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School Committee Meeting - Feb 7th

by Yvette Cain
February 9, 2019

The School Committee met in the Holliston High School library following an executive session.  The open session was called to order by Chair Stacey Raffi at 7:17 PM, followed by approval of January 24 minutes and tabling minutes of January 25 special session so as to add or amend them.

Alyssa Winn, student representative from HHS, reported recent high school activities including  One Acts on Friday and Saturday evening, girls’ basketball senior night and a field trip to Cambridge to see Othello.   Winn also announced Friday’s planned speaker, David Hogg, Parkland School survivor, activist, and one of the creators of March for Our Lives Movement, on the 1st year anniversary of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.  This event is not open to the public. 

Other items of note mentioned by members of the committee included the success of the Miller 4th and 5th grade bands concert last week, a “Try-It Tuesday” initiative in the Miller School cafeteria, and a need for parent volunteers to continue the “Laps-at-Lunch” initiative.  Also acknowledged was the Holliston Music and Arts Parents Association purchase of ukuleles in tribute to Brian Ahronian on the 1st anniversary of his passing for the 5th grade music program.  Additionally, Carolyn Dykema has set up a meeting with the Select Board, Dr. Jackson, and Chair Raffi on Monday morning, February 11.

A retirement was recognized by the Committee of Gloria Handt after of 23 years of service to the Holliston Public Schools.  Dr. Jackson projected a photograph of Ms. Handt and himself at the reception ceremony that celebrated her dedicated service.

Cynthia Listwnik presented and Lisa Kocian read a recently completed draft of the Wellness Policy on Physical Activity and Nutrition.  The Policy describes “an approach to promoting the healthy development of every student in [the] district.” “HPS should convene a representative Holliston Wellness Council (HWC) that meets at least four times per year to recommend goals for school health and safety policies and programs, including development and periodic review and make recommendations to the Wellness Policy on Physical Activity and Nutrition (Wellness Policy), subject to final approval by the Holliston School Committee.” Aspects of the policy include nutrition, physical activity, and other activities that promote student and staff wellness.  Members gave specific feedback about aspects of the policy and suggested minor changes.  Listwnik will make changes to the Policy gathered from the Committee.

Dr. Brad Jackson noted that he was presenting the current draft of his 15th annual budget for review by the School Committee.  For this drafted version, he had prepared handouts and a PowerPoint presentation.  Fixed cost increases, those being salaries, other fixed contractual costs, and Special Education increases, amounted to $1,214,450.  These budget drivers accounted for +3.61% change from fiscal year 2019. 

Dr. Jackson enumerated the new initiatives that he is supporting in his proposed 2020 version.  These included building-specific initiatives such as “redesign of Placentino media center,” a math tutor at Miller School, FTE adjustments and additions, and district-wide technology initiatives including Chromebooks and wi-fi upgrades. Additionally Jackson reviewed other initiatives to be considered in the areas of student services, finance and operations, and curriculum and instruction.

Notable among the ideas Dr. Jackson shared in this draft was his desire to eliminate “user fees” to provide a truly free public school experience for children of Holliston.  His recommendation, if approved, is to follow a five-year timeline to eliminate fees, beginning with a $215,000 increase in 2020, and similar increases in each of the following 4 years.  This specific initiative would account for +.64% of the total 2020 budget.   In total this proposed 2020 budget is +5.99% over FY2019. 

A sub-committee of the School Committee will now review Jackson’s proposed budget. The next School Committee meeting is on February 28, 2019. 

On Monday, February 11, at 9:00 AM, members of the School Committee and Representative Carolyn Dykema will meet with the Board of Selectmen to discuss the possible submission of a Statement of Interest to the Massachusetts School Building Authority.

 

 

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