School Committee Meets In-Person with Remote Call-Ins
The School Committee (SC) met for executive and regular sessions on Thursday, December 9, 2021. Chair Cynthia Listewnik called the open meeting to order shortly after 7 PM, with all members present, and the membership unanimously voted to approve for posting the minutes of several past meetings.
Student representatives Roma Patel provided upcoming Holliston High School dates and activities:
- Band Concert December 14
- Chorus Concert December 21
- Winter Sports – first games to occur soon.
A group of faculty from HHS presented the SC their work toward “A Global Citizenship Program” related to the Vision of a Graduate already in place at the High School. Doug Calais introduced the presenting group that included Erika Calais, Kaitlin Mills, and Nicole Bottomley, Principal. (See photo above.) This program, designated as such presently rather than “endorsement,” will be presented to the SC for its approval during the January meeting. A portfolio and capstone project are anticipated as components of the final program. SC member Stacey Raffi voiced her excitement to the presenters.
A public comment was shared by Susan Rose. She asked that the SC include parents as in-person participants to future SC meetings. Presently, the public may only comment through calling into the meeting.
Assistant Superintendent Joanne Menard (above, center) delivered a presentation to the SC on student assessment. The assessments for students vary by subject area and grade level. Areas assessed (depending on grade level) include English Language Arts, mathematics, science and technology. Menard reviewed the frequency and analysis of assessments. Additionally, she listed ways the assessment data is being used by the district and classroom teachers. She concluded by sharing student achievement levels over the past 2-4 years. This information will help to identify students needing intervention, a path that American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding will support. Eventually, these data will lead to an analysis of the curriculum and how to change it.
Dan MacLeod (above photo), Director of Technology and Digital Learning, presented slides to describe the focus areas in technology for the coming year: Digital Learning, Communications, and Infrastructure. Google and Clever are two programs utilized for digital learning. The Bright Arrow program used for communications will be evaluated, and other communication products this year. Additionally, infrastructure is constantly evaluated to pinpoint needed improvements. MacLeod noted three new hires in the technology department: Camille Desravines, RAMS Technology Support Specialist; Julie Marshall, Data Systems Specialist; and Elizabeth Malinn, Placentino Technology Support Specialist. (See photo below.)
Dr. Susan Kustka, Superintendent, provided percentages of students vaccinated in a COVID update:
- Placentino Elementary 52%
- Miller Elementary 57%
- Robert Adams Middle 76%
- HHS 87%
Additionally, she estimates that 97-98% of the staff has been vaccinated. Kustka also noted that pool testing continues, but the percentage of students being tested can be improved. She and Keith Buday, Assistant Superintendent, talked about continued vigilance of ventilation in classes, other spaces, and buses. Chair Listewnik reminded all that the Ashland MBTA commuter rail is a drive-through COVID 19 testing site. (For more information: https://www.ashlandmass.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=444 ) Appointments are not necessary but may be made. Additionally, Dr. Kustka said that the schools continue pool testing, and although the signups are 50% or more, the turnout is not great.
Buday (above) began discussion of the FY23 budget by sharing the expected increases and decreases in several non- special education and non- payroll budget drivers. Future segments of the budget discussion will contain either the payroll or the special education drivers.
Chair Listewnik listed warrants she had signed on the Committee’s behalf. These included school bills of $56,501.05, $438,848.40, and $189,087.16; a cafeteria revolving account $37,171.08, another revolving account of $6,615.56.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:22 PM, with the next meeting planned for January 6, 2022!
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