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Preparing for MCAS 2.0, Student in the News, Budget Update, New Policy Approved, Recycling Efforts

by Lisa Kocian

School Committee Newsletter  Issue #8 -- March 16, 2017

In This Issue: Preparing for MCAS 2.0, Student in the News, Budget Update, New Policy Approved, Recycling Efforts

Preparing for MCAS 2.0

In November 2015, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to approve the statewide transition to the "next-generation MCAS" (MCAS 2.0) tests across Massachusetts. The next-generation tests have been in development since then. Dr. Sara Ahern, assistant superintendent, presented to the School Committee an update on the status of statewide testing and how it will affect Holliston schools at the March 2nd meeting.

The presentation provided the community with an update on Spring 2017 testing, which primarily impacts ELA (English Language Arts) and mathematics testing for grades 3-8. Dr. Ahern highlighted changes to the test design, including the types of questions students can expect, and she reviewed the new features and tools students will use in the computer-based format (being experienced in grades 4, and 6-8). She highlighted the preparation steps that schools are taking to familiarize students and staff with the new tests and discussed what parents can expect for reporting of results in the fall.  

Lastly, Dr. Ahern reviewed future changes that will be coming for Science, Technology, and Engineering and High School testing. To see the complete presentation, please click here.

Holliston Student in the News

Holliston High School senior Kit Hong-Long will be the star of an upcoming WCVB Channel 5 “A+ Student” segment. Kit is active in Model U.N. and has been accepted to Harvard College, but to find out more about this incredible student, tune in March 22, to the 5 p.m. newscast.

Budget Update

On March 2, the School Committee voted on its preliminary budget, which was presented to the Finance Committee on March 7. In its presentation to the Finance Committee, the Budget Subcommittee acknowledged that the recommended budget was over the 1% guideline, which was not meant as an indication of disrespect toward the Finance Committee, the guideline, or other town departments.  Instead, the School Committee views its approved budget as a starting point in ongoing discussions of a finalized budget. The Budget Subcommittee explained that to maintain level service (the status quo), the budget would require 1.9% over last year. In order to include the restorations of services and materials and implement essential strategic initiatives -- such as a school psychologist, a director of digital learning, intervention support, and building supplies and materials -- the School Committee is recommending a budget of $33,147,706, a 3.9% increase over the FY17 budget voted by Town Meeting.

The Finance Committee and School Committee will continue discussions on the budget in the coming weeks. The School Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget on Thursday, April 6, 2017, in the Holliston High School library, at 7:00 p.m. The public is invited and encouraged to attend.

Our agendas, meeting minutes, and policies are available on our web site at

Feel free to contact any committee member with questions or comments. Please note we all have new email addresses:

Anne Louise Hanstad, Chair      

Stacey Raffi, Vice Chair               

Martha Devoe                       

Lisa Kocian                                 

Cynthia Listewnik                  

Andy Morton                          

Joan Shaughnessy