BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT

Great Barrington                     Stockbridge                  West Stockbridge

SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING

Teleconference Meeting

May 14, 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:

 

Absent:                                     A. Potter

 

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, 4 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:

  • April 16, 2020

 

MOTION TO APPROVE BHRSD SCHOOL COMMITTEE MINUTES DATED APRIL 16, 2020      B. FIELDS            SECONDED:  D. WESTON              ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL

Superintendent’s Report:

  • Good News Items – P. Dillon – we have been doing a lot of grant writing and we have had some nice success. I will let Sharon give an update on that.  Harrison – today we just got word that we received a $15,000 grant for our food program from the Berkshire United Way, Berkshire Taconic Joint Neighborhoods Fund.  We also very excitedly and surprisingly got a donation of $2,240 from First Congregational Church of Stockbridge.  I have a check in my hand from Project Bread for $4,000 for the program as well.  We are doing really well in the fundraising on that.  We have a little over $5,000 in the Berkshire Taconic Fund that we set up for donations so we are going to be able to cover our program this year and going into the summer.  P. Dillon – one thing that Sharon wrote in the grant application that I don’t think people get; because Kathy is ordering food wholesale, we are able for every $100 we spend, give people $200 worth of food if they bought it themselves in the grocery store.  It is quite remarkable.  The other thing I would like to mention is that every other week, Joe Aberdale and the Aberdale Family are supporting bags of food specifically to the Housatonic residents in addition to what we are doing through our food services program.  We appreciate their support as well.  S. Harrison – through People’s Pantry which is part of the Western Mass Food Bank, Anne gets us wonderful produce weekly as well.  A. Hutchinson – the produce comes through Berkshire Bounty and we set it all up.  We are not paying for it.  Bridget Stone and her group are helping to fund that.  They got a  grant to do that.  P. Dillon – Steve, do you need to vote to accept those funds?  S. Bannon – I thought we needed to vote for all grants.  Sharon would be the expert on that.  MOTION TO ACCEPT GRANTS FROM BERKSHIRE UNITED WAY/BERKSHIRE TACONIC IN THE AMOUNT OF $15,000, FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH OF STOCKBRIDGE IN THE AMOUNT OF $2,240; PROJECT BREAD IN THE AMOUNT OF $4,000                      B. FIELDS                 SECONDED:  S. STEPHEN          ACCEPTED UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL VOTE  P. Dillon – I will send thank you letters to all those organizations on behalf of the district and the school committee.  S. Bannon – maybe a press release too for those three and Aberdale’s.  It really deserves to have some publicity.
  • Request to Approve: Dillon – the next two, and I think you can do them together, every year I request that you approve two appointments; one for the district treasurer, Dick Jette and one for the school committee recorder, Christine Kelly.  It is really a formality.  They both do a wonderful job and I want to get your support to approve them continuing in their roles.  MOTION TO APPROVE APPOINTMENT OF DICK JETTE AS DISTRICT TREASURER AND CHRISTINE KELLY AS SCHOOL COMMITTEE RECORDER          A. HUTCHINSON              SECONDED:  S. STEPHEN          ACCEPTED UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL VOTE
    • FY21 Appointment – District Treasurer
    • FY21 School Committee Recorder
  • Updates:
    • FY20 Graduation – P. Dillon – I just wanted to give a public update to the school committee and the public about what we are doing with graduation. It is very much a work in progress and it keeps evolving.  I will have Ben and Kristi speak to their initial planning although it may shift some.  This is sort of a drag.  We would like to have graduation as a big deal.  We like to have proms and all these other celebrations and in the context of this virus, we can’t have those as we typically would so we are trying to come up with really interesting ways to celebrate kids and families and all their hard work that are different.  I think we have put together a nice plan at the high school and the plan at the middle school is emerging.  Tim is also working on something at the elementary school as well.  A really nice thing is all sorts of family members have stepped up, so you will see the Adopt a Senior on Facebook and their wonderful blurbs about graduating students and where they are going to college and what they are doing post-high school.  Folks are adopting them and there are balloons and any possible craft under the sun that can imagine happening informally.  There is the stuff we are doing as a school as well.  It will be different but kids will certainly be recognized and celebrated and they will remember it.  I think what makes sense is to give Kristi a minute to talk about some of the stuff going on at the high school and then we will talk with Ben and Tim a bit too.
      • Kristi Farina, Principal, Monument Mountain Regional High School – We are well underway in planning for graduation. We kept the date of formal graduation the same, Sunday, June 7th.  We are doing a virtual ceremony and Paul Kakley has taken the reins.  Paul is amazing.  He has already started putting videos together.  He has been putting a lot of thought about how we are going to do filming in the auditorium.  It certainly is a challenge and not the way any of us really want to be doing it but we believe it is the right way to go about this at the moment.  Beginning next week, we are going to have seniors coming to the school.  We are doing scheduling around this right now in groups of four.  We did decide to allow them to each have up to four family members and we are going to have them in socially distanced areas of the auditorium and they have to wear masks to be present.  The seniors are having some choice in what other seniors they want in their groups of fours.  