News & Announcements

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May 6, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

We are very excited to begin our new 2022-2027 Strategic Pan that was voted on at last night’s school committee meeting. Please see below a link to the presentation given by the fabulous strategic planning team members, as well as a link to the actual draft strategic plan, which will soon be linked on our website. We have a lot of exciting work to do in our quest for equity and with our vision statement of, Embark on Your Journey: Personal. Local. Global.”

May 6, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

We are very excited to begin our new 2022-2027 Strategic Pan that was voted on at last night’s school committee meeting. Please see below a link to the presentation given by the fabulous strategic planning team members, as well as a link to the actual draft strategic plan, which will soon be linked on our website. We have a lot of exciting work to do in our quest for equity and with our vision statement of, Embark on Your Journey: Personal. Local. Global.”

Strategic Plan

Take a moment to peruse our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan and last night’s presentation summarizing some key point’s of the plan.

COVID-19 Updates

In the most recent full week through May 4th, HPS was notified of a total of 38 positive cases. This is included in a total count of 87 positive cases district-wide in the two-week look back from April 21st- May 4th, as is updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard. We are likely seeing the uptick from travel and events over the April vacation. Please be diligent with pooled testing and at home testing, as we have seen an uptick in cases recently; and we have also embarked upon allergy season and common cold symptoms can mimic COVID, too. Students may be enrolled and staff may still consent to All COVID Testing.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • 21-22 S&S Community Ed Series _ Bullying_Screen Time.pdfPlease join Holliston PTO, Holliston Public Schools, Holliston MindShare, Holliston SEPAC, and the Diverse Holliston Education Committee as we welcome Bridgewater State College, MARC center (Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center) as they share with our families a presentation on: SCREEN USE, ANXIETY, and SOCIAL CHALLENGES.

 

 

Enjoy the weekend!

Yours,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

As we notice daffodils and tulips bursting through the soil all around town, it is a sign of warmer weather and brighter days to come. Field trips and school events are increasing in number and athletic events are well underway. This is wonderful to see, but still we continue to focus on the important teaching and learning taking place each and every day, throughout the school district.

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

As we notice daffodils and tulips bursting through the soil all around town, it is a sign of warmer weather and brighter days to come. Field trips and school events are increasing in number and athletic events are well underway. This is wonderful to see, but still we continue to focus on the important teaching and learning taking place each and every day, throughout the school district.

Strategic Planning Update

Please join us on Cinco de Mayo while we present our 2022-2027 Strategic Plan at 7:00 pm at the school committee meeting in the HHS Library.

COVID-19 Updates

In the most recent full week through April 29, 2022, HPS was notified of a total of 40 positive cases. This is included in a total count of 59 positive cases district-wide in the two-week look back, as is updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.  Please be diligent with pooled testing and at home testing, as we have seen an uptick in cases recently; and we have also embarked upon allergy season and common cold symptoms can mimic COVID, too. Students may be enrolled and staff may still consent to All COVID Testing. Students who are opted-in received two tests which will allow them to test prior to the return from the break as well.

Holliston Schools Good News

  •  On Wednesday, I attended the Miller Transition Night where families of incoming grade three students were welcomed and learned about what to expect for their children as they enter a new school in September.
  • We are very excited to start “Building BridgesTogether” as students and staff ready to, “Embark on Your Journey: Personal, Local, Global” @ Holliston Public Schools through our work on the 2022-2027 Strategic Plan PreK-12+.
  • HHS seniors will be attending Gillette Field Day on Friday, May 6, 2022 as a thank you and apology  for having to reschedule the Senior Prom due to the Garth Brooks Stadium Tour change.
  • It was so nice to see our 3rd grade students making candles and Johnny Cakes, attending class, etc. on the Holliston Historical Society Field Trip last week. Their excitment and enjoyment were very apparent to this onlooker.
  • HHS students attended a Teen Truth assembly and follow-up discussions with staff last Thursday while a group of 50 students attended a leadership summit following the assembly. This work is important  as we strive to support the social-emotional well-being of our students.

 

 

Have a good night!

Best regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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April 14, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope families and staff get an opportunity to relax and enjoy a safe, productive, and rejuvenating April Vacation week. We will look forward to seeing everyone back to school on April 25, 2022.

April 14, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope families and staff get an opportunity to relax and enjoy a safe, productive, and rejuvenating April Vacation week. We will look forward to seeing everyone back to school on April 25, 2022.

Strategic Planning Update

The Strategic Planning Committee met for a final, follow up meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 to vet the drafted Strategic Initiatives. I cannot thank this incredible group of dedicated individuals enough, and I am excited that we will be able to present the 2022-2027 Strategic plan, focusing on improvements in the four arch areas of: Communication Practices, Social and Emotional Well-being, Teaching & Learning, and Talent & Resources. Join us on Cinco de Mayo at the HSC Mtg at 7pm as we present our 2022-2027 HPS Strategic Plan.

COVID-19 Updates

The most recent full week through Thursday, April 14, 2022, HPS was notified of a total of 33 positive cases This is included in a total count of 69 positive cases district-wide in the two-week look back, as updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.  Please be diligent with pooled testing and at home testing, as we have seen an uptick in cases recently; and we have embarked upon allergy season and the common cold symptoms can mimic COVID, too. Students may be enrolled and staff may still consent to All COVID Testing. Students who are opted-in received two tests which will allow them to test prior to the return from the break as well.

Holliston Schools Good News

●      The Understanding Teen Depression Virtual Workshop Holliston Youth and Family Services and Holliston Public Library presentation is being held tonight, Thursday, April 14th from 6:30 - 8:00 pm Registration info for the Zoom session is on the linked flier.

 

Happy Vacation!

Best regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

School Committee Newsletter (April 8, 2022)

Please Support the School Budget!

We ask for your support to continue funding schools that provide an excellent education for Holliston children. The School Committee’s recommended budget (both operating and capital) will go to Town Meeting, which starts Monday, May 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the High School auditorium. As with all local budgets, the school budget is decided by voters like you at Town Meeting, which has the final say on where our money goes.

 

OPERATING BUDGET

Our recommended FY23 operating budget, which aligns with Superintendent of Schools Dr. Susan Kustka’s budget request, is predominantly about providing what we call “level services” —that is, the amount of money we need to pay for the same staff, programs and services we are providing in the current school year without any cuts.

We are pleased we were able to settle multiple contracts this year, but because personnel costs make up the majority of the school budget (which is true across districts in Massachusetts), we have to spend more to keep our valuable staff. Personnel costs will account for about an estimated 81 percent of the budget for FY23. That means most of our costs are fixed.

We are requesting a budget of $39,004,314, which represents a 5.14 percent increase over the current fiscal year. Here’s the breakdown:

 

New Costs: $ 109,035 (0.29% increase)

Level Services:  +$1,796,756* (4.85% increase)

= FY23 Increase $1,905,791 (5.14% increase)

 

*It’s important to note that our estimate of what it will cost to provide level services has more unknowns this year than in the past. The cost of oil and gas is impossible to predict, and the schools have been impacted by increased competition for new hires. In past years, we have been able to count on favorability when we have to replace someone leaving the district mid-year. Usually when that happens, we are replacing a veteran teacher with an entry-level new hire, with a commensurate difference, or favorability, in the salaries. Because of the competition for new hires, that’s not frequently the scenario these days. With such a large budget, that favorability has been key in past years when we have unexpected additional costs. We can’t count on that for next year.

We tried to budget for only new costs that were essential and they reflect a 0.29% increase to our level service budget:

  • We are asking for one additional full-time school psychologist so that we have a psychologist at each school. The School Committee and superintendent agree this addition is necessary to address the increased needs of students and the higher number of psychological assessments required at each building. Mental health issues have been more prevalent as a result of the pandemic, and we know that without support, students will miss out on learning.The cost is estimated at $83,295.
  • We are recommending an additional 20 hours for an emergent bilingual tutor (ELL tutor) at Placentino. Over the past three school years, Placentino has seen a significant increase in the number and complexity of needs of students learning English. The additional services are required to meet state guidelines. The cost is estimated at $22,140.
  • Finally, we are requesting funding to continue Seesaw, an app that allows families to be part of their student’s learning. This was a tool Placentino started using during the pandemic and we feel it has been a vital resource in supporting home-school communication. The cost is estimated at $3,600.

 

CAPITAL BUDGET

            The initial FY23 Capital Budget request totaled $580,000 and included technology infrastructure updates, custodial/landscaping, track resurfacing/replacement as the last resurfacing occurred seven years ago with a life expectancy of five to seven years. Cognizant of the community-wide requests, we reduced the Holliston Public School capital requests by approximately 50%. We seek $295,000 for the following prioritized FY23 needs:

  • Indoor Security Cameras

            Unfortunately, our district, similar to other districts, has experienced an increase in hate speech and vandalism. We lack an indoor security camera system to deter and aid in the investigation of vandalism, theft, hate speech and other negative behavior and to promote safety. Surrounding districts have installed similar security camera systems for deterrence and investigation. The installation of indoor security cameras at the high school and middle school is estimated to cost $20,000.

