BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
District Offices, Stockbridge
June 20, 2019 – 7pm
School Committee: S. Bannon, J. St. Peter, B. Fields, D. Singer, M. Thomas, A. Hutchinson, R. Dohoney
Administration: P. Dillon, S. Harrison
Staff/Public: T. Lee, K. Farina, B. Doren, Kate Burdsall
Absent: A. Potter, S. Stephen, D. Weston
List of Documents Distributed:
School Committee Minutes of Meeting dated May 23, 2019
RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes transcribed during the meeting and after the fact from live recording provided by CTSB. Length of meeting: 1 hour, 37 minutes.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 7pm.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
May 23, 2019 – MOTION TO ACCEPT SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES OF MEETING DATED MAY 23, 2019 – R. DOHONEY SECONDED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Dillon – I have a couple of things but they are short. I have a media request from WGBH from Springfield to do an interview in relation to our letter to Southern Berkshire. The timing doesn’t work for me so I am going to decline it. If anybody wants to do it, talk to Steve about it otherwise I just prefer we don’t do it. We received an initial response back from Southern Berkshire. I don’t have it in hand. It was on their website and their packet from their chair that at their last meeting on the 13th they had other things to discuss and they will discuss it on the 27th and they would get back to us after that. With school over, I would like to take a moment to commend the faculty and staff and Steve’s people in the buildings and everyone else, for doing a nice job ending the year. We know the end of the year is always busy and we keep doing it to ourselves year after year and this one was particularly exhausting. There was a lot of stuff going on. People finished strongly. If you go in the buildings now you will see Steve and his crew have pulled out a lot of furniture, desks and they are working on carpets and painting and all these big projects. It is amazing how quickly they can turn stuff around.
- Good News Item (s) – N/A
- Requests: New Job Descriptions & Job Description Revisions – P. Dillon – from a framing perspective, we have paraprofessionals that provide extra support to kids. If those paraprofessionals do some other things and have some particular skills with intensive special needs students, they get paid an additional rate as a facilitator. As we looked at the work we are doing, we are continuing to work with kids with higher and higher needs and the skills required of the people who are working with those kids are more and with the change in the minimum wage in the Commonwealth, it is getting both harder to recruit and retain those folks. Our proposal is to create an additional level of facilitator. Again, everyone would be hired as a paraprofessional and then if someone is doing a particular set of things that is more complicated of requires more training, we would label them Facilator 1 and Facilitator 2. Kate can explain more but that gives you some context. Bannon – have we talked to the union about this? P. Dillon – we have and they are supportive of it. K. Burdsall – they gave us feedback so some of the changes you will see is from the union. S. Bannon – how about the salaries? K. Burdsall – that’s not my job. S. Bannon – do we have questions on any of the revisions?
- Special Education Team Leader – K. Burdsall – for the ETL as we phase those in over the last year, we started with one that was 5-12, then we went PK-6 and 7-12 and none of our other job descriptions have breakables on them so while it made sense to bring them in that way, at this point it makes sense that they are just team leaders and they don’t actually have a grade level associated with them.
- Facilitator I of Students with Intensive Special Needs
MOTION TO APPROVE REVISIONS TO SPECIAL EDUCATION TEAM LEADER, PARAPROFESSIONAL AND FACILITATOR I OF STUDENTS WITH INTENSIVE SPECIAL NEEDS – J. ST. PETER SECONDED: R. DOHONEY ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- New Job Descriptions – P. Dillon – Facilitator II is the second level of facilitator that I described and this was largely driven by the range of demands in the program at the middle school called the ABC program but could apply to any of the three schools. The work is getting more complex, the qualifications for doing the work should shift with that too. Hutchinson – is this going to eliminate some people if they can’t do this job? K. Burdsall – At the elementary school level, we have students who are not toilet trained and we have folks that change diapers and do that sort of thing. We have programs that have students even as they get older are not able to independently take care of their toileting needs. At the elementary school level, they are generally fairly small and easy to manage. As some of those students get older, they get bigger and heavier and we wanted to put some minimum in there because we have some student for whom we have to take care of those needs and we need two people to do it and they have to be trained on lifting, moving and doing all of that in a safe manner both for the student and for the staff. It is a lot different when you are doing that with someone who is 180lbs than a 45lb child. A. Hutchinson – will you need more specialized equipment? K. Burdsall – we have a lift and we have the specialized equipment we need at this point. The training piece and ensuring safety is huge. S. Bannon – do you anticipate that anyone that we now have will not be able to do this job? K. Burdsall – I do not. S. Bannon – I assume this was budgeted in some manner? P. Dillon – Yes. We always put something in contingency for anticipated needs and this was on our list of potential needs.