We did decide it was pretty important that they have at least one friend and a few family members present while they are filmed receiving their diploma.  They won’t actually get their diploma during the filming process but that will give Paul the footage to put all that together.  We have a team that is preparing the auditorium with decorations and flowers.  Steve Soule stepped up with his guys and they are repainting the stage floor because we are trying to make it look as nice as we can.  I have every confidence that will come together and be as great as we can possible make it.  That will be shown on June 7th at 10am.  It will be broadcast on CTSB both livestream and through television.  It will also be through the MMTV website so there will be a few different ways people can access it.  It will be shown after the event at 10am.  CTSB will run it again.  Following the ceremony itself, we are asking seniors and families to arrive at the high school in cars.  We are working on this component right now but we are saying at 12noon will be the start time.  We will do a drive through distribution.  We have ordered bags to put gifts for seniors, their diplomas, their files, any awards they received; we are compiling all that into a bag that we will distribute.  We are coordinating with the police departments and fire departments in Stockbridge, West Stockbridge and Great Barrington so we can do a parade from the high school through the towns ending in downtown Great Barrington then people will disperse.  The details are still being worked out.  We have had tremendous outpouring as you can imagine from people wanting to do things for seniors so we are trying to coordinate all of that.  We have ordered lawn signs with each senior’s photo in addition to a message and we are going to be putting those on the front lawn and hill and doing another painting for the class of 2020 on the front hill leading up to all of this.  We are open to suggestions and ideas.  We are trying to make this as special as we can under the circumstances.  Dillon – we have a nice tradition of school committee members handing diplomas to their graduating seniors, their children and in this class, I think there are two school committee members (Dan and Diane) who have kids graduating so talk to your children about the day they come in.  As Kristi and I hand them their diplomas on that day, we won’t hand it to them, we will give it to you to hand to them so we can continue that tradition.  If school committee members are available on the 7th for the drive through distribution, we can make a little line of school committee members in front of the high school and as we are handing stuff out, you can all participate in that.  We will all be appropriately gowned and garbed in PPE’s as opposed to academic regalia.
      • Ben Doren, Principal, Monument Valley Regional Middle School – I fully recognize how important high school graduation is and just how much energy and focus needs to go into it. I want to applaud what Kristi and Pete and the team at the high school are doing.  I also agree with how wonderful Paul is.  At the middle school, we are also dumbfounded by what we have to change and do.  We usually have a wonderful ceremony on the night before the last day of school.  That is a very nice, formal ceremony that is very appreciated by families but in addition we also have other things that go on.  There is a big thing with the 8th grade teachers handing out internal awards and celebrating the kids and 7th grade parents giving a breakfast for the 8th graders.  We are going to miss all that in person and it is so sad.  I just met with representatives of the 7th and 8th grade teams along with our folks from admin to talk about what we wanted to do with graduation.  We had been batting around some ideas but I didn’t want to move too quickly ahead until I found out what the high school was doing and what the parameters were.  Again, I am very thankful for Kristi reaching out to the health department and police departments on how to do it safely but also do a celebration.  Now we have a better idea and I was comfortable meeting with my folks and entertaining ideas.  We are going to meet again next Wednesday and finalize some ideas and start doing some outreach.  We want to have an event that celebrates kids with teachers and celebrate our kids so parents can participate in some resemblance of face to face; I don’t think we need to do something as intense as the high school is doing.  Friday the 12th is our last day of school so on Wednesday the 10th we will do some kind of fun meetings like this with the students and teachers and do a bunch of internal awards to celebrate the kids.  The evening of Thursday the 11th when we would normally do graduation, we are thinking one of two things: one idea I like but it may be difficult is to do something online where we have myself and Peter give short talks and give out awards, some students give their speeches and have parents and family members login and get to observe it as we announce all the kids and all the wonderful things.  It may be too cumbersome and too glitchy and it could be less than a satisfying experience for families.  We are also bouncing around the idea of doing a video like the high school that we can put it all together and cast it out at the same time so folks could watch it.  We are trying to figure out on the last day of school to have families drive through the circle and pick up an envelope with their certificate of completion and awards, etc.  Faculty could come and be socially distanced, waving and families going through and honking and have a good time.  That is our big picture thinking.  There is a lot more we are going to do on Wednesday to finalize it.
      • Tim Lee, Principal, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – Typically the recognition we have at the end of the school year is a moving-up, not a graduation. We typically celebrate it with a school-wide assembly, a drum circle and a reception for parents and walk-out where parents can see all the 4th grade students walking in a line as they do a symbolic walkout of the school.  Of course, we are not able to do any of that this year.  Our recognition celebration for 4th graders is mainly going to center around the creation of a video slideshow with each student contributing a video slide of their favorite memories of Muddy Brook.  Fourth grade teachers will be adding a short message.  In addition, we are asking staff to take images that we can place into the slide show with well wishes, good luck.  In addition to that students will be receiving a certificate which is a pretty standard practice.  The difference this year is that with their certificate we are also creating a letter-writing campaign where all staff within the school will be choosing a student with whom they have a special relationship from sometime of their time at Muddy Brook and writing them a special greeting for good wishes for their time ahead.  Our PTA is also committed to getting a special gift for all of our 4th graders who are moving up.  It will be a tshirt with the school’s emblem, individualized for each student.  There is also a little bit of discussion at this point, it hasn’t materialized yet, similar to what Ben was describing, an opportunity for 4th grade parents to come through the school and perhaps pick up those envelopes with staff at a social distance, able to wave and greet them as they come by.  We really lament that we cannot do our traditional recognition of our 4th graders as an entire school.  We really miss our kids but we are hoping we can give them a send off that recognizes each and every one of them.
    • COVID-19 – P. Dillon – we are anticipating some sort of announcement. Everyday Governor Baker does a briefing but lots of people think something special might happen on Monday.  We are paying attention to that and we will listen carefully to that particular briefing.  We are having discussions about shifting our learning management system.  We have been using Google.  If you have been following the papers, there is a conversation countywide about a shift to a more robust learning management system.  We built what we are using now, very quickly and we would like to have one that lets us have more flexibility with kids and lets us differentiate things and lets them have access to different levels of content.  A big call tomorrow or conference call about that as well as lots of internal conversations and we will probably make a decision quickly.  We will set that up, do some thoughtful work with teachers and staff, enlist them in helping make that decision too and then move forward.  Another thing we are getting poised to do is a formal round of feedback from families around how remote learning is working and what is effective and what is not effective.  That will help us look back on how this has gone so far but perhaps more importantly help us form how we might have to plan and eventually do for the fall.  Stephen – Peter, what is the new platform and what is the timeframe on that?  P. Dillon – in terms of rolling it out?  S. Stephen – yes.  P. Dillon – we are going to stick with Google for the rest of the school year and roll that out in the start of the year if we need to for continued virtual learning or perhaps as part of a hybrid thing we are doing.  The last thing we are doing a lot is both planning for the summer and fall.  We have these great 21st Century grants around our summer program in addition to our year-long program, and we are building on that.  We have done some really nice work with particularly Tom Kelly and Amy Shaw about putting together some activity boxes in addition to the virtual stuff so kids won’t be spending so much time on screens during our summer program.  We will have resources to do work outside of what they are doing online and use the online opportunities to check in on some of that work.  That will be exciting as a pilot and as a way to grow.  We are really waiting for additional guidance from the governor and commissioner on that.  It is very hard because there are so many unknowns and it is challenging to plan in a context where there are so many unknown variables.  J. St. Peter – so, are the summer programs officially cancelled?  Is that still up in the air?  P. Dillon – no, they are not cancelled by any means.  J. St. Peter – no, the physical aspect of it as far as going into the buildings?  P. Dillon – I think so.  If the governor says on Monday that everything is ok, we will have a real conversation about it but in the context of what we know, it probably doesn’t make sense to bring large groups of kids together.  We are still also talking about running a summer special ed program for kids with disabilities.  The numbers there might be such that we might actually be able to do those on campus or to look at staggering the time of them.  J. St. Peter – my thought is obviously we want to give the families as much lead time as possible if it looks like it is more probable than not that there is not going to be a physical presence at the schools so they can find alternate child care.  P. Dillon – I very much agree with you and in talking with some of the camp people who run camps, who are also in a wait and see patterns where they haven’t gotten a direction about if they are going to be able to open camps; I imagine there will be clear direction in the next couple of weeks about all of this.  S. Stephen – I was hoping this new platform would be done sooner.  I am very worried about what is being assigned to the students right now.  I have spoken to Ben about this.  It is woefully inadequate.  My daughter is through her weekly assignments in two hours.  There has to be something and somebody has to step up the game with face-to-face learning with kids, anything.  Somebody has to step up.  I am just really, really worried that we are going to have kids that will fall through the cracks.  My daughter already realizes she is not learning enough and is reading books out of control.  There has to be some more challenging content coming out.  P. Dillon – I hear you.  I don’t know if that is the universal experience.  S. Stephen – I don’t know either.  I just know my personal experience.  R. Dohoney – I have heard that similar sentiment from a number of people.  S. Stephen – It really concerns me.  P. Dillon – I hear you.  That is part of why we are moving forward with this survey to get feedback.  It is super fascinating; for every parent or student I hear from, for everyone that isn’t feeling challenged enough, on the other end of it, I hear from someone that is feeling overwhelmed and taxed.  