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Holliston Public Schools School Committee News

by Stacey Raffi
School Committee Newsletter --  Issue #6  March 17, 2016


In March alone, Holliston Schools were recognized by a local newspaper for their creative use of technology in the classroom not once, but twice.

Google visited the Adams Middle School as part of its Expeditions Pioneer Program, an introduction to virtual reality in the classroom.  At no cost to Holliston, students “visited“ Iceland, Egypt, Cambodia, and the Guggenheim Museum. To read more in the Metrowest Daily News, click here:

In another article, Holliston’s new blog on “Digital Learning” is featured. The blog covers topics like a new computer science class at the high school, “Book Reports 2.0,” coding for Placentino students, and using digital portfolios in a Wellness course to track health and fitness goals.

Panther Pride!

Our High School athletes and fans received an enormous compliment this past week from rival community and ultimately The Boston Globe. At a playoff basketball game, our Panthers
were losing to Concord­Carlisle by 30 points at halftime. The game could have become ugly;
instead both sides displayed stellar sportsmanship. As Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham wrote,
the chants from the two teams were full of respect, with Concord­Carlisle fans yelling, “You guys
are chill!” Holliston fans responded, “We respect you!” Then, all the fans together sang “Sweet
Caroline” and “Don’t Stop Believin’.” Athletic Director Matt Baker told Ms. Abraham: “We were
blown away... We always talk to our kids about sportsmanship, and it was gratifying to know
they were listening.”

Rumor Control

Is there something wrong with the HHS Rowles Field House floor?

There are a couple of issues with the flooring and we have added it to the capital improvements list, while we also keep an eye on it for safety.

The flooring in the field house is a synthetic product called Mondo, which was installed in 2000 as part of the high school renovation. It was chosen because we needed something that could withstand the many different types of traffic the field house sees. In addition to basketball and track, we use the field house for wellness classes, as well as many town and school events.

The warranty on the floor was five years, with a life expectancy of 15 to 20+ years, depending on its use.

The key problem right now is associated with the portable bleachers. In order for the field house to have a competition track and three full court basketball courts, permanent bleachers could not be attached to the walls. Thus, the School Building Committee chose portable bleachers instead. The Mondo flooring has always given a little when we move the bleachers, but now it moves more noticeably and has become an issue. Over the winter we tried to move the bleachers less frequently, but over the long term, we will have to consider either replacing the floor or installing permanent bleachers -- the latter choice would mean giving up the competition track..

Strategic Plan Approved

On March 17, the Holliston School Committee approved a five­-year strategic plan for the district. This plan was the result of many months of research and work from a cross-­sectional group of parents, administrators, community members, and leaders.  Their mission  was to form a longer­ term strategic direction, from which the district will draw in the year­-to­-year goal setting process. The plan formulation included gathering data from a wide ­ranging community survey, getting input from educational leaders, and studying the strategic plans of other districts across the Commonwealth and beyond.

Based on this extensive research and synthesis of the community survey, this Committee developed a plan based on one over­arching strategic goal around student outcomes, which dictates that we deliver challenging, comprehensive, standards-­based educational programs that support each student’s academic, social and emotional growth to prepare each to be civic minded citizens who are college, career and life ready.

This goal is supported by five priorities, each with enumerated goals and focus areas: (1) social and emotional well being; (2) technology; (3) talent and resources; (4) communication and (5) funding and resources.

Each year, the Holliston Public Schools and each building­’s administrative team formulate a slate of SMART (Specific Measureable Attainable Relevant Time­Bound) goals as a focus for that academic year. Going forward, these goals will be aligned with the five priority areas outlined above. These goals are then presented to the School Committee each year and posted to the district website.

Important Budget Dates

  • Thursday, April 7 -- Public Hearing on the proposed school budget (7 p.m., HHS Library)
  • Thursday, April 28 -- Budget discussion @ our regular meeting
  • Thursday, May 5 -- Budget discussion @ our regular meeting
  • Monday, May 9 -- Annual Town Meeting begins, 7:30 p.m., HHS Auditorium
  • Tuesday, May 24 -- Annual Town Election, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m., HHS

School Committee Office Hours

The School Committee schedules opportunities for Holliston residents to meet with Committee members to ask questions or provide feedback about district-specific issues through "office hours."  Our office hours are held periodically throughout the year at local venues (Holliston Public Library, local restaurants, etc.) and are held both in the morning and in the evening to accommodate various schedules. We announce office hours at our Thursday night meetings and via our newsletter,, Back-Pack Express on the district website, and Holliston groups on Facebook.  

Saturday, April 9, 8:30-10:30 a.m. @ Coffee Haven on Railroad St.

School Committee Members
School Committee members are Holliston residents who are elected to three-year terms.  All Massachusetts School Committees have three main purviews:

  1. Hire and evaluate the Superintendent
  2. Prepare and approve a school budget, which is subject to final approval by the town
  3. Create and amend policies

Our agendas, meeting minutes, and policies are available on our web site.                      
Feel free to contact any committee member with questions or comments.

Carol Emmons, Chair:                                                                                   Anne Louise Hanstad, Vice Chair:   
Lisa Kocian:
Cynthia Listewnik:
Andy Morton: 
Stacey Raffi:
Joan Sousa: