Great Barrington     Stockbridge     West Stockbridge

                    Regular Meeting

                        followed by

Joint Meeting with Shaker Mountain School Union

District Office – Stockbridge – Professional Development Room

November 19, 2015


School Committee:   S. Bannon, R. Bradway, R. Dohoney, D. Weston, A. Potter,  J. St. Peter, W. Fields,

Administration:        P. Dillon, S. Harrison

Staff/Public:              M. Berle, B. Doren, M. Young, K. Burdsall, J. Briggs, S. Soule, Monica Zanin (Principal, Richmond School), Natalie Gingras (Richmond School Secretary)

Absent:               F. Clark, K. Piasecki, C. Shelton

Shaker Mountain School Union: Brenda Frye (New Ashford), Jim Biancolo (Richmond), Dewey Wyatt (Richmond), Bruce Gregory (Hancock), Bill Cameron (SMSU #10- Acting Superintendent)

 List of Documents Distributed:

MV Nature’s Classroom and Spain trip requests 2015-2016

MV Nature’s Classroom Overview 2015-2016

MV Spain trip itinerary proposal 2015-2016

November 19, 2015 School Committee Meeting Agenda 19, 2015 Pers. Repor

Personnel Report- BHRSD Nov 19, 2015

RECORDER NOTE: Meeting attended by recorder and minutes being transcribed from recorded DVD provided by CTSB after the fact. Length of meeting: 1hr 28min



Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order @ 6:35pm



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 and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, once approved.







Appointment of Citizen Members to the Regional Agreement Amendment Sub Committee

S.Bannon: Regional Agreement Amendment Sub Committee Members. Each town was asked to provide a member of Selectboard and Finance Committee:

Town                                        Selectboard                Finance Committee

Gt. Barrington                        Dan Bailly                  Michael Wise

Stockbridge                            Chuck Gillette            Jay Bikowsky

  1. Stockbridge Curt Wilton Andrew Krouss

R.Dohoney makes a motion to appoint Civilian Members of Regional Agreement Amendment Sub Committee from:

Great Barrington: Chip Elitzer, Carolyn Ivory, Dave Benham 

Stockbridge: Mark Sprague, Bromley Boyd, Honorable Fred Rutberg

  1. Stockbridge: Allen Field, Henry Baldwin, Louis Oggiani

Seconded by: W. Fields                  Approved: Unanimously

First meeting: Dec. 2, 2015 @ 6:00pm at District Office

P.Dillon will reach out to all towns boards and committees and those not selected regarding first meeting date and encourage participation in this public meeting.


o    Overnight Field Trips – Monument Valley Nature’s Classroom & Spain Trips

R.Dohoney moves to approve DBM’s Nature’s Classroom Trip  

Seconded: D.Weston              Approved: Unanimously

R.Dohoney moves to approve DBM’s Spain Trip  

Seconded: R.Bradway              Approved: Unanimously

P.Dillon asked B.Doren for Washington DC trip update regarding buses.

B.Doren: Enough students that both buses are open. No price break yet with the numbers and don’t foresee needing a 3rd bus.


Muddy Brook Elementary School (MBE)

  • Berle, Principal: Good news is around the topic of gratitude.
  • Food Collections- MBE is collecting food and turkeys for 5th year. All students are participating.
  • Community Connections- Flying Cloud Science team working with 2nd, 3rd, now starting working w Kindergarten and 1st grade on interdisciplinary units that focus on Art and Science. All are loving it.
  • Met with Beryl Jolly, Mahaiwe Executive Director, and will be expanding oral storytelling project by bringing together MBE Story Kitchen w Mahaiwe’s Community Story Circles. Grateful for them and for
  • PTA- who is supporting another mural project in 1st Grade neighborhood; a map of our campus.
  • Data Teams are meeting, schedules streamlining and groups are shuffling so that kids who are progressing are moving into specialist groups with interventionalists and other kids at same levels.

Visionary thought: better trying to connect our students to culture and landscape. Rockwell Museum talking about “cultural passport” where every student in Berkshires k-12 have access to cultural institutions. Hoping to build project where every MBE student and family has a significant experience with external visits to institutions and not just w community partner visits to the school.

