BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Great Barrington                     Stockbridge                  West Stockbridge

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

Teleconference Meeting

June 4, 2020 – 6:00pm

Present:

School Committee:                 S. Bannon, D. Weston, B. Fields, S. Stephen, M. Thomas, A. Potter, A. Hutchinson,

R. Dohoney, J. St. Peter, D. Singer,

Administration:                       P. Dillon, S. Harrison

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

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:  1 hour, 0 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:

  • May 11, 2020 BHRSD/Richmond
  • May 14, 2020

MOTION TO APPROVE BHRSD/RICHMOND SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES DATED MAY 11, 2020                        A. POTTER               SECONDED:  B. FIELDS      ACCEPTED UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL; A. POTTER ABSTAIN            MOTION TO APPROVE BHRSD SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES DATED MAY 14, 2020         B. FIELDS            SECONDED:  A. POTTER              ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL

Superintendent’s Report:

  • Dillon – I am going to let Kristi handle this one. It is a little information about the high school grant.  I don’t think we met since we did our press release and it is quite remarkable.  We are one of three schools that were awarded it in Massachusetts.  It is over $330,000.  It is all for one year.  It is based on really rigorous planning work that they did this year and previously.  I thought Kristi could give us a high level overview tonight and in two weeks, we will go into the nitty details.   K. Farina – You probably saw the press releases but we did receive the implementation grant from Mass Ideas.  This is following the planning grant we did last year that we had the $127,000 for coming from Nellie Mae and the Bard Foundation.  The idea and the purpose of the grant is to continue our rethinking of the educational experience at Monument with some focal points around making sure we are providing equitable outcomes for all of our students to be prepared for whatever future they are going to pursue.  We are trying to build in community voice, parent voice and student voice in the process.  It is a process so that is all continuing work coming out of the planning grant.  One of the pieces we are talking about is how we make sure that we don’t just include the voices we typically hear from, but the voices of folks that are often marginalized or not included in conversations about how school works for them.  We are looking to continue to examine our practices around student engagement and how we make sure that all students really have a voice in their own educational experience.  To do that, there are four main areas that we are devoting our time to.  The first is, what would an academy or team based model look like at Monument and what would the benefits of that be.  In the grant we wrote about pursuing an academy model.  That is not clearly defined at this point so that is work we have to do over the course of the next year.  The next is some structural change specifically around what a more innovative high school schedule could look like and how that could benefit us and also what sustainable governance structure could be so we really do include community, parent, student voice in the process of decision making in an ongoing way as we move forward.  We are looking at all of the work we have been doing over the past several years connected to the wellness that you heard us talk about; social/emotional learning and our initiative we started during advisory.  We are really thinking about how we can leverage all that work, build on that work to make sure we are supporting all students to be successful in their high school experience.  The final one is around examining how a shift to thinking about instruction and assessment aligned to proficiencies and how that might actually help move our work forward in a different way as we look to make some change.  We are very excited about this in spite of the fact it is all happening in the middle of a pandemic.  S. Bannon – I think we will want updates all through the year.
  • Good News Items:
    • Farina, Principal – Monument Mountain Regional High School – you probably have already heard that we filmed all of our seniors and Paul Kakley really stepped up and is remarkable so I have to give him kudos for everything he did to pull together our virtual graduation ceremony. He filmed the speakers, our valedictorian, our salutatorian; he pulled the whole ceremony together, coordinated with CTSB and the Pittsfield Community Broadcasting so that it will air on Sunday at 10am.  It will also be available through live stream through CTSB and also through our MMTV website.  That information has gone out to the public in various ways and we are continuing to get that out.  It will be this Sunday at 10am.  Following the airing of the virtual ceremony, we are asking all of the graduates and families to join us at the high school for the distribution of diplomas.  