School Committee Covers Much Ground

Chair Stacey Raffi called the School Committee to order at 7 PM on Thursday evening.  Members voted to approve meeting minutes from three sessions:  December 12, 2019, January 16 and 24, 2020. 

Student representative Mary DeVoe recognized the efforts of students involved in last weekend’s One Acts, and mentioned Thursday’s Sustainability Coalition’s consignment event as well as the upcoming “I Day” when students and faculty share information about their respective interests. Additionally, the Wrestling team won the TVL Title.  This Friday (Feb. 7) evening, the Girls Varsity Basketball plays at 6:30 PM against Ashland in Holliston, and the Boys Varsity Basketball plays against (and at) Ashland at 6:30 PM. 

Among other events and items of interest, Lisa Kocian mentioned her first visit as liaison to Diverse Holliston, Anne Louise Hanstad offered “Designer Bag Bingo” set for March 20, and Dawn Neborsky offered the 5th Grade Play on February 11-12.  February 13 is Open House at HHS.  Stacey Raffi noted the approach of the 100th day of school, as well as her attendance at the Affordable Housing Committee meeting chaired by Mary Greendale. 

Other events highlighted by Brad Jackson, Superintendent, included the Service Learning Showcase, and MIAA National Girls and Women in Sports Day at Faneuil Hall February 7, attended by outstanding athletes and leaders Jackie Alibrandi and Bella Bergloff.

Two presentations were made during the meeting; the first by representatives from the YMCA, Heidi Kaufman, Executive Director of Education, and Richard MacPherson, President and CEO of MetroWest YMCA. 

Kaufman presented possible scenarios for childcare during the 2020-21 school year.  Centered at the Christ the King Church facility, the program concepts including hours, interests, and focus areas (i.e., traditional versus thematic) will be determined following a brief survey of Holliston parents soon to be available.   Transportation would also be available.  Fall registration could begin this spring.

MacPherson spoke about the background of the MetroWest YMCA, and added that a new facility is planned for a site in Ashland. 

Discussion and a Q & A by the School Committee followed.  Dr. Jackson encouraged both Kaufman and MacPherson to continue their efforts to bring a YMCA childcare option to Holliston.

The second presentation, “The Future of Holliston High School: Continuing the Community Conversation,” was delivered by Jackson.  This presentation highlighted the Superintendent’s rationale for submitting a second Statement of Interest (SOI) to the MA School Building Authority (MSBA) in April 2020.  

Beginning with a review of the history of the HHS building, Jackson then noted present infrastructure needs.  He examined contrasts between the 1969 and 2020 programs of study, and then highlighted the differing needs of the 21st Century learner.  This information led Jackson to recommend that planning the future of HHS is important.  Submitting a Statement of Interest to the MSBA in order to collect data and gain a partner seemed a viable route.

If accepted by the MSBA, the Statement of Interest would ultimately lead to the generation of a final report containing multiple options for the community’s consideration.

The School Committee had already voted to authorize the Superintendent’s submission of a SOI.  The Select Board must also vote to authorize the SOI prior to a submission.  April 8, 2020 is the deadline for such submission.

Cynthia Listewnik, Chair of the Policy Subcommittee, presented the second read of New Policy JFABE, “Educational Opportunities for Military Children,” by highlighting changes. The Committee voted to approve the Policy as amended, and waived a third reading.

In old business, Dr. Jackson provided a School Start Times Implementation Update.  Extended Day programming has increased its capacity by 100 students.  A “Bridge Program” will be offered that will begin at the end of Miller School’s day and go to the end of Placentino’s day (accounting for 80 minutes).  The traditional Extended Day program will continue. 

Jackson is encouraged by the presentation of a childcare program by the MetroWest YMCA.  He foresees the Y program and the Extended Day program “complementing one another—not competing with one another.”  Information about these programs will be sent to parents soon.

In new business, Jackson presented his FY21 Budget of $36.390,307. to the School Committee.  This represents an increase of $1,443,044 over the FY20 approved budget of $34,947,263.  (Fixed cost increases of $949,920 and initiatives recommended by Jackson totaled $494,124.) 

The Budget Sub-committee of the SC will present its recommended FY21 Budget at the next meeting of the School Committee on February 27, at 7 PM, HHS Library.  

Warrants totaling $683,745.93 were approved.   The meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM. 

Yvette Cain

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