- Facilitator II of Students with Intensive Special Needs – MOTION TO APPROVE JOB DESCRIPTION FOR FACILITATOR II OF STUDENTS WITH INTENSIVE SPECIAL NEEDS – J. ST. PETER SECONDED: DOHONEY ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Educational Director of Out of School Learning Time – P. Dillon – as you know we run our Project Connection program at the elementary and middle school and it is grant funded. It is a 21st Century Learning program. We also recently applied for a similar grant for the high school so there is the possibility we might get that and it would be expanded. In addition to the Project Connection work, there are several other programs that are happening after school or during out of school time. One of our goals is for those programs to have a very strong connection to the regular day. We have really good work in the program and we are really excited about it but in growing it to the next level, we want to have somebody to oversee it with a very strong educational background so they make strong curricular connections and work with teachers. That is the basis of how this is framed. Kristi Farina in her previous role as Director of Learning and Teaching did a lot of work on this with Tom Kelly and Sharon and she can add some additional context. Farina – I appreciate everything that Peter shared and that is completely accurate in terms of the description. I think one of the things that we noticed is there needs to be some stronger coordination between programs so our extended school year programs and special education and the Project Connection piece of how that fits together so that students who are receiving extended school year services, those who are unable to participate in Project Connection so there is that piece of it as well as stronger alignment of the academic component that students are receiving both during the school day and some of those tutoring opportunities and extended school year opportunities to aligned with the curriculum they are doing in the Project Connection programs. We have seen some tremendous growth in our students in some very specific areas, particularly in the early grades at the elementary school in reading and that connects pretty directly to the tutoring program that has been happening over the summer. It was happening after school and we are trying this year to bring it back after school. We are doing a whole shift on how we are spending our time and Title I funds next year and that Title I funding is going to bring back the tutoring. That is another piece of the alignment that we want to do. Also as a district, you may have heard us talking about that we have invested in the Performance Matters data management system. We feel it would be helpful to have someone with a strong educational background who can really do some deep diving into the data around student performance and some targeted programming alignment for students as they are making choices in their after school programs in Project Connection and that final piece is what Peter already mentioned that we are trying to expand this into the high school for students who don’t have the resources to participate in the out of school program at the high school. We have a lot of it at the high school but we know that there is an issue with transportation. We know that there are some students that have needs and getting exposure to career job opportunities so we want to build that and connect it to work that Sean Flynn is doing. This summer we are restarting the 8th to 9th grade transition program. We have that starting next week. There are a lot of things going on connected to this out of school time. We think that this position would really support the work in improving student performance connected to it. P. Dillon – there are two other pieces that are connected to it. There is a place in the teacher’s contract when we last negotiated it that clarified the role of teachers in providing additional support to kids. While most teachers are doing it and we are very appreciative that they are, they do it before school or during lunch or after school, it’s not entirely coherent nor it is particularly well communicated to parents. We think the person in this role can play an important role in structuring and communicating better. The last thing is, maybe the three principals, Steve, Sharon, Kristi in her role as DOLT and I, have spent and extraordinary amount of time, maybe in some cases 20 or 30% of each of those people’s times, supporting this work in the after school program which was important to get it going but now we would like to hand it off to somebody else so they could devote their time to more pressing matters. S. Bannon – so this would be a full time position? P. Dillon – yes. S. Bannon – grant funded? S. Harrison – it would be partially grant funded and partially from the shared services money. We are looking at some of the other grants that we have applied for that we would use some of that funds as well. We wanted to make sure we could cover it without that money first. If that comes in, we will shift funds. K. Farina – specifically the other grant that Sharon is referring to is the 21st Century Grant that we just applied for for the high school so we don’t know if we have that but we were budgeting without that in mind although that additional program will bring those additional funds as well. S. Bannon – I guess my other question is, it doesn’t sound like it is an administrative position, why is it in the Unit A contract? P. Dillon – there are several positions that are sort of in between the Unit A contract. One could argue that the guidance roles are not classroom teaching bases and they are working directly with kids but those are in the Unit A contract and the team leaders that we just talked about, those are in the Unit A contract as well. It could sit outside of the Unit A contract. The way this is structured it is highly likely this person would be a certified teacher and I image…R. Dohoney – you should make that a criteria. K. Farina – correct. That is actually part of what we discussed at the admin level. We want it to be someone with a strong educational background which is one of the things we were thinking about. We want someone with certification and being part of the Unit A contact and how what plays into the retirement system. S. Harrison – but it doesn’t have to be in the Unit A contract for retirement as long as the requirement of the position states that you have to by Massachusetts education teacher certified. That would allow that person to be part of MTRS. S. Bannon – what I am not hearing is if a teacher decides to take this position but it is a leap of faith and didn’t like it, if they are in the contract they are guaranteed to go back. If they are outside the contract they may not have a job if they don’t want this one. It that not true? P. Dillon – when a teacher stepped into a pilot role last year for two years, we guaranteed explicitly a right of return. I think that makes it more attractive for somebody otherwise if you are ten years into your career and you try something and it doesn’t work out you are out of a job, how many people are going to apply for that? Some but not all. My slight inclination is to keep it in the contract but if people feel strongly about it, it can come out or you could leave it with us and it could be per the