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School Committee Meeting 4/4/19

by Yvette Cain
April 6, 2019

The School Committee Meeting of April 4th opened with a public hearing of the 2020 proposed school budget.  There were no comments or questions from the audience.

Student representatives Sarah O’Neill and Alyssa Winn presented a few of the activities pertinent at this time.  These included closing term finals, the beginning of spring sports, the approach of the deadline for senior scholarships applications, and the graduation date approaching in 7 weeks. 

Several members of the Committee mentioned the dedication of the Caccavalle Reading Room at Placentino School on Friday.  “This is a very special place,” noted Dr. Jackson, Superintendent.  Terry Caccavalle, who passed away in 2017, was the founder and former director of Holliston’s French immersion program.  In 1979, when the program was founded, Holliston’s demographics were changing. The founders selected French as the language of choice as a nod to the town’s location: Canada to the north and Woonsocket, RI, with its large French-Canadian descent populace to the south.  

Stacey Raffi, Chair, really enjoyed the Rams React play, The Addams Family, presented last week.  Additionally, she mentioned the great work done by the Destination Imagination teams, who won their challenges and will move on in the competition.

Dr. Jackson, along with three other superintendents, served on a leadership panel in Medfield for its teachers’ professional development on Friday.  Additionally, Jackson e-filed the Statement of Interest for Holliston High School to the Massachusetts School Building Authority, electronically signed by him, Raffi, and Jay Marsden, Chair of the Select Board.

Keith Buday, Business Manager for Holliston Public Schools, has submitted a grant application for Public Safety and Community for surveillance cameras.  Based upon the size of the HHS, Holliston may be eligible for up to $60,000 in grant monies.  The news of grant dispersal is April 26, 2019, with monies to be spent by December of 2019. 

The School Start Time sub-committee is continuing its work with a survey to teachers, students, and parents.  Survey feedback, due to the sub-committee by April 12, will be discussed at their next meeting on April 29.   One proposal being considered involves no budget change to present costs, and would change the middle and high schools to a later start time, with Miller School beginning earlier than its present 8:10 AM opening.  Any changes to the school start times will not be effective until the 2020-21 school year.

Anne Louise Hanstad, who chaired the budget sub-committee, gave an update of the budget process.  The Finance Committee asked that sub-committee members prioritize all requests.  Capital requests are not included and are not included.  These are the first 4 priorities:  (Given an approved FY19 budget of $33,632,813)

1.  FY20 Fixed cost increase ($1,214,450)

2.  District-wide behavior inclusion specialist/BCBA ($63,879)

3.  1.0 FTE Adjustment Counselor (HHS) ($61,427)

4. Mood Check: Depression Screening & Prevention program ($50,000)

Total Budget including these priorities: $35,022,569, representing a 4.13% increase.

A vote on the list of priorities (sans capital requests) passed. 

Dr. Jackson highlighted two of four priority areas of the “Accomplishments Against 2018-2019 District-Wide Improvement Goals.”  Innovative Learning Opportunities and Communication were the two areas presented.  A detailed report of all goals was provided to each School Committee member.  Jackson noted that the accomplishments were not his individually, but the result of teams or groups of teachers and administrators working at the school level.  Not only was Jackson proud of their work, but he noted that the work was “accomplished during a year of immense and extraordinary change…It was a tremendous year of change.  Classroom instruction has been enhanced, and opportunities they [students] haven’t had are the results of teachers trying new things.”

An agenda item requested by Dr. Jackson focused on the substitute teacher shortage issue.  His prepared slide presentation defined the problem, identified issues contributing to the problem, outlined steps taken to address the issues, and offered an opportunity for the Committee to brainstorm further options.  Ms Raffi directed this brainstorming session that concluded with her suggestion that an electronic document she intended to create would provide members an opportunity to add further brainstorming thoughts which they would discuss at a May School Committee meeting.

Chair Raffi congratulated student athletes and thanked all involved in the success of the Special Olympics 5 Town School Games Day held on March 22. 

See Holliston Reporter coverage here: http://www.hollistonreporter.com/article/15093/friday-was-very-special.html  

and on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/HollistonReportercom155733254139/photos/?tab=album&album_id=10157105710084140  

Five warrants were approved prior to the meeting’s adjournment.  The School Committee meets again on Thursday, April 25, 2019, at 7 PM in the Holliston High School Library.


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