Great Barrington                     Stockbridge                 West Stockbridge


Regular Meeting

Monument Valley Regional Middle School – Library

January 9, 2020 – 7pm



School Committee:                 A. Hutchinson, J. St. Peter, S. Bannon, A. Potter, B. Fields, M. Thomas,

  1. Stephen, D. Weston, R. Dohoney


Administration:                       P. Dillon, S. Harrison


Staff/Public:                            K. Farina, B. Doren, K. Burdsall, T. Lee


Absent:                                    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: 2 hour, 13 minutes.


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


The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, once approved.





  • Kaleidoscope Grant – P. Dillon – we starting with the Great School Partnership in 2018 and one of our goals is to shift from our current practice to proficiency-based curriculum assessment. That is a more sophisticated way of thinking about learning and teaching.  The principals are going to share some work they are doing in all their buildings to move us in the direction and to engage you in an activity that they have already done with several community members and they are going to continue to do with various constituencies throughout the district.  Last Friday, while some people were on vacation, they convened a meeting with about 30 people and about ⅓ of them were staff and a ⅓ were community members and more importantly ⅓ were students who could be at the movies or skiing or something and went through a similar activity.  What I think is going to come out of this is more about what we are talking about is for you and the district to continue to refine our vision and values that is going to drive our work ahead.  Farina – I am going to get us started by just talking about a portrait of a graduate.  We have that in our district improvement plan this year.  Our goal was to have a draft of our portrait of a graduate actually my January so we haven’t quite met that goal but we are really starting to dig into the work and we want you to have a better understanding of what we mean when we way “a portrait of a graduate”.  A portrait of a graduate we are going to be engaging in conversations with all sorts of folks in our communities because what we want to do is identify the top four or five proficiencies which are big, overarching skills and competencies we want our students to have so that those are the focal points of all the work we do.  For example, it might be something like communication skills and that is really broad.  All of these are broad ideas.  It is really a want of defining our values so that we know what work we are doing, we are heading in the direction of that north star.  It gets really critical that we are clear about this and it kind of reminds me of the conversation you were just having at the end of the last presentation because when we are making the tough decisions about budget, schedule, about what we are going to keep and what we have to let go of, if we are clear about these values are and what we are pushing all of our students toward then those decisions should also be clear.  B. Doren – at the high school, middle school and elementary school we are looking to create, what is it like when we get to the end of the learning sequence or graduation.  What is also really exciting as you were saying before, the grants, how do we support this.  It is really important to do the core work but we need the extra resources to really be able to create the capacity to do it.  Sean and Kristi last year wrote the Mass Ideas grant and lead that with the faculty.  That is really supporting lots of things; going off and seeing examples in schools, getting committees; the activity of Friday was part of the Mass Ideas, getting community ideas and the like and building what proficiency-based learning is.  It is a big shift.  It is the idea that we want kids to leave high school with 21st Century learning skills, ready for college and careers and not looking at 20th Century skills and not being able to compete and also be active citizens in our changing world.  At the middle school we were able to take advantage of a DESE opportunity called the Kaleidoscope Collective.  I told you a little bit about that at the last meeting.  That was written by myself, Kristi, we got great input by Dan Libert from Great Schools Partnership and also Cori Sprague who has been working with us with i2; she is a parent but has also been working with instruction, curriculum, etc.  Science week if you remember I gushed about, that is a really great example of this proficiency-based learning.  Studying the problems at Loon Lake, trying to understand kinetic sculptures, trying to get kids integrate all their learning through highly engaging projects and activities.  The middle and high school are really pushing through with this and Tim will talk a bit about what is happening at the elementary school to build a foundation.  T. Lee – at the elementary level we typically think about our job as being providing skills, getting kids to a level of proficiency that is going to allow them to understand and excel at a later level of study at the middle and high school.  We still view that as our main responsibility when we talk about proficiency-based learning we are actually talking about extending that responsibility a little bit into connecting different learning areas, different disciplines into a meaningful whole and we are talking about applying our knowledge in a meaningful way that is going to give kids practice and lead to meaningful and useful deeper learning as they move ahead.  Another thing I wanted to point out, before I move to that, a couple of examples of what we have been doing at the elementary school towards that end in the past year is the development of a couple of documents; one in writing, one in social emotional learning which we call the developmental continuum.  It is basically not a set of standards but a set of skills that students develop in a sequence.  We listed out so teachers at any level can see the skills that they are building upon and if a student is not quite at a level that is identified in a standard, we can at least see where they are at developmentally and what they might have missed and what we might build on next.  Another step forward at the elementary school that is hopefully going to expand into the middle and high school in the future is related to assessment and the way we have students communicate their progress to their parents.  Every spring at the elementary school the tradition has been over the past half dozen years is to do a student-led conference.  That is where the student takes their parents through a portfolio of their work and shows them what they are learning and how they are applying their skills.  That is what it is looking like at the elementary level.  B. Doren – we want to give you a flavor of what proficiency-based learning is so if everyone would take a deck of these cards, I will have you do a quick activity that Cori and myself and Donna Astion our enrichment teacher and math team coordinator put together.  We went to a convening for Kaleidoscope and this is an activity that was led by the leaders there.  We are trying to get you to shift your mind from math curriculum, science curriculum; we have the standards and the frameworks in Massachusetts and we are responsible that kids leave high school confident and be able to know all their math facts, health requirements, etc. This shift is about what we want, the six, three or five important things; these are activities we are asking our faculty to do so when we talk we really want you to get a flavor for it.  We are going to ask you to choose from 30 cards in there.  It doesn’t say mathematics, science, physical education or social/emotional learning.  We are going to ask you to look through these 30 cards, take a few minutes and choose the 10 that really stand out to you.  We will have you whittle them down again and then share with each other.  You will see they don’t look like the traditional outcomes from high school or middle school.  We did several rounds of this at the conference.  These are the qualities of the graduates that you want to see from our district which would probably be the same if you were an employer looking for a prospective employee or are these the qualities you want for the president in 2040?  When you change the question, it starts to change your thinking.  Continued discussion from committee and Ben.
