Minutes – February 25, 2021 (Public Hearing: FY22 Budget) – approved 3/11/21
BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Teleconference Meeting via Zoom
February 25, 2021 – 6:00pm – approved 3/11/21
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)
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, 14 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.
- Public Hearing – FY22 Budget: In accordance with MGL ch. 71, sec. 38n, the Berkshire Hills Regional School District Committee will open the Public Hearing on its proposed FY22 Budget. At this time, all interested parties shall be given an opportunity to be heard for or against the whole or any part of the budget.
- MOTION TO OPEN PUBLIC HEARING DOHONEY SECONDED: A. HUTCHINSON ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL
- Brief overview from P. Dillon, Superintendent – We had what I think was a very thoughtful budget process. Obviously we start early in August and have been meeting regularly pretty much since. This is about the sixth year we have done it this way. I really would like to thank Sharon for her work and Rich Dohoney as the chair of the Finance Subcommittee and all the other people who have participated. Our budget book is thick; it is like a phone book. The principals and other district administrators worked very hard to present one that balanced educational needs with the fiscal realities of our times. We think we are doing a very good job of our articulated mission statement and this probably is the most complicated year of any of our personal lives and certainly from an educational perspective. Folks are working very hard. We had a bunch of successes and also some places where we struggled. In terms of a financial picture, a couple of interesting things happened. This year, both West Stockbridge and Stockbridge have the exact same number of students which we can’t remember the last time that happened. Percentages there end up being very close. We have a budget that recommends adding an additional psychologist position. That will be important going forward and some slight changes in addition to our contractual obligations and increases. We are an organization that employs a lot of people. Our increases are tied to salaries and benefits or contracts with bus companies and things like that. I think we presented a thoughtful budget. The other night on Tuesday, we had a big meeting with many of the elected officials of the three towns. About 38 people participated which is the largest such meeting we have had to my knowledge. That was really positive. Some of what we are doing going forward, is to articulate our recovery plan and what things look like in the summer and in the school year going forward. Often people ask me how are we going to do this heavy lift and where are we going to find resources to support that. Our budget covers quite a bit and then there is some additional federal money coming through the state. I appreciate the towns’ and the taxpayers’ support on it and hopefully the school committee’s support.
- Bob Redpath, 190 Castle Hill Avenue, Great Barrington – I wanted to talk about the district wellness coordinator and also to thank the committee for approving that position a few meetings ago that was funded by the Community Impact Grant. I would ask that the district have a full organizational commitment to student and teacher wellness by updating the charge on page 32 to show the position as well as to put wellness as a district budget line item. I think we all understand and agree that prioritizing wellness is a critical need especially in this pandemic time. In fact, Governor Baker cited the increase in mental health problems with students as well has his push to have school reopen. These struggles will simply not go away once we return to in-person learning. Everyone is stressed. Teachers had to struggle to go remote and do in-person classes simultaneously, the family commitments, the students are stressed despite the many hours of Zoom classes, students are increasingly isolated and data has shown that there are increases in health issues as indicated in articles in the New York Times and the Boston Globe in the past few days as well as many other sources. Since everyone is overtaxed, everybody has so much on their plates, everyone could use some additional strategies and resources, therefore this position really needs to be full-time and as a district line item. We have all seen issues come and go, the district improvement plans in past years that certain items didn’t necessarily move every year maybe due to granting or some other funding issues, but when this original wellness position was presented in 2020, Rich Dohoney said grants are for optional things in budgets for our values so I would ask the committee to reflect that and update the budget to reflect that. Bannon – thank you Bob. That won’t happen tonight but it is a point that we will put on an agenda and update the chart and for next year’s budget we will do a line item because your point is well taken.
