School Committee: November 18, 2021 Meeting

Chair Cynthia Listewnik opened the Thursday evening (11.18.21) meeting of the School Committee (SC) to face masked participants in the Holliston High library and to remote viewers watching the HCAT livestream.  All members of the School Committee were present.

The SC approved minutes of the following regular session meetings:  April 27, May 20, July 29, August 26, and October 14, 2021.  Listewnik introduced two incoming SC student representatives from Holliston High, Leah Moran (left above) and Roma Patel (right above).  Both seniors are members of the Student Advisory Council (SAC).  These two students proceeded to announce upcoming events at HHS.  Joel Bernstein, advisor to the SAC, accompanied Moran and Patel this evening.

Following brief comments by individual SC members, the public was able to participate in public comments through a previously announced call-in option.  All callers were provided a 2-minute limit on comments.  Three callers, Jeff Gardella, Brittany Miller, and Susan Rose, shared concern about the mandating of facemarks and/or vaccines. Gardella supported parents making these decisions.  Miller mentioned the pressure exerted in the use of mandates. Rose feared that schools will lose teachers if mandates are enacted.  Joe Lima spoke to the need to attend to students’ social and emotional needs through talking, turning down the temperature, and helping those in need.  Dan Alfred spoke, commending the “firm and prudent stand on vaccines and masks” taken by the Holliston Public Schools (HPS). 

Presentations began with Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka introducing the District Wide Improvement Goals for 2021-22.  These included the Mission, the Vision, and the Beliefs of the HPS (below).

The Theme of the year is “Building Bridges to Equity Together.” This theme is comprised of four focus areas:  Innovative Teaching and Learning Opportunities;  Teaching All Students; Equitable, Safe and Supportive Schools; and Communication.  Each of the building principals provided an overview of ways the focus areas are working in their school.

In sub-committee reports:

  • Catherine Sevard announced that the Policy sub-committee will meet on November 23, 2021, to discuss updating the face coverings policy (EBCFA). Sevard spoke to the numerous aspects of making any change to the present policy. 
  • Dawn Naborsky reported the communications sub-committee did not have a newsletter to review at this time.
  • Lisa Kocian said the budget subcommittee will be meeting early in December.
  • Stacey Raffi noted the Superintendent’s Evaluation subcommittee was waiting for information from tonight’s meeting to plan a date for its December meeting.

In old business, Dr. Kustka provided an update on the present vaccination status:

  • In partnership with the town of Ashland, 265 Holliston Public School students age 5-11 were vaccinated in the recent clinic held at Ashland High School.  The next COVID vaccination clinic for children 5-11 will be on December 1. Dr. Kustka was very appreciative of great community partners and volunteers, especially noting the aid of Ashland Police Sgt. Ed Burman.
  • The following are present vaccination rates:
    • District staff 96%
    • Adams Middle School 61%
    • Grade 6  16%
    • Grade 7   84%
    • Grade 8   84%
    • Holliston High School  88%
    • Grade 9   87%
    • Grade 10   85%
    • Grade 11   91%
    • Grade 12   88%

Dr. Kustka said, “We’ve made great progress!”

In New Business:

  • Keith Buday, Assistant Superintendent, provided an update on 2021-22 enrollment, noting that the greatest increase was in the Pre-Kindergarten group, but a large increase is also present with the grade 9 group. 
  • The group viewed a draft of the FY23 Budget Development Calendar.
  • The group began looking at possible conflicts to avoid in the creation of a 2022-23 School Calendar. 
  • Ms. Joanne Menard, Assistant Superintendent, provided a list of activities in which staff engaged during the October 8 Professional Development Day.
  • The SC heard and approved the request for early graduation from present Junior Kiley MacLeod (photo below).  McCloud has met the criteria for early graduation and will fulfill her 1 English and 1 Physical Education credit remaining in her second semester.  She plans to apply to University of California- Santa Cruz.  Dr. Kustka requested that McCloud return to let the group know how her pursuits unfold. 
Kiley MacLeod

Warrants signed by Chair Listewnik included the following: 

  • Cafeteria Revolving Account $12,899.57 and $30,119.04
  • School Bills $267,464.54, $245,951.66, $290,040.40, $49,048.59, $247,978.46, and $8,151.46
  • Revolving account $4,987.74

The meeting was adjourned at 10:04 PM.  The next meeting of the School Committee is Thursday, December 9, 2021, at 7 PM.

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Yvette Cain