contract or an independent thing to be determined. R. Dohoney – we could have amended it now to take it out of the contract and vote on it now or once it’s in, it’s in. There is not taking it out then. P. Dillon – Kristi, do you have a strong feeling about it if it sits inside or outside of the contract? K. Farina – I actually appreciated Steve point and I actually think that the position you are referring to was still in the Unit A contract versus my role when I stepped into DOLT. I thought Steve hit the nail on the head. S. Harrison – then it is negotiated on the salary schedule versus the position related to the rest of the market for people doing this type of role which is significantly different than teachers and guidance counselors. S. Bannon – it does sound like more of a supervisory role. That is what started me asking. R. Dohoney – so we created two supervisory roles in the past year; one was left in the contract, one was not? S. Bannon – no, neither are in the contract. One was guaranteed…I don’t remember us formerly putting it in. (inaudible talking). P. Dillon – there are compelling arguments on both sides. Part of me would like to advertise the position and find somebody. It would be nice to tie it up before we advertised it whether it was part of the contract or not. We could advertise it contingent upon budget availability and then start looking at a candidate pool and resolve it at our next meeting. I think there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Having it outside the contract gives us some more flexibility which might be important because their role has different hours, it doesn’t fit into the contract and having it in the contract might make it easier to recruit somebody. If it is outside the contract we have more flexibility around compensation. K. Farina – the other piece that I would add that is different about it is that it is primarily going to be a grant-funded position. B. Fields – grants have a lifespan so what happens when the money is not there. P. Dillon – Title I has been there since Johnson. S. Bannon – this is a Title I grant as opposed to…J. St. Peter – so Title I will fully fund this with benefits and everything in addition to all the extra Title I stuff or will have to take it out of the Title I pie and cut services in other areas. S. Harrison – we moved one Title I teacher into the budget because at budget time at the middle school we didn’t need to have that additional teacher, it would be nice, but because of the services we moved that in so we have that additional position already in Title I available. We were thinking not to use all of those funds so that we could develop the programs more thoroughly so we would use part of that and part of the funding from the shared services for this one year. J. St. Peter – so is that a grant? S. Harrison – no shared services…we have built up funds from the shared services for the shared superintendent and shared psychologist and there is enough funding there for at least a couple of years to supplement the Title I while we are building the program. J. St. Peter – for Title I, do we as a district just get a certain amount and we choose how we spend it? So we are not getting any extra for this position. We are going to be funding this in some other part of Title I that we don’t deem necessary. S. Harrison – correct. S. Bannon – so at budget time we just moved that Title I position from Title I into the regular budget. J. St. Peter – from our regular school day, I think there are needs in there that could be utilized with this type of funding, personally. S. Harrison – Kristi, do you want to address this on how we use our Title I funding and how we would adjust it to use it after school. K. Farina – It was Joshua’s last year in this position, the summer tutoring that we have seen substantial gains for our students in reading, specifically at the elementary school, that tutoring used to also happened after school and there is also a need that we have identified for students to get additional support in math in the same way they are getting it in reading. Those Title I funds, some of those funds, we are targeting for that. When we were having some initial discussions about the reallocation of Title I funds, last year our Title I funds were used almost entirely for two positions so that is why we were not able to run tutoring programs after school anymore. We had already made the decision that we were going to shifting these resources so we had some of those Title I funds available for that tutoring specifically but then also other programming both in and out of school so it is not only out of school programming. We are going to provide additional resources for students through our Title I funding but we feel pretty strongly that having someone who can better align the work we are doing with students outside of school time in a way that is academically oriented, is going to increase gains for our students which is ultimately what we would like. P. Dillon – I think what Kristi is saying is, one teacher works with X number of kids and has an impact; this person in this role will work with dozens of teachers who will each in turn impact similar numbers so there is a giant multiplier on it. It is tension, do you invest your resources in direct service or do you invest your resources in organizing people to provide direct service? J. St. Peter – my next question is, is Project Connection fully funded this year? K. Farina – yes. Project Connection is funded and is actually growing. We are adding a program this summer at the elementary school with a grant we received and at the middle school with a grant we received. We also received a Berkshire United Way grant for the next two years to support Project Connection and we are in the midst of the exemplary grant process right now for continuation of that. That other changes in the funding for 21st Century is they are not explicitly funding transportation in addition to the base grant which they have not done so the funding when we receive it will actually be more than what we anticipated and that is both for the current 21st Century grant and for the new 21st Century grant we applied for at the high school. J. St. Peter – so, Project Connection is fully grant funded. None of our funds from our general budget goes to Project Connection? K. Farina – what supports Project Connection from our operating budget is our work. So my time spent supporting the work of Project Connection, the other administrators’ time supporting Project Connection and then we have three teachers at the elementary school that are on the different schedule day – so their hours in their day are shifted so they are actually some of doing some of their work hours after school. That is technically from our operating budget. J. St. Peter – so all the other money that is paid out to all the other teachers and paraprofessionals and staff that is 100% full funded outside of our regular budget? K. Farina – yes that is correct. J. St. Peter – and it looks like it will be that way for the near future? K. Farina – yes absolutely. S. Bannon – other questions? B. Fields – this might be a stupid question but I will ask it anyway. You say shared services; is this position going to be shared with other school districts? P. Dillon – no. We were talking about the fund generated from me working across multiple districts and funds generated from Vicki working across multiple districts are sitting in a revolving account. We can use those funds to support this. So when all is said, it is probably $35,000 – $40,000 a year for the last three years going into our fourth year. S. Bannon – so we have two decisions to make. One is whether we want to approve this or not and the other one is about it being in the Unit A contract. P. Dillon – my slight recommendation is a request that you approve it and that we don’t take action on which contract it is in, whether it is an independent or Unit A until our next meeting and you see what kind of candidate pool we get then we come back to you. B. Fields – is it possible if it was in Unit A and this person who fills this position wants to go back to teaching, does that therefore set up a situation where that person then bumps somebody in the current teaching staff? S. Bannon – yes. That is a positive because someone may not want to take the chance if they don’t have the guarantee to go back. R. Dohoney – I read this job description to be consistent with the Unit A contract as I remember it off the top of my head. I think that is the most important analysis. P. Dillon – I don’t think anybody disagrees with you and you could vote to make it an independent position outside of the Unit A contract. We did one of those recently. We did one in the past. The only place it might hurt us is in recruiting but it gives a lot of intentionality in it being an independent position. R. Dohoney – why don’t we do this. Why don’t we have a motion to amend striking the reference to “as per Unit A of the contract between Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Berkshire Hills Regional Association”. S. Bannon – so you want to leave it completely blank? R. Dohoney – I think you leave it blank. Whether it is part of a contract or not, it doesn’t have to be in the job description at any time. You can always put it in. You can be forced to put it in if there are grounds for that. I think we just be silent to it now and to advance the ball as Peter wants to. Then we can vote to put it in. P. Dillon – occasionally I feel bad about the vagueness of a proposal and we were a little vague on this. In advance of the next meeting we will have a very clear memo with the pros and cons and our recommendation and you can take action on that. S. Harrison – if it is an internal candidate, we can always do what we have done in the past with first year positions, is to do a one year appointment to fill that position and not a permanent hire which then also gives flexibility for that person. MOTION TO AMEND JOB DESCRIPTION FOR EDUCATION DIRECTOR OF OUT OF SCHOOL LEARNING TIME BY STRIKING THE REFERENCE TO “AS PER UNIT A OF THE CONTRACT BETWEEN BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT AND BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL ASSOCIATION – A. HUTCHINSON SECONDED: B. FIELDS ACCEPTED: 5 FOR; 1 AGAINST – MOTION APPROVED – J. St. Peter – so do we have anyone, I thought we had an administrative person or people at Project Connection right now or do we not have that? K. Farina – Are you talking about the Site Coordinator and the Program Coordinator for Project Connection? J. St. Peter – so what is their job description? What is different between this administrative role and their besides the summer tutoring. K. Farina – the site coordinator position is very specifically around just want it says which is coordinating the daily program for each session so setting a schedule, reaching out to parents, making the application that goes along with it, connecting with families when they come in but the other position for Program Coordinator for Project Connection currently is doing that the middle school and then in addition he is doing all of the grant management coordination which in my role at DOLT was doing a substantial amount of support around. In terms of the academic piece, the program coordinator has been working very closely with both building principals so as Peter described one of the hopes is that those of us on the administrative level will still be involved but will not have to be devoting as much of our time to this if we have this new role. That person will do more of the academic tie in at the buildings. One of the struggles in my position as DOLT is that there were places I needed to support academic coordination and data management and analysis and things like that just as DOLT I am not actually in the building enough to do that coordination because of all of my other responsibilities to all of the other grants and the coordination of the PD and all three buildings. J. St. Peter – so out of those positions, how many are full positions and how many are stipend positions? K. Farina – both of those positions are full time positions. The site coordinator for the elementary school next year will just be a position for the school year and then it is being paid as a stipend for the summer which is different. The program director is the full year. J. St. Peter – those are funded 100% through grants? K. Farina – yes. B. Fields – can we request a bureaucratic diagram of this 21st Century program? Maybe just a chart. K. Farina – there is one in the memo that was sent out in the packet. R. Dohoney – it was not in the packet. K. Farina – if you didn’t get it, I will be sure to get you the diagram. I have it on my computer. P. Dillon – there is a program diagram. We will make you another one. K. Farina – there are many, many components to Project Connection. S. Harrison – I think it is important that this is not just about Project Connection. That was one of the things with trying to figure out what we are calling this thing. Project Connection has been great at doing what it is doing and we talked about this for years and couldn’t quite figure out how to make it happen. Project Connection is now a piece and it has been the primary after school program but now it is going to become a piece of it. That is the important thing to remember. This is not really about Project Connection. It is about how to support our students and Project Connection is one piece of that. R. Dohoney – and this position is for all three schools, where Project Connection is just two schools. S. Harrison – yes, as of right now it is. R. Dohoney – explain to me again what this will do at the high school level. K. Farina – at the high school level there are two components. The summer component that we are creating this summer is specifically to support transitioning 8th grade students to prepare them for 9th grade. That is underway starting next week with a small cohort for the first year. That was a grant we received specifically for just this summer. J. St. Peter – this is just Project Connection not the whole 8th grade. K. Farina – that is correct. This is a small cohort of students. We were doing a very targeted, not even the whole Project Connection cohort, just a subset to get the 8th to 9th grade transition program back up off the ground. We had a team of five teachers at the high school who have worked for the past three months developing the curriculum for the summer and it will include many components that are part of the Project Connection summer program at the elementary and middle school including outdoor hikes, a canoe trip, and also components where they meet with their guidance