Minutes-November 7, 2019
BERKSHIRE HILLS REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT
Great Barrington Stockbridge West Stockbridge
SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING
Monument Mountain Regional High School, Library
November 7, 2019 – 7pm
School Committee: R. Dohoney, A. Hutchinson, D. Singer, S. Stephen, J. St. Peter, D. Weston, S. Bannon, A. Potter, B. Fields, M. Thomas
Administration: P. Dillon, S. Harrison
Staff/Public: K. Farina, B. Doren, K. Burdsall, T. Lee
List of Documents Distributed:
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.
CALL TO ORDER
Chairman Steve Bannon called the meeting to order immediately at 7pm.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:
The listing of agenda items are those reasonably anticipated by the chair, which may be discussed at the meeting. Not all items listed may in fact be discussed, and other items not listed may be brought up for discussion to the extent permitted by law. This meeting is being recorded by CTSB, Committee Recorder, members of the public with prior Chair permission and will be broadcast at a later date. Minutes will be transcribed and made public, as well as added to our website, www.bhrsd.org once approved.
SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT: P. Dillon – at our last meeting you voted to support me writing a grant to the state about our work with Richmond. That grant is in and we hope to hear about that in the next three weeks or a month.
- Good News Item (s)
- Tim Lee, Muddy Brook Regional Elementary School – We had a bit of resurgence with our PTA this year. We have some good participation; a lot of parents and families coming out and a lot of parents stepping up for some responsibilities. We have had a couple of successful family/community events so far this year including the ice cream social and campfire night. They are getting ready for the holiday Toy Drive now. I want to recognize Randi Craft who is our current president of the PTA. She has done a great job encouraging participation and it is really paying off. I just wanted to mention the next major PTA event coming up is an event called the Parent Learning Lab. It is on the 20th of November starting at 6pm. We are going to have a speaker. Her name is Maria Sirois. She is a licenced psychologist and presenter and an expert in resilience and positive psychology. She is going to be leading a talk for our parents called Resilient Parenting: A Positive Approach. Any parents that want to come out and learn more are invited from 6pm – 7:30pm. We will have childcare and there will be an Spanish language interpreter. I also wanted to mention that our PK/EK team, three teachers, recently got a grant approved from the Berkshire Hills Fund for Excellence in the amount of $2,486 for a project which they designed called Engineering and Light. It touches upon a science standard for early childhood that is all about light. The grant that they wrote is going to allow them to purchase something called a light table which is a sensory table that the kids can put things on and see how light transmits through various objects. It is really a complete integrated unit that is going to serve all three classrooms in the early childhood sector for a good long time. Just in general, I would like to point out that it has been a really good couple of weeks at Muddy Brook. We are at a point in the year where the students have really gotten into the flow of their classrooms and the flow of the school year. They really understand the routines and expectations of all the different classrooms. The teachers and the staff have really gotten to know the students well as learners and my observation as principal is that those two things coming together have us in a really productive place in the school year right now. I want to recognize all of our students and staff and thank them for all of their efforts that have led us through a couple of really good weeks. I am happy things are going so well.
- Ben Doren, Principal, Monument Mountain Regional Middle School – Last week, Kristi and I attended the Great School Partnership Innovative Schools conference with our instructional leads. It was really exciting. We brought nine teachers to do workshops all focued on proficiency based learning and teacher leadership. It was a pretty exciting conference. The following Tuesday, Kristi and I were able to stay for the principals professional learning group which is a group of principals from across New England, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut all talking about the same kind of delimas, same kind of journeys, same kind of aspirations we have as we embark on this collaborative work. Last week as well, we did two sets of professional learning for our teachers. On Monday and Tuesday we started with the middle and high school teachers, Next Generation Science Exemplar, similar to our teacher development group work that we are doing with our math teachers where they learn very high quality best practice instruction methods but also talk about this idea of next generation science standards which integrates the literacy and math standards into the science frameworks for Massachusetts and also the national movement. It is also cool because they bring a coach in and work with the teachers, talk about instruction. We are going to have more days coming up in January so we will have a couple of months for teachers to implement these instructions practices and get a chance to reflect on them together. It is really an investment in our teachers. On Wednesday, we had our students meet who are trained in the World of Difference program through the Anti-Defamation League. We had a big training last year for 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders. A lot of those 8th graders are now up at the high school being student ambassadors, doing advisory and a lot of other work there. The students that are still at the middle school, went into 5th grade advisories and started two lessons this week and then two weeks from now; talking about bias and trying to understand the role of that in the schools and students’ lives. Every 5th grade advisory had a session. They are also have training with the Anti-Defamation League in December. We are going to train another 20 or 30 students.