Monument Valley Middle School (DBM)

B.Doren, Principal:


  • TLC: Therapeutic Learning Center- Classroom for children w emotional behavior disabilities. Building up the right curriculum. Help from K. Burdsall. Collaboration w MBE to be sure students are getting the right needed supports.
  • Restorative Practices: Wednesday Morning Circle- Community conversations w 8-12 students. Moved from teaching “circle concept” to really used for adjudicating problems between students/teachers/parents in & out of school.
  • Student Support Team: Principal and Office Staff meet 5 times each week, meet one time per week w each Exploratory Team. Building structure around student support and communication. Collaborative problem solving for academic or behavioral student needs. Seeing teachers using tools in classroom before escalation. Also allowing for student challenge for those ready.
  • PowerSchool– Secretaries had 3 day conference. Bringing report building using data w PowerSchool to DBM- use system as tool to help teachers & admin.
  • Project Connection– Berk Botanicals Gardens Group selling student made applesauce at Farmer’s Market this Saturday. Raising money for Berk. Humane Society.
  • Flying Cloud Institute– Girls in Science: Loop of lower grade students being mentored by upper grade students to encourage female students inspired to go into STEM careers.
  • HipHop at the Mahaiwe– with 3 middle schools; St. Mary’s, Mt. Everett, DBM. Bring in NYC HipHop group- spent 4 mornings w us- DJ-ing, Spoken work in RAP, Breakdancing/Dance & movement, students w music & instruments. Friday morning: collaborative show and evening performance @ Mahaiwe. 3rd year. Beryl Jolly, Mahaiwe Executive Director does amazing job.

Monument Mountain Regional High School (MMRHS)

M.Young, Principal:

  • Spelling Bee-Dan Bouvier won faculty spelling bee last week. Sammy Mitchell won student spelling bee
  • Henry VI: War of the Roses– was a fabulous Shakespeare student performance. Will be performed again Sat night @ Shakespeare & Co in Stockbridge. 56 Monument students involved; 10 schools involved.
  • Poetry Out-Loud– starts next week. Last year Caroline Sprague was state winner & went onto perform in Washington DC. Starts in English classrooms w individual class selection. Faculty judges. School Semi-finals first week in December, School finals Dec 16, 2015.
  • STEM Fair @ BCC- 25 MMRHS students attending.
  • SPORTS- Fall Sports Season is over. Girls & Boys Soccer made it W. Mass Semi-finals. Football season ended on a “win”. Banquets are this and next week. Merrell Fare and Grace Fare are running x-country at State Tournament this Saturday in Westfield. Winter Sports start Monday night w required athlete and parent meeting. Monday after Thanksgiving starts basketball, skiing, wrestling swimming.
  • Womens Self Defense Program- Cori Sprague brought idea. Grant money from Berk Taconic Foundation. Self-defense Class December 5, 2015 for female students and their mothers.
  • Music Students- Annual Senior Citizens concert. Pathways Group coordinated lunch and raffle gifts. Great event for students and local senior community. Music Student W. Mass auditions. 9 MMRHS made W. Mass ensembles.

S.Soule, Directors of Operations:

Solar Panels- Former Rising Paper site for solar panels. Not all panels yet up but site is ready and will be generating electricity by Jan 1, 2016. That’s a hard-deadline for financial reasons. Look impressive. Paying 21% less for electricity with an annual savings of $60,000-$80,000 by getting electricity through those panels. 20 year investment.



Joint Meeting of the Berkshire Hills Regional School Committee

& Shaker Mountain School Union

Introductions- (list of attendees at beginning of meeting minutes)

Discussion of Possible Shared Services-

P.Dillon: Your students are exceptional kids. Most school districts are in discussion with other districts in ways of collaboration or share services. Hope is to maintain high quality education and save money and/or mitigate against possible increases. Talk with you in further collaboration as we now take your students at the high school level and have a shared psychologist. BHRSD is aware of your posting for a superintendent and we, along with Jon Lev, Superintendent of North Berkshire School Union School District would be interested in possibly sharing the posted position. You posted a .6 position and if you would be willing to consider (2)(.3) positions then we could perhaps look at the possibility of shared superintendents P.Dillon and J.Lev.

S.Bannon: first time a sub-committee has been formed to discuss this issue; S.Bannon, R.Bradway, R.Dohoney. Wish to continue this discussion after this meeting.

Jim Biancolo: Offers an overview of how the Union is structured;

  • 3 autonomous school districts: Richmond, Hancock, New Ashford
  • Each have own school committee and each committee meets separately on a monthly basis
  • As a Union, share a Superintendent, Special Education (SPED) director, administrative assistant, and some costs
  • Shared Costs and Salaries are split out by student population percentages.
  • Each District has 3 representatives on the Joint Union Committee
  • School District has School Committee Members: Richmond=3, Hancock=5, New Ashford=3, and each district sends 3 representatives to the Union Committee sending 9 Union Members to the Joint Union Committee Meetings. Joint Union Committee Meetings happen twice a year.