  • Proposed Allocation of Rural School Aid – P. Dillon – Last year in rural aid, we got $21,275 and we allocated all of that money to support the collaborative care work. This year we have $37,980 and I am recommending we allocate it in two ways.  One is $25,000 to continue to support the collaborative care work and one of the things I would like to do is when we allocate something to a shared project, I like to also have other participants in that project allocate that money because I think we are getting the best return on our investment.  The Berkshire Health System has allocated $29,000 to it, another $5,000 came through Berkshire Taconic; so $34,000 collectively and I would like to propose we invest $25,000 in it.  Over time we see the collaborative work is expanding from the elementary and middle school where it got really started to eventually the high school as well.  The other big shift and I think we talked about it, initially the collaborative care work started at the Macony pediatric practice and now CHP is also involved in it and between them that covers most of the pediatricians working with our kids so there are a handful of folks that see pediatricians in Lee or Pittsfield but I think it is upwards of 85% of it.  CHP is onboard and doing work and some of the work is supported by a grant Kristi wrote a year ago.  The first recommendation is the $25,000 to that; the balance of the money is $12,980 and my recommendation there is to allocate that money to ongoing work and partnership at the middle school.  Ben has articulated and he can speak to it a little bit, some work he is doing with cultural institutions around integrated art projects and work there and then at the end of last year he really got going these year-end service projects, the YES projects which is to let 8th graders finish on a high note.  It speaks to the integrity of doing service in the context of the community and not just thinking about graduating and the parties but giving something back and that is largely unfunded.  Having busing and other things available there would be good.  All the things I am proposing meet state guidelines.  I need your approval to move in that direction.  I will take questions if people have them.  Fields – what is the figure to the YES program?  P. Dillon – $25,000 to the collaborative care and $12,980 to be split between stuff with cultural organizations and integrated YES program.  The discreet allocation to the YES program if you break it out one level farther is about $5,000 and then that would leave $7,980 to the work with cultural institutions and arts partners.  R. Dohoney – so this money is in FY20?  P. Dillon – yes.  It is a discrete allocation from the state.  S. Harrison – it is revolving like a grant fund but it has to be spent this year.  MOTION TO APPROVE THE AMOUNT OF $25,000 TO THE COLLABORATIVE CARE AND $12,980 TO BE SPLIT BETWEEN THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AND OTHERS AND BEN AND PETER SEE FIT        B. FIELDS                 SECONDED:  A. POTTER                ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS
  • Request for Approval – Memorandum of Understanding: BHRSD & BHEA Unit A (Teachers off-step) – P. Dillon – you received a memorandum of understanding in advance and it is between the district and the BHEA Unit A association and what it does in simplest terms is it makes people who went off step on the salary schedule compared to people who are very similar in experience to them, the amounts range from $64 to a little more than $500 for around 12 people in one year and a slightly smaller number in the second year.  The total dollar number in aggregate is a little less than $10,000.  We are doing this in partnership with the education association and I think it is good for people and good for the district.  MOTION TO APPROVE THE MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN BHRSD & BHEA UNIT A        POTTER                   SECONDED:  B. FIELDS                 ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUSLY
  • Presentation:
    • Wellness Team (Sean Flynn) – I was here in December to talk about the overall work we are doing with Mass Ideas and I gave you a little context of the work that has been done with a focus on health and wellness. I think the degree to which this team did the work exemplifies probably one of the greatest strengths of our community, leveraging the talent and the investment of the people in our community to help us improve ways of getting better and potentially provide the best possible experience and outcomes for all of our students.  We put together a really strong team that has gone incredible work.  The five strategies we wanted to focus on that we are looking at for redesign are planning big and bold, effectively using data, piloting new initiatives, using exemplars and using existing systems and structures to look at ways we can improve.  This team of people is predominantly all volunteers and to use all of those strategies very well to come to what I think is going to be a very powerful and robust presentation.  The person who what the leader of this initiative was a senior, Sarah Rosen, who is also the co-chair of the Southern Berkshire Health Coalition.  She gave a presentation last year regarding the prevention needs assessment data.  Sarah took this on as an internship for credit and just did a phenomenal job of facilitating this whole committee.  I had a very secondary role in the process.  The Mass Ideas team supported two consultants with a really good background in health and wellness. Iona Smith from Kripalu and Kristin Flynn who was the first district health coordinator for Berkshire Hills Regional School District and also taught in our district as a physical educational teacher and is also certified from Duke University in integrated wellness.  In addition to them, we have from our community, Bob Redpath who is a parent of three Monument students; his background is in software development with major emphasis around project management and data analysis.  Ellen Boyd who is also a parent of two students; one daughter at Monument and another one at BCD.  Ellen is also on the board of Berkshire Taconic Foundation with a major emphasis on education.  She was one of the people who was a big advocate for the Southern Berkshire Career Coordinator  position that has been supported by all four schools; Deb Phillips who has two students who went through Monument and is involved in town government and has a background in nutrition and is a registered dietitian.  Faculty members that were involved are Pam Morehouse, school adjustment counselor, Ryan Kelly, physical education teacher, and our school nurse as well.  In addition to that we also had two other students who are not here this evening, Claire Sheridan and Antonia Taylor.  Kristi has been super supportive of all of this.  Presentation was given (see attached PowerPoint).  Dillon – I would really like to commend you on your work.  It is thorough and quite remarkable.  Thank you for investing in that time.  The thing I think about a lot is in other areas we are starting in connects to a portrait of a graduate but we are starting to define a lot more what competencies and outcomes look like.  I care about how many hours of seat time people have.  It is an old  fashioned measure.  The more you do work and  look at exemplars, the more you can say we want all 9th graders to be able to do XY & Z.  So that builds on itself in some way.  I think it will be really interesting.  B. Fields – I would like to comment on the committee on a tremendous amount of work you did on volunteered time.  I had a couple of comments.  In Needham, the CVTE standards are skills based.  What does that mean?  K. Flynn – I can’t speak exactly to the skills but there are measurable outcomes using types of approach whether it is in stress reduction and they understand there is a three-part breathing, etc.; just different type of health skill that they have.  It is measurable.  B. Fields – my question that you answered was the community impact and you should do this presentation before the Board of Selectmen and possibly at the town meeting.  The last thing I was going to say is based on your presentation earlier, there was a thing that I liked to zero in on, and I understand the issues you are raising, but just to on a positive note, the school protective factors, and I continually bring this out because in our district they are amazing.  Opportunity for prosocial involvement; the last result was 67% of students surveyed were positive in that school offers them a prosocial involvement.  I think that is really important to emphasize and that rewards for prosocial involvement was 73%.  As I have said in other presentations, this high school is a good place to be.  I don’t want people in the public and who are watching on television to think “another reason I’m not going to Monument; look at all this crap that is going on”.  It isn’t’ really the case, it is everywhere as Peter has said, this is a national problem but let’s not lose sight of 73% of seniors this year said “it is a good place to be”.  K. Farina – Bill, I don’t disagree with you and it is actually why at the very beginning I wanted to be upfront on the work we are already engaged in in this context because it is important that this work is ongoing and we are always striving to do better.  That is the committee’s task is to look at, how can we do better?  B. Fields – I appreciate your effort and I agree with you.  A. Potter – I want to go back to the elephant slide because it is budget season.  I will ask the administration, is there an ask here?  Does any of this work represent itself in the budgets we are discussing?  S. Flynn – We are in a process of renewal.  We had this opportunity to use Mass Ideas to take a deep look at where we are.  We are not in any means looking to tear our work apart.  What we are trying to do is try to stay ahead of the curve, try to never settle, and try to look at what we do well to help build other areas.  What was most important for us to do is take a deep long look at this before we go forward and give a proposal that isn’t thoroughly done and know where we wanted to go.  We wanted to know what excellence looks like.  We are not ready to give an ask yet.  Peter can forward to give us a heads up about the fact that there is going to be potentially some money coming from the cannabis tax that we could apply for to use as a kick start.  We put in a really thoughtful application that we think was based around data that was supported really well by this committee and we do think that at some point it will be the responsibility of us as a district, as a community, to support this and be central to the experience of our students at Monument.  I think it should also be noted that there have been a number of examples that we used in the past to see the impact it could have.  Iona Smith originally came to us as part of Kripalu yoga in the schools and in the research we did through Harvard and we saw outcomes resulting in really positive steps for us to make and we just weren’t able to make it stick in a way that made it systemic in our approach.  The curriculum that Needham used to build their wellness program was brought to us back around 2000 by Chris Congdon who is the department chair of the physical education and health department for the entire district.  She brought that curriculum supported by the national wellness in Wisconsin.  That was the curriculum Needham used back then to drive their program.  That is nobody’s fault that we weren’t able to move at that time.  It was just everybody doing the best we could with what was in front of us and schools really have a challenge to figure out ways to try to help themselves grow in ways that can sustain change and given the time we are in right now, change happens very rapidly and we are having to have districts and schools react in the moment in ways that they are just not prepared for in the way we would like to be.  This is an opportunity for us right now through this grant to take a deep look at things like this that in many cases wouldn’t have a chance to do.  That is a long answer but right now we feel we will be able to come back to you by the end of the year with a really clear sense of what the game plan should be.  We feel pretty confident about where we are going right now.  P. Dillon – I would also think about two things.  In the next three months, this committee will vote on a budget.  When we look at resource allocation we are not just talking about money but we are talking about time.  If they are lying out a plan that is implemented over three years, some of it we might do by reallocating existing time in the short term while maybe we get lucky and get some of the cannabis money to kick start that and we have been very successful as a district with raising grant funds so maybe we do that to get something going and then come back with a more formal proposal from a financial perspective.  D. Weston – We have a number of stipended positions for teachers in the district in leadership roles.  We have teachers within the wellness area who receive stipends for leadership right now.  What role would the stipended positions play in this and what role are they playing in it now?  P. Dillon – they are doing work around this in all different areas.  I think what this group is articulating is that work needs to be more coordinated.  K. Farina – I think part of the difference right now is that we do have stipended positions and they are building based.  It is like answering your question with a connection to what Peter just said, it is both about the budgetary and also about time and how we use time.  Right now as a district we are still kind of struggling on how we do work across buildings.  It is a conversation the three principals and the entire administrative team have regularly because we know that is an area where we need improvement.  I think coming out of the recommendation is something that they are also recognizing.  We have this need for coordination across our three buildings and it may be that what they are proposing should be something that is long-standing or it is something that we need to get us going and we can use some of what we have in different ways as we work to figure that out.  Wellness is not the only area where we need to figure that out.  We need to do that in math, science, etc.  P. Dillon – the other thing we have done a lot of is summer curriculum work to bring people together to dig in really deep on something.  I don’t think we have done a lot of summer curriculum work explicitly around wellness or not in the last couple of years.  There are some opportunities to do more on that.  D. Weston – my expectation of the stipended positions would be that they would be working beyond the regular school day on a regular basis with each other already.  That is why we give them an extra amount of money.  In my own personal professional experience when I was in elementary science curriculum leader and I would regularly meet with the high school and middle school science curriculum leaders and we were coordinating our lesson plan formats. That is the type of thing I expect to be happening when we are paying extra money and people find the time to do that now.  I feel a little disappointed it is not happening now.  P. Dillon – I think we are not articulating all the different areas as well as we might as it is happening.  I will take a little time with the principals in a future meeting to map some of that out and we will come back to you with it.  R. Dohoney – the current high school schedule, is that a help, an obstacle or how does that factor into the future plans as we see it now?  K. Farina – specifically around the wellness work?  R. Dohoney – yes, curriculum changes that may come from it.  K. Farina – I think that we are going to have to have another version of the schedule but I think that we are going to need to begin that conversation this year, not for next fall but for the following fall for multiple reasons, part of it connected to wellness.  We introduced advisory this year and it is only one day a week for 30 minutes.  There are some components of what was introduced here that actually could work very well through a more robust advisory.  To have more advisory time built in, we have to get to get that time from somewhere and it is going to mean restructuring other work that we do.  I think that is going to be a big lift and we need real time to dig in to what that is going to look like and not just make a change like what we did from last year to this year.  I don’t think it would be effective.  I think in terms of the changes in the actual PE to health transition, I kind of laid out how we are thinking about that and I think it could probably work in the structure we have but might work better in a new structure.  That could be part of the conversations.  A. Potter – I just want to be clear that I am incredibly supportive of this work and of integrating this work into all three schools.  My concern is and I will be clear, is what Peter was saying around grants, etc., we have some very difficult budget discussions coming in the next couple of months and I expect in the next few years, we will have increasingly difficult budget discussions.  I would like to see this work in the budget have a footprint in the budget not with expectations of grants.  I want to see a footprint in the budget and those are the difficult discussions we are going to have to have.  Otherwise, it’s great.  It was great information, great presentation, the exemplars are wonderful but then I have seen great presentations come over my four years here and they I haven’t heard anything else.  What I want to see is a footprint in the budget for this kind of work.  P. Dillon – I think some of the work we are going to shift to after this presentation is broader community input around what we want a graduate to be able to do and what do we value.  Part of what we have to do is rethink all of our values and then the budget is just a fiscal representation of what our values are.  A. Potter- exactly.  P. Dillon – all good district’s organizations were in a moment of flux and not all our values are going to change but some might.  That is connected to data and that is connected to other things.  If a lot of our kids are anxious that is something we all care deeply about and that we should be able to look at a budget and see that they are not just chemistry positions in the budget but they are things that are setup to address the anxiety.  There may be other positions that it is not so obvious that we are carving out 40 minutes a day for advisory and investing in professional development and curriculum to support that or there might be the wellness position you are talking about or some other sorts of things.  R. Dohoney – What we are talking about here is an obligation of us as educators and if that is the case then it should be funded by general revenue and the flirting with the grants and everything is a dangerous avenue.  Grants are for optional programs; the budget is for our obligations.  This is moving to the obligation section.  P. Dillon – then that is back on you all to make tough decisions on how you want us to use our resources.  We will work on that together.  J. St. Peter – just looking at some of these exemplars at Hopkinton, just looking at the median income, Needham was $142,000 a year.  Hopkinton was $129,000; Great Barring is $52,000 a year.  It is apples and oranges.  I would love to have Greenwich CT’s science program but Berkshire Hills doesn’t have their financial resources.  My question is, but I certainly value all of your volunteering your time and resources but from a realistic standpoint regarding the monetary issues, how did you find the exemplars?  Were they any that are more similar to our district’s economically disadvantaged?  I didn’t look that up but I am assuming they don’t match our demographics as well.  Could we have a more realistic model to follow from districts that are financially similar to ours but have better health and wellness programs, something about how they use their resources.  S. Flynn – that is a really important point.  I was thinking about that as well.  They are dealing with a significantly far greater capacity in terms of what they can take on based on the taxpayers ability to pay, etc.  What we are looking at and we are trying to look at exemplars and thinking about it to scale.  We are thinking that we can be the Yankees right now but maybe we can be the A’s; we can be really smart about how we rethink what we are doing a little bit, make some positive first steps and really leverage our community resources and know where we what to go with this and really target it so that when we make those really smart intentional first steps, they are backed up by data; we have people on board, we have community support and we go from there.  In terms of finding schools that would be similar to our demographic, we are definitely asking that question.  P. Dillon – Sharon, Kristi and I did a lot of work around this radar system and we can really quickly generate dozens of schools that have similar demographic and profiles like ours, through EDWIN and we can give you a list of 20 schools and you can go back, and in addition to the exemplars your picked, we could give you ones that are parallel to us and you could do another dive around do any of them have outstanding programs.  K. Flynn – the way we got in touch with Needham is I went back and contacted my alma mater to say “what are you using right now to help PE/Wellness say, what is the best in our region.  My professors got back and said go check out Needham.  They are beyond outstanding and that is where you should look.  Obviously, they are not in our demographic and I do have a couple of names, I can’t remember them, that we can go check out.  They were so inviting to say come in and check it all out.  We can follow it all but showing it is more true to who we are.  S. Flynn – we want to thank you for your time and we believe we are the district to lead the way and show what a rural community school should look like.