There is always a large group of people who are the quiet middle group.  We will continue to check in with our teachers around this and provide more rigorous opportunities for people for what it.  S. Stephens – it certainly needs to be much more rigorous.  This week, Bridget was done with the work in two hours.  I looked it all over.  It was all done.  I asked her to show me what she has been doing this week.  Every assignment was done except telephone Spanish.  There has to be something more challenging going on.  P. Dillon – I will check in with the principals on it some more and individual teachers and I think a lot of the public is watching so give us some feedback.  We will get the survey out quickly or reach out to me, individual teachers as well.  It is hard to know what is enough and what isn’t and if you feel your kids are not being challenged enough, let us know.  If you feel your kids are overwhelmed, let us know.  We are seeing a whole range of it.  R. Dohoney – I’m going to sound like Bill for a minute, I don’t want us to be too married by what these bureaucrats in Boston are telling us what we should be doing.  It is clear to me that Massachusetts has made some bad decisions compared to our neighboring states who are in the same exact situation from COVID.  The Boston Globe has done a series of articles comparing what Massachusetts did from Rhode Island.  My fear is that our kids who are in 8th grade, freshman, sophomore and junior year, who are going to be competing with kids at a national level in the next coming years are not being treated the same.  I know we have to look to Boston as our regulators but in terms of curriculum and things like that, we have a lot of local control and should be looking at a national level for our kids.  P. Dillon – I definitely agree with you.  What is fascinating is, I get emails from other people who say compared to their friends and family members in other schools, what we are doing is significantly more sophisticated, more rigorous so there are really lots of perspectives on this but it is good to have the conversation and continue to think about it.  In the context of everybody, I imagine going forward your kids will be challenged more.  B. Fields – I just refer back to Peter and what you gave us three or four weeks ago that I sent out to all my daughters who are having some of the same problems with their children that this is the first time this has ever happened; there are a lot of kinks that have to be worked out but I would tell people that there is learning going on, it is just a different type of learning.  It isn’t learning that can be tested and can be given a grade.  It is actually learning empathy, learning togetherness; it is a different type of learning that fits right into the social/emotional package that we have been talking about and that the state is starting to push much more in their curriculum requirements.  I think this worry about being too rigorous or less rigorous at this point where we are since we have never been through this, I think people should keep that in consideration.  There are other types of learning going on whether we want to say it is that type of learning that can’t be measured immediately.  P. Dillon – It is fascinating.  The other day I bumped into somebody, not one of our students, She goes to another school, but she is a junior, a pretty good athlete, missed her spring lacrosse season and was schedule to do a bunch of college visits, couldn’t do those, was scheduled to take the SATs which would have been connected to her recruiting as an athlete, couldn’t do those; it is a fascinating world we live in.  She is just representative of any number of students at different grade levels and it is going to be really interesting.  B. Fields – I’m reading all the stuff from the states, the MSC or whatever is posted to other school committees and what is going on in the state and there seems to be a lot of emphasis on what we are missing and how behind are the kids.  I think that is missing the point.  My own feeling is we should concentrate more on what are they getting from this and not how far behind they are.  In my experience, kids can catch up pretty quick.  They can’t catch up pretty quickly in some of the things they are experiencing right now in regards to other aspects of learning.  D. Weston – my concern as a professional educator and as a policy maker with this board, is reaching the kids that don’t have internet connectivity or don’t have the family support at home.  I understand some of the concerns that the other school committee members have but we do have some students that are just now participating.  I don’t have an idea or a solution, and I know it is on everybody’s radar but I want to make sure as we move forward and as we anticipate the next school year, that we could have minimally a period of disruption if not a large period of disruption of typical education, that we really try to figure out how are we going to reach the students who are not participating actively.  In my survey of teachers I work with and I was having a conversation with a teacher about students at Berkshire Hills today, there are families that are supportive in regular circumstances and are supportive in pandemic circumstances and families that aren’t supportive in pandemic and those are the students that I am most concerned about.  P. Dillon – we have done a lot of thinking about this and our general sense is about 95% of kids are pretty engaged right now which we are happy and excited about but that leaves about 5% of kids who aren’t.  We talked, the administrative team, about piloting two classes outside of our typical work and we had this really great conversation about did those have to happen outside of the regular school hours or could they happen during the school hours and the decision we reached was they could happen during the school hours because having kids engaged in meaningful work could really supplant with they might be participating in now because it is too traditional.  We are going to move forward with a gardening program as a way to try to hook kids who have been unengaged and do a raised bed thing.  There are some real practical impacts that are connected to victory gardens.  There is another other.  