Folks will come up to the front of the building and then we will wind cars down into the parking lot where everyone will be lined up for the parade.  The parade will depart Monument, we anticipate around 1:30, head north into Stockbridge, then on to West Stockbridge, into Housatonic and then into Great Barrington ending at the intersection of Main and Bridge Street.  That parade route has also been published.  It is also on the Monument Facebook page.  Folks can come out and support our graduates as the parade procession goes through our town.  Wear maroon and white.  Bring noise makers and really help us celebrate our graduating seniors.  The class of 2020 has been fabulous and it was wonderful to see all the seniors and their families when they came to get filmed walking across the stage.  I have to give a shout-out to Doreen Hughes who actually ironed every single cap and gown so the seniors didn’t have wrinkled caps and gowns.  I think everyone stepped up and did a great job in challenging circumstances.
    • Ben Doren, Principal – Monument Valley Regional Middle School – eight grade graduation is really important but salvaging an important for the high school is pretty awesome. I am inspired by what the high school has done.  I am also inspired by the efforts of the elementary school.  They have already done several parades through the towns which have brought cheer to our families.  We are trying to take that inspiration.  We usually do graduation the night before the last day of school.  We will be doing that at 6:30pm on Thursday night.  To ramp up to that we are going to have a lot of fun.  On Wednesday morning the 7th grade parents would do an 8th grade breakfast where the 8th grade teachers do a fun, informal awards ceremony with kids and the kids are able to give back their appreciation to their teachers; because we can’t get together, we are actually going to start it during advisory on Wednesday morning with an appreciation ceremony.  In the afternoon, we will do an awards ceremony on Google Hangout which will be a lot of fun.  On Thursday, to get ready for graduation that evening, we are going to do a parade using a similar route that the high school put together.  It will be a nice community event, not just 8th graders.  It will be for all of our students, 5th – 8th grade, waving, honking, having a lot of fun.  Then we will run a very traditional Monument Valley graduation ceremony on the evening of the 11th at 6:30 but virtually on Zoom.  It will be fun.  We have our student council president doing a speech.  We have our 8th grade students from english classes, doing their “This I Believe”.  We will give our traditional awards for academics, excellence, achievement, participation.  We will also be doing our Norman Rockwell and WEB DuBois awards celebrating our stellar academic achievements.  It should be a lot of fun and interesting and from what I understand from Uli, we will be able to have more than 500 people on the Zoom call.  I’ll see what happens.  It may crash and be a complete failure but I’m going to try really hard.  We will record it like we do on these sessions so if folks drop off, they can watch it.  On Friday, we are going to do an appropriate social distance activity at the school where the graduates and their families can drive up in the afternoon and pick up their envelope with their certificate of completion and actual awards, which are printed out.  I am very appreciative to our guidance secretary Debra Spence for printing our typical awards and also our fun awards.  We are also going to have Kwik Print two copies of the graduation program so it will be an artifact that families will have from the graduation as a keepsake from a graduation ceremony.  They will be able to drive up, our faculty will line the circle in a socially distanced way.  We will hand them the envelope which is a nice sense of community and connection.  Then we will go off to the summer.  I am excited even though it is less than what we really wanted.
    • Lee, Principal – Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – at the elementary school the tradition that we have to mark the end of the year and recognize our 4th graders, we don’t call it graduation; we call it moving up. Typically we mark it with an all-school assembly in the afternoon the day before school is out and there is a drum circle and an event called a clap out.  Of course, we can’t do those things this year, so there are a number of celebrations taking place on the classroom basis where individual classroom teachers in the 4th grade are doing some special recognitions in class meetings that they are leading virtually.  Then next week, I believe on Tuesday, Molly Cosel, one of our 4th grade teachers, has been working on a commemorative video featuring all of our 4th grade students who are moving up.  All of our staff and faculty have been contributing still photos, jpegs to be a part of that so that will go live and be accessible to our 4th grade students next week and families to enjoy.  In addition to that our PTA actually created t-shirts for our 4th grade students who are moving up to the middle school.  Many of them have them already.  