School Committee Meets
Following a 5:30 PM presentation by Town Administrator Travis Ahern entitled “Evaluating Financial Condition” and a School Committee Executive Session for the purpose of Collective Bargaining with the Holliston Federation of Teachers, SC Chair Cynthia Listewnik opened the open session regular meeting at 7:05 PM. Plans to meet in the HHS Library were thwarted when heating issues “pivoted” the meeting to a remote-only option.
Matthew Baker, Athletic Director, called in and was introduced by Superintendent Dr. Susan Kustka, to provide a brief update on sports at HHS:
- Baker described the situation as “status quo,” with management of the teams occurring on a day-to-day basis;
- Baker voiced his pride in the efforts of the student athletes and the staff to attend to Covid protocols to maintain the sports schedules; and
- Spectators continue to be limited to immediate family.
Dr. Kustka added that there is transmission of Covid virus at the High School, and she requested that student leaders help to get all students on board—all working together to remind each other to wear masks and keep a physical distance, as all transmission of the virus does ultimately affect sports and after school activities. Student Representatives to the SC Roma Patel and Lia Moran reported that absences due to Covid are not disruptive to classes.
Two presentations were scheduled for this evening, one a Special Education Update, the other a review of the Professional Development activities of January 14, 2022.
Kelly Camp, Student Services Director began the mid-year Special Education update by reviewing the current data of services delivered in the district. (See chart below.)
Camp spoke concerning the impact of Covid (see chart below) on the student population as well as action steps being taken to mitigate the effects. These included such items as expanding technology skills for teachers and students to help differentiate instruction and better support students, understanding targeted instruction, and developing needed skills for independence to children at an earlier age. She concluded her report by thanking the staff for their flexibility throughout Covid time—for their “coordination and willingness to be flexible.”
Assistant Superintendent Joanne Menard reviewed the Professional Development activities at each of the schools as well as some district work for counselors, instructors in the performing arts, and the health professionals. Kalise Wornum, Ed.D., of KW Diversity, was a keynote speaker.
Dr. Kustka provided the group with the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) January 18, 2022, changes to the COVID testing programs. (Quoted from the State DESE website: https://www.doe.mass.edu/covid19/testing/default.html by the Holliston Reporter.)
- Districts and schools participating in symptomatic and/or pooled testing may choose to continue those testing strategies and discontinue contact tracing and Test and Stay;
- Districts and schools that elect to make this change will be provided with rapid antigen at-home tests for all participating staff and students that may be used on a weekly basis;
- Districts and schools may elect to switch must complete a brief online survey. Responses by January 21 will be prioritized to being the updated program;
- Districts responding by January 21 will begin receiving tests for staff during the week of January 24 and tests for students during the week of January 31.
Dr. Kustka said that due to the recent surge of COVID cases, Holliston could no longer sustain the contact tracing required by the Test and Stay program. She does recognize that there will be time constraints with the new program as well, due to managing the distribution of testing kits. This procedure will have to be managed with no additional funding or staff. But Kustka said, “We will figure it out,” adding, “More updates should be forthcoming.”
The SC discussed whether to move forward to include the Global Citizenship Program in the Program of Studies for 2022-23. The group voted to approve the idea in concept with further revisions to the language of the description, as the program will not lead to certification or a stamp.
The 2022-23 School Year Calendar was next on the docket, and was tabled until the February meeting. Dr. Kustka will elicit feedback from principals during their meeting next week about effects of particular PD dates in their respective buildings.
Warrants previously signed by SC Chair were reported by Assistant Superintendent Keith Buday in the amounts of School Bill (SB) $194,793.84, SB $195,175.44, Cafeteria Bill (CB) $9839.97, and CB $23,502.96.
The meeting adjourned at 9:22 PM. The next meeting is on Thursday, February 3, 2022.
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