  • Letter from MSBA – P. Dillon – we have been riding the wave of good news and this is the not so good news. I shared with you in the packet the letter from the MSBA.  Unfortunately, they narrowed down their pool of SOIs to 61 and only funded 11 projects going forward.  We were not one of those projects.  That is frustrating because we have done a ton of work on this both as a committee and as the Next Steps Sub-Committee and Kristi, Steve, Sharon and I, and everyone, has been working on this.  They dinged up and they said we can’t participate.  They offered us the opportunity to reapply in the next round.  That round opened yesterday, January 8th and it stays open until April. Presumably you will encourage us to do two paths.  One might be, and I leave this to you, to have Steve and I submit and updated SOI to try to throw our hat back in the ring and for us to make an even more compelling argument than the last compelling agreement; informally, I think there is also interest in what we might want to do in the absence of their support to continue to improve the building and that might be a longer conversation but I invite that as well.  It might end up that we do two paths simultaneously and we might hear from them and also do some other stuff on our own.  Questions?  The other thing is I have reached out to them some and have talked to them.  It has been reported in the papers that largely it has been a competitive year.  I will try to get additional clarification about what we could do.  It may just be that there is only enough money to fund 11 projects and we are the 12th and I don’t even know if they would tell us that.  It may be a frustration with our two failed votes and being Great Barrington and they want to invest money where they will be successful.  The tide is starting to turn in Great Barrington I think and I am more hopeful if they approve, Great Barrington will let us go forward.  Stephen – I have a question about this paragraph of notifying local governing boards are our intentions.  Have we been doing that?  P. Dillon – yes, all along we have been talking that is what the Next Steps Sub-committee met with the Stockbridge, West Stockbridge and Great Barrington folks.  At some point between now and April, and I don’t think tonight; I think you are going to want to think about it; you may vote to instruct Steve and I to submit another SOI or you may vote to do a parallel path or both, then as part of that when I am meeting with the finance subcommittees of each of the towns about our budget anyway you may also instruct me to talk to them about your intentions around potential work on the high school.  We have shared this letter with everybody and that might be the technical thing.  B. Fields – we are independent and there are many school districts that are municipal.  For Peter to apply for this, we have to vote on it?  So this is telling Peter to tell us that we need to do this if we want to file.  S. Bannon – I think you are right but I think we need to get clarification.  It is very disappointing and the fact that they invited us to apply next year is just thrilling but if they invite every school and district in the state to apply it is an open process.  R. Dohoney – Bill, what did your committee  come up with in regard to the MSBA project for regular independent financing project.  B. Fields – that wasn’t our purview.  Your purview was we made the recommendation and Jason and Molly can help me out on this too; we made the recommendation to accept the MSBA if we got in.  We did not go the next step but we got asked by two or three towns “what if you don’t get it” and we said we said we didn’t consider that then we got into the costs and all that and we said our presentation to the school committee dealt with this is why we get into the MSBA and we want your support.  B. Bannon – I thought, my memory may be different.  I thought you had two charges and I thought you did them both well.  One was are we going down the MSBA path or not… B. Fields – and why would be do that vs something else.  S. Bannon – early on you dismissed the fact that not going down the MSBA path was just too expensive.  B. Fields – yes.  My comment was in the paper too, but I am really frustrated by this but I am really frustrated by the process.  I want to make a motion that this school committee to direct Peter and Steve to ask of the MSBA because to me as an individual and as a member of this committee this seems to be an authority shrouded in secrecy.  I would like to know, and I went on their website to find out, when our site visit occurred, I never saw that on their calendar for the entire year of last year.  I went back to January 2019 and did not see any site visit for Berkshire Hills.  Where was the meeting where the recommendation was made to whoever makes it because there is a sub-committee of the MSBA.  Where was their recommendation with documentation and minutes of how they discussed our application?  I want to know who stood up and said we don’t recommend Berkshire Hills this year and this is the reason why.  That should be an open meeting.  The December 11th meeting was where they made all the announcements because I went on the website and there it was.  R. Dohoney – I need to interrupt for a second.  I am as or more frustrated as you are with MSBA but if that is where we are going to direct our energy right now at this pivot point, you are so far off the mark of what needs to be done.  B. Fields – I would just like to know what their thinking was .  Who made the recommendation and what was their thinking.  What there someone down there; was there a meeting we did not know about?  They have to have public meetings and have to be posted.  Why weren’t we told that October 20th the SOI for Berkshire Hills is going to be brought up and were we not given the opportunity to be there.  R. Dohoney – if you are going to fight this monster state bureaucracy, you are doing it at the expense of our students.  That is not where we should be directed now.  We need to solve our own problems.  B. Fields – I am going to come back to you Rich and say if we don’t do it we are hurting the students because we don’t know what reason, who made the decision, what the vote was, how close were we; it is out of 61.  I want to see the documentation.  S. Bannon – I don’t think they legally need to release any of that.  B. Fields – they have on the website that you can request the minutes of the meetings.  R. Dohoney – you voted again submitting the SOI.  B. Fields – that was originally.  I didn’t got this one again.  I voted the first year on the committee.  I voted for this one but not the first one.  P. Dillon – I hear both of your frustrations.  I don’t know if their process has an obligation.  B. Fields – it has to be open.  It is a governing authority.  P. Dillon – I don’t think it has an obligation to be public and I don’t know if we  were number 12 or 37.  S. Stephen – my question is, is there a way to find out what we could include in the next SOI?  S. Bannon – I think there are a couple of things we could do.  I think we need to find out what we can do better from them.  Peter can have a talk with them and see if they will share some information.  Also, I think we should sit down with Smitty and Adam and the governor’s rep who is in the area.  I’m not saying it is going to do any good.  I am not making any promises but I am going by their ideas.  They deal with the government every day and they have some suggestions about where we missed the mark.  P. Dillon – the other thing could be, we think we are particularly needy, there could be schools ahead of us that had broken pipes and cracked foundation.  B. Fields – on their website, they showed pictures.  It was terrible.  When I talked to Heather, she had talked to someone for her article and he said there were schools that were worse than you guys.  There was a comment made by someone, Jason you heard it, I don’t want to put works in your mouth, during the site visit in which one or two of them said oh, this building’s not too bad.  Well, I look at the DOE’s goals, five of them of the wellness committee, I just can’t believe providing high quality pathways for all of our high school students because the building will not allow us to do that.  We are looking at a CVTE program and the goal of the education department, what they did to us certainly flies in the face of what the department of education wants.  It seems to me….R. Dohoney – you are operating under a false assumption that you are in a fair fight.  B. Fields – I am operating under the assumption we should be deserving of more information as to how the process evolved into us not being and hopefully somebody would say “well, they had two shots at the apple”.  They don’t want to say that.  Let’s see where the documents are.  That is all I ask this committee to do is can we see what judgement they made on our SOI.  We don’t get that in that letter.  It says due diligence and process.  What is their process?  S. Bannon – Peter will contact them and work on it.  We are not going to get it next year if we go after them in the press and call them a corrupt agency.  B. Fields – I am just saying why we can’t we know more about the process?  