When they picked up their materials this week, it would have been included in their materials.  It is a nice simple tshirt with the school’s logo and the name of all the students who are moving up on the back.  It is a nice memento of their time.  In addition, this year, we are doing a little bit more with a commemorative certificate that we are giving to each one of our 4th grade students, a little fancier, a little something that is a bit more special during this year when we can’t recognize them by name and place.  Included in the envelope with the certificate will be in we divide up all of our 4th grade students and asked staff members from PK to grade 4 to write down some special notes and greetings of best wishes to our 4th grade students who are moving up and those notes and wishes and greetings will go into the envelope that students are receiving with the certificate.  As a whole school activity, we are doing something similar to what Ben mentioned, it is still in the planning stages, we were going to attempt one more wave parade on the last day of school.  We kind of ran into a snag with those plans as the police were not available to help us.  What we are going to do instead, pending Steve’s and Peter’s approval, is have our families from all of our grades come through the school parking lot between 11 and 1 and we are going to do another version of the clap out, socially distanced version where we can see our students and they can see us one more time for the close of the school year.  I think it’s going to be nice.
  • Remote Learning Survey Data – I sent around today, and Rob Putnam really helped out with this and I really appreciate it, a summary and high-level overview of the parent portion of the remote learning survey. Some of you may not have had a chance to look at it, so I will talk at some high level about it and then at our next meeting we will share the student side of things too.  I am glad we did it and I think it was valuable to get feedback from parents.  Some of the stuff we had a pretty good sense of already and some of it is a little surprising.  The good news is most people have good and reliable access to the internet and devices.  There are a small number of outlying towns, mostly choice students, who have terrible access to the internet.  Most of the students in Great Barrington, Stockbridge and West Stockbridge have good access.  A couple of things to think about; the amount of time and the depth of experiences that kids are having with remote learning.  It will get really interesting when you see the student responses but it looks to us that folks are not as engaged as they might be and the work they are doing isn’t as meaningful as it might be.  In spite of that, I think teachers did a pretty remarkable or Herculean lift ….. S. Stephen – Peter, I am sorry to interrupt; so people were not impressed by the content or….can you explain what you are saying?  Dillon – it is a little bit of both.  Parents were saying that their kids aren’t busy enough or engaged enough or for long enough; so part of it is the quantity of time and the second thing is the quality of experiences their kids are engaged in.  It is a little bit of a double whammy.  The third one that you throw in is parents concerns about kids’ emotional state in the context of a pandemic.  It is really three things: not enough time, not deep enough and kids are rattled by this whole experience.  The isolation, the disconnect.  Being a teenager is about being social; being an elementary school student is in many ways about hugging your friends and people are not getting to do that.  That is hard.  On the upside, folks we are very positive about our clarity of our communication but again most people kids are learning less and some significantly less than regular times.  There are distinctions by grade level.  Rob did a nice job of including questions or things to talk about at each point.  I am happy to go into those at some point if people were interested in that.  What are your thoughts on that?  R. Dohoney – I am comfortable waiting until we get more data.  I don’t think we have had enough time to look at it.  P. Dillon – you have two weeks until our next meeting.  In a few days, I will share the student data and then I will do a little cross with the two of them.  One of the things that is interesting is parents want their kids to do more work and kids want to do less work and that changes at different grade levels.  J. St. Peter – I just looked at the data and to me it seemed that they were concerned about learning but when you go down to the bottom, in question 14, how would you describe the amount of school work assigned, the elementary school and middle school, there was a significant majority that said it was too much or just right.  My thought is with the quarantine, I don’t think people expected their kids to spend most of the day doing school work, so the disconnect which is unavoidable, the time they did it was acceptable, just want as done doing that time could have used more work or done better.  I feel we did the best we could, better than a vast majority of the districts.  I have been sitting into a lot of statewide school committee meetings.  A. Potter – a part of it too is the time of the year.  