Archive 2008 - 2019

School Committee Plans for School Start Time Forum

by Yvette Cain

The first meeting following the School Committee’s summer break not only entertained an ambitious agenda, but also necessitated an evacuation when a fault in the fire alarm panel triggered an alarm.

School Committee waits outside for All Clear from Chief Cassidy

Following opening welcome back comments to members and visitors, Chair Stacey Raffi elicited Public Comments.  Three people came forward to share their announcements and concerns:  Carrie Marsh Loscocco of 182 Highland Street, Lisa Taylor of 13 Dixon Circle, and Dan Alfred of 315 High Street.

Carrie Marsh Loscocco

Ms Loscocco requested “a more equitable solution” to the 2020-2021 School Start times, focusing on the 7:30 AM start time for Miller School.  Mr. Alfred thanked the Committee for “seeking a neutral cost solution to the school start time issue,” and recommended that the Committee go forward with its decision.

Dan Alfred

Lisa Taylor

Ms. Taylor spoke of the Holliston Music and Arts Parents Association that supplies teacher grants and contributes to all of the arts.  “We put fun into all the schools!” exclaimed Ms. Taylor.  She directed the public to the HMAPA website and Facebook page, both of which provide membership details.   “There are a lot of good fundraisers coming,” said Taylor, including at Celebrate Holliston.

With a slight alteration of agenda items, Chair Raffi then suggested October 10, 2019, at 7:00 PM in the HHS auditorium for the Public Forum on School Start Times.  The format will include Dr. Judith Owens, MD MPH, Director of Sleep Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, followed by a “Question and Answer” period.  This plan was approved.

Dr. Brad Jackson, Superintendent of Schools, introduced the principals of each of the four Holliston Schools, present to share their school-based goals for the 2019-20 school year: Innovative Learning Opportunities, Social/Emotional Health of Students/Staff, Teaching All Students, and Communication.  Each principal spoke to the goals, displaying various presentation slides of information and photos exhibits of these goals in progress.

Jaime Slaney, Principal of Placentino School

Jaime Slaney, Principal of Placentino School, highlighted the school wide STREAM unit (Science, Technology, Reading, Engineering, Art , and Math) that is “building students’ knowledge of pollinators and their habitats.”

David Keim, Principal of Miller School

David Keim, Principal of Miller School, included the work by the Leadership Team pertaining to the book Culturize, by Jimmy Casas, which Keim highly recommended.

David Jordan, Principal of Adams Middle School

David Jordan, Principal of Adams Middle School, spoke to the importance of having a consistent school philosophy: “Personal—Local—Global,” as well as their having a pilot team of educators to align innovative learning toward this philosophy.

Nicole Bottomley, HHS Principal

Nicole Bottomley, HHS Principal, highlighted work of the Future Ready Coalition to finalize the “Vision of a Graduate.”  This vision will be shared with the community and will be used to conduct a comprehensive review of HHS graduation requirements. 

Superintendent Jackson presented his plan for addressing the substitute teacher shortage noted last year, especially at HHS.  The plan is comprised of four focus areas, and includes a 2019-2020 action plan for each: 

  1. Increasing the number of substitute teachers available for assignment.  To this end, Jackson held an Open House on Sept. 5, 2019, attended by 56 people.  As of Thursday, 12 new substitutes have been vetted. 
  2. Minimizing Teacher Absences.  Jackson has been analyzing HHS teacher absence data and has found the HHS absence rates are at or below rates from other districts.
  3. Substitute Plans.  Through a survey of HHS students in June 2019, Jackson learned that a majority (83%) of students indicated that their teachers left them “digital lessons that you can complete independently.”  Part of the action plan for this point includes: “Increase administration’s supervision of cafeteria and other larger spaces where students are assigned when their teacher is absent to monitor quality of the instructional plans.”
  4. Student Work Spaces.  The aforementioned student survey indicated that 28% of the students did not “have access to all the materials needed to complete their assignments.” 

A 2019-2020 Survey is planned it determine the effectiveness of changes made this year and determine what may still be needed.  The Committee thanked Jackson for his efforts in this area.

In a first projection for “FY20 September Financial Report,” prepared by Keith Buday, Business Manager, showed a $183,466 budget balance, explained that paraprofessional payroll was not yet part of the data.  Additionally, there had been an “unplanned number of resignations and retirements.” Buday cautioned, “There may be subsequent expenses supporting these new staff members.”

The SC Budget Sub-committee presented its October 2020 Capital Request, totaling  $542,952.20, which includes literacy materials ($350.000.) and vape detectors ($38,418). This total figure was approved (Cynthia Listewnik abstained).

Six warrants were approved.  The next School Committee meeting will be on October 24, 2019 at 7 PM in the HHS Library.  A reminder:  School Start Time Forum will be October 10, 2019, at 7PM in the HHS Auditorium.