John Whittaker comes here for our meeting, explains some things but then it’s like this a nebulous authority that has money despite what they say; they were given another huge pot of money but the legislature; how does this authority operate and do they operate outside of the open meeting law?  P. Dillon – let’s treat them as a partner; like the partner they are.  B. Fields – a partner should be open; we are.  P. Dillon – let’s see what they can share with us and I will report back at the the next meeting.  B. Fields – I withdraw my motion.  R. Dohoney – I have a couple of motions.  MOTION THAT WE REQUEST THE SUPERINTENDENT AND THE ADMINISTRATION RETURN WITH A READY COMPLETED FILING SOI ON OUR MEETING ON JANUARY 23RD           R. DOHONEY            SECONDED:  A POTTER               ACCEPTED:                                     P. Dillon – can I respectfully ask that you amend the date from your motion:  R. Dohoney – no.  R. Dohoney – I don’t think we can turn it around that quickly.  We can get you a completed SOI on the 23rd and it will be terrible or you can give us a reasonable amount of time to do it better.  R. Dohoney – well wasn’t the one we submitted last April terrible?  S. Bannon – it wasn’t very successful.  It may not have been terrible; just not successful.  S. Stephen – Rich, we have until April to get this done.  R. Dohoney -we don’t know that the timing of the application doesn’t impact your … I don’t know what it does and I don’t know that it doesn’t.  S. Stephen – I get that.  What would you be asking for?  P. Dillon – even if we broke our backs and worked as hard as we could, two weeks seems outrageous.  What is the minimum amount of time we could turn this around, Steve?  Six weeks?   B. Fields – April 2nd is the deadline.  S. Bannon – Rich is making a point that it may be the first one.  I don’t think that it is.  R. Dohoney – I realize I am being very demanding.  If we were voting today, I would be voting no.  I don’t want to make these demands and vote no.  S. Stephen – can we say two meetings?  R. Dohoney – that’s fine.  Or at least a working draft.  S. Soule – they told us that they don’t look at them until the deadline which is April.  R. Dohoney -every bit of that channel of information that has been provided to us from the agency has proven false.  S. Bannon – you are not helping the case here.  R. Dohoney – what is the definition of insanity.  If I say the same thing over and over again, I expect the same result.  Hanging around until April and doing one …. S. Bannon – I am saying March 1st.  R. Dohoney – fine.  I want to frontload the drafting aspect of it and evaluate it.  D. Weston – you sound like me badgering my son to get his college application in on the rist possible date. Despite the fact that in every one of the information sessions they said it would not make it any better.  I would prefer we give the administration the proper time to do it well and I don’t think they do exactly what we did in the past.  Give them the opportunity to possibly find a different angle and that takes time.  Look at those questions with a different eye in a different light and try to make sure we are representing our needs in the best way we can to them and not just check off boxes.  That is what will happen if they have to do it in a short period of time.  P. Dillon – my concern is that at the same time we are doing this, we are waiting for the governor’s budget to come out, to craft our budget; we in an early way have said this is going to be a complicated budget season; we are in conversations with Richmond and Southern Berkshire around consolidation.  We have a lot on the plate and I would like to do everything well and we have demonstrated that you can trust us so set a deadline and we will meet or exceed the deadline but try to make it reasonable.  S. Bannon – how about February 27th; it’s the end of February?  That is also the day we vote on the budget but that is okay.  R. Dohoney – I withdraw my motion.  If somebody else wants to make a motion, that’s fine.  S. Bannon – I liked your motion except for the date.  I don’t want the state to come back and say this looks like last year.  You crossed off the date and put a different date on it.  I would like some thoughts to go into this.  R. Dohoney – I think there are three major issues that in my mind go into – two prior times I voted to submit a SOI, the three things that I have been concerned about, the money for one but that is not the whole thing.  Number two is the timing and number three is the type of project we get.  I don’t know the MSBA project is the type of project we need but that concern has always been outweighed by the financial benefit of it.  The timing issue now for me has trumped all else.  I think the timing required to get back….in my mind, we have exhausted our efforts with the MSBA because of the timing issues and that trumps the financial issues.  If we have to wait another year to see if this gets approved with what the administration tells us is a three to four year project we are doing justice by our current students.  We are being irresponsible by sitting here today and say we are not improving that high school for four years.  We can be shovels in the ground with our own project in 2021 if we pursue the other route.  I think we have to really devote serious consideration to that.  My motion would be more procedural.  I would like to have a joint committee, the finance committee and the building committee with the sole agenda item being discussing a debt offering request for the this May’s town meetings for a comprehensive planning and design of a new high school.  MOTION TO APPROVE THE HAVE A JOINT COMMITTEE OF THE FINANCE COMMITTEE AND THE BUILDING AND GROUNDS COMMITTEE WITH THE SOLE AGENDA ITEMS BEING DISCUSSED A DEBT OFFERING REQUEST FOR THIS MAY’S TOWN MEETINGS FOR A COMPREHENSIVE PLANNING AND DESIGN OF A NEW HIGH SCHOOL    R. DOHONEY                 SECONDED:  A POTTER                  ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS                  S. Bannon – we would have to do that anyway.  The MSBA is not paying us to do this.   D. Weston – I was a reactant to vote on that.  R. Dohoney – the motion was just to have a meeting with the finance committee and the building committee.      MOTION TO SUBMIT AN AMENDED SOI          S. STEPHEN              SECONDED:  A. POTTER              ACCEPTED:    UNANIMOUS           R. Dohoney – so we are just giving the administration carte blanche to submit what they want when they want.  S. Stephen – no.  I think what we should be doing with this SOI is if you can get it back to us in rough draft by February 27th, that seems reasonable and we can look at it and figure out what we need to do.  S. Bannon – I agree with Sean’s and Bill’s idea and Peter’s idea of what we can pull from the state to get higher up on the list.  Making the cut is great but not getting into the funding is not great.  It was nice to know that we made the top 50% but we still lost.   B. Fields – how do we at some point, ask our representatives….S. Bannon – Peter and I will work on it.  B. Fields – I think that is another angle we have to look at.  I would like them to be timely in their notifications to us as to site visit if we get to that point and it looks like they do site visits on their calendar.  We should as a committee, be there along with our representatives and someone from each board of selectmen of the three towns so they see more than just school administrators.  R. Dohoney – I agree with what you are saying but anyone that is sitting here that they think they know how to succeed in this process, you are spitballing at best Bill.  You don’t know.  You can cause us just as much harm as you can benefit.  If somebody can give us an educated piece of advice as to what we can do better and we can act on it but I don’t think spitballing all these ideas does anybody any good and it is not helpful.  S. Bannon – my experience with the MSBA in the past, they are site visits, not parades.  If every place they go has 50 people, it is too much.  They want to see the building.  R. Dohoney – so you don’t know that and you Bill don’t know that.  The future of this goddamn school district is in the hands of hopes, dreams and ignorance.  That’s what it is.  S. Bannon – that is where you are wrong.  They were very clear last time that they didn’t want a whole bunch of people there.  This is not based on my gut feeling.  I don’t know if it is still that way now, you are correct.  If they go on 50 site visits, which they do, at that time, they did not want that.  R. Dohoney – I don’t think this rejection was our fault.  I don’t think that last one was either.  I do think actions speak louder than words and I heard all I am ever going to hear from the MSBA in this letter.  Based on that we have an obligation to our students to do something.  If we want to get a debt authorization on, is it the same track as the budget schedule and we do it by that date in March?  S. Harrison – yes, so that the town’s get notification.  It is the whole same process.  P. Dillon – the one thing I want to research and I don’t know if I want to make this more complicated.  We are all on the same page if we get an MSBA funded project, we have to pay for the feasibility study because they already paid for it once.  If we are looking to do our own project, there may be some very particular way we would have to structure the feasibility thing so it would support both our own project and it would meet the needs of potentially a future MSBA.  The wore thing we could do is have to spend a million dollars while we are waiting in a pipeline for our own thing then spend that million dollars again on something that didn’t check both boxes.  R. Dohoney – at this point a million bucks is a spit in the ocean.  If we have to do two designs, we do two designs.  If it means not going five years…..this school district has been so generous with the taxpayers, and nothing has been done for 30 years to the  high school.

