Dillon there was an 810 committee that was largely selectboard driven and they had a nonvoting school committee rep on each and then there was a parallel school committee group. The school committee group thought it was going to join the bigger group and that never happened. Now the bigger group voted recently and apparently all the selectboards are voting similarly to create a new 24 member group consistent with MGL and the moderator of each of the 8 towns will appoint three people from each town to do the regional consolidation planning, I can’t remember if it is a board or a committee. There will be a new group with 24 people on it at some point just to do the analysis around the feasibility of consolidating with two emphasis one being the fiscal side of it and does it even make sense to do from a dollar and cents perspective and then the second part is what would one gain from an educational perspective and if both of those checked out then there might be some really significant public engagement in the move toward a vote. If neither of those checked out it would stop. Bannon – this is a step the town committee…..S. Stephen – isn’t there a step the towns have to vote in the committees. S. Bannon – the selectboards are voting. There is some discussion in the last it says of those three people there will be one selectboard member from each town. There is some question if that was specifically for town schools not regional schools. This is pretty muddy. It is not anyone’s fault, we are just dealing with legislature and laws and trying to interpret them. We are at a level where we are trying to move this thing forward and there is almost no precedent for two regionals to even discuss this. There is one happening now in Amherst and that went south. We are doing this when most of the laws are written for towns to be coming together and we have two regionals coming together and some of the laws don’t apply to us and don’t make as much sense. We are trying but there are some roadblocks in our way.
- Fields – the Next Steps Committee did their last before the Stockbridge finance board. Molly was there along with a number of us. It was a very interesting discussion. One of the things I would suggest as a co-chair and I haven’t flown it by the committee yet, they were very interested in touring the building. The chairman was going to get ahold of Peter but I would also want and think it would be great for all three towns, select boards and finance committee members to tour the building. They had a lot of questions beyond the purview of Next Steps but we got congratulatory responses from a couple of them that this was the first time they had been approached. They were really happy to be included in the first steps. I would encourage as a school committee to reach out to select boards and finance committees to open up and see the building and not just make it one town but all three.
- Public Comment
- Written Comment
MOTION TO ADJOURN – B. FIELDS SECONDED: J. ST. PETER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
The next school committee meeting will be held on January 9, 2020 – Regular School Committee Meeting, Monument Valley Regional Middle School, Library, 7pm
Meeting Adjourned at 8:44pm
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
School Committee Secretary