Archive 2008 - 2019

May 15, 2014 School Committee Meeting

by Erica Plunkett

Taking things a little out of order on the agenda, the School Committee voted to approve an Overnight Field Trip Request to Peru, taking place in the summer of 2015.  This would be the second trip to Peru (the first was a resounding success) sponsored by the HHS and would be open by application to Juniors and Seniors. Look for additional information coming to parents and students from the High School. For any questions, please contact HHS Science teacher, Sylvia Bodmer.

As a follow-up to the evaluation of the Superintendent the School Committee conducted and read at last session, the Committee voted to extend Dr. Jackson’s contract through June 30, 2019.  Dr. Jackson insisted, and the Committee gratefully accepted, his offer to take a 0% COLA this year.

Dr. Jackson then presented follow up on the Town Meeting vote to appropriate a 1.5% guideline to the Holliston Public Schools.  To close the gap between the School Committee voted budget and the TM appropriation, some last details still need to be worked out:

Finalizing the positions to be eliminated- this process is ongoing and highly dependent on two factors that remain open, Dr. Jackson stated.

1.      At the High School, course selection is still going on.  Guidance is working to resolve individual scheduling conflicts AND maximize the effectiveness of the overall master schedule.  This is complicated by the face that a few staff members have not yet commited to returning to HHS next year, which might impact decisions regarding staff layoffs.  The timing of these issues are challenging, given the Committee’s upcoming meeting schedule and legal statutory deadlines.  Dr. Jackson recommended that the SC vote to authorize the Superintendent to make final determinations of position(s) that will be eliminated as a result of the FY15 budget vote and inform impacted staff in accordance with Mass General Lows.  The Committee voted in the affirmative.

2.      Additionally, FY15 fees need to be finalized.  The following outlines the administration’s recommended changes to the FY15 fees in alignment with the FY15 Budget voted by the Committee at the last meeting (below is the summary; the presentation can be found on the District website) :

·         Increase the Bus Fee by $15 and raise the family cap from 2-3.  This would generate an additional $25K in actual receipts to equal budgeted offsets.

·         Raise the High School Activity Fee by $25 to $50 per student which would cover an UNLIMITED number of clubs. The current fee was based on 600 students generating $15K.  The four-year history since the fee was instituted shows a more consistent projection of 200 students, generating $9K.  The fee increase would NOT impact the Performing Arts fee of $100 per event. 

·         Increase the Adams Middle School Athletic fee by $25 to $175 per participant. This program runs as a self-funded program.  Offerings have stabilized, coaches have received increases in stipends, and officials, buses and equipment have all increased in price.

There are no changes to other fees (HS Athletics, HS Parking, RAMS and Miller Activity fees- currently $0).

The School Committee then voted Dr. Jackson as the voting member to the TEC Board of Directors and to the ACCEPT Board of Directors (both are the collaboratives to which Holliston belongs).

Last on the agenda was a proposal from Sara Ahern and Keith Buday on the kindergarten program for the fall (the full presentation in Prezi form will be posted on the District website shortly).  This proposal is in response to the changing interests in K programming.  The District has already expanded the Montessori Program capacity by creating a new K/1 Montessori class.  Also, at the last SC meeting, the Committee voted in some additional French Immersion School Choice seats to address lower-than-expected enrollments in that program, Dr. Ahern and Mr. Buday noted.  In turning attention to the Traditional program, it is clear that Placentino is at capacity for full-day Kand all administrators are concerned about only being able to offer Half-Day Traditional to families moving into Holliston prior to the start of the 2014-2015 year.

In summary, the proposal was to assimilate Half-Day Kindergarteners in with Full-Day Kindergartners, which administrators and teachers believe will provide guaranteed instruction in literacy and math in the morning for ALL students.  Half-day students would be distributed among six classes and would leave at their dismissal time of 11:47 am.  By offering six FDK sessions (rather than four Full-Day and one Half-Day-two sessions-, new families would be able to select the Full-Day Traditional program or the Half-Day Traditional program.  To fund it and help balance size, Mr. Buday recommended opening 12 seats for School Choice in the Traditional Kindergarten program.   This will allow the District to add one teacher and one para, keep class size under guideline (19.5) and create revenue with School Choice seats.  Dr. Jackson was clear that, while creative and modeled on some other districts using this approach, it really is a stop-gap measure as the School Committee tries to figure out how to implement Tuition-Free FDK for all. New standards for Kindergarten are not going away, and expected mastery of these standards by Kindergarten students cannot be accomplished in a half-day program.

The next meeting is May 29, 2014.  Central to that agenda will be: SY14-15 SC Meeting calendar; student handbook draft changes; SY14-15 SMARTer goals; TEC Agreement; and, Parks and Rec Flagg School discussion. 

In the meantime, if you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Central Office or any School Committee member.  The last School Committee Office Hours will be held Wednesday, May 21, 8-9 am at Jasper Hill Bistro.  Please join us for coffee and Q and A.  Or just coffee….

Kindest regards,

Erica Plunkett

Chair, Holliston School Committee

Did You Know….. that Lisa Galeaz-Weber and I would like to thank those who have shared such kind words of support as we transition out of our long-time roles on the Holliston School Committee.  We are more grateful than you will ever know. Additionally, we would like to recognize our colleagues on the Committee, as well as the Administrative Team and all the HPS Teachers, who have made our jobs so rewarding.  We will deeply miss being part of HPS.

And from me, thanks to those who have read the School Committee meeting updates over the past decade.  I appreciate your interest and all your questions.- Erica--
Erica S. Plunkett 

Chairperson, Holliston School Committee