counselor, they do a tour of the school, they do team building. The teachers in the summer transition program are all teachers at the high school. There are upperclassmen that are coming in to do some activities with these rising 9th graders so when these students get to high school, they already have a sense of building, they have connections with staff and most importantly they have some connections with upperclassmen. The after school program is what we are trying to develop. You might remember way back when we had Spartan Launch but what we are trying to do is think more specifically on how to tie out of school programming at the high school for students who might need some specific supports and exposure to further career and college readiness experiences that we could get them to places of work after school to do internship programs. We could have them working more with Railroad Street Youth and culinary programs. There are so many programs in our community but there are students that do not have access to them primarily due to transportation at the high school. This came up at Karl’s presentation how he is looking to increase some of his numbers and I had at that point also addresses to increase numbers in some of these programs, we actually need to provide transportation for students. That is another component this will provide for students who don’t have it. R. Dohoney – this job description, this individual, what will they do with high school students besides the summer program? K. Farina – this person is the director overseeing..this person will be working with the Project Connection Coordinator but also with all three building principals, specifically to try to target academic needs that some of these students have so that their out of school programming and be aligned to their academic needs. Right now, I think we do a great job through our programming, specifically Project Connection, providing students opportunities so that it levels the playing field for a lot of students that don’t get opportunities to just be involved in community activities and work with their peers but we recognize that there is an academic component that we should improve. R. Dohoney – that is not translating in my mind to the high school because Project Connection is not at the high school. K. Farina – correct and if we don’t get the 21st Century grant it won’t be. This position will not be happening. We will probably be applying again. P. Dillon – there is still organizing the tutoring the teachers are doing at the high school level. We calculated a dollar figure on that and while many people are doing it, the value of it when we were in negotiations was roughly $300,000 converted from an hourly rate into the year so investing time in setting that up and having it be high impact and meaningful and ensuring the kids that need the help are getting the help and not just the kids that are squeaky wheels or in some cases parents are squeaky wheels. There is a potential to really transform both people’s academic growth and their connection to school. K. Farina – I would just add to that specifically. Part of that is about access. If there is a student at the high school right now that needs help in math even though contractually all the math teachers are required to be there one day a week after school, if this student has no transportation after school, it doesn’t matter that the teacher can be there to stay with them, the student cannot access that extra help. Then we rely on the student either having a study hall that aligns with the teacher’s prep period or the student giving up their lunch time to work with the teacher for support. I just wanted to add that on to what Peter said because I do think …R. Dohoney – why don’t we scratch the new position and do late buses? S. Harrison – we are using quite a bit of this funding to have late buses and we put some funding in the budget, if you remember, for late buses. That is part of the whole concept here of helping students to improve and have greater access. After last week’s meeting, I also sent an email to Farmington River asking about them possibly putting in a late bus. They can’t do it this year but putting it in for FY21 to add an additional late bus for their students as well. That is part of this whole program that we are looking at. R. Dohoney -so what we have set up for next year is not going to be comprehensive late buses. My understanding when it was explained to me is it allows access to the existing late bus. S. Harrison – no the funding that is already in the grants allows to just the programs we have. The additional money we put in is going to bridge the gap between the program time so when there is late bus time not just when it is Project Connection. R. Dohoney – but it is the same level bus service that we had for Project Connection? If somebody is signing up their kid to play football this fall, they connect rely on this late bus to get them home from practice everyday. Is that correct? S. Harrison – no that is part of what the goal is to make it more equitable so that kids who are playing football will also have access to this. R. Dohoney – but that is not going to be a September 2019 reality. S. Harrison – yes. R. Dohoney – it is? S. Harrison – it is in the budget. We put in a smaller amount than what would be necessary for the full year because we have the funding from other sources to provide late buses so we are already taking to the bus company saying we are doing Project Connection but now we are doing additional after school activities and we want to do the high school after school as well. That is part of this whole concept. Our focus is academics but also to give more kids access. There will still be group stops but to give more kids access. S. Bannon – I would love to see at our meeting in August that we have a comprehensive discussion about after school programs. I am more confused than ever. S. Harrison – that is what we are hoping to have with this person is being able to bring everything together because there is so much going on. B. Fields – was this in the original budget that has been passed by the towns or is this an add on position after the budget. P. Dillon – it is an add on after the budget without that negative connotation. It is grant funded and outside funded. S. Bannon – we are not coming up with money from our budget. R. Dohoney – there are three legs of the stool that are not connected at the high school level. Was the problem that was told to us about the teacher’s contract and put in this extra time that teacher’s have been doing for 50 years at the high school, is the problem with late buses or is the problem lack of administration or all three? K. Farina – it is all three. P. Dillon – essentially what we are doing is running three schools and then we are running three half schools after schools. R. Dohoney – everything that has been said tonight make 100% complete sense to me at the elementary school and the middle school. I don’t need to know anything else about that. I am still unclear on what this all means at the high school. K. Farina – I would be happy to come back to you with more information. Part of the challenge is I am normally involved in writing the grant and I was not this time because of the circumstances in which I find myself. R. Dohoney – there is nothing you said that I don’t understand and