School Committee Meets Thursday Evening

The School Committee meeting was called to order at 7:03 PM on October 8, by Chair Stacey Raffi, following an Executive Session for the purpose of Collective Bargaining.  Visitors to the meeting included Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Michael Cassidy, Board of Health Director Scott Moles, and Director of Athletics, Matt Baker.

Dr. Susan Kustka, Interim Superintendent, provided a review of the past week, explaining that because at least 25% of the town was without power due to a Wednesday evening thunderstorm, school was canceled on Thursday, October 8.  Also this past week Adams Middle School was closed Monday and Tuesday, October 5 and 6, due to a COVID case reported on October 3 by a staff member.  All protocols for this case were strictly followed, including quarantining and testing of those possibly affected as well as contact tracing.  Keith Buday, Business Manager, detailed the deep cleaning procedures added for disinfecting the school in addition to the normal “electrostatic” cleaning.

Baker updated the Committee concerning athletics, which he said were “off to a good start.”  Golf has been practicing for 2 weeks, as well as soccer, field hockey, and cross-country, that Baker said have all gone well.  This weekend, teams are competing within their “pod.”  Baker said, “All are working hard to follow the guidelines.”  Updating the spectator (fan) policy, Baker said that 2 adults per student would be allowed per home game.  This will be equivalent to 40 or fewer spectators. 

Friday, October 9, was a planned early dismissal day for students, as faculty were involved in Professional Development activities for the remainder of the day.  Assistant Superintendent Peter Botelho explained that workshops included Readers’ Workshop practices (elementary staff) and hybrid and remote learning practices (middle school and high school staff). 

Chair Raffi presented the situation for a search for a new Superintendent:  many Superintendents are requesting retirement.  Therefore, multiple districts in the area of Holliston are presently in the same situation as Holliston, that is, searching to replace a Superintendent for the 2021 school year that begins on July 1.  These are the options Raffi presented to the Committee members for their consideration:

  • Conduct a full search;
  • Extend the contract of present Interim Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka;
  • Provide options for community feedback to the School Committee members by Wednesday, October 14:
    • Through Zoom open houses and/or
    • Through outdoor opportunities.

As SC members agreed to host remote open houses and outdoor drop in times, Raffi will post dates and times for these opportunities on the website.  Teachers and staff are encouraged to add their feedback as well as residents.

Click the Download button below to learn more information about how and when you can provide feedback.

Raffi approved the following school bills:  $439,558.84 (of which $16,250.81 is COVID related), $184,460.23 (of which $27,826.86 is COVID related), and $293,818.54 (of which $69,284.21 is COVID related).

The meeting adjourned at 7:56 PM.  The School Committee meets remotely on Thursday, October 14, at 7 PM.

Yvette Cain

1 Comment

  1. Daniel Alfred on October 12, 2020 at 1:07 pm

    The School Committee should absolutely conduct a full and exhaustive search for a permanent superintendent as it promised the community it would do earlier this year when it went forward with an interim search. The fact that a number of other communities will likely be undergoing a simultaneous search should be irrelevant. Holliston has a strong school system and I am sure there will be a large pool of applicants for such an attractive opportunity. For the School Committee to not go forward with a full search with this as the rationale would be implying that we do not believe we are competitive with our neighbors and would be a poor sign to send to the community.

    The fact is, back in the Spring, when undergoing the hasty and narrow search for an interim superintendent, we very likely did not get the same or as many resumes as we would have otherwise received for a permanent superintendent search done earlier in the school year. The School Committee should undergo this search now as was promised then.

    Make no mistake, this should not be viewed as a critique of Dr. Kustka, the current Interim Superintendent. I hope that she applies for the position as part of the full search. However, the School Committee needs to make a decision that will hopefully serve the community (students, parents, AND teachers) well for the next 10+ years. They have nothing to lose by conducting a search. At the end of the search, the School Committee could always just offer to extend Dr. Kustka’s contract if an alternative candidate is not identified. However, it would be unfair to the community for the School Committee to not even look at other candidates and fulfill its promise.

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