Current Superintendent, Barbara Ripa, is on a 90 day leave and has turned in a letter of resignation effective the end of the school year. School Committee asked the “door stay open” until interviewing of candidates, should Barbara change her mind. Proceeding like she is resigning. Options: hire for the position, hire interim superintendent, or shared superintendent(s). or perhaps an interim joint superintendent.


  1. Q) Bradway: Where do Superintendent, SPED director, Admin assistant set up office?
  2. Biancolo: All in Richmond School. Richmond has a school w 172 students PK-8. Hancock has a school w  45 students PK-6. New Ashford does not have a school.
  3. Brenda Frye: New Ashford sends its 24 students to Lanesborough Elementary(8) and Mt. Greylock(16). Current tuition contracts: Lanesborough- 3 years, Mt.Greylock- last year signed a 5 year. Hancock has the same agreement with Mt. Greylock.


  1. Q) D.Weston: What are Richmond’s biggest challenges right now?
  2. Biancolo: Declining enrollment. When does it require significant changes? Richmond is in a strong position but enrollment currently at 50% Richmond 50% Tuition&Choice
  3. Frye: New Ashford is “set in stone” with contract. Pay what we have to and town has go with it. Biggest challenge is when a SPED student comes into town; no budget for that and it can cost $60,000.


  1. Q) R.Dohoney: Any pre-school at the schools?
  2. Monica Zanin: At Richmond. Maxed out at 17 kids, Special needs from Richmond: 10, private money- fee base from area students, $35/day


  1. Q) R.Dohoney: Seems like organized chaos, like BHRSD. Is that the sense?
  2. Biancolo: for myself: works pretty good. As far as the Superintendent, fair amount of management work; 3 Districts, 3 School Committees. Individual Districts have fair amount of autonomy and freedom to pursue what each district needs. Binding element is how to fill those 3 positions. Has kept costs for those salaries down. Richmond’s share is 67% based on current enrollment. Not looking to break it up because it’s not working but if can be done as win-win for all with savings for all while maintaining level of service or recognize that if it’s cheaper, what is being given up.


  1. Q) R.Bradway: Large geographically area. How is each shared union position broken up as time spent at each school? And is curriculum development w Superintendent or individual school principals? How can we add value as we have segmented those responsibilities a BHRSD.
  2. Biancolo: Logistically & geographically, all 3 offices are in Richmond. Superintendent: 2 days onsite in Richmond, 1 day onsite at Hancock. Fair amount of driving and to also cover separate School Committee meetings.
  3. Zanin: Curriculum Development- Richmond and Hancock are very different. Work together fairly regularly but there are different needs and focus areas based on individual school data. Combine PD days when possible but only prob one day for year.
  4. Frye: New Ashford. Superintendent would visit Lanesborough to be sure students needs were being met and talks with Superintendent at Mt. Greylock. Meets every other month. Union works well. Union gives New Ashford 3 votes and with so few students, that’s significant.


  1. Q) B.Fields: How are capital costs proportioned? Is there friction between the towns based on one town paying so much more than the other towns?
  2. Biancolo: Also by enrollment. Capital costs for buildings aren’t shared because each District has it’s own schools to maintain. Shared costs outside of the 3 salaries are very small: advertisements, some technology for those staff members.
  3. Fry: % are based only up to 8th grade. New Ashford only pays 7% because only 8 students in the K-8 District. Building maintenance costs are taken out of tuition contract agreement.


  1. Q) R.Bradway: What problems do you see with a shared Superintendent and admin staff?
  2. Q) Bruce Gregory: Re: Superintendent. What is the range of work the Superintendent is able to do? Logistically from a geographical point of view based on the number of students?
  3. Dillon: Commented on how his role now is a very hands-on at each individual school; knowing every teacher, visiting classrooms, being at each school 2-3 times each week. Taking on shared superintendent role would change that but the level of competency and communication and partnership of BHRSD teachers and staff would be able to absorb the shift in his role. Ex. J.Briggs, Director of Learning & Teaching: spends time w Principals developing curriculum, significant role in managing after-school/extended day program, plays big role in grant writing. Stepping into a shared superintendent role would mean BHRSD would lose some things but the staff could realign, to a degree. Peter has been with the district for 7 years and would not have made this consideration in first 3 or 4 years.
  4. Bannon: Wants to clarify, the decision to consider/explore this is a Committee wide decision and supported by the whole Committee.


