BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Great Barrington                     Stockbridge                  West Stockbridge

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

Teleconference Meeting

July 30, 2020 – 6:00pm

Present:

School Committee:    S. Bannon, D. Weston, B. Fields, S. Steven, M. Thomas, A. Hutchinson, R. Dohoney, J. St. Peter,                                     D. Singer, A Potter

Administration:          P. Dillon, S. Harrison, A. Shaw

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

Absent:

RECORDER NOTE:  Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB.  Length of meeting:  2 hour, 13 minutes.

CALL TO ORDER

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

PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

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

Minutes of Meeting:

June 18, 2020 – MOTION TO APPROVE SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES DATES JUNE 18, 2020 – A. POTTER           SECONDED:  S. STEPHEN              ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

Superintendent’s Report:  P. Dillon – I would like to thank everyone for joining the call.  At this moment there are 99 people on the call which is quite remarkable.  I imagine more people will join.  For people who don’t have a copy of the agenda in front of them, it is on the school district website if you want to go there to see it.  We are going to have a couple of things that are really interesting, a presentation on Sustainable Monument that should take about 15 minutes; a draft resolution around renaming the middle school and setting a hearing date for that and two votes, one on a revised school calendar and one on a MOU for the cooperative contract.  Then we will switch over to talk about COVID-19 and our reopening plan.  I will go through in pretty good detail where we are with that.  When I get to it, I will give a little more context.  I think after that, that is when Steve may have some comments.  In a letter I sent yesterday to 1,500 people, announced four open-house or chats that I am going to do with the community next week and I will share those dates later in the meeting.  That will be another time to respond with questions.  Pretty much every day I get four updates from the state and we are trying to incorporate those into future reports.  A lot of things we have answers to and a lot of things we don’t have answers to and we are working on it.  Some stuff we are negotiating with our unions so that has yet to be determined.  That is the overview of the meeting for tonight.  Typically, we start our meeting with good news, but I am going to forego that.  There is lots of good news with teachers and students and the school committee, everybody is working really hard and doing a lot of planning.  I think what we will do is go right to the Sustainable Monument presentation.  Mary is going to do that; there are many partners on the call with her: Jen, Will, Sam, more and more, I just can’t see you all.  Thank you for your work on this.  We are looking forward to hearing about it.

  • Good News Item(s) – N/A
  • Presentation: Sustainable Monument/Mass IDEAS planning grant – (slides shown) Flynn – thank you everyone for letting us take some time.  We know there is a lot going on tonight so we will try to be as brief as we can.  We do feel there has been quite a bit of work that has been done on this effort.  Everybody on the school committee is aware of the Mass IDEAS planning grant that we received about a year and a half ago that allowed us to take a really deep look at where we wanted to go as a school.  Specifically, we wanted to make sure there was sustainability and agriculture woven into our plan giving the existing resources that we had to tap into.  With that in mind, we started a deep dive using existing community partners such as Mary Stuckland with Berkshire NetZero along with Will Conklin with Greenagers and Jen Salinetti with Woven Roots Farm.  The initial work was done by Charlie Maderios on the student side of it who initiated the composting program as well as led a virtual sustainability summit that was attended by several students and faculty, community partners in our area.  From there during the winter, we were able to visit and expalar school, Montpelier High School in Vermont and visited by two faculty members, Alex Hernandex and Gordie Soule, as well as Jen Salinetti from Woven Roots, her son Diego who is also one of the students that is part of this team and myself.  From there we put together a team that was equal parts students, staff and community partners to look at ways in which we could better integrate sustainability, ecology and agriculture into our existing program to better utilize our campus and our local resources to give all of our students an education that would support the direction that we would like to go as a school and district but also it is inherently important for them to be prepared for years ahead relative to supporting sustainability.  I will turn this over to the current leader from a student perspective, Sam Schroeder who Charlie Mederios passed the torch onto.  Sam has been instrumental in developing our core and recruiting students to be a part of this team and he will continue in that direction relative to serving as an intern at Monument under the tutelage of Will Conklin.  Sam – this slide is how we define sustainability in general and also how we define sustainability in terms of Monument.  Sustainability is about the world we are leaving for our children, their children and their grandchildren.  The effects of our actions must not result in a world that is unlivable and unjust for these future generations.  For Monument this means that sustainability must be embodied by all aspects of our school system and accessible to all students.  This ensures that students are learning to be engaged in understanding how their actions matter, becoming strong advocates for sustainability throughout the school district and community.  Then we took the idea of sustainability at Monument and we broke it down into three pillars.  Physical place, educational program and organizational culture.  As you can see, each of these three pillars are then broken down into the three subcategories.  This image is our general framework and how we organize our thoughts.  It is in a circle just to emphasis the fact that it is all connected.  One piece can’t exist without all three pieces working hand in hand.  The first pillar for Sustainable Monument is organizational culture which is then broken down into three subcategories of mission and core value alignment, whole system ownership and wholesome habits.  What we focused on with organizational culture is responsibility, ownershire and habit.  Responsibility in terms of everyone here on this zoom call, being a part of the Berkshire Hills Community and taking responsibility for the land that we call home.  Ownership from and by the school, students and teachers and everyone in the school system; then taking these things and turning them to habit.  Making it become part of the school culture of Monument.  The second pillar is educational programming which we broke down into experiential and vocational learning, interdisciplinary curriculum and student leadership in eco-literacy.  What we focused on here is integration in terms of taking existing resources and existing programs and how we can combine these and adjust and redesign these existing resources to maximize the potential and maximize the student experience and maximize the teacher and administration experience as well.  We talked a lot about the horticulture program and Project Sprout and all these existing things we have available and right now are underutilized.  I would also like to mention in terms of the current atmosphere and COVID, we added a piece into our document about outdoor classrooms.  It is a great way to get creative and promote social distancing and having an in-person learning experience but in a safe environment.  Moving some classes outside and how can science classes utilize the space around the school to learn.  That is what we focused on for educational programs.  Mary – the third pillar is physical place which right now I want to say that everybody recognizes there are limitations right now, if the school is going to be remodeled, rebuilt, COVID, are the kids going to be in school, is it hybrid, there are so many…the future is up in the air so we do recognize limitations.  As far as planning goes, the goals of Sustainable Monument in terms of physical place are to have healthy systems, have an engaging and active eco friendly design and to have environmental efficiency.  As you can probably tell, we want to make sure the air is clean, eventually we transition to renewable energy and so much more.  Please, take an opportunity to read the PDF because just these three slides of the pillars doesn’t do it justice.  Essentially, how are we going to get there when there is so much that can happen; growing food on campus, potentially buying solar panels, having electric car charge stations, farm to school, the ideas are endless.  We are super excited for all the opportunities here.  How are we going to do this?  How we have done it in the past is we had interns like Charlie who started the composting program but it didn’t necessarily take off because school shut down because of COVID; we have had farm stands let by students, we have Project Sprout acting as a stand alone program.  Before it has all been passive so we have a plan which we call the road map for success so that we are more active in our intentions and our goals.  Sam – one huge part of our goal and how we get there is going to be student involvement and leadership.  Obviously you can see there are a ton of options in terms of students being involved and in leadership roles.  I will just talk for a second about what I am doing.  I have been involved with this committee since February just helping out and this coming school year, I will be transitioning into an internship where I will be continuing this work and developing a student sustainability team where we will be working on a sustainability assessment for the school, seeing where the school is at in terms of sustainability and then presenting those results to the community, other students and getting everyone involved.  There are tons of ways for students to be involved.  Mary – when we are considering whole school leadership, we recognize it is really important, that this is something that is understood and put into practice from many different aspects of the school community.  We are considering staff and faculty, the school committee, students, community members, parents, businesses; so within the framework and road map we have laid out, we have addressed a number of different ways for that to be incorporated.  We are looking at significant curriculum transformation that is already in progress, in terms of interdisciplinary studies and utilizing the framework that is already in place, not necessarily creating new classes but integrating classes together.  Finding ways to continue the work through a Sustainable Monument committee.  As Sam mentioned the student leadership representation though the school government and ultimately being able to see this example in success and expanding into district-wide adaptation.  In terms of curriculum transformation and growth, as I just mentioned the interdisciplinary studies is a significant piece of our roadmap.  We are also recognizing the need for professional development, a number of different areas of hands-on learning throughout all the different classes and integration of the involvement of student leadership in a way that builds upon it and allows us to be able to keep this in perpetuity as a holistic system and not just a singular idea of one student or a small group of students.  (not sure who is speaking….) Just as most organisms like to like in a diverse community we as a committee see the sustainable Monument plan existing not just in the school but as a functioning part of the community and integrating many pieces of the community into the program and leverage all the great resources we have in the community.  That could look like expertise for infrastructure for curriculum and career training, it could look like leveraging other assets for funding.  We feel it would be a great position to have a community partnership point person and have that person coordinate all the community partnerships that could really be taken advantage of under this program.  As part of that, we see that the action needs to be continual; it needs to be a process that is continually pushed along based upon a strong pre-assessment laying the groundwork for the plan that has already been in progress and that will continue to happen under the guidance of the students in particular which their sustainable team as well as in concert with teachers, administrators, school committee, etc. so that we can set good goals and have a clear plan of action to achieve those goals to really make a difference in the sustainability of Monument.  Mary – to ask for all of this to happen without thinking outside the box, would be crazy.  We did some research and put our heads together and we found some great grant and award opportunities.  I am just going to highlight two; regional opportunities is the Henry P. Kendall Foundation which is a fantastic foundation that gives grants to schools for farm to school projects.  The minimum grant award is $10,000 so that is no small amount.  They recently gave an award to Hoosic Valley in Central Berkshire.  They are not afraid to see success in Berkshire County.  Another local opportunity is Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation utilizing their partnership with Berkshire Hills to see how they can help us fund some of the things we need in order for this to succeed and to build off of that, the team that you remember from slide two, all 16 of us thought how are we going to be held accountable; how are we going to make sure this progresses?  What if a student graduates, what if a teacher moves on, what if this whole cohort has to go away for a while on vacation?  We want to make sure there is structure in place so we can achieve our goals.  The first thing we need is a sustainability accountability team consisting of school committee liaisons, (hint hint nudge nudge), teachers, the student sustainability team which Sam is setting up, the administrators, community partners and parents.  For any of you that are super interested in what this presentation is all about, you can feel free to grab my contact information at the end of this presentation, as well as Sam’s.  Jen Salinetti and I will be organizing this accountability team in the next few weeks.  It will be actively involving as much of the community as we possibly can.  Another big token to move this forward is a sustainability coordinator whether it is just for Monument Mountain or for the whole Berkshire Hills district.  How can we have somebody in charge, making sure there is day to day progress, someone who can help us celebrate and measure all of the things we are trying to achieve with Sustainable Monument.  That will evolve at some point, district funding, not that we are assuming the district is going to hand over some money for a sustainability coordinator this year, but keeping it in mind for the future and of course taking advantage of grant award opportunities as much as possible.  