- MOTION TO CLOSE PUBLIC HEARING HUTCHINSON SECONDED: B. FIELDS SECONDED: UNANIMOUS BY ROLL CALL VOTE
- Bannon – there are two items as I see it for us to discuss tonight. One is voting on the budget and there are motions to be made. The other is there is a placeholder put in by the administration for $80,000 for the locker project for the high school. We have not put that into the budget yet. It is obviously in there as only a placeholder. Kristi, do you want to give us your rationale for this? K. Farina – While I understand the reason that it has been cast as the locker project, I really do want to emphasize that this is about learning space for students and anyone who has been in here knows most of those lockers are not being used. The space could be repurposed so that we would have some shared space for students to use differently both for small group working areas as well as replacing some of the lockers for storage that might be of use to some of our students and also for additional display areas so students really feel that their work is visible in the school. All of those things are things that really do change the environment for students. That is why this has come before you. S. Bannon – I think it is worthwhile to do. I just have two concerns. One is that we could take the $80,000 that we were taking out of E&D and redirect it to lower assessments of member towns or two, especially in the year of a pandemic, the high school is not big enough and they are trying to use smaller classes, we could use that $80,000 for another professional position or a paraprofessional, whatever is needed. I am not convinced that this is the best use of funds. It is not a bad use; I just have my concerns. I would be glad to hear a motion or discussion. R. Dohoney – there is nothing that says if we keep it in the budget that we have to use it for this specific thing. S. Bannon – if a motion was crafted such that it would come back to the school committee for final approval …. J. St. Peter – I would just like to look at the other side of the coin and defend this project. The four of us on the buildings and grounds committee feel the district and the towns’ obligations that the kids now in a physical facility that is at the bottom of the barrel with regards to the county and the state, I would say we are in the lower 20%. If you see the actual physical appearance, it is shocking. It is our philosophy that we and the towns and taxpayers have an obligation to improve the building in a very small way to do all we can to make the experience for the high school kids as pleasant and positive as possible. I agree with Steve that other funds might be needed for teachers, etc. and I think if that is the case then we increase the budget. I am more than happy to entertain those ideas but I think it is incumbent upon us that we give the kids at the high school a little extra for the state of the building they are in. B. Fields – I would like to support that Jason is saying. Being on the building & grounds committee we like this idea. I would like to bring in another angle. We are talking about a period of time which students feel isolated; students feel alienated in some cases. The building does not at this point help that feeling at all. This is a positive step toward improving what some studies have shown as the environment that the students are learning in and being exposed to is just as important as what is going on within the classroom. The lockers are not being used for anything; it would be open space. Paul Gibbons and myself and members of the next step committee went up to Mount Greylock and saw what removal of lockers could do to open space and to allow more student collaboration and study areas. It would also brighten the building. What Kristi mentioned a year and a half ago, students took her on a tour of the building from a student standpoint and pointed out that the halls are dark; that there are especially crowded areas. This will hopefully alleviate some of that; brighten the school and make it much more conducive to students’ wellbeing both psychologically (which we are hiring in the budget a psychologist that is very needed) but also of faculty. I am all for including this in the current budget. I agree with Steve that we could hire more people but we could always do that every year. We can always put into the budget more teaching positions to keep class sizes manageable and even lower them more than they currently are. I will push for and be a strenuous backer of this amount of money for the purpose mentioned.
- Boyd – I know that also students have proposed this and I think it would be a big win for morale and a big boost. Speaking as a board member from the Berkshire Taconic Foundation we are seeing more and more conversations about looking to create some of these town centers throughout different communities and I think a simple change like this could give that sense to the students and the faculty and the entire community at Monument. I think it would be a big win for something that I don’t think is a huge project.
- Dohoney – I think everyone agrees with the sentiment that Jason and Bill have put forward. I think the reservations come from executions, not the sentiment behind it. I have reservations about it. The high school does need to be fixed up. We need to be putting money toward it and I support leaving the money in there but I have reservations about the proposal. S. Steven – I agree with you and this is like patching things up. The high school needs to get renovated or fixed. That is the bottom line. Patching things for $100,000 is not going to do it.
- MOTION TO KEEP FUNDS IN THE EXTRAORDINARY MAINTENANCE BUDGET FOR THE PURPOSES AS STATED FIELDS SECONDED: R. DOHONEY PASSES: 9:2 VIA ROLL CALL
- MOTION TO APPROVE THE FISCAL YEAR 2022 GROSS OPERATING BUDGET OF 30,284,460 WHICH RESULTS IN A NET OPERATING BUDGET OF 20,304,460 AFTER USING SCHOOL CHOICE TUITION FUNDS FOR A TOTAL NET ASSESSMENT TO MEMBER TOWNS OF 24,073,512 DOHONEY SECONDED: M. THOMAS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL
- MOTION TO APPROVE FISCAL YEAR 2022 CAPITAL BUDGET OF 1,956,250 WITH A TOTAL NET ASSESSMENT TO MEMBER TOWNS OF $675,316 DOHONEY ACCEPTED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL
- Minutes: January 28, 2021 – MOTION TO ACCEPT BHRSD SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES DATED JANUARY 28, 2021 FIELDS SECONDED: A. HUTCHINSON ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL VOTE
- Good News Item(s): Dillon – I would like to compliment the students for making the best of a challenging situation particularly the learning day to day but for those who are in school and when they are in school, the social distancing, mask wearing, hand washing or sanitizing has been really good. You think about where we were a year ago and what that looked like and where it is now and it is quite remarkable. I also would like to thank the staff. This is exhausting and it beats on all of us day after day and that people are working so hard figuring out learning management systems and curriculum and reaching out to kids and families in a hundred different ways, I think it is remarkable and admirable and very much appreciated. S. Bannon – I was extremely proud to work at the clinic last Saturday. As a school district, we built these schools as community schools. We didn’t anticipate them being used for a pandemic but the cooperation of the custodial staff, Mr. Soule, Nurse Becki, and everyone there, that’s the secondary reason they were built and we were fortunate to get them funded for community use. At the time we were thinking basketball and plays but 1,600 people got vaccinated and we played a part in that. I want to thank the administration for allowing these buildings to be used and the school committee for working hard to get the vote so many years ago to get these buildings going. P. Dillon – I visited the clinic a number of times and the volunteers who were there and the whole thing just goes like clockwork from the moment you come in and are greeted by a state trooper or GB police officer to volunteers from different tables to medical professionals. S. Bannon – we played a small role in it but it is a well run clinic by everyone.
- Continued Discussion (if needed) – FY22 Budget and/or Potential Vote
- COVID-19 – P. Dillon – The COVID-19 numbers are very good and I didn’t have a chance before the meeting to look at the state’s weekly numbers but I have been tracking the other numbers. In every possible category, there has been a significant decrease which is good. It doesn’t mean that we can rest on our laurels; it means we still have to hand wash and distance and wear masks but it is good. I am happy about that. The current state of the schools is Muddy Brook is open for all kids with the exception of PK; the middle and high school are doing a hybrid approach where most students are in two days a week, M/T or Th/F. There are a small number of students with very specialized needs that attend four days a week. The other day, Monday, the Governor and the Commissioner had a press conference where they announced their intention to have all students K-5 be in school five days a week starting April 1st. I said it really carefully that way; “their intention” because that was an announcement but it’s not a pronouncement. What they have to do is bring that back, schedule a meeting with the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education and have that voted on. Then what is now an announcement and it actually becomes we might have to do. We are waiting for some clarity on that. Folks on every possible side of this issue has a statement on it. We will see how it all plays out and what the implications are. What is nice is our elementary school is doing a nice job; we’re most of the way there already and have been for much of the year. I don’t have a plan to roll out yet because I want to see where the dust settles. We are working behind the scenes to look at all possibilities. For the moment it is just speculation. We will see where it lands and what DESE says and will come back to you. There is a possibility the state overreached. In a year that has been all about reacting to everything, I want to catch our breath and be really deliberate and thoughtful on this. Too many times this year, we made plans then we got guidance from the state after we made the plans that were contradictory. I would like to continue to look at what we are doing, see what the final guidance is from them, come back to you with a plan, not necessarily to just meet it but maybe exceed it or to use the time in some different way that works better for our local community and students and families then get your feedback on it. Dohoney – it works; what will not work for me is to do what we did in September and October and defy what they said. They were right and we were wrong. P. Dillon – I don’t disagree with you on that. You look back on all the decisions we made and what information we had at different points, we know so much more about everything now. It is pretty easy to say with real validity that our schools are safe and I don’t know that we knew that in August. R. Dohoney – totally agree. We are in a much better place now. B. Fields – I don’t know if this is the place to ask this but the MASC in regards to all of this has I think today or yesterday, put out a resolution in regards to teacher vaccinations and moving up teachers. It’s incorrigible when the state is pushing this open school and yet teachers are not on the current Phase 2 65+ plus two comorbidities; they aren’t even on that. I am wondering if we as a school committee do anything in regards to a letter or having you and the administration send a letter. The teachers need to be, if we are going to push this April opening, they need to be vaccinated and they need to be moved up the list. P. Dillon – I agree with you and I have been a vocal advocate for it. Somebody may want to make a motion to direct me to draft a letter and I am happy to do