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April 5 School Committee Update/Budget#6

by Erica Plunkett 4/6/12


As always, if you know someone you think would be interested in the notes of the School Committee meetings, please forward this on.  If you’d like to be added or removed from the distribution list, please let me know. Town Meeting is Monday, May 7th.  Parents must have a presence at the meeting!  Please, please, mark your calendars.

The meeting opened with the Public Hearing on the FY13 Budget. The only person to address the Committee was Mr. Bill Dowd, who commented on the value the schools bring to the community, by any number of measures, and reminded the Committee of the potential drain the OPEB liability could bring to the school budget and school services.

In opening comments, Dr. Ahern informed the Committee that the first wave of 9th graders who took the Biology MCAS passed.  In fact, 95% scored in the Proficient or Advances category.  The second group will take the test in June.

The first presentation of the evening was by Eliza Dodge and Natasha Ostopovitz, from the recent production of Humans.  They shared the process of developing and presenting this play, and tied in their work to 21st Century Learning Skills (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication).  The Committee congratulates the entire cast and crew of Humans, along with Mr. Brian Hickey and looks forward to next year.

The next presentation of the evening was by Dr. Jackson and was his annual update of the progress made on the Strategic Plan.  This presentation can be found in its entirety early next week on the District website: www.holliston.k12.ma.us.  As a reminder, this is the second Strategic Plan since Dr. Jackson’s arrival in Holliston.  This current one runs from 2010-2015 and his update is the second annual for this plan.  The Strategic Plan has at its core, the student - “Each student achieving at their own, individual, best level of performance in a physically and emotionally safe school environment.”  Surrounding this goal are all the areas necessary to supporting the student:  teachers who have access to a guaranteed and viable curriculum; common formative assessments; and innovative, state-of-the-art instruction.  Teachers need the support of a professional learning community: that is, professional development; communication; resources; and technology.  Driving all this are Holliston’s expectations for excellence in their public schools.   Dr. Jackson’s update is comprehensive and I would urge all interested to review the document.

The School Committee then voted a one-year, unpaid leave of absence for Sheryl Bunker, who is remaining in Europe for the next academic year.

With regard to the FY13 Budget, on Tuesday, March 20, the School Committee presented their voted FY13 Budget to the Finance Committee.  This presentation contains a great deal of contextual information, though while shared in previous years, may be very helpful in as a single resource as community members review the budget prior to Town Meeting.  This presentation can be found at www.holliston.k12.ma.us/FY13.html.

Next Steps in the FY13 Budget process:

Ø  April 26- Budget Discussion, if needed

Ø May 7- Annual Town Meeting- Please make a note on your calendars NOW.  Parents of school-age children must  be represented at Town Meeting.

Lastly, the School Committee voted to approve an overnight field trip request for the HS Varsity Baseball team to visit Cooperstown over April vacation.

The next School Committee meeting is April 26.  Central to the agenda will be establishing the last day of school (without any snow days, the last day is slated to be Friday, June 15th); any discussion or updates to the FY13 Budget; and a comprehensive presentation by Dr. Ahern and Mr. Cournoyer on BYOD.   The next School Committee Office Hours are April 12 from 8-9:30 am at Pejamajo. The last Office Hours of the year will be Thursday, May 3, 1-2 pm at Coffee Haven. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Central Office or any member of the School Committee.  On behalf of the entire Committee, I wish everyone and happy holiday weekend and a fun and restful upcoming Spring Vacation!

Kindest regards,

Erica Plunkett

Chair, Holliston School Committee

DID YOU KNOW?... that there are over 6000 registered voters in Holliston and generally, only about 150 attend Town Meeting?  If you want to help ensure that the Holliston Public Schools remain strong, please plan to attend on Monday, May 7, 7:30 pm in the Holliston High School Auditorium.


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Steve Napolitano
Downtown Marigold Project