The School Committee Calls Recess

Thursday night’s School Committee meeting didn’t end at 10:41 PM; members took a recess until Monday afternoon at 3 PM when they’ll meet again to strike the last few items from the agenda.

As evidenced by the photo above, the meeting was chock full of School Committee members, administrators, and many guests.  This evening included goodbyes to two members of the Holliston Public Schools leaving on July 1:  Meg Camire, out-going Director of Student Services, and Dr. Brad Jackson, out-going Superintendent. 

The meeting was opened at 7:04 PM by Vice-Chair, Anne Louise Hanstad, and the reading of the remote participation statement for open meeting was shared.  Individual members of the School Committee (SC) shared thanks to teachers, administrators, and all HPS employees, and Chair Stacey Raffi read the following list of those retiring this year:

  • Carlene McGorty – Placentino special education preschool teacher- 21 years
  • Martha Stering – Miller School Writing Enrichment – 13 years
  • Cindy Spino- Miller School – 4th grade teacher – 29 years
  • Laurie O’Rourke- RAMS 6th grade English teacher – 28 years
  • Karen Blackeny- HHS- Math Department teacher – 26 years
  • Eileen Harvey- Miller School -Student Services Administrator

Keith Buday, Business Manager, shared that the lunch program during the past three months provided lunch and breakfasts to over 100 children.  The program ends on June 20, but will be reevaluated at that time concerning its future. 

Four residents had called in to remotely participate and share individual public comment.  Frank Sobchak advocated pushing back against the “1 size fits all” plan of State guidelines; Kristen Stetzel was grateful for summer reading lists from Placentino, Miller, and Adams for being current and diverse; Anne Marie Dorning asked the School Committee to reconsider the HHS revised pass/fail grading policy; and Alicia Thomas asked for more multicultural and inclusive curriculum.

Meg Camire shared a long list of titles of professional development sessions that had been recently attended by paraprofessionals.  The above “name cloud” was shared on screen so that those attending could view the vast number of support people who work with Holliston children. 

In addition to thanks and good wishes from members of the School Committee and administration, many guests had gathered to thank Camire for her work.  Jackson commended Camire for her “wise counsel and brilliant thinking. 

The Committee as well as his administrative colleagues saluted Jackson.  Many were very emotional in describing their professional relationship with Jackson.  Colleagues thanked him especially for the time he had spent in Holliston away from his family during his 16-year tenure—including all the time in commuting. The gift from the group included some Shawsheen Tech “casual Friday” shirts and hat that he could sport in his new position as Superintendent-Director of the Shawsheen Valley Technical H.S.

Building principals also delivered brief presentations as an “end of year wrap up” to the SC. 

  • Dr. Jaime Slaney, Placentino Principal introduced a website for Pre-K through Grade 5 of learning ideas and activities for all during the summer months.  (See website Summer Learning)
  • Dr. David Keim, Miller Principal spoke about the importance of creating family time this summer as well as new summer traditions. 
  • Dr. David Jordan, Adams Principal, thanked all of the paraprofessionals and looked forward to extending the theme of Personal/Local/Global. 
  • Nicole Bottomley, HHS Principal, reflected on ways the memorable events looked different this year, but said they were “still powerful, positive aspects” of students’ education.

In New Business, Bottomley also presented 5 amendments to the HHS Student Handbook for the 2020-21 school year:

  • The elimination of the Quality Point Average/decile ranking of students;
  • The change to 3.5 Grade Point Average to receive letter/application to National Honor Society. 
  • The removal of number of excused absences for college visits for Juniors and Seniors;
  • The elimination of $5.00 fee and waiting period for transcripts to colleges; and
  • The elimination of number of absences leading to loss of credit. 

The School Committee voted unanimously to approve all Handbook amendments.

Cynthia Lestewnik presented two policies—an amendment to Policy JKAA, “Restraint of Students,” that the SC voted to approve, and a first reading of a new policy, Policy JBD, “Gender Identity Support.”  The new “Gender Identity Support” Policy both organizes and strengthens existing practice, making sure both students and staff are protected.  As this was a first read, SC members will continue discussion at another meeting before a vote is taken.

Lestewnik also apprised the Committee of progress in the Succession Plan for Superintendent.  The job description was posted on May 29, as of closing date of June 12, 28 applications were received.  Nine candidates have been selected for preliminary interviews that will begin next week. Final interviews with those selected will be interviewed (Zoom open meeting) as early as next week.

In Old Business, Jackson presented a short COVID19 Update.  Waiting for the recommendations from the State Department of Education, Jackson met with the Commissioner and other superintendents.  The Commissioner gave initial thinking, and Jackson is hopeful for good guidance. 

Jackson also shared the document below that provides statistics gathered from each grade level for student interaction with the remote learning program.  Additionally, a K-12 Survey has been sent to homes.

Ann Louise Hanstad, Chair of the Budget Sub-Committee, said the Sub Committee will meet next Wednesday, and the SC will vote next week on the budget.  Monies from the CARES Act to Holliston amount to the full reimbursement requested:  $1,317,137. 

Many items remained on the agenda, so the Committee voted to go into recess and resume the meeting on Monday, June 22, at 3:00 PM. 

Yvette Cain

1 Comment

  1. James Edwards on June 29, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    Holliston High School is one of if not the very BEST high school in all of Middlesex County.

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