Sam – one more big piece that I want to emphasize is the extreme value of environmental sustainability and outdoor education.  It is not just about preserving the land around us, it is simply about how to build a stronger and healthier community.  I am going to read this quote and jump into a piece that is the preface of our main document that was written by me and a few other students.  For this valley, the river must be the center; certainly it is the physical center, perhaps in a sense the spiritual center.  Perhaps from that very freeing of spirit will come the freedoms and inspirations and aspirations which may be steps toward the diffusion and the diversification and enriching of culture throughout this land – WEB DuBois, The Housatonic River.  By growing up in the Berkshires, we have been given the opportunity to explore and appreciate the natural world around us.  As DuBois states, appreciation of place is the foundation for a unified just and educated community.  These three aspects of community are no longer an option; they are a necessity.  In 2020, the year of vision, we have seen what happens when unity, justice and education are forgotten.  Lives are lost to a virus in an old system.  We must learn to live by the words of DuBois.  Through education of sustainability, social and environmental justice, we come just closer to being the free, inspired and diverse community that DuBois fought for.  Not only learning about these topics crucial to our success, it is also a responsibility on both an individual and a collective level.  As a school community, we must create a fair and sustainable place for both the people and the land.  To truly achieve sustainability, it must be designed for all.  This is the duty of every member of the Monument community and essential to having a sustainable school.  To finish it out here, we are going to talk about what this means for the school committee.  First, I want to thank everyone for your time.  Thanks for being here.  We have already given a presentation to both Peter Dillon and Kristi Farina and also the building and grounds subcommittee and received a lot of awesome feedback and adjusted the document on our presentation.  We expect to continue to receive a lot of great feedback from the community, from anyone and continually adjusting the document.  I would like to pitch three simple questions to the school committee:  Can this committee endorse Sustainable Monument 2025?  Would the committee continue to be involved in the initiative and can this committee support the district-wide adoption by 2021.  Thank you so much. Mary – I would say that the three questions that Sam asked at the end, the Sustainable Monument committee is looking for answers on but I understand you have a full agenda.  I am more than happy to share that with you in a formal email if you would like to review it at a different time.  S. Bannon – if we could bring that back to another meeting, that would work the best.  P. Dillon – Mary and Sean, you put the questions in the chat, but send them to be and I will send them to the school committee.  Folks will sit with them and digest them and think about it.  We will put you on a future agenda again and have part 2 of it.
  • Bannon – We are having some technical difficulties tonight. It is our good fortune to have over 100 people trying to get in; many more than 100 but apparently CTSB has a limit of 100 in their Zoom account so as I understand, they are working on it.  There are a number of people who have texted me and can’t get in.  If you are hearing that from other people, that is the reason.  We did not know about this limit and CTSB is trying to figure out a solution.  P. Dillon – I think in the worst case situation, this is being recorded and people can see it then, then next week, I am holding the four sessions where I will go through some of this.  Obviously, it would be better if everybody who wanted to participate could participate and what is hard is that the people that are hearing this are not the people that are impacted, it is the people that can’t get onto the call.  Our apologies on that.
  • Draft Resolution to Re-Name Middle School – P. Dillon – as a point of context, I think I can share this and then I will hand it over to Rich, a little more than a year ago, there were non-binding votes in our three communities around renaming the middle school after WEB DuBois and there was overwhelming support there. The folks that organized that approached the school committee about discussing it at a future meeting.  There are two things on our agenda, one is to set a date for a potential hearing and ther other is a draft resolution.  Rich, do you want to talk to the specifics of this?  Dohoney – you and other school committee members received a draft resolution that I put together myself; I take no pride in ownership.  I did want it circulated before the meeting so you folks could look at it.  To contemplate any potential language changes.  I will note that I took a look at our policies, specifically Policy F regarding naming new facilities and the two things I took out of that was “a name with educational significance or inspiration should be chosen”.  Our policies provide some direction on that.  Also, Steve and Peter may speak to this late, the policy does call for orderly announced procedure.  My thought in submitting this proposal for this meeting was that everyone could take a look at it, we could give some thought and decide on a procedure going forward.  I can read the petition into the record but I am not going to be making the motion tonight.  We can reserve it for some other time.  My request and I know from my conversations with Steve, I think he is in agreement, is we need to have some kind of formal public meeting.  We are good about formal public information but I would like to see something along the line of a public hearing or something like what we do for our budget, people come and give comments.  Steve, should I read the petition?  S. Bannon – I think there are so many people on the call but I understand that you are not making this a motion and we will be doing that in one of the first  meetings in September but we want to give people notification ahead of time and probably do it at a stand alone meeting also.  It may be in person or it may be Zoom again.  We don’t know what September is going to look like.  If it is Zoom, we will have to figure out a way to have more than 100 people.   P. Dillon – the other thing Rich we can do is post it on the website and distribute it to our list.  That won’t get to everybody but it will help.  S. Bannon – I think it is important that you read it for the record tonight and people hear it so they can start to think about it.  R. Dohoney – Petition to Name WEB DuBois Regional Middle School – Whereas, the Berkshire Hills Regional School District comprised of the towns of Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge, operates a regional middle school providing education to 5th – 8th graders at 313 Monument Valley Road, Great Barrington, Massachusetts; Whereas Berkshire Hill Regional School District is entrusted by its member towns to education their children and challenge them to be courageous learners, engaged citizens and individuals of integrity; Whereas, WEB DuBois was born and raised in Great Barrington and graduated from Searles High School, a Great Barrington public high school and predecessor school to the Berkshire Hills Regional School District; Whereas, WEB DuBois received a masters of art from Harvard University in 1891 and became the first African American to earn a PhD from Harvard University in 1895; Whereas, WEB DuBois was one of America’s greatest activists and scholars, authoring many fiction and non-fiction books, including The Souls of Black Folks, served as a professor at Atlanta University and co-founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in 1909; Whereas, WEB DuBois’ life and legacy is an inspiration for courageous learners, engaged citizens and individuals of integrity and Whereas, the members towns of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District are governed by town meetings and the 2019 Great Barrington Town Meeting, 2019 Stockbridge Annual Town Meeting and the 2019 West Stockbridge Annual Town Meeting all overwhelming voted to name the middle school the WEB DuBois Regional Middle School; Moved, that the regional middle school located at 313 Monument Valley Road, Great Barrington, Massachusetts, is hereby name the WEB DuBois Regional Middle School.  A. Potter- I would like to make that motion right now.  There is no reason to wait.  S. Bannon – I will not accept that motion because it was not advertised as a vote tonight.  I was advertised to set the public meeting date.  I will hear from any school committee members but we need to keep it legal and transparent.  R. Dohoney – like I said, I take no pride of ownership.  If people have changes, additions, suggestions on the language or if they want to provide that later on through Steve, that is fine too.  A. Potter – Rich, you have done a wonderful job and I think that we should make that motion tonight.  S. Bannon – you understand the position I am in Andy.  I am not disagreeing with you.  I am just following the rules.  B. Fields – I understand you position Steve.  I agree with Andy.  I have no changes to offer.  I think we should have a full discussion.  To many people in the community it is a major item and has been a major source of controversy.  I think we need what Rich has said, a full discussion from the community besides what we heard at the town meeting.  S. Bannon – my anticipation is September 3rd.  We will clarify that with Peter and we will get plenty of publicity out.  It may require us to do an extra meeting in September but it is worth doing and we will work on this.  B. Fields – can I ask a logistics question Steve.  Are we going to have it through Zoom or are we going to have it in person?  S. Bannon – as of right now, if I had to say today, it would be Zoom because of the pandemic and our inability to social distance and the amount of cleaning it would take in the school after we had over 100 people.  Things could change.  R. Dohoney – the meeting in Great Barrington went very well Steve.  S. Bannon – if we want to do it outside, I am okay with that.  It would be a few thousand dollars and we can’t guarantee the weather but I was very happy with the outdoor town meeting.  You are right.  P. Dillon – just to clarify, do you want to set a date tonight for the 3rd of September and a particular time and then leave it up in the air if it’s going to be outside or by Zoom?  S. Bannon – does anyone object to September 3rd?  D. Weston – no, but I think we set the date tonight.  S. Bannon – I’m hearing no objection, so I will set the date as September 3rd at 6pm.  R. Dohoney -as an addition, I know there are legal constraints on how town meetings operate but we could do Zoom and live if people want to come and we do an outdoor space but if people want to participate by Zoom, they can.  We don’t have all the legal constraints the town meeting had.  S. Bannon – I am not against that.  That way if the weather was horrendous, we could still do the town meeting as a Zoom meeting.  That would work both ways.  I think we just need to work on the logistics of that to see if it is possible.  It would either be at the high school parking lot and Zoom or just Zoom.  B. Fields – so this will be a public hearing with a vote at the public hearing?  S. Bannon – the school committee at the public hearing will vote.  The school committee also has a right to postpone the vote so I can’t speak for all ten people but as far as I’m concerned, we are voting that night.  B. Fields – so it will work like our budget public meeting; we will hear public discussion then we will have a discussion?  S. Bannon – yes, we will close the public hearing and then we will debate ourselves then we will vote.  My gut feeling right now is that will be the only agenda item because I don’t want us to feel rushed.  It is an important topic and it should be something everyone feels that they can have their three minute to speak without us trying to hold a whole meeting.
  • Set Public Hearing Date: Request to Re-Name Middle School – September 3rd at 6pm
  • Potential Votes

