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School Committee Meeting April 25, 2019

by Yvette Cain
April 27, 2019

Subbing in for Chair Stacey Raffi who is away at Nature’s Classroom, Ann Louise Hanstad called the meeting to order promptly at 7 PM.  Opening comments were shared by student representatives who briefly listed a few upcoming activities, including Junior class career panels, the Junior Scavenger hunt, Senior decision day, and a spring play. Among the items presented by committee members were recognition of the Walking School Bus, upcoming concerts and arts presentations, the recent and successful Washington, D.C. 8th grade trip, Nature’s Classroom, and a $10,000 grant awarded to a team of middle school students who produced a video of their project for Biogenetics.

 

Administrator comments included Dr. Brad Jackson’s acknowledgment of the Bill Wechsler 5K walk/race for ALS, that will occur on Saturday, May 11 at the Middle School.  More information may be found on Facebook.  Peter Botelho, Assistant Superintendent, attended a Metrowest job fair held this week at Hopkinton HS that attracted over 50 candidates.  Keith Buday, Business Manager, spoke to the aftermath of the concession stand fire of Sunday, April 21, reporting that preapproval for repair of the score board would have it up and working on Monday, as well as track equipment being purchased so that the team would be prepared.  Additionally, a new assistant principal, Christopher Cook, from Pennsylvania, will join the high school administration team, replacing Patrick Kelly.  Cook will oversee grades 9 and 11.

Dr. Tracey Gladstone presented a spring update on the 2018-2019 outcomes of the Mood Check program.  This depression screening program, in its second year in Holliston, works with students presently in grades 7, 9, and 11.  (Last year’s contingent is now in grades 8, 10, and 12.)  Various data points were shared that supported that teens seem to appeal for help much more frequently to an outside team thank to school staff or peers.  Mental health literacy increased and the stigma frequently attached to illness decreased according to Gladstone’s study.  Additionally, very few parents opted their child out of the program, and in follow up feedback from parents, all comments were very positive about the program.  To conclude, Gladstone shared some anecdotes (maintaining anonymity of all involved) that supported the positive nature of interactions of students and the program.

Committee members reported that their recent “coffee hours” at various locations did not attract residents.  Earlier in the school year coffee hours drew many interested parents, especially of incoming kindergarteners. 

The budget sub-committee for FY20 will meet again next week prior to the Town Meeting on May 6.  Members anticipated that they would approve the Finance Committee’s recommendations.  They were most appreciative for the FinCom’s early recommendations to support many of their new initiatives, including but not limited to new Chrome books, pilot literacy materials, surveillance cameras and other safety and security equipment, a high top wheelchair van and wheelchair ramp, and asphalt repair to the Placentino/Miller complex. 

In new business, June 18 was approved as the last day of Holliston’s school year.  Keith Buday reported on school choice seats for the coming year.  He shared in a meeting with principals the projections of student population.  For the 2019-20 school year, the committee approved the placement of 7 kindergarten seats, 1 first grade and 1 French immersion grade 1 seat, 4 third grade seats, 3 fourth grade seats, and 6 seats in the high school.   This June, 14 choice students will graduate

The committee approved the salvage (and therefore removal from inventory) of 3 school district vehicles that have been out of service for several years. 

Six warrants were approved for the month of April. 

The next meeting of the School Committee is next Thursday, May 2, 7 PM, in the high school library. 

 

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