- Kristi Farina, Monument Mountain Regional High School – We received some good news that Monument Mountain was selected by our district for our MIAA sportsmanship award. It is the first time that we have received this honor and I would like to recognize our athletic director Karl Zigmund and all of our coaches and students involved in school sports. It is quite an honor and an accomplishment. I want to congratulate them. Next week our ensemble that is currently practicing and having tech week right down the hall, is doing their performance of Twelfth Night. That will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I would like anyone who would like to join to come watch that performance. The students have been working really hard. I think it will be an amazing experience. In addition, we had two community organizations who applied for grants through the Berkshire Fund for Excellence and they did receive those grants. One was Barrington Stage Company and that supports our 9th grade field trip each year to see the performance they put on and this year we did have the entire 9th grade attend. Albany Berkshire Ballet also applied and received a grant to support the work they are going to be doing in the school. They are going to bring connected to Rockwell in our times, the Four Freedoms sos that will be taking place later this year.
- October 1 Enrollment and Assessment Report – There is a small typo in the bottom left column, they both say fiscal year 20. The one on the left is fiscal year 21. The fiscal year is the year after the year your are in and when we are moving these around, occasionally we mix ourselves up. Harrison – we will repost it on the school committee page. P. Dillon – I can walk you through each line. So last year, our total number of students from within the district was 903. This year it goes down to 896. If you follow down, the 896 you will see Great Barrington’s share went up 2%; Stockbridge continues to go down and West Stockbridge is inching up a little bit. You can go through line by line if you want. On the back side of it, you can see where our choice students are coming from and the big winner is Lee the Sheffield, Pittsfield and Monterey are even. If you look at 7th grade, our tuitioned in students from Otis and Sandisfield is a little lower than it has been historically. A lot of those kids got picked up by Lee is year because that is the only other place they can tuition in. R. Dohoney – if you look at the tuition in numbers on nine year break out you have, we have been losing kids. We had 131 tuition students in 2010 and we are down to 80. If you go to the other sheet, it is a building by building things. This is something I am always excited about. We had a little dip in overall enrollment. In overall enrollment in the elementary school, last year we have recovered from that dip. It looks like a one year anomaly. It is still down from a high of 439 in 2012. A. Potter – is it easier for Farmington River to interact with Lee? Is it bussing? P. Dillon – I don’t know. We can do some more work on it. For years, we got the bulk of their kids and this particular, we didn’t. We can send Kristi, Sean, etc. out there this year before their 6th graders make a decision about what they want to do. A. Potter – it makes sense to be proactive there. P. Dillon – school choice applications are due in February so it would make sense for us to do some advertising. The middle school is similar, ups and downs. It is a little lower than previous years. The high school, last year’s senior class was a particularly large one. We are seeing some of that versus this year’s class. We don’t see this a lot, but since the October 1st day, we ran this report, we probably picked up six or seven addition choice kids at the high school.