that. If I understand this and obviously there are conversations around this all the time. The wonderful thing is Berkshire County is extraordinarily well organized around vaccinating people. The headache is there are not enough vaccines to go around. The governor articulated the phases and with some heavy lobbying ultimately, and I think it is really the Department of Public Health who did it but, included school nurses who weren’t originally weren’t a part of the group. It is important because nurses are in contact with people who are sick all the time. I think the optimist in me would encourage you to encourage me to craft a letter to send to the governor and the commissioner of public health. I am happy to do it and I will do it tomorrow. The realist in me knows for the moment there are not enough vaccines. The other complicating tension is for both the Pfiser and the Mederna vaccine, the efficacy after one shot, two weeks after one shot, is still very high. Some will argue that they want two shots and the two weeks after the second shot; so if it is a month between doses, even if we got everyone vaccinated tomorrow, some might argue that they won’t achieve the full efficacy until six weeks. Initially we thought educators, but not just teachers but paraprofessionals, and all staff, would get vaccinated in February. It’s not happening in February. It may happen toward the end of March. Again, I am really happy to write that letter; it will take me 10 minutes to do tomorrow. I will do it on behalf of the school committee. You might want to make some motion that the superintendent will write a letter on behalf of the school committee to the governor, the commissioner of public health and the commissioner of education to prioritize educators (broadly defined) for vaccination. I would be happy to do that if that is the will of the committee. I would like to do it and I hope you vote to do that. MOTION THAT WE AS A SCHOOL COMMITTEE VOTE TO AUTHORIZE PETER TO WRITE SUCH A LETTER TO BE SENT TO THE APPROPRIATE AUTHORITIES B. FIELDS SECONDED: A. HUTCHINSON ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL and put a PS on it that we don’t want MCAS offered this year too. R. Dohoney – the teachers on in the next group to go anyway, correct. P. Dillon – yes, the top of the next group. R. Dohoney – so on deck. S. Bannon – only people who are qualified right now can register. P. Dillon – some of our colleagues have two of the comorbidities so they can register now. Veterans are able to tap into a different pipeline. It is my understanding there are three veterans in our school district. It’s frustrating that it’s not available to everyone but hopefully soon it will be.
- Elementary School Plan – FY22 – T. Lee, Principal, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – The question about how we configure our school for 2021-2022 has been something we have been thinking about since the beginning of the budget process and the basic question that got us thinking about this is under the situation where we might have to be having to follow certain COVID procedures for the start of the next school year, August and September, is a contingency that we want to plan for in advance. As we began to think about that a little bit more, we began to realize that the configuration that we put in place this year simply to be able to open four days a week and be able to serve almost all of our students four days a week in small distanced classrooms, have really yielded some benefits that we didn’t necessarily anticipate when we put the plan together. In talking to our staff on a couple of occasions, I presented the options of configuration next year basically as two plans that are represented on the document Peter is sharing. Basically Plan A and Plan B. One thing I would like to emphasize is that the reality is it probably won’t be 100% Plan A or Plan B but there is a range of possibilities that exist between the two plans. Basically Plan A is talking about a situation where we are opening next year in a back to normal situation so we don’t have to follow COVID procedures, we have a well enrolled school with class sizes similar to what they have been in the past. Plan B not only assumes that we have to follow COVID procedures, keep our class sizes small so we can maintain social distancing in the classrooms but we are also gaining some of the benefits we have seen this year from having these small classes and I will talk about those in a little bit. Plan A has all of the services that we have offered in the past; an intervention program staffed at 2.0 FTEs, librarian, physical education, 5.0 special education teachers, all the specials we have offered before, music, strings, band, technology, enrichment. On the other side, the distance plan where we actually captured some of the FTEs in other places in the school and converted them into classroom teachers, we’ve had to make some sacrifices and change some things so we can actually make this work. The first thing you will notice is the EK program, our program for kids 4 year olds, that we have operated at Muddy Brook for some time, that program would go on hiatus next year, 2021-2022; we would capture that FTE and put it into the pool for use in our class size reduction plan. KDG classes would be about 14; grade 1 we would have great class sizes of 12-14; we would also have a little bit of capacity at that level to add some school choice students; in grade 2, really favorable class sizes at 12-14 students and then grade 3 the numbers go up a little bit because our grade 2 this year is a fairly large class, five sections of 13-15 each and then getting to grade 4, 13-15 students in each of those classes and that is a pretty firm number, not a lot enrollment through school choice. I would like to emphasize again that some of the things we have learned this year about the power of small class sizes, one thing that I have learned is almost universally our faculty agree that it is a powerful learning and social/emotional configuration when we have smaller class sizes as opposed to larger class sizes. That may seem obvious but myself included, many of us were surprised by the degree which that was true when we brought our students in smaller groupings. You will notice under the Plan A which is the back to normal scenario, we would be reinstating the librarian position. I converted that position into a classroom teacher