J. St. Peter – the amount of time was adequate but just a better interface.  Learning guidance was one of the big areas and if we have to do it again in the fall or another time, we will be better on that.  P. Dillon – Rob didn’t do an analysis of the three open-ended questions but obviously I have read through them all and I will share some very specific examples from that.  One thing that people were crying out for was when teachers engaged in face-to-face interactions, people really loved and appreciated that.  That doesn’t mean that people have to see and teach five periods of class, nor would we want kids to stare at a screen for five 45-minute periods or five hours but building in some time where people can check in individually or in small groups would be beneficial going forward.  Again, so I don’t get beat up, I think what the teachers did in the context of this is really quite remarkable and I think we did better than many of our surrounding districts but the goal is not to beat us up but to have learned from this and ramp it up in a way that works for kids and teachers that is manageable and engaging.  J. St. Peter – I just want to emphasize your point, I think our teachers and administrators were put in an impossible situation and they did an unbelievable job but moving forward, what can we learn from this process.  Comparing it to other districts, I think we did beyond what we were expected to.  P. Dillon – I agree and I am really happy with the work our teachers and principals did.  I can’t say enough nice things about it.  I think our shift to a learning-management system will make it easier for teachers to organize materials and for kids and parents to work through those materials.  B. Fields – within the next two weeks, we have heard from parents and students but we haven’t heard from teachers.  I talked to one teacher who expressed some frustration but also some admiration for her peers and what someone referred to at the last meeting as building the airplane as we are flying it.  I was wondering if there is a possibility of any within this period of time and I agree we should table it and look at it two weeks from now.  Can we get input from teachers?  P. Dillon – yes, we can.  We got a lot informally and anidotically.  Part of my thinking to not do the whole 20 questions survey with them is they had enough other stuff going on and didn’t want to overwhelm them.  Maybe now as we are coming to the end of the year, as a year-end reflection, I can.  The questions are largely the same for students and parents and I just change a few words in each so we are able to compare them.  I think I can send it to teachers and they will be patient enough to complete it.  I think if I asked them to do this survey three weeks ago, they would have run me out of town.  B. Fields – I think you do it with a disclaimer that the school committee is very interested in their reactions and very concerned about this experiment as Jason said, it can serve as a model but we need to build on that.  I think teachers need to know that we are very supportive of what they do.  P. Dillon – I think that is a common theme so thank you for reiterating that.
  • Superintendent’s Evaluation – P. Dillon – we had six people participate in this but in a funny way, Richmond had two more people and I can talk about that. In Berkshire Hills it is Sean, Anne and Andy and the chair of the Richmond school committee, the chair of the Hancock school committee and the chair of the New Ashford school committee.  Then because Richmond is a three-member committee and for them to engage in dialogue would be complicated and with open meeting laws and things, they each complete evaluation and their responses are aggregated into one.  It ends up the final evaluation is based on six responses but there are really two more for Richmond.  Hutchinson – the system when as usual but we never met in person, only over Zoom.  As Peter said, everybody filled out their part and when we actually had a Zoom meeting to talk about it, all of the Richmond people were there, myself and Peter.  It felt like a one-sided conversation.  We had everyone’s responses and those are all given in the report.  It is always strange also because New Ashford has a vote in this but they have no school.  Hancock is very happy with everything Peter has done for them.  The smallest part of this school district group had the most input into this evaluation which is interesting because Berkshire Hills had the least amount in input in the way it came together.  I still think it represents what Berkshire Hills had to say as well as those from New Ashford, Hancock and Richmond.  D. Weston – what school year cycle is this evaluation.  Is this ending July 1st this year or are we still trying to catch up from last year?  P. Dillon – no, the miracle of all miracles is we did it early.  D. Weston – that’s why I’m kind of confused.  Anne did a nice job with that and Doreen provided some nice support.  I think it worked out well.  R. Dohoney – no comments on a specific thing but we won’t do that process again.  