Sub-Committee Reports:

  • Policy Sub Committee – NA
  • Building & Grounds Sub Committee – NA
  • Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee – NA
  • Technology Sub Committee – NA
  • Finance Sub Committee – NA
  • District Consolidation & Sharing Sub Committee -S. Bannon – the eight-town committee has met. There is going to be a request of both school districts to form a regional planning board.  What happens is each town and Stockbridge is voting tonight, and have voted to form regional planning committees of three members each; one school committee member and two citizens at large.  Those eight committees then form a regional planning board of 24 people who then move the process along.  There will be a formal request from the selectboards for us, because we also have to vote on it.  The moderator of each town appoints the three members.  The process is in motion.  The best guess I have is the first time the planning committee will meet is sometime in March because you are asking school committee members at budget time to figure out a date and that is impossible.  Dillon – we submitted a grant application on behalf of the district and we are waiting to hear back on the state on that.  It was a joint application with Southern Berkshire and Berkshire Hills so we hope we will get that money to facilitate this process.  Hopefully we will hear in the next couple weeks.  The eight-town committee, the thinking is once the planning board if formed they will disband.  There is no need for them; they did their part of the project.

Personnel Report:

  • Non-Certified Appointment(s)
  • Leave of Absence(s)
  • Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
Non-Certified Appointment(s):   
Korte, HaleyParaprofessional – MB Effective 1/6/20 thru the end of the school year in June, 2020 @ $12.25/hr. 6 ½ /hrs./day

