Holliston School Committee News
School Committee Newsletter Issue #3 -- December 15, 2016
School Calendar Approved
On December 15, the School Committee voted to approve a calendar for the 2017-18 school year that is consistent with this and past years’ scheduling of religious holidays, professional days, and parent/teacher conferences.
The School Committee is considering changes to the school calendar for the 2018-2019 academic year and beyond. Some members are concerned, based on input from parents in the community, that there is not enough consistency in the schedule due to the high number of days off, particularly in the fall. A number of factors contribute to this lack of consistency, including the scheduling of professional days, conference days and religious holidays. The committee recognizes the importance of religious holidays to the various faith communities in Holliston, as well as the need to balance the timing of school-based days off. We are looking carefully into scheduling alternatives to address some of these issues and plan to reach out to the community at large for input.
Massachusetts Ranks Among Best Performing Schools in the World
The state’s 15-year-olds shined on an international test administered in 2015 to students of industrialized nations.
If Massachusetts were a country, it would share the top spot in reading with eight other nations, according to a press release from the state Department of Education. In science, the state's students tied for second alongside 10 other countries, behind only students from Singapore.
While we often hear that American students lag behind their peers in other first-world countries, Massachusetts is a clear exception. Bay State students also scored above average in math, placing 12th among the more than 70 countries that participated in the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
You Are What You Eat?
The School Committee’s Policy Subcommittee is reviewing the district’s Wellness Policy on Physical Activity and Nutrition, with an eye to the types of foods and snacks available to our students. While offering options that are nutritious, appealing, and on budget is certainly a challenge, we are starting to explore whether there might be room for change. Please contact Lisa Kocian at KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us, if you have questions or comments about this effort.
Reaching Out on Student Stress
While the implementation of the recommendations from this summer’s Final Report of the Superintendent’s Task Force on Student Stress is ongoing, the School Committee is working with the superintendent to effectively present the findings to the public. Stay tuned for a date and venue after the holidays.
Five of the 19 Task Force recommendations were incorporated into a district-wide goal for the current school year. They cover homework, staff stress, a review of school start times, alternative instructional models, and parent education forums. An update on this goal’s progress will be presented at the School Committee meeting on January 19, 2017.
Budget Update -- Finance Committee Sets the FY18 Guideline at 1%
On November 17, 2016, the town’s Finance Committee voted to recommend a one percent increase in the operating budget guideline for fiscal year 2018, with a one percent increase in salaries covered by the wage table. That means they are asking all departments, including the schools, to propose a budget for next year (FY18) that is one percent higher (or less) than the current year (FY17).
State Budget and Impact of 9c Cuts
On December 6, Governor Charlie Baker announced a series of 9C cuts to make up for a revenue shortfall in the Commonwealth. (9C refers to the section of M.G.L. Chapter 29, which requires the governor to act when projected revenue is less than projected spending in order to balance the budget, a State Constitutional requirement.) Among Baker's cuts are $53 million in earmarks and $17 million in administrative costs.
School Committee Members
School Committee members are Holliston residents elected to three-year terms. All Massachusetts school committees have three main purviews:
Hire and evaluate the superintendent;
Prepare and approve a school budget, which is subject to final approval by the town;
Create and amend policies.
Our agendas, meeting minutes, and policies are available on our web site at http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/home/school-committee
Feel free to contact any committee member with questions or comments. Please note we all have new email addresses:
Anne Louise Hanstad, chair HanstadA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us
Stacey Raffi, vice chair RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us
Martha Devoe DevoeM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us
Andy Morton MortonA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us
Joan Shaughnessy ShaughnessyJ@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us
If you have professional experience in market research and survey construction and a bit of time to spare, we would welcome your assistance in crafting a survey to be distributed to the community at large on the topic of our school calendar and scheduling in general. Please contact Stacey Raffi, at email@example.com, if you’re interested!