Archive 2008 - 2019

August 22, 2013 School Committee Meeting

by Erica Plunkett

Also welcomed were new Student Representatives to the Committee, Shelby Cheever and Ben Patterson.  Both are seniors and the Committee looks forward to their participation this year.  Dr. Jackson went on to thank HCAT for the three new remote cameras installed in the HHS library.  Hopefully, this significant investment of funds will result in improved video quality of School Committee meetings, as well as provide instructional opportunities during the school day (Can’t make it to the HHS library on Thursday nights? Did You Know that School Committee meetings are now available via streaming on the HCAT website? You can watch all the excitement from the comfort of your home, in your jammies with a bowl of popcorn! Go to: 

Dr. Jackson also noted the progress being made on the new HABA concession stand at the HHS field and indicated there is still ongoing conversation with the Board of Health on installing water in the facility.  Dr. Ahern commented on the success of the day-long New Teacher Orientation for the 25 individuals new to the Holliston Schools.  In addition to remarks from the administrative team, sharing District philosophy, beliefs, and goals; a presentation on town benefits; and, a welcome from the Holliston Federation of Teachers, new this was a bus tour of Holliston.  This tour introduced these folks to the community and was hosted by Paul LeBeau, Town Administrator.  Mr. LeBeau shared the history and highlights, and even new teachers who are residents were glad to learn some things.  The day ended with new teachers back in their buildings, having lunch with their mentors, and being updated on building procedures by their Principals.  

The first presentation of the evening was made by Dr. Jackson, who introduced the new members of the Holliston Administrative Team:  Ms. Kelly Camp joins the Adams school as the new Student Services Administrator; Ms. Susan Gleason joins the Placentino school as the new Assistant Principal; Ms. Eileen Harvey is at the Miller school as the new Student Services Administrator; and Mr. David Jordan joins the Adams school as the new Assistant Principal.  As well, former teacher Brenda Maurao joins the Miller School as the new Assistant Principal and Nicole Bottomley will be serving as Interim Principal at HHS.  Please add your welcome to them as you cross their paths.  Their leadership skills are a great addition to the District and we are glad to have them here!

Dr. Jackson also reported on the new Teacher hires this summer.  Holliston has 25 new teachers, all replacing retirees or resignations and Dr. Jackson shared their new assignments and their educational backgrounds with the Committee.  As of the Thursday meeting, there were still two openings, but strong candidates were in the running for both positions.  In the Opening Day Readiness Report, Dr. Jackson characterized the summer as very short and very busy, having shared all the information around new hiring and the concession stand project.  The schools have been cleaned and the grounds tidied, despite the Highway Departments short staffing levels due to illness.  There are a few Paraprofessional Teacher openings, but Dr. Jackson anticipates these will be filled by Labor Day.

Dr. Ahern then presented a preview of the first Professional Day, which will take place on Friday, August 30.  This is a District-wide day for teachers, focusing exclusively on the New Educator Evaluation system wihich Holliston is mandated to begin implementing this year (it was piloted last year with a group of teacher volunteers).  While Holliston is required to provide this training, Dr. Ahern also stressed the importance of giving teachers the tools they need to initiate this process.  The day will be structured around the following objectives:

·         To orient/remind faculty of the new MA system for educator evaluation

·         To develop a deeper understanding among faculty of the new educator rubrics via Holliston’s Eight Priority Elements

·         To assist individuals and teams in the process of self-assessment

·         To assist individuals and teams in the development of SMARTer goals

As a reminder to the community, this new system also applies to all administrators (including Principals and the Superintendent). Committee member Ian Kelly, a standing Principal who has already implemented the system in his District, commended Dr. Ahern on the upcoming day and agreed to its importance in getting this new system up and running properly.

Next on the agenda, in anticipation of October Town Meeting, Mr. Buday presented an initial review of the FY14 Capital Plan, summarizing the last three years:

1.      FY11 included a number of technology infrastructure items, CAD labs, telephones for a total of $164K

2.      FY12 included a wheelchair bus and teacher laptops for a total of $126K

3.      FY13 included a special appropriation in May for the gym floor at Adams ($236K) and in the fall, $70K for additional technology items and the cafeteria walls at Placentino/Miller

This year, the theme of the latest request is to address a number of items as our buildings age, as well as technology.  The priority list compiled by administrators is as follows:

Technology Infrastructure ($56K total):

·         Data Server (HHS)- $6K (replacing a six-year old Gateway server)

·         Switches (P/M)- $50K (1G to the desktop and setting up for wireless)

Classroom Technology ($307.3K total):

·         Monitors (District)- $54K (eliminating 540 CRTs)

·         Desktops (HHS)- $14.4K (Special Ed classrooms)

·         Fitnessgram (HHS)- $4.5K (would provide K-12 Fitnessgram site license)

·         Foreign Language Lab (HHS)- $60K (nearing the end of its useful life; Holliston is the foreign language District in Massachusetts and a language lab allows teachers to evaluate in real time)

·         Teacher laptops (HHS)- $12.1K (the originals are 4 years old, this is half the number of originals)

·         Interactive Projectors (HHS)- $5.4K (Art Dept does not have installed)

·         Lab (303- HHS)- $17.4K (upgraded Premios from 12 years ago, hope this is the final replacement of the last general lab)

·         Midi Lab (HHS)- $70.8K (rebuild Midi Lab to support curriculum changes in the Performing Arts program; the Music parents are very involved in the curriculum planning aspect and are going to be launching a capital campaign to support this project and the tools it will offer)

·         iPads (Adams)- $4K (assistive technology)