(workday 7/hrs./day) (replaces Tanya Beni)

Vecchia, MichelePart-Time Secretary – Student Services Office Effective 12/9/19 @ $15/hour up to 3 hrs./day or up to 15 hrs./week

(new position-grant funded)

Leave(s) of Absence:   
Consilvio, HopeTeacher – MB Apr. 4/21/20 – end of school year in June 2020
Extra-Curricular Appointment(s) Fund 
(all 2019 – 2020 unless otherwise noted)   
Astion, DonnaMentor – Level 2 MV (2st of 2 appts) Stipend: $574
Astion, DonnaMentor – Level 2 MV (2st of 2 appts) Stipend: $574
Auger, MaryMentor – ½ Level 1 (Shared) – MB Stipend: $574
Cook, BethanyNext Generation Learning – MM $40/hr. up to 22.5 hours (900)
Dalton, KristaNext Generation Learning – MM $40/hr. up to 22.5 hours (900)
Dus, LiskenMentor – Level 2 – MM Stipend: $574
Erickson,  FredericMentor – Level 2-MV Stipend: $574
Erickson, KathleenMentor – Level 2 – MM Stipend: $574
Farina, KristinaNext Generation Learning – MM $40/hr. up to 22.5 hours (900)
Gagnon, EmoryMentor – Level 2 – MM Stipend: $574
Harper, PatriciaMentor – Level 2 – MV Stipend: $574
Heck, BrendanMentor – Level 1 – MV Stipend: $1,147
Knox, MariaMentor – Level 1 – MM Stipend: $1,147
Olds, EmilyMentor – Level 2-MV Stipend: $574
Passetto, LauraMentor – Paraprofessional- MM (1st of 2 appts) Stipend: $270
Passetto, LauraMentor – Paraprofessional- MM (2nd of 2 appts) Stipend: $270
Pegorari, LeannaMentor – ½ Level 1 (Shared) – MB Stipend: $574
Piepho, DianaMentor – Paraprofessional- MV (1st of 2 appts) Stipend: $270
Piepho, DianaMentor – Paraprofessional- MV (2nd of 2 appts) Stipend: $270
Powell, MichaelMentor – Level 1 – MM Stipend: $1,147
Powell, MichaelMentor – Level 2 – MM Stipend: $574
Smith, IonaWellness Team – MM(28019)Stipend: $2,500 (grant funded)
Sumner, BrittanyBCBA (Teaching PD & Curriculum Development) – All Schools(25119 / 25120)Fall 2019 Teaching PD Stipend:  $50/hr. up to 48 hours ($2,400max)

Winter 2019 Teaching PD Stipend:

$50/hr. up to 48 hours ($2,400max)

Curriculum Development:

$40/hr. up to 41.5 hours ($1,660max)

(all grant funded)

Teigen, SusanMentor – Level 2 – MB Stipend: $574
Topham, JillMentor – Level 2 – MB Stipend: $574
Webber, NeelMentor – Level 1 – MM Stipend: $1,147
Wohl, MattNext Generation Learning – MM $40/hr. up to 22.5 hours (900)
Project Connection Appointment(s): Fund 
  21st CCLC 
Console, AndrewParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(25720)$14/hr. up to 62 hrs. (grant funded)
Cote, Eileen (Ivy)Paraprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14/hr. up to 14 hrs. (grant funded)
Cote, Eileen (Ivy)Instructor: Props & Costumes – MV (Mondays)

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 Stipend: $306.25 (up to $50 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hrs. at $25/hr.)

