Approved September 4, 2008

Holliston Public Schools

Holliston, MA01746

 

School Committee Meeting

August 21, 2008

 

Present:††††††††††† Mrs. Galeaz, Mr. Gray, Mr. Jones, Mrs. Murphy, Mrs. Pennypacker,

Mrs. Plunkett, Mr. Jackson, Superintendent of Schools,

Mr. Cornely, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Mr. Buday, Business Manager, Mrs. Colarusso, Student Services Director

 

Absent: ††††††††††† Mrs. Emmons

 

Call to Order

Mrs. Galeaz called the meeting to order at 7:00 pm.

 

Minutes

On a motion made by Mr. Gray, seconded by Mrs. Pennypacker, the Committee voted to approve the minutes of the July 17, 2008, School Committee Regular Session, as presented.

Vote:††† ††††††††††† Favor: 5††††††††† Oppose: 0††††††† Abstain: 1 (Gray)††††††††††††††††††††††† Absent: 1 (Emmons)†††††††

 

Communications

School Committee Individual Comment

Mrs. Pennypacker announced that there will be a HEPO meeting on Wednesday, September 10 at 9:15 am in the Placentino Cafetorium.The HEPO Back-To-School Picnic for Miller and Placentino is Friday, September 12 from 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm.

Mr. Gray welcomed everyone back to school, noting that we are concerned about safety.The Senior Class Auction is October 13.

Mrs. Galeaz announced that September 6th is the First Annual Interactive Health and Wellness Expo at the High School from 9:00 am Ė 1:00 pm.Events will take place both inside and outside of the building.September 10 is Holliston Unplugged, an evening for Holliston families to spend time together without the outside distractions of television, homework, sports, etc.

 

Central Office Administratorís Comment

Mr. Cornely said that new teachers were welcomed on Monday at the New Teachers Orientation meeting.Seventeen new mentors were trained on Monday.The Miller School has been chosen for the 3rd time in the last six years to participate in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP).School and students are randomly selected.Last year, Massachusetts was first in the nation using the Nationís Report Card in Math and Reading & Language Arts in grades 4 and 8.We will participate in this test on February 2.

 

Old Business (out of order)

A.      Transportation Update

Mr. Jackson reviewed the budget history and the timing of the budget development process. He explained that the Superintendentís Recommended Budget, was presented on February 7, 2008.Continued discussion on the FY09 Budget occurred at the February 28 School Committee meeting.On March 25, School Committee discussed their reduction philosophy, which included fees to offset the impact of the elimination of any non-instructional services.A list of cuts was presented and transportation was at the top of the list at $285,000. In April, School Committee Budget Adjustments were presented with a final gap of $992,000.A contingency plan was presented to close the gap.On May 5, the Town approved the budget, contingent upon a successful Proposition 2 Ĺ Override.On May 22, the Override did not pass.In June, the School Committee executed its approved plan which included suspending the current Transportation Policy and offering busing at a $400 fee, with no family cap.At that time, there was a clear expectation to the community that the fee would be recalculated after the subscription period closed.Mr. Jackson then detailed how the original bus fee amount was calculated.In addition, the School Committee voted to offer Middle School Athletics with a fee of $150 per student, per sport, with no family cap.Mr. Jackson is recommending this evening that the bus fee be reduced to $225.00 per student, with a $450.00 family cap.This is significantly more affordable so he is also recommending that families who initially opted out of the bus service be given an opportunity to re-enter, subject to certain conditions.He recommends that enrollment be permitted on a first come, first serve basis so that bus routes can be maintained.It will also be subject to availability of seats on the bus. Group discussion occurred.

 

Opportunity for the Public to Address the School Committee

Daniel Benoudiba, Brookview Road, presented a petition to cancel the bus fee.He discussed safety concerns as well as the staffing at the schools.

Jon Varrell, Washington Street, discussed the $400 fee, stating that he felt it was excessive and how different decisions may have been made had the lower fee been initially available.

Peter Hendrickson, Chamberlain Street, noted the lack of sidewalks.He feels that the fee was unreasonable and caused stress to his family.He is angry and the summer was ruined.He would like the petition to be accepted.

Bob Whiting, Westfield Drive, stated that he had no issues around the bus fees.He is concerned about the 16.5 positions that were lost in the school system.He said that a decline in the school system could potentially result in a decline in property values which would outweigh a bus fee.He attended the Superintendentís Budget presentation in February 2008 and was shocked at the gap.He was further surprised that many people were not aware of the entire budget process.

Liz Harding, Shaw Farm Road, discussed the bus fee and the impact on the family.She discussed the absence of sidewalks and also mentioned the elimination of some of the staff at the schools.

Anita Ballesteros, Wingate Road, discussed the budget process and noted her concerns on how all areas of the town were affected.She felt that information about crossing guards and drop off areas at the schools was communicated late in the process.She felt that there has been a lot of anxiety in this process.Believes that students should be permitted to change buses to accommodate their after school activities since she is paying a fee for the service.