o Revised FY21 School Calendar – P. Dillon – this year already I have presented you with three different calendars.  Since we last met, the commissioner changed both the number of days that students need to be in school from 180 to 170 and mandated that school districts start with a minimum of 10 days at the beginning of the year.  We are actually starting with 11 so staff are starting to work on the 26th for two days of professional development and then the week of the 31st and the week of the 7th and tentatively the first day for students would be September 14th.  At this moment, what I would like you to just approve are those dates.  The same two days that we had already and then nine more days for professional development for a total of 11; the other change in this revised calendar is I put back the Friday, March 19th as a professional development day.  The down side of the 170 days, it is 10 days less for students than they would have in a typical year; the upside of the 170 days is it give teachers and other staff 10 days to really work on planning which we are tentatively discussing or scheduling around CANVAS, our learning management system, safety and distancing protocols connected to reopening in whatever form that takes and then things that teachers normally do to get ready for the beginning of the year, curriculum planning, evaluation and assessment, working with their colleagues and particularly in this case, if we do go back to school, setting up rooms in ways that meet the social distancing guidelines.  I will get to all that detail later but all I am asking you now is to approve the revised calendar as presented.  R. Dohoney – I am all for the delayed start to the school year.  I think that is very prudent and a good way to go.  The commissioner gave 170 days as an option not as a requirement.  P. Dillon – it started as an option; verbally it is a requirement and an expectation.  The 10 days are a requirement.  We have to do the 10 days for professional development.  You guys wanted us to go past…our tentative last day is June 16th, if you wanted us to tack another 10 days on the other end of the year, then teachers would potentially be working many more days than their contracted days and I think that would be something you would have to negotiate, find the money and do a whole host of things.  R. Dohoney – I’m not worried about the money.  We are going to pay the teachers; they have to work.  We cancelled April break last year.  I have been a long time proponent…every year we do the calendar, I question why we need a break in February and April.  I have never seen that as a necessity.  Last year we proved it wasn’t a necessity.  You put those days into April break back and add a few more on and we are on track.  I don’t know at this point, given what that we have no idea where we are going to be from a learning perspective and how to judge the length of the school year.  I am fully prepared to vote for the 11 professional development days to begin and for school not to start until the 14th but I think we should reserve until at least December on what the second semester is going to look like.  S. Bannon – all we are voting on is the professional development at the beginning of the school year.  R. Dohoney – that is what I want to vote on but we have an approved calendar right now that has to be amended.  I would vote to add the 11 professional development days and to make the first day of school for students September 14th.  P. Dillon – that works for me and we can figure out the rest later.  I think the other stuff, there are a whole set of financial implications and it is the subject ….S. Stephen – I think these professional development days are going to be really important to get everybody up on going on the same page on what is going to happen this fall.  P. Dillon – agreed.  S. Stephen – those days are primarily important.  S. Bannon  – Rich, I am in total agreement with you but I think the real answer to this is voting on anything else other than Rich’s motion, we have no idea what is going to happen in the fall, winter, spring so we are probably going to end up changing our calendar anyway so why spend a lot of time worrying about it.  Let’s worry about the first couple of weeks and we can deal with the rest.  A. Potter – that makes sense Steve.  B. Fields – I just want to understand this.  The calendar I am looking at says there is going to be a professional development day on the 14th but it also says all students.  So we are not doing the professional day on the 14th.  P. Dillon – I don’t know what you are looking at.  You might be looking at a previous version of something.  R. Dohoney – I think the 17th was originally scheduled as a professional development day and it is still on there as that.  I don’t know if that was your intention Peter.  P. Dillon – no the 17th is a school committee meeting.  S. Bannon – the one I printed out also says professional development on the 14th.  P. Dillon – are you looking at it on an ipad?  S. Bannon – no I printed it out.  R. Dohoney – I think it is a holdover from a prior draft.  MOTION TO ADD ELEVEN PROFESSIONAL DAYS TO THE START OF THE SCHOOL YEAR CALENDAR FOR 2020 AND MARK SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 AS THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL FOR ALL STUDENTS – R. DOHONEY             SECONDED:            S. STEPHEN                    ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