The other one was a culinary program building on high school kids that had done work in a culinary class during the winter because probably all of us are cooking and eating too much now and that is the high-interest and high-engaging thing we could also use to connect with kids.  We are going to keep trying to build things out with that.  We have our work cut out for us and we will gather some more data and report back to you on it.  We will think of extending ways where kids are really devouring material and we could point them in other directions to do other stuff.  D. Weston – I am most concerned with, not this current school year but the next school year, about making sure we have a plan to really meet the kids needs.  One of the reasons, first, the state made us start out with not really hard academics, so we kind of trained students and families not to worry about it.  S. Stephen – I spoke with Ben a bit; Ben you might be able to expand on this better than I can.  I thought the original first week or month was to make sure that we were engaging as many kids as possible.  That was the whole point of not having such a rigorous curriculum coming out and that we are looking to make sure everybody got involved and everybody had some way to access the material and they had their devices and they had internet and all that sort of thing.  Right?  P. Dillon – yes, that was part of it.  R. Dohoney – to be clear, the original directive from the state was not to teach new material and then they changed their track sometime in mid-April.  Is that correct?  P. Dillon – yes, early April and we made the shift largely by April 6th.  S. Bannon – for someone who doesn’t have a student in the schools, it seems to me this is an overview.  I think every school district has been caught by surprise and no one expected this nor should we have expected it.  We are learning as we go along.  I compare it to building an airplane as you are flying it.  Now we have the summer which is traditionally a time teachers still do a lot of work but maybe some downtime and we have to get this completely correct for the fall because somebody asked me today and I said we will probably have two tracks for the fall.  One being students come back to school and that is what we have and we go back to traditional learning but shame on us and I know we will be if we are not ready for students to pick up right where we are right now in a much more robust program…S. Stephen – we have to be ready to do that immediately.  P. Dillon – I think we will be and I think the other thing this really shone a spotlight things.  People who are struggling in a regular context are really struggling in this context and the role of teachers are quite significant and I bet you there are a thousand parents out there who are begging for us all to go back to school on a regular basis because it is challenging as could be to manage this.  It also speaks to the need to have a really well articulated curriculum and opportunities.  It is a spotlight on everything.  How do we differentiate well during the year and how do we do it in this context?  I think we are doing good work and I think we have significantly more work to do.  D. Weston – If I could be as brazen to ask you to look at one more thing and that is the possibility that we are going to reopen but will have students that families choose not to have them attend school out of general fear if the student has an underlying health risk or a family member has an underlying health risk.  So, I think as we move forward, even if we are going to be open, we will have to have in the back of our minds at least thinking about how we are going to reach these students who might not be there even if most students are.  That is going to be an additional complication.  P. Dillon – agreed.  Then there will be a second and third and fourth wave of this and people will come in and out.  We are in for a bumpy ride I think.  D. Weston – just one last comment on this for me at least, I did have an opportunity to speak to a number of parents this week where I work but they have students in Berkshire Hills and they are just very pleased with the communication they are receiving from all three schools.  There is no question from them with the message they are receiving from the administrators and the district, they are very pleased with the communications.  P. Dillon – thank you, that is good to hear.  R. Dohoney – one more thing; I know the preparation on the technology end is done differently, if this is going to be stops and starts this year into next year, at some point, we are going to have to engage the union and build in some flexibility.  Summer vacation, February break, April break, we can’t be locked in on those things.  If this thing is cleared up by early August, we should be back doing things early.  If we have to take breaks in October and November, we should cancel the winter breaks and go later.  For a hundred years, we have had snow days in New England, we built that into contracts and school schedules; I think we have to have the flexibility for health issues.  P. Dillon – a nice thing is, I have been meeting weekly or sometimes every other day with the two co-presidents of the union and as we articulate that I am sure they are happy to talk to us about it.
  • P. Dillon – we had two meetings scheduled for next week, one with Shaker Mountain and one as a sub committee.  We are going to cancel both of those.  We will hear in a minute from the subcommittees and almost all of them have met or are about to meet so we don’t need that meeting next week.  I will have Doreen send a formal reminder but May 21st you can do something besides a Zoom call.
  • Sub-Committee Reports:
    • Policy – Not Met