this year to get the kids back and open up classes and have adequate physical distancing. Under Plan A we would reinstate that position and run as normal. Under Plan B, in the extreme of Plan B, we would be operating again without a librarian. The library is still open so students are still using it; teachers are still using it, checking out books but we are not having a library special class as we have had in past years. I realize that configuring and operating the school is largely under the purview of the principal and the administration but I did want to share this with the school committee tonight just so you know what our thinking is and also just in the interest of transparency with the school committee and all the folks that might be watching tonight, if we do go in the direction of Plan B, there are some sacrifices that we might make or some changes we would make in our programming. We believe that the benefits that we would get from moving in the direction of small classes would be significant and would really help us. Peter talked a little bit earlier about a plan that we are developing as a school district administration for recovery. We believe that having small class sizes in a year following this pandemic year would really help our students in terms of their recovery, not only academic recovery and regaining some lost learning but also just helping them to reconnect with the school in a way that the teachers could build strong relationships and they could feel supported as much as possible. Right now our faculty and staff, myself included, are leaning in the direction of configuring school toward Plan B perhaps not in the extreme of Plan B. There are a couple grade levels, two and three, projected for next year that might not be as big as I projected with the five sections. If that were the case and we could do four sections in either one of those grades, we would convert the FTE back to an intervention position or perhaps a librarian position or the Early KDG position depending on what our priorities might be based on what we know about our kids at that time. A couple highlights I want to make again about why we are thinking this way and why we are thinking about the smaller classes and configuring our school for recovery in the year to come, one thing that is really big for me is you know we are going to be entering a year transitioning the administration and I know for me it is really important to leave at the end of this school year leaving the school well set up for success so that the new principal can pick up and the school can continue to move forward. I also know that this year with all the transitions we have had from remote to hybrid to in-person back to remote back to in-person, some of the changes we had to make in October, December, dividing classes, reassigning teachers, the movement into Canvas and remote learning that all of the teachers have risen to that challenge, it has been really stressful and really hard and it has diverted a lot of us from the work of teaching and learning that in the same way we have been able to apply ourselves in the past year. I think the point I am trying to make is that for us to be able to set a course in May or June and stick with that plan all the way up to the start of the next school year, no matter what happens, if we have to follow COVID restrictions, if we don’t have to, to be able to do that commit, be predictable, have everyone know what the plan is, it is going to be really powerful for the recovery of our faculty and staff as well as we go forward. The small classes obviously are powerful for student support. We have heard that from a lot of faculty and staff when we talked about this issue. This year we have seen that the small grouping really provided the capacity to practice a wide range of effect support strategies for our students. We also believe that smaller classes put us in a better position for learning loss that might have been encountered in this school year. That is because in part of the individual attention teachers can give to students when they are in the smaller groupings. Finally, a point that I would like to make that you might not know about, configuring more toward Plan B will allow us to adapt to enrollment spikes that we might see towards the end of this school year and over the summer. Some folks might be aware of this but there has been a bit of an uptick in inquiries for new families to our district, to our elementary school, a bit of a migration from the cities to Berkshire County and rural places. I handled such inquiries just this week already. Configuring more toward Plan B would allow the school to adapt to those changes in enrollments should we increase and still be in a really comfortable place. Sprague – Thank you Tim. I think it is a wonderful plan and amazing that you are able to do it. It is a testament to you and the flexibility of the staff. You talked about library and what would happen in Plan B. What happens to some of the other things? Any ideas about how that gets filled, whether it’s after school opportunities or just pushing things into the middle school years instead. T. Lee – we would still continue strings; I don’t know about instrumental music, we might be able to continue that. The one area that is probably highest on my list for reintegration is the invention program and that is two teacher FTEs who provide specific instruction to kids who are lagging behind in their foundational skills. In Plan B if we take the most severe form of that, we would be reducing that FTE down to one and I would suggest configuring a situation where we are using trained paraprofessionals to provide some of those services. Probably to a grade cohort that is smaller and more critical and I typically think about grades 1 and 2 as being critical places where kids are requiring those foundational skills. That might extend to grade 3 in the coming year giving how some of our students are doing this year. There are some things we could do after school; we have talked some about that but again, if we are able to reintegrate some of these services, I would probably look at the intervention services first. C. Sprague – on the EK side, are there other options and alternatives in the communities for families that might have been counting on that program? T. Lee – I should have explained this. Another component of Plan B is that this year we have one section