(grant funded)

Decker, HeatherParaprofessional – MV

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

 $14.10/hr. up to 30 hours (grant funded)
FavroThomen, KatherineParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $15/hr. up to 73.25 hrs. (grant funded)
Heath, ElizabethParaprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $19.50/hr. up to 41.25 hrs. (grant funded)
Houle, CherylParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $18.50/hr. up to 57.75 hrs. (grant funded)
Krahforst-Lang, AndrewParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14.10/hr. up to 30 hrs. (grant funded)
LaBrasca, JaneParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14.10/hr. up to 12 hrs. (grant funded)
Lockenwitz-Payer, TammyParaprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $15/hr. up to 33.75 hrs. (grant funded)
Montano, RichParaprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14/hr. up to 24 hrs. (grant funded)
Rand, BillParaprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14/hr. up to 25.25 hrs. (grant funded)
Scapin, SandyParaprofessional- MB

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $14.10/hr. up to 24 hrs. (grant funded)
Rembisz, BrianParaprofessional- MV – Building Coordinator

1/6/20 -3/5/20 – Monday/Thursday

 $25.25hr. up to 40 hrs. (grant funded)
Schwartz, JennyParaprofessional- MV – Building Coordinator

1/6/20 -3/5/20-(Mon/Thurs 3:30-5:15pm; Tue/Wed 2:00-5:15pm)

 $22.50hr. up to 90 hrs. (grant funded)
Young-Taft, BetlinnParaprofessional- MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 $15/hr. up to 50 hrs. (grant funded)
Heath, ElizabethInstructor: Healthy Snacks (Tuesday) MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 Stipend: $350 (Up $50 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $25/hr.) (grant funded)
Heath, DavidInstructor: Latino Cooking (Wednesday) MV

1/6/20 -3/5/20

 Stipend: $560 (Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr.) (grant funded)
Rand, BillInstructor: Woodwork – 4 days

1/6/20-3/5/20 (MV–Mon/Wed; MB-Tue/Thur)

 Stipend: $2,170 Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr.) (grant funded)
Schwartz, JennyInstructor: Food Adventure-MV (Monday)

Community Builders (Thursday) 1/6/20 – 3/5/20

 Stipend: $1,050 (grant funded) (Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr.) (grant funded)
Rembisz, BrianParaprofessional- MV(Tuesday/Thursday)

1/6/20 -3/5/20

(27720)$16.75/hr. up to 44 hrs. (grant funded)
  United Way 
Benton, AliInstructor: Art Wed/Thurs.- MB

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Up $80 add’s for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
Burr, RogerInstructor: Stop Motion – MB (Thursday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
Chirichella, KimInstructor: Board Games – MB (Monday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
Ebitz, SusanInstructor: Streams – MB (Tuesday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Stipend:  $560 (Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr.) (grant funded)
Melville, PatriciaInstructor: Storybook – MB (Wednesday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
Scott, WendyInstructor: Musical Props (Monday)

Survive Co-Teacher (Tuesday)– MV

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(27720)Stipend: $656.25 (grant funded) (Up $50 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $25/hr.) (grant funded)
Soule, TinaInstructor – MB:  Fit Math  (Wed); Yoga (Thur)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(26720)Up $80 add’s for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
Tone, JanetInstructor – MB:  Fun & Games (Mon); Force & Motion (Tue); Hot Wheels Speedometry (Wed) 1/6/20 – 3/5/20(26720)Stipend: $1,610 Up $80 add’s for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr. (grant funded)
  Service Learning 
Brown, WilliamInstructor: Mentoring – MV (Monday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(27720)Stipend: $306.25 (grant funded)
Sacco, DomInstructor: Mentoring – MV (Monday)

1/6/20 – 3/5/20

(27720)Stipend: $490 (grant funded) (Up $80 add’l for Training not to exceed 2 hours @ $40/hr.) (grant funded)

Business Operation: 

Education News: 

Old Business:  

New Business:

  • Harrison – We have two donations. The first one is from the Care Bear Foundation to Muddy Brook in the amount of $750 for general projects.  MOTION TO APPROVE THE DONATION FROM CARE BEAR FOUNDATION TO MUDDY BROOK            A. POTTER             SECONDED:  B. FIELDS          ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS             The second donation is also from Care Bear awarding the district as a whole $750.00 toward food support for our students.  I did talk to Karen about this and what the intent is to cover any outstanding debt on families that cannot pay that debt.  What we will do is our typical practice and again, Karen is aware of this.  At the end of the year, we take the oldest and largest outstanding debt and pay that off and work down from there.  MOTION TO APPROVE THE DONATION FROM CARE BEAR TO BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT IN THE AMOUNT OF $750.00          A. POTTER          SECONDED:    B. FIELDS             ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS             A. Potter – I do have a question about this and I would like to know how this district handles lunch debt in general.  Do we have a policy around that?  S. Harrison –  I think we need another agenda for that.  S. Bannnon – we will come up with a policy.
  • Public Comment
  • Written Comment


The next school committee meeting will be held on January 23, 2020 – Regular School Committee Meeting, Monument Valley Regional Middle School, Library, 7pm

Meeting Adjourned at 9:13pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder


Christine M. Kelly, Recorder


School Committee Secretary