    • Building & Grounds – J. St. Peter – We met last Wednesday and had a productive meeting with Steve. All the members were there, Diane, Molly and Bill and myself.  The goal was to touch on two things.  One, update on how facilities have been up until now through the pandemic and then the plan going forward from now through the summer.  Steve informed us that the custodians did work until March 20th after the lockdown occurred.  After that they had building only check in one custodian at a time making sure there was one custodian in the building and nothing happened and everything was functioning and getting work done as they could.  At the middle school, there was three staff there because of the food distribution and efforts going through that school to assist in that.  During that time, they were helping to get instruments out, computers and anything that was important to the kids that was left at school.  They were doing the daily water test and wastewater reading as well which was an issue.  The sewer system went from having its normal usage to zero which is even less than the summertime overnight so they had to get creative to get it to pass the permit test as far as putting dog food in to keep the organic nature of it working.  It is fine and there are no problems there.  The generator has been updated.  The water cooler maintenance has been done.  Just touching from last time, the boiler room, there was an asbestos abatement; it is not totally free but it is abated as far as what was required by the law.  The house that is going out of the high school driveway to the north on the right, has also been evaded from the asbestos as well.  Last week the custodians were allowed to be in the building.  They have been doing their normal painting, repairs, stairwells, hallways.  Steve said they are about two months ahead of schedule which is one of the few benefits of this shutdown.  July 1st they will start the summer cleaning but between now and then they are going to get going on cracks on the tennis courts, wastewater treatment filters, all the normal stuff they have to catch up on.  He also mentioned, in preparation for next year, the nurses rooms are going to need some upgrading but not sure how much.  We are going to wait for the state and their mandates but at the least probably some HVAC updates, air filtration, etc.  He is also in the process of getting some electrostatic cleaning materials going on and obviously hand sanitizer, wipes, masks, etc. and looking into some temperature scanners, pricing them out in anticipation of when the kids go back to school.  The last thing that is going to be done this summer is at the high school, a changing area in the H04 for some students that are going to be coming in that have some high needs.  The plant sale – we have lots of plants that generate a significant amount of money.  They are in the works of trying to set that up in a way that abides by the new socially distance guidelines.  What they don’t sell will be donated to the different nursing homes, etc.
    • Superintendent’s Evaluation & Advisory – A. Hutchinson – we met yesterday. We were very well represented by Richmond, Hancock and New Ashford.  The report should be coming out next week and will get to all of you.  Peter passed.
    • Technology – upcoming meeting on May 19th at 5:30pm
    • Finance – R. Dohoney – we met last week. We reviewed where we are at this year and then we did have some loose planning discussions about FY21.  The consensus of the committee with everything so crazy….usually at this time we would be digging in and blocking off meetings to address the budget, we are not going to do that.  We are going to wait until July to really start our aggressive planning because everything is so up in the air with the governor’s budget.  Everything for this year looks extremely good.  Sharon gave us some projections on E&D and when those are finalized everyone will be very happy with.  We did have some conversations about FY20 impact from COVID.  Right now all the town meetings have been pushed out and I think Stockbridge has pushed it out past the fiscal year.  We will certainly have a budget once Great Barrington and West Stockbridge presumably pass it.  For this year, it is all great and we are going to wait and see what happens for next fiscal year.
    • District Consolidation & Sharing – S. Bannon – there is a lot going on. We have had two formal meetings with Richmond and their school committee and their advisory group and also with the facilitator we hired.  That is getting started.  I urge anyone who is interested in the school committee to go to those meetings.  They are rather interesting.  We had two meetings also with Southern Berkshire; those are also interesting meetings.  We have a long way to go but at least we started.  Weston – the last meeting for the Southern Berkshire group, that was recent right?  S. Bannon – yes.  D. Weston – did Stockbridge have representation at it?  S. Stephen – I never had any notice that it was taking place.  When did it take place?  S. Bannon – are you the Stockbridge representative for that group?  S. Stephen – as far as I know, yeah.  P. Dillon – he is one of three.  There are two people from the town.  That might have been an error on my part, Sean.  I’m sorry for not sharing that with you.  I will send the next one to you and I sent a letter to their selectboard requesting that they appoint somebody and I will follow up on that.  S. Bannon – Chucky Cardillo was at that meeting; wasn’t he?  P. Dillon – he might have been.  D. Weston – just so you know, I got on the selectboard’s case about it that they need to get the representation there.  I just want to know if it happened.  S. Bannon – I think it was at the meeting and something was mentioned.  R. Dohoney – even though that committee has nothing to do with the school committee and is totally separate and apart from us, it would be good if Peter could have Doreen circulate the dates.  I would like to attend or listen to some of them.  P. Dillon – I definitely will.  The update on it: Lucy Prashkar is chairing that committee now and Peter Taylor from Berkshire Taconic is the vice chair.  I think we only have one date at a time right now but I will have Doreen share that.  The group appointed a subcommittee that I’m on to help select a facilitator/consultant for that group and the subcommittee is in the process of reviewing applications and doing interviews for that.  I will get out a schedule of those meetings.
  • Personnel Report
    • Extra-curricular Appointment(s) – P. Dillon – there are four positions there and people might wonder why we are hiring people to do additional work. This is connected to planning for the summer work.  There are four positions.  They are grant funded and are more advisory in nature .  I just wanted you to be aware of it.