- Update: Out of School Learning Time – Amy Shaw: Dillon – Amy has been doing great work and very interesting research and analysis and all sorts of stuff about what we are doing. I wanted to her to give a little update and overview of that work. I don’t see this as a one off conversation. I see it as the first book in a trilogy. We will have Amy come back on a regular basis to talk about some of what she is doing but this is a starting point. A. Shaw – I would like to thank you for the opportunity to work on this project. I am really enjoying it and I would like to applaud you for looking into this possibility. I think it is forward thinking and it shows true educational leadership and I think it has the potential to reap some really exciting rewards long term. I have been in education for 20 years and before that I worked in newspaper publishing. It is no surprise to me that I ended up in education. I have always loved school and the big joke in my family is what degree are you pursuing now Amy? What letters are you going to put after your name? I just enjoy it. I met Dan when we were students at the principals leadership program in Williamstown and I continued on and got an EDS degree in special education. Being able to be here and work in after-school programming is a nice fit. For the last two months, I have been doing a lot of learning, a lot of research, a lot of studying and a lot of getting to know Berkshire Hills, your system, the administrative team and trying to work to identify exactly what is the best fit for this district when it comes to after-school programming. So that meant a lot of conversations with the administrative team who have been extremely supportive and have spent a lot of time talking with me and coming up with ideas and letting me know what they think their student body would most benefit from in terms of after-school programming. I am using the term after-school programming in its broadest sense. We currently have a program right now at Berkshire Hills that addresses one community of learners and we are looking here now more specifically how to open that up to everybody. There have been a couple of things that I have been charged with doing. I have been spending a lot of time with the current program but I have shifted and now I am looking at expanded programming. I have been spending a lot of time with community partners and they are different from the community partners we have relationships with right now which while they are wonderful and we certainly want to utilize them in any expansions, it also is important to engage with new community partners. I spent a lot of time last week up at Girls, Inc. They are applying for a big grant. They need a school to use in South County because they specifically want to come to south county. They have a lot of good programming they are interested in bringing. I also spent a lot of time looking at potential programming that we can do home-grown and some other curriculums we can buy and then hopefully have a teacher or some other educator here in house do the instruction which would be more cost effective. I put potential lists for the elementary and middle schools. I have met with those principals and we talked about it. We will go back and look at that list again and try to fine tune it and come up with a list of things we think might want to pursue in the future. That has been very exciting. The other thing I have been working on is a high quality homework assistance and tutoring program. Tim Lee and Ben and I have spent a lot of time talking about what that would look like in these two different schools. What would it look like in an elementary school versus a middle school. We have come up with supplementary plans. We are hoping we can get teachers involved in that after school and I think it is probably going to work itself out and we will put that in place. We are all very excited about that. Another thing we are working on is improving our communication with parents and families. I have designed a website that we will be using in either the next session or the one after that as far as online registration and communication. We are moving in the right direction. Our main objection is to make sure all of the programming that we provide after school is in alignment with our standards are benchmarks because the whole purpose of after school learning is to provide enrichment but also to reinforce the knowledge and skillset the students have already learned through the regular school day. That is another big push we are looking at. Hopefully when I come back in a couple of weeks, I will have some more exciting stuff to tell you about. J. St. Peter – for these after school programs, are they open to everyone in the district? P. Dillon – when we initially got the grant, it was open to everybody and then overtime the guidelines of the grant changed and they were for a targeted population so having an economic or academic need or both. It is very clear to us that from a parent and kids perspective, we want to make it open to everybody. From a funding perspective behind the curtain, one grant may fund part of something and our operating budget may fund part of something and we may even come back with a proposal that parents can pay to participate in some things. From a kid’s perspective, we just want it to be seamless. On any given day, there will be a range of great opportunities going on after school and some people might participate in those opportunities for five days a week and some for one or two days a week and some of those opportunities we may fund as a district, the grants may fund separately, parents or community organizations be part of it but we would like to find a range of opportunities for everybody. The other thing that is hard, there are all these great athletic opportunities in our community so if you have a 6th grader that may be playing soccer in the Berkshire HIll Soccer League, so their practice could be Monday and Wednesday so that is taking up a chunk of time but in the alternating days, they have an opportunity to do something with us. A. Potter – can you refresh my memory. Did we fund a second bus or late bus? P. Dillon – one of the neat places we can do this. There are late buses. They are funded by the grants. Those buses aren’t always full so it is an appropriate use of the resources for grants to fund the late buses but if we have other kids who aren’t part of the grants that are here, they can take advantage of riding the late buses which is great. J. St. Peter – so just to be clear, this year, it isn’t open to everyone so parents that haven’t gotten an invitation from the school are not eligible. P. Dillon – historically we had talked about Project Connection which became a proxy for after school programs and Amy and I have been working on this, we are going to come up with some really cool graphics