D.Wyatt: Acknowledges that a strong existing structure needs to exist with any Superintendent considering to share this role.

P.Dillon: Each school considering this shared option has a strong relationship with their community , providing this strong existing structure. Potential for collaboration or sharing is very high.

R.Dohoney: BHRSD has off campus District Office allowing for each school to administer more independently, not knowing exactly where Superintendent is physically each day.

R.Bradway:What are each town’s needs for technology in the facilities and can we offer value there?

J.Biancolo: Needs do exist. Considering bringing on another IT who can serve both school and town. Potential sharing unknown. Currently using PowerSchool.

P.Dillon: We are not PowerSchool model but we are learning quickly: talking to other districts about what works and have the staff that just came back from the 3-day conference. BHRSD has 3 IT people: a data/ networks/ wiring person, a network systems person writing code, director of technology working on a strategic plan for future. Working w S. Berkshire Shared Services project and state grant money being pursued where an amount is likely to be for IT.


J.Biancolo: A shared Superintendent is definitely worth considering and if decided as a Union, perhaps Shaker Mt would create a sub-committee w members from each town. Decsions will be made on pursuing options after the 1st of the year.

D.Wyatt: Everything works well now, but we need to move quickly to set things up for (unknown) future needs as a win-win, with the students at the center of it all. This might be a 2+ process but we need to gather info now and consider options; that’s the hard-press.

R.Dohoney: We are ready and can engage in these conversations without necessary having to go “back to the drawing board” to rethink things.

D.Weston: We know, understand, and share the uncertainty of future needs but we are trying to build good relationships with other districts so we can be in the best position to tackle these challenges.

S.Bannon: Important to note, because we are talking with multiple school districts, it’s not a competition- it’s us all trying to work together to build a beneficial future for all students. We want each school district/union to be individually strong moving forward.

P.Dillon: Possible options to work w districts across the county in areas like technology.

D.Wyatt: Would Superintendent share an admin?

P.Dillon: See best to keep individual admin to communicate in each areas schools and have those admin assistants to communicate.


M.Zanin: Pleased to have joined efforts efforts for collaboration for PD among teachers, admin teams. Sharing our strengths.

P.Dillon: No matter the outcome of shared superintendent, that collaboration for PD should still be a goal.

B.Fields: 5 years down the road, do you see your structure/model still working because the state is saying shared services isn’t enough and consolidation may be needed.

D.Wyatt: That will really depend on enrollment and town population. Candid scenario discussions are important to have over time.

S.Bannon: Those conversations also need to involve the school educators not just the School Committees/Unions.

D.Wyatt: Transportation- minimizing travel time. Are there students in BHRSD who could shorten their travel time by going to a different district.

P.Dillon: W. Stockbridge is closest to Richmond, so that would seem the natural area of question. That would have to be looked at, but that possibility does exist. Whole range of interesting conversations.

D.Wyatt: Transportation needs to be a big part of the conversation and districts need to “lay down their territorial boundaries” so as to not be defending their areas.

S.Bannon: This conversation seems to be very important to continue. Sharing sub-committee meeting dates to see how we can coordinate another meeting to pursue possibilities. Trying to set meeting for early December in Richmond.

S.Bannon: This has been great. Thank you very much for coming.

J.Biancolo: Thank you for hosting.

                                                                                                                                                                                   R.Dohoney made motion, seconded by W.Fields to adjourn the meeting @ 8:02pm

** The remaining agenda items listed below were not addressed at this meeting.



  • Policy Sub Committee
  • Building and Grounds Sub Committee
  • Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee
  • Technology Sub Committee
  • Finance Sub Committee
  • Regional Agreement Amendment Sub Committee
  • District Consolidation & Sharing Sub-Committee



  • Retirement(s)
  • Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)


Congdon, Christine        Assistant Principal – Monument Valley                                              06/30/16

Huggins, Mary               Paraprofessional – Monument Valley                                                 06/30/16

Extra-Curricular Appointments:

(all 2015 – 2016  unless otherwise noted)

Rates/stipends listed below are based on the FY15 Exhibit B Chart.  These may be adjusted once negotiations are finalized.

Monument Mountain Regional High School

Bierwith, Robert             MCAS – Academic Support Tutor                                                   MCAS Grant                                      Stipend:  $25/hr.













The next meeting is scheduled for December 10, 2015 – Regular Meeting – Elementary School

Submitted by:

Rebecca Burcher, Recorder




Christine Shelton, School Committee Secretary