P. Dillon – I think it will be different because Hancock and New Ashford are stepping away and presumably our future meetings, maybe the ones in the fall will be virtually but the future ones will be face to face.  A year ago, I did some surveys of staff and other folks and one of the things we discussed was next year getting some additional feedback from principals and maybe alternating a cycle where we also get feedback from parents.  R. Dohoney – I am not referencing the substantive process but I don’t think any kind of shared services should ever be incorporated into evaluation.  It is our job.  P. Dillon – I think part of the initial thinking why we did it that way so we didn’t do it twice.  It is pretty time consuming.  Now that we have done it a bunch of times, we understand it and we could do it discreetly for Berkshire Hills and discreetly going forward for Richmond and that would be manageable, depending on where we land with Richmond.
  • Updates:
    • FY20 Graduation and Celebration
    • COVID-19 – P. Dillon – I have been on calls with the commissioner and folks with elementary and secondary ed, we expect some additional guidance next week or the week after. My best guess around what is going to happen is we start school in August in some hybrid way where some kids are some of the time and some kids are at home doing work remotely and probably that is the same for staff.  We are starting to do planning around that to see what it will look like.  The commissioner was pretty clean that going forward, the directives are going to be quite directed.  This spring was let a thousand flowers bloom and everybody do what they want to do and it looks like going forward there are going to be one or two ways to do something.  We will see what that looks like and what the recommendations are.  Dohoney – if the state is not going to exercise all of those controls and tell us what to do, are they going to do it on a state-wide basis or are they going to do it regionally by the conditions in each region?  P. Dillon – a thoughtful person would do the latter which would have it be regionally because our experience is very different from Middlesex County or Suffield County or the Cape.  I don’t know.  The only thing I know and I want to say this in a positive way, is ultimately when they give advice it has been pretty thoughtful.  The headache is they released their graduation advice a few days ago, in draft form.  We came up with a plan that I think is really thoughtful and I am psyched about it but if we wait for their advice, I don’t know what we’d do.  I like to give people the benefit of the doubt and hopefully they come up with something.  Even if they try to be really direct, Massachusetts is still full of rugged individuals with local autonomy so I can’t imagine that they have an enforcement mechanism.  We will come up with something that meets the higher standard that we have and hopefully it also meets their standard.  S. Stephen – My experience as a business owner right now is the state is not telling anyone anything so let’s not hold the breath until the state tells us what to do.  We need to get ahead of the ball.  P. Dillon – Obviously, I have been meeting with the principals and the administrative team about this all along.  I also reached out to the staff and the number keeps growing and I need to manage it a little but about 46 people as of 5pm today are interested in being part of a school reopening committee.  Obviously, I can’t manage 46 people on a committee; it will be some subset of that but I think it is positive that so many people care so much that they want to be part of it.  We are talking to nurses; Steve has done a lot around physical things.  We are looking at negative pressure in the nurse’s offices for when somebody gets sick it gets the contaminated air sucked out.  We are looking at exits for kids.  We are looking at thermal imaging systems to check temperatures very quickly.  Masks.  We are talking to Sharon and Kathy about cafeterias.  Steve has ordered some god awful number of masks and wipes.  S. Stephen – I just want to make sure we are not waiting.  The longer we wait, makes us sitting there going oops, what do we do now?  P. Dillon – we are not waiting.  We are very proactive.  We are a little behind in terms of where I would like to be in scheduling but we are catching up.  People need to cut us a little slack that we are doing this in the context of a pandemic and it is a little more than just creating schedules of 500 for the high school, it is creating that schedule in a way that affords us flexibility if there is a second wave or we can’t all go back at the same time.  S. Stephen – I think people need to understand not aof guidance coming out of anywhere at this point.  You tend to make it up as you go along thinking this makes sense and this is logical; it may be logical now but it might not be in three months.  We have to go down that path if we want to do something constructive.  P. Dillon – we have a smart group of people on board.  The school committee is really thoughtful.  We are going to let common sense be our guide and not get attached to anything dopey and we will come out of this much better than almost any other district in the county and likely most districts in the commonwealth.  