and logo and individual but we are not quite there yet to reveal it but Project Connection is just one of many parts in the after school. The Project Connection is targeted to a very specific population but there are right now other programs that anybody can participate in. Ben, can you rattle off some of them? B. Doren – floor hockey, ready set go, indoor soccer, newspaper, yearbook, student council. J. St. Peter – the questions I get from parents are about Project Connection. I just want to make sure I am telling them the right thing. P. Dillon – Project Connection is targeted funding but what I think what we are going to do over time is build out a range of options and from a parent perspective, I don’t think they will care if it is labeled Project Connection or something else. I think what they care about is their kids engaged in thoughtful opportunities that are fun that happen after school. A. Hutchinson – so any kid now can ride the last bus? S. Harrison – when the musical is going on at the middle school, those kids ride the bus. Occasionally, we will have a few elementary school kids that might as well. A. Hutchinson – so if someone stays for after school help? S. Harrison – they would be able to be on the bus but it leaves at 5pm. P. Dillon – the big thing there is to reach out to the bus company and make arrangements earlier in the day. S. Harrison – some days it is pretty full and there might not be a seat. That is one of things we are working on as this expands, what additional transportation do we need. Right now it is all group stops. That might be an issue for special education students if we expand the programs. This first year is the planning year and trying to work out the kinks. P. Dillon – Amy didn’t talk a lot about the high school. Obviously, you know, the high school got the grant and they are building that up now and developing the model and you will see those soon. There are at least two Mr. Kelly’s at work in the district. There is Tom Kelly and Ryan Kelly. Ryan Kelly is a phys ed teacher in this building and he is playing a role in helping at the high school.
- Policy Sub Committee – N/A
- Buildings and Grounds Sub Committee – J. St. Peter – we talked about the Muddy Brook front entrance. Right now there are some raised beds that were originally vegetable gardens that a couple of teachers put in a few years ago. Those have run their course and are falling apart. Amy Salinetti and Glenn Chamberlin along with Devin Arnold who is a graduate of MMRHS is a landscape architect presented a plan to remove those raised beds in that area and put in a more perennial/annual flower garden that would be used for learning. The proposal is going to be underwritten by the Lenox Garden Club who is going to provide all the materials and labor so there will be no cost to the district. They will also help with picking out the plants. There will be no edible stuff this time just plants and flowers. It should look a lot nicer. There will be a mulch pathway through it. Steve Soule has given his approval and is happy with the plan. We had a quick update on the three buildings switching from fall to winter. Steve said everything was going well. We transitioned to Blake Equipment is out of Albany but their technician is in West Stockbridge for our servicings. Everything is fine at the high school and middle school. The elementary school has three boilers and one of them has a few issues but Blake & Co thinks they should be able to get it up and working. It is just a back-up boiler. All of us on the building and grounds have been approached since the accident at the high school so we thought it was a good time to circle back on our options as far as making that a safer entrance. We went over the 2016 study the state presented. It is a state owned highway so we have no say if a light goes in there or a roundabout or any other ideas. The different options they presented were three or four different driveway options to extend the driveway down toward the elementary school and it would still be a single lane road. We could look into the school hiring a police officer or sheriff to be out there for a two hour period of time. If it were an easy fix, it would have been done by now. We want to do all we can before a more tragic accident. Dillon – this conversation happens in cycles when there is an accident and I think it is important to know that they DOT has actually done a number of things. They painted on the road in pretty big letters that it is a school. Then they put in the flashing lights that are tied to people speeds then they changed the posted speed on other signs. There is a perception that nothing ever happens but actually things do happen. I get that people are not satisfied with what is happening. Separately, early this week, I met with Smitty and Adam Hines and someone from the police department and the town administrator and Ed Abrahams from the selectboard. We brainstormed a range of other ideas and we are working on some possibilities. We then talked to the DOT and they are looking into some analysis of those possibilities and when those are more flushed out and committed to paper, we will bring them first to buildings and grounds to get their feedback on it and if they think it is a thoughtful approach, then we will bring them to the whole committee. There is other stuff in the works. J. St. Peter – we will post this in case anyone would like to attend our next meeting. D. Singer – we want to do something immediately to make that intersection safer and if we had to do a short- term solution like somebody we pay to stand there like a police officer, that would be really good. P. Dillon – the informal agreement reached many years ago that the Great Barrington Police in the morning to help get the buses out then a Stockbridge Police in the afternoon to help get the buses out. The expectation over time has become that it is not about getting the buses out, it is about getting all the drop-offs. This will be connected to our other proposal later. There are maybe two or three problems in the morning. Some small number of Great Barrington officers on duty at any one time and if there is an emergency somewhere else, the person who is at the school directing traffic is obligated to respond to that emergency. That is one issue. The other issue is being a human traffic light is very dangerous. The police on the slippery weather days when they are needed the most don’t like to be there because the likelihood of them getting hit when it is slippery is significantly higher. The third issue and we have talked about this, our start of school time corresponds very closely to the end of shift for the police. When people’s day is done, it is done. There may be conversations to have there. The afternoon is just Stockbridge. The likelihood of something happening in the morning is higher than the afternoon.