o MOU – Cooperative Contract (Summer Seasonal Rates) – P. Dillon – there is a brief MOU for something we overlooked in the Cooperative Contract.  What we are trying to do is pay a number of summer aids at least at the minimum wage rate.  When we negotiated the contract we missed that and it makes it hard for us to hire those people.  I would like your support for this MOU.  It meets the cooperative groups needs and it meets the district needs.  It is fairly straightforward.   The only one that would not be minimum wage would be the supervisor rate which would be a range of $15.00 – $20.00 and whomever the supervisor is more qualified.  If somebody had worked for us the previous summer, they receive a 3% increase over what they made the previous summer.  MOTION TO ACCEPT THE MOU – COOPERATIVE CONTRACT (SUMMER SEASONAL RATES) – B. FIELDS                 SECONDED:  D. WESTON           ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

  • Updates:

o COVID 19

o Re-opening Plan(s) – P. Dillon – there are many parts to this.  I sent it around early this morning.  It took me a little while to finish formatting some of the appendices.  In a minute, I will go through it from beginning to end.  If it isn’t up on our website now, it will be tomorrow morning so people and follow it.  There are a couple of things that are important to know.  This is very much a draft plan.  At some point tonight, I am going to ask you to approve or even less than that, give your blessing, to a couple pages in the appendix which are responsive to questions from the commissioners office that I have to respond to by tomorrow.  I will get to that in a sec.  What I am sharing now is a much bigger plan that surpasses the expectations of the commissioner’s and governor’s office which is starting to create a strawman that the school committee, the staff, the parents and community members can respond to as we work toward building a momentarily finalized plan for August 10th.  There are two days that are important.  There is one tomorrow.  I have to submit the two page responses to six questions and then on August 10th I am supposed to submit an expanded plan.  My charge was to look at the viable ability of three approaches.  The first one is a plan for in-person schooling, the second is a hybrid model, and I will go into some details about that, part in person and part remote or distance learning and the third one is the plan for fully remote learning.  There is a possibility going into this year that we might spend some time in each of those three models.  There might be a time when it is safe and we can be in school, face-to-face for everybody. We might not think it is safe and we might do a hybrid thing for a while; we might also do remote learning for a while and switch between them.  The reason to do all three, was to look at the implications of that from a scheduling and a staffing and a safety perspective and every possible permutation under the sun.  We talked about the 11 days already and how that is going to be really useful to work with staff and we talked about the start for students on September 14th.  Guiding the plan are fundamental issues in our mission statement and they are connected to all our work.  A big one is safety; safety of kids, safety of families and safety of staff.  The other ones are things we talk about all the time; equity, access, justice, achievement and rigor.  I put together a really wonderful reopening task force and that group broke up into subcommittees and gave really significant, thoughtful feedback.  That feedback is largely included in the appendix.  I think in editing we missed one group and we will go back, amend it and include it.  We looked at the school day from when people arrive to when people leave and all these different subgroups.  I mentioned the timeline.  There is the submission of the tentative plan which is a couple of pages.  After that, between July 31st and August 9th, additional work, refinement, specifically negotiations with our two unions or bargaining groups, likely another meeting at the end of next week, and we will get to that at the housekeeping part at the end but I would like to propose one for Thursday, August 6th at the same time to share a more updated version of it; then we submit it.  In a normal world, where you submit a plan, you stop working on it.  I think even though we submitted it to continue to work on it and refine it but until the 14th of September and in all likelihood, long past the 14th of September.  In writing the plan, I looked at several other models of who did a good job writing their plan and even though we are very different as a community, I liked the Fall River plan so our plan is inspired and impartially modeled on the Fall River plan.  Their superintendent is Matt Malone and he was the former commissioner and he started his career as a para and worked his way up to teacher, principal, superintendent, commissioner.  I thought if I could piggy back on somebody’s, it would be his.  An interesting thing that came up, if you have been following the news, you will see this; in all the public work in the country, the six foot spacing has been the gold standard.  The CDC talks about six foot spacing and if you go to Big Y, the spaces in line are taped six foot boxes.  The DESE and the commissioner shared a plan that proper spacing could be three feet.  We were not comfortable with that so we looked at what would happen if you do three foot distancing but we decided that three foot distancing doesn’t work for us so all our plans are around six foot distancing.  DESE justified that with some medical research.  Some of the unions, not necessarily our local unions, but on the state level, questioned that.  In my little packet it shows what it looks like when tables and chairs are three feet apart or six feet apart and they are super complex grids and all sorts of things connected to that.  One of the implications for us was teachers have rooms that often have more stuff than students desks and chairs.  There are reading nooks, couches, bean bags and other things and one of the things we need to do around this is to either move stuff out or put some stuff in storage because in the context of this those things, sand tables, water tables, etc. may not be safe or appropriate.  Lots of work on that.  I then went into the three models and did a pros and cons thing.  If we use the three foot model, which I don’t want to use and don’t recommend, we could just about do all of our students into all our schools.  There is something neat about that and working with kids face-to-face is certainly better than not working with kids face-to-face.  The downside on the three foot thing is it less than the CDC recommends.  There are all sorts of implications for busing and transportation.  I will get to that.  The folks on the reopening group aren’t thrilled by three feet.  I don’t think anybody is thrilled by three feet.  Having all our students in school at any one time in the context of all the other things we have to do would likely be problematic.  Then we get to the next one which is the hybrid model so let me talk about it at a high level and then a few modifications on it but essentially, something like half the kids would be in school and half wouldn’t be.  It would easily let us meet the six feet spacing.  It lets us get the benefits of kids coming to school, it lets us do better on the buses, and I will talk more about the buses in terms of not trying to transport everybody.  The bummer about the hybrid model is it is disruptive for families and child care.  We think we have come up with a plan where we can separate kids A-K and L-Z and siblings across the buildings could be the same schedule as others siblings and even teachers with kids could be on the same schedule as teachers but it is still hard.  The other thing, depending on what happens with after-school programs, activities, clubs and sports, there are some issues there.  The remote learning thing, we survived the spring and some people excelled but I don’t think they collectively excelled.  We are doing a lot of work around remote or distance learning now and those 11 days are a real blessing to do more work to prepare but there are some downsides to remote learning.  I think we will address a lot of them but we have not addressed all of them yet.  Balancing in person and remote instruction simultaneously is going to be complex and complicated.  The last one is full remote learning.  From a medical and scientific perspective, it is the safest.  People are not coming into school and you could potentially take advantage of acyincraness learning and students could sleep late, stay up late, learn any hour of the day to a degree.  We still have a five to eight percent connectivity gap.  Mostly for people who live in outlying towns or places where the geography precludes them from having decent internet access.  If we were on remote and it was full time remote, the child care burden would be hard on parents but it would be consistent.  On the other side, remote learning has not been successful for us as in person learning.  I mentioned the connectivity thing; we have to invest more in professional development and curriculum.  I actually think we have that covered and we may need to purchase some additional devices for faculty, staff and students, if we negotiate or decide to do more live learning than we have in the past.  Let me go back to the hybrid model and talk about three possibilities within that.  In loose terms, break kids up into two cohorts, A & B, but actually you break kids up into three cohorts.  Some subset of high needs students, likely kids with IEPs, special ed students and/or English language learners and they would largely be in school full time.  Then two groups of the rest of the students.  Presumably there would also be a fourth group which is if we opted to do the hybrid thing, there might be some group that opts to do an entirely remote thing.  In any given time when students are in school, it might be closer to 55% of the students than 50% because it would be the students in that group plus the students who would be effectively going full time.  We have been kicking around three ideas.  One is that a group would go Monday to Thursday, face to face and another group would spend Monday to Thursday with remote learning.  The group that is coming in Monday to Thursday face to face would use Friday as a day for remote learning.  We would use that Friday as a day to deep clean the buildings and to provide staff ongoing professional development training and support and give them some time to balance the face to face work with the hybrid work.  That is one possibility.  Another variation on that would be instead of having kids alternate week by week, would be to have one group come in on Monday and Tuesday; I’ll call this the AARBBC schedule.  One group would come on Monday and Tuesday (A’s), the B’s would be home doing remote learning on Monday and Tuesday.  Wednesday would be the day to clean the building.  Thursday and Friday would be BB days and the A’s would be doing remote learning on Thursday and Friday.  That is another variation.  Even a more complicated one which would be ABRAB, so kids are alternating.  That is my least favorite one because I think it is harder to clean appropriately with that many transitions in one week.  That is all to be determined but those are some possibilities.  I am obviously talking regularly with other superintendents.  I have another call tomorrow.  If I were operating in a vacuum, I might like the four days on the fifth day is remote learning.  If all other districts are doing the AARBB, then it may make sense to do that because people live and work across multiple districts.  Not decided, just thinking about it.  I will update you on that.  Busing right now looks like about 30% of people eligible for busing will not take the bus.  You will see in my packet, there are some things and we took some pictures from the Worcester schools, normally our buses can hold 54 kids.  We don’t tend to have the littlest kids sit three to a seat.  In all likelihood, if we did the hybrid model, we could run our current buses with people spaced as they are in the second diagram and get about 24 kids to a bus and meet our needs particularly because so many people look like they will opt out of the bus.  The third one is a spacing model where it is just one kid to a row and that really makes the bus grossly ineffective and you get 12 kids on a bus that could hold 54 and then we get into real problems.  I think we can do the 24 one.  A couple little variations, it is likely our practice would not have somebody sitting directly behind the driver so that would be a seat we would lose.  From a cleaning perspective, the plan is obviously to do tons of cleaning depending on which model we do.  We could do it a different time; all sorts of cleaning products, electrostatic sprayers and we have explored a variety of other things.  We are entirely confident in the air exchange which has been a big issue in the elementary and middle school and we are very confident in the air exchange in the high school in good weather.  The high school heating system is not so efficient so as we circulate more air in the high school with more outside clean air, the building gets colder.  Steve is working with a contractor to figure out what we might be able to do to keep the air exchange rate high and the building warm.  We will get back to you on that.  There is a whole thing about touch points, so all the things that get touched a lot would be clean.  You also talked about the importance of masks.  We very aggressively enforce that.  Lots of hand sanitizer and so on and so forth.  I mentioned the 11 days at the beginning of school.  The report now details some of what I talked about with the cohort groups.  We would limit our spaces and how they can be used by outside groups.  Usually we pride ourselves on doing that.  That is something we would back off on for the foreseeable future.  Steve has done a great job of ordering incredible amounts of protective equipment and other things.  In the appendices you will see some of the work of the working groups that will fold in.  You will also see a nice thing around special education and high needs students.  They did really rich work.  You will see who the people are on the committee that helped me on this and I really appreciate the 29 of them.  On page 34 and 35, the two pages I would submit to the state.  The last bit of it is the high level summary of the parent or family survey and that doesn’t include the individual open ended responses.  I still have to work through those.  There were almost 700 responses or more representing almost 900 kids.  We got a lot of feedback there.  Let me pause there and respond to questions that the school committee has.  S. Bannon – can you talk about the process.  What the expectations are for tonight to vote on; why we will need a meeting next Thursday and what it looks like through the 14th for the school committee.  P. Dillon – The expectation for tonight is I would just like you to approve, or just give me your blessing, to submit pages 34 and 35 which is a very simple summary of what I just discussed to meet the state’s requirement.  It is not binding or committing us to anything; it is just being responsive to their questions.  The bigger expectation is by August 10th we need to submit with your formal approval and expanded plan for reopening.  What I have shared with you now and I tried to get ahead on this, the bigger document is a draft for that and it is probably 70% complete but we need to do more work on that.  We need to meet formally with the unions around it and we need to fine tune it.  Even after we submit it on the 10th, hopefully with your approval, I image that at least the administrative team and I and then within the buildings, the principal and their teachers and staff will continue to refine practices additionally because this is super complicated and continue to do that through September and likely through the whole school year, making adjustments and shifts as we need.  R. Dohoney – I have a question on the short plan but it might be a broader issue.  I do think we should vote tonight to approve or disapprove the shorter plan.  On the second page of the short plan, there are references to asynchronous lessons to students.  What is that and how does it apply?  P. Dillon – it just means time.  Synchronous is in real time and asynchronous is not in real time.  A real time thing, this conversation is a synchronous conversation and asynchronous would be if a recorded a series of math proofs and you could look at it at 3 in the afternoon or 2 in the morning.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both.  R. Dohoney – I am not going to start asking a lot of questions about the CANVAS software because that is a mountain you have to climb in getting that all organized but do you envision a scenario in the hybrid model where some students would be in the classroom being taught by a live teacher and students would be home doing the same lesson through the CANVAS software.  P. Dillon – That is something that we are working on.  I don’t know and I don’t really want to commit on that.  R. Dohoney – I think it is a great idea that’s why I asked.  P. Dillon – I think the challenge of teaching 10 kids live in a classroom and simultaneously teaching another 10 kids through video might sometimes work but might not always work so I think we really need to work with teachers to think about that and what it looks like.  One thing potentially to do might be to record mini lessons that get shared in the classroom and online at home and then do different things with it.  We need to talk about it.  We need to figure out how it works and give people time to play around with it and develop a comfort level before we commit to how we are going to do it.  A. Potter – there are definitely different modalities in terms of asynchronous and synchronous and the amount of time and the attention span you can get somebody to follow an asynchronous as opposed to somebody who is actually in the room engaging.  It is a very different thing.  P. Dillon – exactly.  For example, today with some people from the high school, I was on a Mass IDEAS meeting for seven hours, staring at my screen.  We got to go to the bathroom and get lunch but it was still seven hours.  It was too much.  It was really engaging, high-level people, good thoughts, good discussion but I think what we can’t do is say a teacher teaches five periods and teaching five periods to kids face to face is the same as teaching five periods to kids at home.  We really need to work through that.  S. Stephen – so the CANVAS does allow for kids to be in class and recording at the same time.  When I was cruising around the site, it looked like there was the ability to record lessons as they were being taught so that would be one tool that they would be able to use.  I am not saying that is what the class should be based upon but it is a tool they can use.  P. Dillon – if we think of it as a tool in the tool box, what we do with that tool is yet to be determined.  S. Stephen – that is what I am saying.  There is the capability as Rich was saying; could that happen, yes.  Is that the best way to do it, probably not.  The recorded class discussion and conversation should and would be available.  P. Dillon – yes, and really importantly the role of teachers and teacher voice in helping determine how we do this is significant.  J. St. Peter – in your opinion, do you feel that the students would gain more educationally from a hybrid model as opposed to a full-time at home model?  Is that what I am hearing?  P. Dillon – I do because I think the face to face opportunities are indispensable.  The slight qualifying this is, it really depends on what is happening around us in the safety, health and wellness, not just of the kids and teachers, but all the people those people come in contact with.  J. St. Peter – I agree but from a purely educational standpoint, your opinion is that the hybrid model is better for the kids educationally vs completely online or at home model.  P. Dillon – I think so but I think it is qualified.  I don’t think it is just mine, I think it probably everybody’s.  If we thought remote learning was better, the whole country and the whole world wouldn’t have people go to schools. We would all sit at home on our computers and stare at our screens.  In certain context that might be the case if you work two jobs and you need to get it in, if you are older and something else is going on it might make sense but going to school, interacting with grown-ups, with peers and even in a watered down constrained way, I think is still better than not.  J. St. Peter – I don’t disagree with you.  We just haven’t seen a model anywhere so that was my main point.  A full school model is better than anything but hybrid would be better than a full time at home from an educational standpoint.  P. Dillon – then there is the whole other thing that is the safety thing.  It is not an either/or it is multiple axises.  B. Fields – in regard to the survey, would the send out the the staff the survey; was staff asked?  P. Dillon – yes, there were two surveys done.  The union cooperated with me, but they did a survey of the staff and I did a survey of parents and families.  B. Fields – In regards to staff, how many of the staff, what percentage would feel comfortable with a hybrid model because the association has presented basically in a way, when I read their proposal, they have phase one and phase two which I think is equal to what we are going to do already with the ten days extra.  Now they might have submitted this before DESE allowed the ten days.  P. Dillon – I think so and I think we are on the same page there.  I think that is the first part of it.   I will summarize this on a high level and probably not do it justice.  As a group, the teachers are concerned about going to school even in a hybrid model and concerned about health and safety.  As a group, parents are more eager for their kids to go back to school.  There is a little disconnect between the two groups.  Obviously some teachers would like to go back to school with the hybrid model and some parents are not comfortable with going back to school with a hybrid model.  There are some parents that would like to homeschool their kids are do a fully remote thing.  You can do a diagram and there would be some overlap but parents and teachers are thinking about this differently.  The other thing that is complicated is when I asked the parents and even when the teachers were asked, we didn’t have as clear a sense as we do now as to what model we were talking about.  People were making decisions based on the information or lack of information they had at the time and this might change or evolve over time.  If there is an additional surge then I think everybody would get more conservative about a hybrid model.  If our rate is very low then people might become more comfortable with it.  One of the things I was looking at today.  It was a report from the Harvard Public Health School that tried to categorize with hard numbers, really concrete numbers, if the infection rate is at this point, then it could make sense to do a hybrid model.  If the infection rate is almost non-existent then everybody could go back to school.  If the infection rate is moving higher then maybe you pause and go into a remote thing for a while.  I would love to try to get an objective agreed upon measure as the basis for doing it because I totally get the emotional side of this.  D. Weston – Peter, I like that you referenced that kind of data.  Whatever we do, I would like us to be able to use that kind of data to be safe when we need to and not rely on somebody at the other end of the state to tell us what is safe and what is not safe.  Frankly, opening and closing schools is a political decision and the best we can do to keep it to science, the better off we will be.  If we do, I am not sure what the school committee’s role of responsible is in the final vote we are going to take to open or not open or what way we are going to open schools, but the one thing I would like to do is include – it shouldn’t be a blank check to open and stay open forever, it should have criteria that would include when we might need to step back a little bit.  P. Dillon – we could model it on New York’s phasing in or Massachusetts’ own phasing in.  We know a lot about data; we know about patterns and the devil is in the details.  How do we agree to agree to the right framework?  R. Dohoney – I think there is consensus around that approach though.  P. Dillon – that is something I am trying to work with the county superintendents on and I would like to be careful about never negotiating in public but that concept is a good thing to speak with the teachers and the paras about.  Again, I look forward to hearing what they have to say about it or some alternative that I have yet to consider.  S. Bannon – you will be hearing from Doreen to set a date to meet with the paras and Unit A. P. Dillon – in a minute I can go to this.  I know there are several questions or comments in the chat and Steve if you want me to, I can respond to some of those.  What would you like me to do?  S. Bannon – part of the problem…we will manage this better next meeting which we hope is next Thursday because there are a couple of problems.  There is not the raise your hand feature that I am used to that makes it a lot easier or trying to get people to respond is difficult as it is.  I will play MC for a moment and go through the chats or comments.  R. Dohoney – Steve, I have questions about the fairness of that.  We have people that are  locked out of this and we already publicly published dates where people are going to be able to give input over the next week.  P. Dillon – then we will just do those.  S. Stephen – we even have a school committee member that can’t get on.  She is on the phone.  That is not fair.  S. Bannon – there will be another school committee meeting next week.  There will be four sessions that Peter is hosting plus if anyone wants to Doreen or myself, we will share the email with the rest of the school committee if they have comments.  You can’t answer to the entire school committee but we will do any of those options.  I agree.  You are correct on that.  Peter and I will work with our technology people about some changes that we need to make so this comes out a little better.  It is a positive thing.  Donna is asking us if there is public comment tonight.  Donne, there is no public comment tonight.  Not everyone got into the meeting because there are over 99 people at the meeting.  If I start taking public comments at three minutes a piece, it is going to be a long night plus I don’t see a feature that allows people to raise their hands on this model which makes it difficult.  I am not going to just have people speak and then the first one that speaks over someone else is going to be the one that gets to speak for three minutes.  We will not take public comment.  There will be plenty of time before school starts for public comment both to Peter and the school committee.  Once we refine this a little bit, we will have public comment.  You can email, wait for the next meeting, go to one of four of Peter’s sessions that he announced and we will find time for public comment.  School is not starting tomorrow.  S. Stephen – you can also email all of the board members with any of your questions.  Our email addresses are on the school website.  D. Weston – is there a way in Robert’s Rules of Order to continue this school committee meeting to a later date.  I feel that people should have the chance for public comment.  We obviously failed in our technology to make that appropriately happen.  Is it possible to continue this meeting until next week or is it just another meeting?  S. Bannon – because of the posting requirements, what I thought we would do is the updates we would do just like tonight but we would put on the next agenda, public comments.  That would assure us that we take public comments.  R. Dohoney – I think we should put public comments first for at least an hour and maybe Steve you could do what other municipal boards do and have some kind of registration so people who want to make comments could email and sign up and you could call on them to go through.  S. Bannon – someone is asking if we should hear from the union tonight.  It is inappropriate to hear from the union tonight because we are in negotiations with them and I would like to talk to them first.  Once I open the door up to allow someone to speak, there are a lot of other people who want to speak too.  I value what the union has to say and I am looking forward to it but I would like to do that first as a school committee in executive session so that we can really understand and not do it at a public meeting.  I am not negotiating in public.  P. Dillon – I will potentially offer one thing and it may be too long.  They did share a letter with us about phased reopening.  Would you like me to read that into the record.  Is that useful or is that too long?  S. Bannon – no, it would be fine to read it into the record.  P. Dillon – Bill, I think some of what you talked about in the phase thing actually got addressed by the extra ten days.  This is a letter from the Berkshire Hills Education Association signed by their executive board to me and the school committee chairman.  (Peter reads the attached letter).   S. Bannon – we got through the reopening plan. Rich, do you have a motion?  MOTION TO APPROVE THE BHRSD REOPENING RESPONSE TO DESE DATED JULY 28, 2020 AND TO AUTHORIZE THE SUPERINTENDENT TO SUBMIT SAID RESPONSE  – R. DOHONEY               SECONDED:  S. STEPHEN                 ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS                          MOTION – PURSUANT TO BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT POLICIES BGFB EMERGENCY POLICIES AND CHD ADMINISTRATION AND POLICY ABSENCE THAT THE FOLLOWING EMERGENCY POLICY SHALL BE IN EFFECT.  STUDENTS IN GRADE 2 AND ABOVE ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR A MASK FACE COVERING THAT COVERS THEIR NOSE AND MOUTH.  STUDENTS IN KINDERGARTEN AND GRADE 1 SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO WEAR A MASK FACE COVERING.  FACE SHIELDS MAY BE AN OPTION FOR THOSE STUDENTS WITH MEDICAL BEHAVIOR AND/OR CHALLENGES OR ARE UNABLE TO WEAR A MASK AND FACE COVERINGS.   TRANSPARENT MASKS MAY BE THE BEST OPTION FOR BOTH TEACHERS AND STUDENTS IN CLASSES FOR DEAF AND HARD OF HEARING STUDENTS.  THEY MAY ALSO BE USEFUL FOR TEACHERS AND YOUNGER STUDENTS WHO RELY ON VISUAL FACIAL CUES.  ADULTS, INCLUDING EDUCATORS AND STAFF ARE REQUIRED TO WEAR MASKS/FACE COVERINGS.  EXCEPTION TO THE MASKS/FACE COVERINGS REQUIREMENTS MUST BE MADE FOR THOSE WHO WHOM IT IS NOT POSSIBLE DUE TO MEDICAL CONDITIONS, DISABILITY IMPACT OR OTHER HEALTH AND SAFETY PRACTICES.  MASKS BREAKS SHOULD OCCUR THROUGHOUT THE DAY.   BREAKS SHOULD OCCUR WHEN STUDENTS CAN BE SIX FEET APART AND IDEALLY OUTSIDE OR AT LEAST WITH THE WINDOWS OPEN.  MASKS/FACE COVERINGS SHOULD BE PROVIDED BY THE STUDENT/FAMILY BUT EXTRA DISPOSABLE FACE MASKS SHOULD BE MADE AVAILABLE BY THE SCHOOLS FOR STUDENTS WHO NEED THEM.  REUSABLE MASKS/FACE COVERINGS PROVIDED BY FAMILIES SHOULD BE WASHED BY FAMILIES DAILY.  DISTRICT SHALL PROVIDE MASKS TO FAMILIES EXPERIENCING FINANCIAL HARDSHIP AND UNABLE TO AFFORD MASKS OR FACE COVERINGS.  MASKS/FACE COVERINGS ARE REQUIRED TO BE WORN BY EVERYONE ON THE BUS DURING SCHOOL BUS TRANSPORTATION.  EDUCATORS AND STAFF ARE HEREBY AUTHORIZED AND DIRECTED TO REMOVE FROM OR DENY ACCESS TO THE SCHOOL TO ANYONE FAILING TO COMPLY WITH THIS POLICY – R. DOHONEY                     SECONDED – M. THOMAS         ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