·         iPad carts (Adams)- $18K (1 per grade, 1 was done in 2013)

·         Mimios (Adams)- $14.3K (providing 1 for the remaining 13 classrooms)

·         Notebook Cart (Adams)- $18K (2 carts of Chromebooks, a smaller lightweight PC, tied to Google apps)

·         Tech Ed Lab (Adams)- $14.4K (8 year old Gateways)

Building $122K total):

·         Carpeting (District)- $40K (13-13 years old at Placentino)

·         Concession Stand (HHS)- $35K (Plumbing part of project.  Dr. Jackson informed the Committee that HABA has encountered significant cost overruns, based on the town’s needs of the project, communicated via the Building Inspector.  Dr. Jackson believes that the community most benefits from the plumbing part- Phase 2- that adds bathrooms and septic to the facility, available to anyone who comes to the field for any event.  Additionally having the safety and security of the HHS more assured with separate bathrooms shouldn’t be overlooked)

·         Doors (HHS)- $20K (low bid, high use, bigger students, 20 are in need)

·         Café Tables (P/M)- $10K (most are 13 years old, low bid, have been replacing with end-of-year funds)

·         Office A/C (Miller)- $8.5K (they’re failing; getting a formal quote, this is an estimate)

·         Office A/C (Placentino)- $8.5K (they’re failing; getting a formal quote, this is an estimate)


Grand total of the priority list is $485,380. 

Dr. Jackson immediately acknowledged that getting this amount passed at Town Meeting is highly unlikely.  Therefore, after some questions and clarification around the capital needs presented and inquiries about moving some secondary items to the priority list (HHS auditorium lighting), the Committee asked Dr. Jackson and Mr. Buday to further prioritize the above list. This will be a central item for discussion and vote at the next meeting, in preparation for presentation to the Finance Committee and then to Town Meeting for appropriation.  (For those who are interested, you can find the District Technology Plan here to see how capital items fit in to the three-year plan:

Dr. Jackson then went over the District-wide SMARTer goals for 2013-2014. They were developed primarily by Drs. Jackson and Ahern and reviewed by the Administrative team. He noted that this conversation should have taken place in June and hopes that next June, District Goals will be presented immediately prior to the School Improvement Goals. District Goals should be measurable and specific and the key actions and benchmarks may be used as indicators by the Committee as members monitor the progress of these goals.  

District Improvement Goals:

·         Goal 1: Educator Evaluation- Effectively implement the Holliston Educator Evaluation System for all teachers and administrators in the Holliston Public Schools

Dr. Jackson also noted the priority elements from the Teacher Rubric portion of the new Evaluation System.  While it outlines 33 comprehensive areas where teachers are expected to show proficiency, Holliston’s Administrators feel it is important to focus on a strategic subset.  In this way, teachers and administrators can concentrate their efforts.  Demonstrating proficiency in these eight (8) key elements will be difficult and will, in many cases, require teachers to acquire new skills, revise old beliefs, or adopt new methods.  This subset was developed by the Administrative Team at their two-day summer retreat. The team wanted to make the rubric developed by the DESE, which is both excellent and overwhelming in its scope, clearer and more specific.  They had extremely rich conversation about what proficiency looks like for a teachers and what it looks like for students (proficiency, as defined by the DESE, is extremely rigorous.  It is a very high bar; some of the District’s best teachers will not be proficient in some areas.  The goal is to move toward proficiency). As Dr. Jackson remarked, “Holliston’s continued commitment to Professional Development will remain a key component to success in the classroom.”

The subset of eight elements are:

1.      Rigorous, standards- based unit design

2.      Adjustments to practice

3.      Regularly shares with appropriate colleagues conclusions about student progress and seeks feedback from them about instructional pr assessment practices that will support improved student learning

4.      Consistently uses instructional practices that are likely to motivate and engage most students during the lesson

5.      Effectively models and reinforces ways that students can master challenging materials through effective effort, rather than having to depend on innate ability

6.      Consistently adapts instruction, materials, and assessments to make challenging material accessible to all students, including English learners and students with disabilities

7.      Uses a variety of strategies to support every family to participate actively in the classroom and school community

8.      Regularly reflects on the effectiveness of lessons, units, and interactions with students, both individually and with colleagues, and uses insights gained to improve practice and student learning

·         Goal 2: School Safety- Improve the safety of students and staff, as perceived by students, parents, and staff, by implementing a new Intruder Response Protocol in the Holliston Public Schools

·         Goal 3: Technology Integration- Expand the strategic, age-appropriate use of technology as an instructional and assessment tool

·         Goal 4: Community/Culture- Expand the impact on student learning of our Professional Learning Communities by developing the assessment literacy skills of our teachers and increasing the collective practice of using relevant student data to make individual and group decisions about adjusting practice with the goal of improving student performance.

Student Learning Goals:

·         Goal 1: Attain Student Growth Percentile (SGP) scores greater than 50% in 11 out of 12 grade-level ELA and Math scores for all students, and in 8 out of 12 grade-level scores for students designated as High Needs in the May 2014 test (*we are mandated by the state to have an MCAS goal)

·         Goal 2: Develop the essential 21st Century Skills of critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration in our students by increasing the use of extended projects that require the use of two or more of the 21st century skills in order to be successfully completed.

The next meeting is September 19th.  Central to the agenda will be: a vote on the FY14 capital request; MASC conference; an update on the new Math texts purchase; hopefully, some results from the Youth Risk Behavior survey; and, a presentation on the HS Peru trip this summer.  School Committee Office will be posted shortly. In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Central Office or any School Committee member.