it has been completed. It is the dichotomy with what we were told when the teacher’s contract was negotiated what the issues were. That is were my sticking point is. K. Farina – but you have asked me different questions. There are the questions about the students who have needs who are not getting the academic need they have after school, but then there is the other component of students who do not have access to opportunity in our community and I am not talking about the high school community, sports and clubs, I am talking about activities through Greenagers, Railroad Street and they have no way to connect with these groups. These groups are working with us in our Project Connection programming starting in elementary school all the way up through 8th grade. When students get to 8th grade and go to high school and have strong ties to Greenagers and Railroad Street Youth and other community organizations, it stops. It ends and there is no other way for them to continue working with them so that is what the 21st Century grant, the Project Connect at the high school is about which is different than the teacher piece around academic support after school. R. Dohoney – I get it. Just extending that component to the high school is probably enough to sell me. S. Bannon – when we hear about this 21st Century grant at the high school? K. Farina – I don’t know the timeline off the top of my head. P. Dillon – I think late August. I was talking to Tom Kelly about it this morning. They do a very extensive review and bring in outside readers, etc. then they give us feedback. It’s funny that they are reviewing things over the summer. In an ideal world things would get reviewed in March so you could go into the summer knowing what is going on. I think we will know in late August. S. Bannon – so it makes sense for you to come back to us with the full presentation after we know whether we know if we have the grant or not because it sounds to me that different things may happen if we have the grant or not. I think a clearer presentation could be made once we know if we have the grant B. Fields – if you get the grant, this would allow you to keep the connection with Greenagers and Railroad Street Youth for kids transitioning into the high school. K. Farina – yes, and other community organizations like Flying Deer, Berkshire Museum, etc. B. Fields – and you need transportation for that? K. Farina – there are two components. There is a transportation piece for when our students go out into the community which at the high school level we think it is more important for opportunity for work and career and college readiness activities but there is another component which is just working with these organizations, the funds that we use to support the programming they bring in to us. B. Fields – why can’t Railroad Street Youth and Greenagers come to the high school and do some of the work there may be making the need for transportation less than it seems to be now. K. Farina – that is what they do now. B. Fields – so they are at the high school? They come in? K. Farina – they do work with our students but not regular after school work that is part of a program. Those organizations are also writing and getting grants to support the work that they are doing. There has to be funds to support this. Culinary is jumping to my mind but Railroad Street has a very strong program in Great Barrington at their locations so they can come to us but our kitchen wouldn’t support the kind of work they are trying to do with students with actual chefs in our community to actually give students who really need it some exposure to these types of careers.
- New Special Education Teacher – Monument Valley – B. Doren – I am pretty excited about this proposal because it has to do with something that Kate really started with me years ago when Kate was a special education teacher at Monument Valley. First she recognized there were students about six years ago with specific emotional needs and behavioral needs and the elementary school and they were coming up to the middle school. I was proactive and came to you to ask us to start our program with therapeutic learning center for kids with emotional behavior disabilities. At the same time, Kate came on as the Director of Student Services, there were several students at the elementary school that needed very specific work around autism and developmental disabilities and realizing we had several students in our system we had outplaced that were costing us a lot of money and there was also a need in South County for really strong programming. So three years ago we came to you with a proposal for the autism and behavior center. One of the things we talked about at that time was we have enough students to provide one program for those two types of students. We have an autism program and a developmental disability program but we had just enough to make one program. We launched it. That was two years ago. It was amazing. We hired a great educator and facilitator. We added students this year and facilitators. It worked. We are now at a place and we weren’t sure about this up until about mid-year and started discussing it and it is only in the past month or so we have really been able to coordinate the in-district needs as well as the needs of other districts looking to access the high-quality programming. We are going to have a lot of students. That would work. We have a lead teacher who is amazing. We have facilitators that are amazing. The reality is we are probably at a density where we could trade in facilitators and have another special educator. It would be a cost neutral proposal. There would be several benefits. Instead of having 10 facilitators with six in the room at one time and four or five out supporting students in inclusion, the special educator can do lots of things. They can help coach the facilitators, service delivery with the facilitator’s support but there is a very high quality piece around what our lead teacher currently does so having two special educators would really deepen the instruction as well as deepen the coaching and we would because of the abilities and the licensure of the lead teacher. We are at this great place where we have a lot of students and we are successful and we have to add resources to the program to meet the needs of these students. We would like to trade in three facilitators, para roles with the facilitator stipend, for another special educator that would cover the same needs but deepen the instruction. Dillon – So the next question I’m sure you have is are we going to lay off people? We are having such a tough time filling these vacancies that we can do this all. We don’t anticipate laying anybody off which is pleasant. J. St. Peter – and it is cost neutral? P. Dillon – yes. J. St. Peter – so you mentioned this program growing that we are now having people apply to the district and tuition in? B. Doren – I don’t know about the tuition. There are students from out of district that attend the program. K. Burdsall – we do have a couple of students coming in from other districts. J. St. Peter – that’s great. I am assuming these increases are because we are not tuitioning these kids out to other programs where we might have before. K. Burdalls – yes. We also have a large cohort at the elementary school that will come up and keep us going. B. Doren – it is a super high-quality program. It is a bar-setter. J. St. Peter – I agree. MOTION TO HIRE A SPECIAL EDUCATION TEACHER FOR MONUMENT VALLEY – J. ST. PETER SECONDED: R. DOHONEY ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Field Trips – P. Dillon – the 8th and 9th grade transition program is planning a number of trips and according to our policy I should typically get that to you earlier, like 30 days in advance of the trip. I failed to do that. I am sorry about it. There is an overnight trip to Upper Goose Pond in Lee schedule for August which meets that timeline. Then there are several out of state day trips that we typically get approval before that are sooner than that deadline. They are connected to the program, they are all thoughtful. The error was getting them to you a little late but I hope I can have your support. Farina – all are grant funded. MOTION TO APPROVE 8TH TO 9TH GRADE TRANSITION PROGRAM FIELD TRIPS AS SET FORTH IN THE MEMO – R. DOHONEY SECOND: B. FIELDS