B. Fields – can there be something in there that pertains to anybody in the building?  For example, suppliers when they come in, contract laborers who aren’t part of the school district.  R. Dohoney – I specifically said adults.  I think that would pertain to anybody, delivery people, anybody who has any business in the school is captured by that.  I will add that the two policies that I referenced, the emergency policy allows us to immediately enact the policy which is important.  People even going into the school tomorrow to do work must wear masks.  I will tell you that we can only do emergency policies for sixty days so the policy committee is going to have to get together and do a more comprehensive policy which may be a good venue to talk about details and specific types of masks, etc.  I think it is no secret to you folks, I just cut and pasted that from the DESE policy to make it fit our needs.  I want to get something in place now so that the school, today going forward, the school staff are authorized to deny access to people who do not have masks.  P. Dillon – I think it is good.  I would imagine that MASC would issue a model policy within two weeks.  That could inform our longer term policy.  J. St. Peter – I know there are certain types of masks, especially those N95 masks that have the release value that protects you but doesn’t protect anyone else because you are spewing forth all your release particles so going forward the committee should look at that to make sure the masks not only prevents the person wearing it but also others.  S. Bannon – I would say this Jason, for the 60 days that we have, the school administration and staff have the ability if they don’t feel the mask is serving the purpose and there is a rationale behind it, they can ask people to change their mask and give them a disposable mask.   S. Bannon – I don’t necessarily need a vote but I at least need to hear if anyone objects to meeting next Thursday, August 6th at 6pm.  No objections.  We will start off with public comment.  P. Dillon – we will work with CTSB to get a set up that will hold more people or we will use a different provider that can hold more people.  S. Stephen – We should only have people from the district making comments.  S. Bannon – no, I am not doing that Sean.  There are school choice parents who may want to make comments, there are teachers that want to make comments that are not in the district.  S. Stephen – I just want to make sure we don’t….if people are involved in the district that is fine.  If people are just randomly showing up and making comments, I don’t want to hear that.  R. Dohoney – are you going to put an executive session on the agenda for next week or hold off on that?  S. Bannon – probably hold off on that.  I don’t think we will be ready for it.  R. Dohoney – I don’t either but also if you have it, you don’t have to use it.  P. Dillon – one other thing I will mention, CTSB did do a little work around and there are another 20 people who are watching the meeting on Facebook live right now.  S. Bannon – I appreciate them doing that.  We will figure out where we are going to go from here with technology.  S. Bannon – anyone else under the COVID-19 section.  The only thing I am going to say is public comment will start at the beginning of the next meeting.  I will give Peter a chance to give us an update if there is a substantial update because who knows what is going to happen in the next seven days, so people may comment on something that is outdated already so I will allow Peter to give a brief update if there are major changes from what we have heard tonight so they don’t waste their time talking about something that isn’t even going to happen.  P. Dillon – I imagine something on the border of 70% of where we land is already articulated and in that document.  It may be organized slightly differently.  We may  commit to a particular direction, we may negotiate something.  I think there will be clarity which of the hybrid schedules we are recommending.  R. Dohoney – because it constitutes a large share of the questions I get about this, and I know MIAA did take a vote on extending the fall season or changing the schedule of the fall season, maybe we should have an agenda item and have our athletic director or someone on to speak to the situation with fall sports.  P. Dillon – I think that makes sense and I think that is important.  There is one other general area that is very much impacted by this which is music, drama, chorus and we will do some more work on that.  We are expecting additional guidance there.  I also didn’t talk much about the food service program and the expectation that if we were on a hybrid model, kids would eat in classes not in the cafeteria and that for kids who would normally get food, will continue the weekly thing we have been doing.  The other last thing that we are exploring if we do a remote learning thing and a hybrid thing, we might have some safe distance space where kids who don’t have connectivity at home could be in a supervised distance place that is not a typical classroom to do remote work in school.  B. Fields – can I ask a process question before we end?  The teachers association has set out a pretty firm position and what we have been talking tonight and what you have offered is a hybrid.  When and is this going to go with the negotiations committee from our committee; how will this divide which I think has a lot of commonalities in both; what is the schedule for that?  Are we going to know by next week if they can compromise or we are going to adjust what we talked about.  How long will this take and is this like contract negotiations?  P. Dillon – here is my thinking on it.  I was asked by the commissioner to articulate three models; face to face, hybrid and remote.  Somebody asked me which do I like and I liked the hybrid approach.  The teachers like the remote approach.  I think we start conversations next week and we see how far we get.  I still have to present the three models to the state.  I don’t think we are implementing what approach we are doing until September 14th.  I would like to know and everybody would like to know, if I were a teacher I would like to know way before September 14th, but I don’t think we turn into pumpkins.  I think there is room for ongoing dialogue.  S. Bannon – I think Doreen is off tomorrow so Monday we will try to get a meeting set up with the negotiating team and Unit A and C and I am quite confident we always have good meetings.  They are cordial and we will come up with a working agreement.  P. Dillon – I expect that there is additional work going on at the state level between the state union presidents and the commissioner and the governor and I wouldn’t be surprised if they reach some agreement that is like the ten days thing that gives us additional guidance.  B. Fields – I did get a question from someone that is “is it possible that after we go through all this, DESE could say BHRSD we feel what you have submitted to us, you will go with this model” or do you feel and could they legally impose something on us that we as a school committee may not agree with?  P. Dillon – I think Massachusetts is all about local control and the authority rests with you.  That being said, the governor could issue an emergency order depending on any circumstance.  R. Dohoney – I think there is a high chance if there is a material change in circumstances with COVID that we get directives from the state like we did back in the spring.  I think it is an open question now as to where they decisions are made between the state, us and the superintendent.  I am not worried about us and the superintendent.  We will figure it out and get to the right answer.  If you question is, does the state have the power to dictate it to us, they do.  S. Bannon – just so everyone is clear on what we voted on tonight was to send the short form to the state with the three choices.  We made no decisions on what we are doing on September 14th.  That is still a little ways away.  P. Dillon – importantly, Steve, the question was which reopening plan are you leaning towards for the start of the school year.  We are not making a commitment.  We are indicating my preference at this moment in time and that could certainly change over time.  S. Bannon – that draft is due when Peter?  P. Dillon – this two page thing is due tomorrow.  S. Bannon – so any criticism of us not taking public comment tonight before sending that in, any public comment would not have gotten into this anyway.  We are on a very tight timeline.  This is just the beginning of what we had to send into the state.  Let’s move ahead.