S. Soule – I ordered 15,000 masks, I am in communication with Fairview Hospital in regard to the negative pressure rooms that they created there just in case we need to create that in our buildings.  I expect the masks to come in the next two weeks and I also ordered the ones that you see on the news on people with hazmat suits that are spraying things.  We have backpack sprayers and handheld sprayers on the way.  I read a few articles about the thermal imaging machines.  The reliability there is pretty questionable so I may continue my research on that to see if there is a better method.  It may just be those individual scanners that you point toward somebody’s forehead.  I have been communicating with the nurses.  Their list is very long but we will have to figure that out as we go through the next few months.  P. Dillon – the other thing that the commissioner did share which is a bit of a shift is while they encouraged this past marking period to do everything credit/no credit, he is sharing the expectation going forward that we are done with that and things will be graded again in the future.  That is an interesting wrinkle.
  • Donations – P. Dillon – we received a $500 donation from the union. I wanted to read you the note they wrote because I thought it was thoughtful.  In these extraordinary times, the Berkshire Hills Education Association remains steadfastly committed to the Berkshire Hills school community and students with whom we have the privilege to work.  We are aware of the growing need to provide assistance to our families for whom food and securities are too real.  As a response to the significant need and in desire to make a difference, please accept the $500 donation from the teachers and the paraprofessionals and thank you for taking care of our community.  MOTION TO ACCEPT $500 DONATION FROM THE BERKSHIRE HILLS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION              POTTER              SECONDED:  B. FIELDS                         UNANIMOUSLY ACCEPTED BY ROLL CALL VOTE
  • Dillon – those of you that are on the parent list got a letter I sent out a little earlier today. I think the two people that aren’t on that list are Steve and Bill; just look at the letter when you have a chance.  It is a letter around the times we are living in this county, race and social justice and some things we can do about it.  Within it there are links to a lifetime’s worth of resources and wherever you are and whenever you approach and work through that, there is something that should be meaningful to somebody.  Take a look at it.  It is sort of rare that I get what can be seen as political but every once in a while the times warrant it and you will see that the letter is carefully worded.  I hope it transcends politics and is a bridge to bring our community together.  S. Bannon – can you post the letter on our website?  P. Dillon – I will post it, yes.  I don’t know if I can do it tonight but I will figure it out for tomorrow.
  • Stephen – I have a question about the school trip stuff that has been going on. In the middle school there was the DC trip and Peru trip.  People gave down payments.  Are those on the way back out to people?  If anything they need that coming back to them now.  P. Dillon – there are a couple of things going on.  Initially at the high school level, parents reached out to a tour group connected to Yellow Stone about getting reimbursed and the initial from the group was no.  Then we reached out some more and they were going to give a partial refund.  Then we got our lawyer involved and they offered to give us a credit that the district would own that would be valid for a couple of years, then the district could reimburse parents.  Since then a bill has made its way through the state senate and house and I need to call Smitty and Ben to check its status.  When you look up on the bill, it looks like it was agreed to but it is one of those weird ones where it doesn’t look like a lot of action.  I spoke to our attorney today about it and directed her to ask for a full and complete refund which she will do but if the bill is actually a law, she has a little more umph behind it than if we are just asking.  I hope to bring that to closure tomorrow.  I think they got reimbursed for the travel and the part they weren’t reimbursed for was the actual tour group in Yellow Stone.  Ben, can you speak to what happened to the middle school trip.  I don’t think we are out much money because the tickets were never purchased, right?  B. Doren – every educational trip that we did is getting a full refund; Nature’s Classroom, Washington DC, as well as several field study trips that were planned for the end of March and early April.  Those will be processed through the business office and will be returned in full.  We will be able, through the operating budget, to get some credits so it will cost less next year and that will allow us to give full refunds to families this year which is great.  I cannot speak to the spanish trip; it is not a general education trip, it is an extracurricular trip.