of integrated PK. That is a program that serves kids that are ages 3 and 4. Next year we would be reinstituting this second section of integrated PK so conceivably some of the students that are four and would have been served in the EK program might still have a seat in the integrated PK program. We are not losing all of the seats available that we would use to serve the four year old population. It is a good point and I know every year for our EK program we have way more applications in the lottery process then we are able to serve. There are numerous private PK and preschool programs around for families that have siblings at the elementary school already, it clearly is not as convenient so I don’t know if we can do anything to address that. R. Dohoney – is the elimination of band, is that about being concerned about transmission or budgetary? T. Lee – this year we curtailed band mainly for health reasons. We couldn’t have students playing the instruments in the same way we have in the past, especially the beginners. Next year, we actually don’t have a plan for band yet. I left it out as a possible cost savings since we do have band continuing at the middle school level so if students would like to choose an instrument they can do so at a later level. One thing we do talk about in our discussions about instrumental music is how we might configure the different schools in terms of the kids’ music experience. What we are talking about right now is will the elementary perhaps be a place where instrumental music or strings where the focus we take is more of an exploratory focus and less of a performance focus. The performance piece would be picked up later as the kids get older. P. Dillon – I don’t want to start a whole thing about that. We will come back to the whole school committee with some thoughts on that. T. Lee – sorry I jumped the gun on that Peter. R. Dohoney – how many total classrooms are in the school? T. Lee – about 28. P. Dillon – and one is used by Head Start. P. Dillon – I think it is a thoughtful plan and there is a lot of merit in it and likely we will talk more about this on the 10th or 25th and part of our recovery plan is what can we do in the summer and after school. What Tim is talking about is a very good example about how do we use our resources in the course of a regular day differently to set kids up and to excellerate their learning and I think this plan does that. S. Bannon – my one question would be, there is federal COVID money coming; can that money be used for teachers so we could have librarian or and EK class. Is that money limited to structure and use? P. Dillon – I think we have wide latitude on how to use it but there is that old thing about grant funds about supplementing not suplanting and then we also know, and Sharon has taught us well, that when we get special money for a short period of time, it’s not a great idea to invest it in full time recurring positions because at some point that funding dries up and then that commits us to make it a part of our regular budget. S. Bannon – the way Tim presented it was this is a transition going from full COVID into normality and so it would be a one year so the librarian could still be a librarian and we could have a teacher. P. Dillon – I don’t disagree with thinking about it. It is a really good one. I think what we will articulate to you is a menu of 20 options then we will look at the return on investment for each of those options and do you want to spend $80,000 on a librarian including benefits for one year or is $80,000 better spent on several thousand hours of 1:1 tutoring. S. Bannon – that is really an administrative decision and I am not making it. I am just saying if the EK is not serving kids would it be helpful to be able to use the grant funds for that. P. Dillon – the biggest return on the investment might not be funding the EK but it might be funding thousands of hours of small group tutoring across the district or bringing in some outside consultants to lead some workshops. We will give you a list of things. One of the nice things all the possibilities are open and we have a lot of money outside of our budget to invest in this and that a year or two from now, we invested in things that moved the needle or impacted kids. R. Dohoney – the administration should come forward and give us the best plan for students irregardless of cost. Our community supports our schools tremendously. At the staff level they shouldn’t be worrying about money.
- Sub Committee Reports:
- Policy Sub Committee – N/A
- Building and Grounds Sub Committee – N/A
- 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:
- Resignation(s) – Maomee DeVos is a new teacher for us and she has worked in other districts previously. We hired her as a librarian then she pivoted to a classroom teacher. She shared with Tim and I at the conclusion of this school year, she will be leaving. We thank her for her work so far and all the work she will do between now and the end of the school year.
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- Old Business
- New Business
- Public Comment – A. Pink – I want to ask if there is an update on the recruiting for the new administrators at the elementary school in terms of the new diversity policy. It seems like a good opportunity to get that going. Dillon – we are starting to get applications now. In addition to School Spring and ads in local papers, we reached out to a consortium of career services connected to the historically black colleges and universities and placed an ad in their internal electronic career center that works across all the historically black colleges and universities. Jon Bruno helped in doing that. I thank him for his help there. We are not yielded any applications yet but it is a really good place to start. We are starting to get more applications in and I encourage anybody in the public, you can go to the district website and share the posting there with colleagues or friends and if you want a more formal brochure to send to somebody, I have one and am happy to share that with you. We also reached out to a number of strong education programs in the northeast and will continue to do that.
- Written Communication
MOTION TO ADJOURN – R. DOHONEY SECONDED: M. THOMAS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
Meeting Adjourned at 7:14pm
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
School Committee Secretary