Sub-Committee Reports:

  • Policy Sub Committee – N/A
  • Building and Grounds Sub Committee – J. St. Peter – we met on the 23rd. There were three items on the agenda.  The first was  a presentation similar to what we had tonight from the Monument Sustainability committee.  They pretty much said tonight everything they presented to us.  The one thing I would like to highlight is that the presentation was a brief overview.  They went into a great amount of depth on the specific plans and I urge everyone to read those.  They put a lot of time and effort into it.  It is fascinating and great stuff.  Second, Steve gave us an update on the schools in general.  A lot of painting has been going on.  75% of all the rooms and hallways have been painted.  Also Steve mentioned that all three buildings have been officially commissioned.  That needs to be done on a regular basis.  Air filtering, air filter changes, etc.  As far as air flow, I know that is big in the news, Peter touched on that somewhat but the middle and elementary schools are set to exchange the air in each room four times in an hour.  For frame of reference, hospitals usually change it four to six times an hour so we are in that range.  With regard to the high school, those numbers have been in the high threes and trying to do everything we can to get to a four.  Peter pointed out that the problem with the high school is when we filter the air there is no cooling mechanism so when it is spring, summer or fall, the air that is exchanged is muggy so it can give that stale smell.  It is fresh air, it is just hot, humid air from outside.  The filters in these devices are changed three times a year.  Steve also mentioned that he has ordered over 80,000 disposable face masks.  He has also ordered some N95 masks and cloth masks and also ordered face shields, outer layer gloves, over 100 hand sanitizing stations, 100s of gallons of sanitizing liquid.  Aside from that normal stuff…wastewater treatment plant there are normal pump issues, filters are in order and should be coming here in August.  Peter also mentioned electrostatic sprayers are also on order and should be coming in during the next week.  Steve also touched on janitors; usually there is one janitor on staff during the day and three to four in the evening.  If we do go back full time or hybrid, that is going to have to shift to two or three on during the day to increase the amount of cleaning and the others on at night for the normal cleaning.  There is a very high chance we might have to hire some more cleaning staff.  We will test it out the first two weeks to see what we need.  The third topic is regarding extraordinary funding at the high school that we struggled with over the last two years.  We decided to let Kristi lead that.  If she has any requests we will defer to her going forward and take it from there.  Dohoney – any communications, actions, etc. or where are we with monitoring the statements of interests that were filed back in May?  P. Dillon – I can reach out to that office and Diane Sullivan quite candidly.  I have been a little preoccupied with this but I will.  R. Dohoney – I just know from their meeting that it is active so I think it is important.  P. Dillon – I have her cell phone number on my desk.  I will call her tomorrow.
  • 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:

  • Certified Appointment(s)
  • Non-Certified Appointment(s)
  • Retirement(s) – P. Dillon – I would like to recognize Pat Harper. She is a middle school nurse who has been with us for many years and she decided to retire at the end of the year.  She has been great and took care of our kids, kept them healthy and patched them up.  I appreciate her service and the time she spent with us.
  • Resignation(s)
  • Summer 2020 Appointment(s) – Some really nice things happened with Project Connection and we will go over that at another time.

Business Operation:

Education News:

Old Business:

  • New Business:
    • Public Comment
    • Written Communication

MOTION TO ADJOURN – A. POTTER                SECONDED:  B. FIELDS                        ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

Meeting Adjourned at 8:13pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder                                                ______________________________

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

 

______________________________

School Committee Secretary