  • Technology Infrastructure Updates

We are in need of technology infrastructure updates to maintain reliable internet connectivity in support of digital instruction for our HPS community of over 2,800 students and staff in four buildings. The network infrastructure updates include replacing fiber cabling (+20 years old) at all schools, replacing and adding switches (seven to 10 years old) to maximize fiber connections, replacing core switches at Miller and HHS, consolidating and replacing servers and batteries, upgrading the phone system and purchasing a digital radio repeater for communication between HHS and the Woodland campus. HPS will obtain a grant via E-Rate, a federal program, for 40% of the total costs to replace switches, cabling, batteries and the wireless management system. The total cost of the technology infrastructure upgrades is $387,846, but this is reduced to $278,307.60 due to the 40% E-Rate reduction.

 

High School Update: Seeking to Partner with the State to Fund a Feasibility Study

Holliston High School opened in 1969. The last renovation project occurred 21 years ago and did not include an upgrade or replacement of the septic system installed 53 years ago. Current short-term infrastructure needs are approximately $11 million and include: (1) septic system replacement; (2) single-pane window replacement; (3) roof replacement; (4) roof HVAC unit replacement; (5) installation of second turf practice field; (6) renovation and repair of field house walls, bleachers and track; (7) renovation and repair of auditorium; (8) boiler replacement; (9) kitchen equipment replacement; (10) replacement of Kamitian field bleachers; (11) installation of tennis courts; (12) track replacement; and (13) air conditioning installation for second floor classrooms and library/media center. Holliston High School has outdated, inadequate science labs, classrooms, student and teacher collaborative spaces and athletic facilities. The Holliston community will incur substantial repair costs over the next few years.

Holliston has the opportunity to partner with the Massachusetts School Building Authority (funded by the state sales tax) to obtain a grant contribution of 31% to 50.16% of the cost of a new or renovated Holliston High School by submitting a Statement of Interest (Dr. Kustka’s presentation). With the support of the Select Board, Holliston has submitted an SOI for the last four years. In 2021, 118 SOIs were submitted state-wide, and only four school districts (Hopkinton, Lynn, New Bedford and Newton) advanced forward with a feasibility study based on their SOIs.The Massachusetts School Building Authority’s grant program considers the urgency and needs of all school districts’ SOIs, and a school district may be required to resubmit over several years. Holliston’s SOI costs nothing to submit, and there is no obligation to move forward. The SOI must be authorized by the School Committee and the Select Board. Holliston School Committee supports the 2022 Statement of Interest submittal in light of the substantial, current infrastructure needs and the pursuit of adequate classrooms, science labs, collaborative spaces and athletic facilities.

 

Strategic Planning Update

The Strategic Planning Committee has concluded its work! A 21-person team consisting of Holliston stakeholders, including school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and members from town boards, has been meeting monthly since September to develop a Mission Statement, Vision Statement, a set of Core Values, and, most importantly, a set of Strategic Initiatives based on a comprehensive review of multiple sources of data from the town. Our initiatives fall under what we determined to be four essential categories: Communication, Social and Emotional Well-Being, Teaching and Learning, and Talent and Resources. The initiatives defined in the plan will be implemented and reviewed over the next five years. Please join us for a more detailed presentation of the Strategic Plan at our May 5 School Committee meeting.

 

Feel free to contact any School Committee committee member with questions or comments:

 

Cynthia Listewnik, Chair                             ListewnikC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Dawn Neborsky, Vice Chair                        NeborskyD@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Stacey Raffi                                              RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Lisa Kocian                                                  KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Catherine Savard                                        SavardMC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Minnie Gupta                                               GuptaM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Amanda Bigelow                                          BigelowA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

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April 8, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

We are wrapping up another productive week at Holliston Public Schools. Spring is well under way, and we will soon be heading toward a well-deserved Spring Break. As you plan vacations and special events, please be mindful of the recent uptick in BA.2 subvariant, as noted below. We do want our students and staff to be able to continue on, with minimal disruption to teaching and learning at Holliston Public Schools!