Kathy Leonard, Underwood Street, researched bus fees and agrees with the fee concept, but felt that $400 was too high.Believes that $225 is more reasonable, but has a problem with the concept of first come, first serve.

Paul Danner asked about the Montessori program and the associated expense.He also discussed bus safety.

Rich Maccagnano, Underwood Street, discussed bus safety, walkers and increased traffic.

Joe Mahoney, Marked Tree Road, discussed the buses and the lack of sidewalks.Feels that buses are mandatory for safety reasons and safety is important to him.This is a town wide issue with a small group being asked to pay.He supports the petition.

Ann Marie Reinstein, Woodland Street, said that this is a town wide issue and that if the override had passed, we would not be in this situation.Sidewalks are not the only issue of safety.She hopes that we can take some of the passion from this evening and direct it towards effort next year.

Daniel Benoudiba, Brookview Road, spoke about an email he had received and his opinion that safety is important and the bus fee is excessive.

Anita Ballesteros, Wingate Road, discussed that SPED and Free and Reduced Lunch students have their fee waived.Asked about the individuals who do not qualify and cannot afford the fee?She believes that parents should have been surveyed.

Pat Duffy, Regency Drive, feels that there should be a moratorium on the bus fee plan to allow people a chance to sign up for buses.She would like the Committee to give people a chance to ride the bus for a week without a pass.

Barbara Kierney, Avon Street, would also like a moratorium on bus passes. She asked about children at bus stops who do not have a bus pass.

Liz Harding, Shaw Farm Road, said that the next step is to get the kids to school.She feels that the parking lots are unsafe.

At 8:26, Mrs. Galeaz closed public comment.There was group discussion and Mr. Jones addressed some of the public comments.At 8:35 pm, the camera was shut off in an effort to control the public comments being voiced out of order. At 8:40 pm the camera was turned back on and the Committee continued group discussion.

 

On a motion made by Mr. Jones, seconded by Mr. Gray, the Committee voted to invoke the Rule of Necessity.

Vote:††† ††††††††††† Favor: 6††††††††† Oppose: 0††††††††††††††††††† Abstain: 0†††††††† Absent: 1 (Emmons)†††††

 

On a motion made by Mr. Gray, seconded by Mr. Jones, the Committee voted to reduce the bus fee for the 2008-2009 school year to $225.00 for eligible students with a $450.00 family cap allowing families that previously opted out of the fee to re-enter, subject to the following conditions: first come, first serve, based on availability and the capacity of the buses.

Vote:††† ††††††††††† Favor: 6††††††††† Oppose: 0††††††††††††††††††† Abstain: 0†††††††† Absent: 1 (Emmons)†††††

Personnel

A.      New Hire Employee Update

The New Employee Update was presented by Mr. Jackson.He said that a majority of the teachers are Master level degree and are highly qualified using federal standards.

 

Old Business - Continued

B.      Opening Day/Readiness Report

Mr. Jackson reported that he, along with Mrs. Galeaz; the Town Administrator; Fire Chief; a Buildings and Grounds representative; Mr. Buday and Mr. Cornely visited the schools and found them to be ready for the opening of school. He reviewed the playground improvements at Miller and Placentino and discussed the safety plans for the schools.Monday morning is the Welcome Back for the staff.Group discussion occurred.

 

New Business

A.      Summer Curriculum Work Review

Mr. Cornely discussed the work that had occurred over the summer in curriculum review and development.He detailed the work in progress in each subject area.He distributed an example of the work that was completed this summer and Committee members commented positively on the quality of the curriculum work performed.

 

B.      Traffic Patterns at Schools

Mr. Jackson reminded the Committee and the Community that revised traffic patterns have been developed at each of the schools for vehicular and bus traffic.Information is available in the Community Newsletter, in the welcome back letters mailed to students and the school website.Group discussion occurred.

 

Warrants

On a motion made by Mr. Gray, seconded by Mrs. Pennypacker, the Committee voted to approve a school bill warrant in the amount of $514,847.33.

Vote:††† ††††††††††† Favor: 6††††††††† Oppose: 0††††††††††††††††††† Abstain: 0†††††††† Absent: 1 (Emmons)†††††

 

Items of Information

A.      District Policies and Procedures Handbook

B.      Community Newsletter

 

Future Meeting Dates and Agenda Items

The next School Committee meeting is September 4, 2008.Topics to be discussed include a Transportation update, if necessary, the MASC Joint Conference, the School Start Report and any other business that may come up.

 

Adjournment of Open Session

Mrs. Galeaz announced that there would be no need for an Executive Session.

 

On a motion made by Mr. Gray, seconded by Mrs. Pennypacker, the Committee voted to adjourn the School Committee meeting at 9:40 p.m.

 

Vote:††† ††††††††††† Favor: 6††††††††† Oppose: 0††††††††††††††††††† Abstain: 0†††††††† Absent: 1 (Emmons)†††††

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

Cheryl A. Kelly

Recording Secretary