- Prevention Needs Assessment Survey (PNAS) – P. Dillon – we had a student come and do a presentation on the Prevention Needs Assessment Survey data. We appreciate the role of student voice and at the same time I don’t think it was fully complete. I have reached out to Railroad Street to come but for a variety of reasons they are having scheduling conflicts and they are unable to come tonight. They can come to our meeting on the 25th of July. I propose the two possibilities, I can give you my quick analysis of it and then field questions that I won’t necessarily answer although I could and share those with Amanda and Chris and if they come on the 25th the can do it or we can just wait until the come on the 25th or probably all of you read it and you have wonderful insights to share and we can have a conversation about it. I am open to any possibility that makes sense and is a good use of our time. Fields – I think we should wait until the 25th then we can question the people who have direct hands on experience. I think the last time we saw this, maybe two years ago, they were there and I knew we had a series of questions and a very fruitful discussion. I think would be the proper course. Kate Burke, I am a resident of Great Barrington. I came as somebody who is interested in this. I have a child who will be entering kindergarten next year. I just wanted to state that as you dive into this and have this conversation with Railroad Street Youth Project, that you also keep in mind that this does not start in high school. These issues start in kindergarten and to really make sure we are preparing our kids for success, that we are worried about poor curriculum, after school programs, but we are also worrying about and thinking about social/emotional learning from kindergarten and how we are putting that into that core curriculum. How social studies can have pieces of identity and self-awareness and self-mindfulness and knowing how to take care of yourself because I think we are seeing in high school that this world is really tough right now. It is tough to be a high school student. It always has been and it is only getting tougher. Our kids needs balanced tools from the beginning because starting to have those conversations once people reach high school is tougher and then have to go into the world and handle the world. We have watched our education change. We have been setting kids up for four-year college and seeing that doesn’t always work and now we are trying other things. I think this is something we need to try. What I wanted to ask is whether it is a task force or a subcommittee to dive into the policy and this kind of education and how we integrate that to really create this strong next generation that we need to. Thank you.
- Review Blizzard Bag and Potential Blizzard Bag MOU for Unit C – P. Dillon – let me give you an update on the blizzard bags and how they worked out this year. We didn’t have a lot of snow but some very cold days. Per our new thing, the first snow day was a regular snow day and we didn’t have school. The second day as a blizzard bag day. We only did one day of the blizzard bag. The whole idea was teachers would prepare work and kids would do the work and if they did the work, it wouldn’t count as a snow day. We got a little caught off guard because it wasn’t a snow storm but it was just really cold. The elementary and middle schools did a wonderful job of implementing the blizzard bag and the high school did not. I think the folks in the high school learned a lesson. Had we had another snow day, they wouldn’t have been on top of it but the one shot they had to demonstrate that they were ready to implement it, they didn’t. What I would like to potentially propose is since we only did it for one day and it worked in two of the three buildings to see if you would entertain extending the pilot for one more year or even for one more day. If we can have the appropriate level of compliance and results that we hoped we would have had. Alternately, you can say this is a terrible idea; they blew it and we shouldn’t do it. I feel bad that the elementary and middle schools pulled it off and the high school didn’t. Hutchinson – I know as a middle school parent, I thought it was a great idea. M. Thomas – agreed. R. Dohoney – what percentage of Berkshire County school districts are doing them now? P. Dillon – I would guess about half, maybe 40%. B. Fields – so as a teacher, if I am to do a blizzard bag, I give assignments through email then the kids come in and I collect them? A. Hutchinson – the assignments are given way ahead of time. P. Dillon – not necessarily. There are many options. If you are an elementary school teacher you might get a big gallon ziploc bag and fill it with stuff and give it to the kids and they take it home and they are waiting for the snow day then they know what to do. If you are middle school, you might have a folder or something or even online. If you are a high school person presumably, with the exception of the math packet that some of the math teachers put together, it might be online. If it is a real blizzard and the power or internet is out, how do I get it, you don’t have to necessarily do it on that day; you have a week to get it done. The challenge is how do you plan something thoughtful in September or October for January 4th. B. Fields – we used to have emergency lesson plans and you had to have them on file. From a teaching standpoint, I will be very honest, I made them up, I put them in the file, they would probably have nothing to do with what I was teaching at that time. If we had a snow day in January and I had an ELP, it would probably have nothing to do with whatever course of study I was doing. I thought it was a waste. S. Bannon – but if we have five snow days and go into the end of June that is a waste also. B. Fields – the real purpose of this blizzard bag is to save the snow day and not have it so we can get out on time. P. Dillon – while you plan might not have been relevant, in this day and age and somebody sees the weather coming in, they could potentially post something that is highly relevant and meaningful. There may be things that are timeless that you would be happy somebody did on any day. J. St. Peter – Tim and Ben, what is your opinion? T. Lee – Honestly, my opinion is mixed. I think that the established objectives of keeping a predictable end of the