- Superintendent’s Evaluation Sub Committee – A. Hutchinson – we are waiting for the written draft.
- Technology Sub Committee – N/A
- Finance Sub Committee – R. Dohoney – we reviewed the proposals for the high school and all was positive. A couple potentials were identified. The need for a special education teacher and a lot of discussion around the CVTE position which we already budgeted for the director. Nothing deemed earth shattering. We will start looking at the draft preliminary budget at our next meeting which is in a couple of weeks so we are ahead of schedule. The high school would like a van to transport students for internships, etc. No decision was made on that.
- District Consolidation & Sharing Sub Committee – P. Dillon – we are meeting with Richmond on the 14th at 6pm in Richmond. Fields – is there a target date for the eight town committee? S. Bannon – no we aren’t even close to that.
- Extra-Curricular Appointment(s)
- Transfer Reports
- FY19: 2nd, 3rd and 4th Quarter Transfer Reports – S. Harrison – the majority of those are for typical operating needs. We do the budget in January and by the time the kids come changes need to be made. We had put in contingency funds for teacher salaries, we were still in negotiation during budget time so that was moved to the appropriate lines and then the administrators, we basically didn’t settle those salaries until after the budget. Our worker’s compensation had gone up. We had one transfer there. I moved money from other accounts do to over expenditures in insurance lines and workers comp and unemployment. Anytime I do these kinds of transfers, they are coming out of expense lines and there are additional amounts over what needs to be covered. Those drop to contingency and then there were some that were connections of previous transfers. Last year we moved money around for professional development for stipends and all the work we are doing for teachers’ development groups and Great School Partnership. We did have an additional need for software. Shakespeare & Co. at the middle school which is now budgeted but we needed to cover for that last year. Special education needs as well as ELL needs, we moved a number of those lines around to cover needs in special education. When I did the salary lines, that was just for specific individuals and salary amounts. There were some staff movements at the beginning of the year that did not get captured in that early salary amount. Q4 is always my big one. It is easier for me to manage and see where we are in the budget if we close out all accounts and then that is what the majority of what these are. Underneath, I put the specific ones that were not for closing accounts. There is nothing unusual or specific. They are pretty standard operating transfers that you have seen me do before. MOTION TO ACCEPT FY19 2ND, 3RD AND 4TH QUARTERS TRANSFERS: SECONDED: J. ST. PETER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- FY20: 1st Quarter Transfer Report – S. Harrison – The Department of Education has changed a number of codes and one area of that is for technology and they have them in three different places. The 4400 in number one is now for district wide technology so this change was really just to move and to correct from an 02 to an 03, it really just has to do with the DOE coding. The way software is coded in the purchases, they want to see the way to education vs. network, internet. In the second part, we typically budgeted all of our replacement and refresh in district wide hardware and again the DOE is getting much more adamant about appropriately allocating those expenditures across the schools so that is what the second half of number does. Three was for ELL so they have the same kind of programming at material that they have at the high school and middle school so the programs can carry over. The final were just general needs changing from budget time. MOTION TO ACCEPT FY20 1ST QUARTER TRANSFERS RICH DOHONEY SECONDED: POTTER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
- Public Comment
- Written Comment
MOTION TO ADJOURN – R. DOHONEY SECONDED: J. ST. PETER ACCEPTED: UNANIMOUS
The next school committee meeting will be held on November 21, 2019 – Meet & Confer, Stockbridge Offices, 7pm
Meeting Adjourned at 8:04pm
Submitted by: Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
______________________________ Christine M. Kelly, Recorder
______________________________ School Committee Secretary