  • St. Peter – a parent brought this up and I thought it was a good point, they told me how through the COVID process, the kid wasn’t really learning and having a tough time with schooling and didn’t get a lot done but did a lot of other things, summer break kind of things. Their kid now has kind of settled down and a better student for learning.  What might be beneficial is to leave all the stuff that is in their grade level on the computer up there through the summer so if it is possible parents can go back with the child and go over some of the lessons throughout the summer, that would be a good idea.  P. Dillon – I like that idea and I will talk about that with the principals.  There is no reason to take it down.
  • Sub Committee Reports:
    • Policy – N/A
    • Building & Grounds – N/A
    • Superintendent’s Evaluation & Advisory – See Above
    • Technology – A. Potter – we have a meeting on the 19th. We decided to meet once a month through the summer to keep an eye on the issue around LMS and Peter if you want to talk about the LMS, Canvas v. Schoolology which is where we are at in terms of are we still separated from … P. Dillon – I will give a quick update.  The meeting is on the 23rd.  Here is where we are with Canvas and Schoolology.  They are both learning management systems like a one stop place where teachers can build information and students and parents can go to see what is going on.  What is better about it than what we have been doing with Google is it is all interconnected and it is thoughtful and makes sense.  As part of an upgrade we did, we have free access to Schoolology.  The county-wide task force is running a separate initiative and about half the districts in the county are signing on to Canvas.  They are very comparable systems but our decision because we already have the side license for several years for Schoolology and it integrates really well with PowerSchool which we use for grades and other things, it makes more sense for us to use that.  I have spoke a lot to Jake Everwine and the folks involved in the Canvas project and though we are going to use different platforms, there will be opportunities for us to share materials through what he describes as commons; so teachers can share information back and forth so we will take advantage of that but we are not ready to spend more money on something we already have a license to.  There is no animosity; the county-wide task force supports our decision and they see it as an alternative path.  I think if Greylock weren’t invested in Canvas already and if some of the players hadn’t worked with it at MCLA, everybody might have gone to Schoolology.  We are going to be very deliberate in rolling it out, supporting staff and students and parents in how to use it, doing training, etc.  We are optimistic that we can get a bunch of that done before school starts and we don’t want people to have nervous breakdowns if it is not all perfectly running in September.  We will ease into it in a way that is good for everybody.
    • Finance – N/A
    • District Consolidation & Sharing – P. Dillon – at the meeting, a subcommittee offered work to three different groups.  They invited Jake Everwine to be the project manager, Chris Hazzard, the former head of Berkshire United Way, to be the facilitator and Steve Hammond and Mars….so that work is moving forward and spend down that $50,000 grant and then work to procure some additional funds.  The separate work that is going on with Richmond, the consultant has been meeting with them.  We are looking to reschedule a meeting with that consultant and just as a point of information, I helped Hancock and New Ashford do a Superintendent and Spec Ed Director search and they made an offer and are in negotiations with a candidate to be their part-time superintendent and special ed director so that is nice.  Stephen – Is there a way to get minutes of these meetings sent to us?  P. Dillon – Lucy Prashkar is the head of that group and she has a recording secretary there.  I haven’t received them because that meeting just happened.  S. Bannon – one of the problems is they feel an urgency with the $50,000 so they had the meeting in the middle of the day and I was not able to attend and if they continue to do that, they will alienate a lot of people because people who work will never be able to attend those meetings so they need to come up with a schedule.  S. Stephen – I never heard about any meeting.  If I can at least get minutes from it it would be good.  P. Dillon – we will catch you up and you will be happy or sad to hear, they were very clear they won’t schedule any more meetings during the day so everybody will be able to attend.
  • Personnel Report
    • Retirement(s)
    • Leave of Absence(s)

Business Operation:

Education News:

Old Business:

  • New Business:
    • Public Comment
    • Written Communication

 

MOTION TO ADJOURN – A. POTTER                SECONDED:  R. DOHONEY                         ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS

 

Meeting Adjourned at 7:00pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

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Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

 

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School Committee Secretary