school year that was certainly achieved. Keeping the students busy on a day when they weren’t in classes, if students completed the blizzard bags, that happened too. I think for elementary teachers it was probably easier to create meaningful assignments during a time of the winter so I don’t think that presented an issue that it might have at the middle or high school. Some of the downsides of it as an administrator were tracking student completion of assignments. We didn’t really fall into a good system for that and then also one issue that might be on the agenda for later was what do we do with staff that work at the school that are not teaching staff. Do they lose a day of pay because we had a blizzard bag or do we provide them with an alternative assignment? This year there was a number of different alternative trainings or professional development activities that those people could engage in but there was quite a bit of confusion about when they were done and how they were completed. I guess I observed that different Unit C members committed themselves to those assignments with differing levels of enthusiasm. Yes, we fulfilled the objective of the blizzard bags but there were some related issues that came up that were more administrative. We can probably tackle them and make them better. My opinion is mixed. B. Doren – ditto. J. St. Peter – I have two in the elementary and one in middle school and the feedback I got from the parents was mostly positive. The middle school was 100% positive and getting the work done alone. I got positive feedback in theory and at the elementary school where both parents work, those aged children had a hard time being to do things on their own. So those parents still had to go to work then come home and do 4 or 5 hours of school work with their kids. I personally like it but going forward I would say make sure it is work they can do on their own. R. Dohoney – I didn’t like the seven day window. I thought it was just another thing we had to put on the to do list. B. Fields – Kristi, as a pilot how do you think this will go over in the high school? K. Farina – I think that there are some challenges in a different kind of way that Tim described but I think there are some core content areas where teachers are posting things online anyway and I think the intent was that teachers would have assignments like Peter described. In areas that are not core academic areas, the preparation ahead of time for an art project or music then my question comes back to if a student has six different classes and they get a blizzard bag assignment for each of their teachers that is a lot of work to complete even with a seven day window. I am also torn on this. B. Fields – I agree with what Kristi said. If kids are taking AP courses, that is a large amount of work. D. Singer – is there another way it could be done at the high school? K. Farina – if you vote to pilot this again, I will have to figure that out. MOTION TO CONTINUE THE BLIZZARD BAG PILOT PROGRAM FOR ONE ADDITIONAL YEAR – J. ST. PETER SECONDED: M. THOMAS ACCEPTED: 5 APPROVED; 1 AGAINST – MOTION PASSES P. Dillon – in your packet, there is a draft MOU for Unit C people that essentially identifies that if they are not working on blizzard bag day, they need to make up the time in some way. This identifies how that would happen. S. Bannon – did Unit C approve this? P. Dillon – they proposed it. MOTION TO APPROVE THE BLIZZARD BAG CLAUSE IN THE UNIT C CONTRACT FOR THE ADDITIONAL PILOT YEAR – A. HUTCHINSON SECONDED: R. DOHONEY ACCEPTED: 5 APPROVED; 1 AGAINST – MOTION PASSES MOTION TO APPROVE THE MOU FOR UNIT C CONTRACT – A HUTCHINSON SECONDED: R. DOHONEY ACCEPTED: 5 APPROVED; 1 AGAINST – MOTION PASSES
- Policy Sub Committee – N/A
- Buildings and Grounds Sub Committee – N/A
- Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee – N/A
- Technology Sub Committee N/A
- Finance Sub Committee – N/A
- District Consolidation & Sharing Sub Committee – N/A
- Next Steps Advisory – B. Fields – we had an informal gathering the other night and we talked about where we stand and the consensus was we want to continue as a subcommittee or as an advisory to the school board with the purposes of giving presentations like we gave to you but in a different format to the three towns, selectboards, finance committees and interested citizens. We do this because we want to keep them up-to-date with what the report said. I had some problems with what was in the paper in regards to the initial presentation to this board. We also want to keep them informed as we are going along in this process. One of the things that came out was probably a lot of people in the public don’t know what the MSBA process is. We think that would be needed for people to understand we are not building or renovating tomorrow. This is a long process and we are just at the very beginning. We also want to keep them informed as to what is going on educationally with this presentation. Using terms like CVTE and project-based learning might not be the best way to communicate to the public. It is to us because we are used to hearing those terms but we talked about maybe the idea that people have to have concrete examples of what we are asking them to look at in regards to a building to fulfill some of the things we have talked about. That would be the purpose of the committee. Also, somebody volunteered, two did, to attend selectboard meetings in two towns and be present at these meetings when educational or budgetary items come up so the could inform the people who are asking. Dillon – one possibility might be for this committee or the advisory next steps advisory to come up with a list of presentations you want to make and this committee can green light it or for this committee to say we would really like to go to the three selectboards and three finance committees and then do a couple general meetings in the libraries so the public could hear it. MOTION TO CONTINUE THE STANDING NEXT STEPS COMMITTEE TO CONTINUE TO MAKE PRESENTATIONS – R. DOHONEY SECONDED: A. HUTCHINSON ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Fields – we would also like to have you approve in the form of a motion to have the Next Steps Advisory Committee send letters out to the district towns, administrators, to be put on the agenda of meetings they have in July and August. S. Bannon – if we have given you permission to make these presentations, there has to be a mechanism to be on the agenda. I don’t think you need it. R. Dohoney – can Doreen help with that? P. Dillon – yes. Doreen would be honored.
- Certified Appointment(s)
- Non-Certified Appointment(s)
- Resignation(s) – Ginnie Beck is a ten year teacher and she reached out to me and she has been struggling with some health issues. She very much appreciated working in the district and we very much appreciated her. It is a hard license to have and it is very important work. We are going to miss her.
- Summer Program Appointment(s)
- Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
- Public Comment
- Written Comment
MOTION TO ADJOURN – B. FIELDS SECONDED: J. ST. PETER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
The next school committee meeting will be held on July 25, 2019 – Regular Meeting, Monument Valley Middle School, 6pm
Meeting Adjourned at 8:37pm
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
School Committee Secretary