Business Operation:

  • FY20 Q3 Transfer Report & Overview – S. Harrison – there are somethings that seem like large amounts, it is pretty typical as we move money either for new hires that came in lower, people moving around, somethings coming in a little lower than budget; then in the second transfer is reallocating that money either from contingency or because it moves or we have the new ESL hire at the high school so we had to reallocate those funds. #3 was additional stipends at the middle school; admin professional development, we reallocated the way we talk about funding because of the way DESE wants it reported and then the last one was the typical general operations needs after the budget is set and then people have a best guestimate in January of how they want to spend and as school goes on they realize they need more or less in certain accounts. MOTION TO APPROVE THE TRANSFERS       DOHONEY         SECONDED:  B. FIELDS            ACCEPTED UNANIMOUSLY VIA ROLL CALL
  • Vote – Proposed RAN – S. Harrison – each year we vote for potential revenue and anticipation notes. Given the situation next year and not knowing where we are, it is important to get that on the books now in case we need to do RAN borrowing in July.  If we could approve that it would be great.  We haven’t done any the past two years and before that it was very minimal and I am not as confident we will be in that position this year just because of the issues the towns are having as well and timing of payments so if we could have a vote on that, we could have that lined up in case we need to borrow.  I make a motion to authorize the District Treasurer, under the provisions of General Laws, Chapter 71, Section 16 (g), as amended by Chapter 134 of the Acts of 1972, to borrow money from time to time in anticipation of revenue and to issue a note or notes effective July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021     Dohoney       Seconded:  B. Fields                  Accepted Unanimous via Roll Call

Education News:

Old Business:

  • New Business:
    • Public Comment
    • Written Communication

 

MOTION TO ADJOURN – A. HUTCHINSON  SECONDED:  D. SINGER  ACCEPTED:  UNANIMOUS VIA ROLL CALL

 

Meeting Adjourned at 7:04pm

Submitted by:

Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

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Christine M. Kelly, Recorder

 

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School Committee Secretary