April 8, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

We are wrapping up another productive week at Holliston Public Schools. Spring is well under way, and we will soon be heading toward a well-deserved Spring Break. As you plan vacations and special events, please be mindful of the recent uptick in BA.2 subvariant, as noted below. We do want our students and staff to be able to continue on, with minimal disruption to teaching and learning at Holliston Public Schools!

Strategic Planning Update

The Strategic Planning Committee met for a final, follow up meeting on Wednesday, April 6, 2022 to vet the drafted Strategic Initiatives. I cannot thank this incredible group of dedicated individuals enough, and I am excited that we will be able to present the 2022-2027 Strategic plan, focusing on improvements in the four overarching areas of: Communication Practices, Social and Emotional Well-being, Teaching & Learning, and Talent & Resources. Join us on Cinco de Mayo at the HSC Mtg at 7pm as we present our 2022-2027 HPS Strategic Plan.

COVID-19 Updates

Chief Cassidy reported this week:

“When the DPH published the updated town by town information this evening, our community risk designation changed to the YELLOW level, based on new cases in the 14 day period ending April 2. According to their weekly reports, our numbers raised from 6.2 Average Daily Incident Rate per 100,000 on March 31 to 13 Average Daily Incident Rate per 100,000 on April 7. Our percent positivity raised from 1.62% last week to 2.86% this week. This increase in cases and positivity is largely due to the BA.2 subvariant; which, although more transmissible, on an individual infection, was, on average, less likely to lead to a serious case of COVID than infections from Delta.”

The most recent full week through Wednesday April 6, 2022, HPS was notified of a total of 31 positive cases this week with 20 of these cases noted at Miller School. This is included in a total count of 47 positive cases district-wide in the two-week look back, as updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.  Please be diligent with pooled testing and at home testing, as we have seen an uptick in cases recently, as we have embarked upon allergy season, and the common cold symptoms can mimic COVID, too. Students may be enrolled and staff may still consent to All COVID Testing.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • The Understanding Teen Depression Virtual Workshop Holliston Youth and Family Services and Holliston Public Library presentation is being held on Thursday, April 14th from 6:30-8:00pm. Registration info for the Zoom session is on the linked flier.
  • I was able to attend a “A Safe & Supportive Schools” meeting with a small group of HHS students. We talked about ideas to promote this work at the high school level, and students will take part in a Teen Truth Assembly on April 28th, with some also attending a leadership summit as well. I heard two of the same students speak to our high school faculty to share ideas about how they believe the adults can support students with this work as well. We are fortunate to have such strong student leaders at HHS.
  • Yesterday, I met with PreK-grade two students during my first Placentino Student/ Superintendent Advisory. What a delightful group of students, and I was impressed with their ideas to improve and make Placentino and the school district a safer and more welcoming place for all students as well. I can learn a lot from their feedback. Our commitment to this work around SEL and Equity PreK-12+ will, over time, make our school district a better place for all of our students and the Holliston Community as well!

  • I am hearing wonderful things about the Circle of Friends and Student Leadership Group activities happening at RAMs, which also exemplifies the importance of providing opportunities that promote Safe & Supportive Schools in our HPS Community!

 

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Best,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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April 1, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope we all will get a chance to enjoy the weekend, after a busy couple of weeks at Holliston Public Schools. Spring weather is finally approaching and a sign of warmer and busier days to come.

April 1, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope we all will get a chance to enjoy the weekend, after a busy couple of weeks at Holliston Public Schools. Spring weather is finally approaching and a sign of warmer and busier days to come.

Strategic Plan Update

Join us on Cinco de Mayo at the HSC Mtg at 7pm to hear about our 2022-2027 HPS Strategic Plan.

COVID-19 Updates

When the DPH published the updated town by town information recently, our Holliston Community risk designation rose to the GREEN level. This week HPS was notified of a total of 12 positive cases this week for a total of twenty-four in the two-week look back  as updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • Understanding Teen Depression Virtual Workshop Holliston Youth and Family Services and Holliston Public Library presentation is being held on Thursday, April 14th from 6:30-8:00.pm Registration info for the Zoom linkon flier.
  • HHS Theatre 370 is proud to announce that their original production of Violent Delights: Violent Ends is moving from the Preliminary Round into Regionals for the METG Festival!! We also received 3 very well deserved acting awards for the following students:
    • Sophomore Will Keohane as Don
    • Senior Chloe Drohan as Jules
    • Junior Colleen Malvey as Angie
    • Regionals will commence the weekend of April 2nd.
  • Robotics :
    • The Holliston Robo-Panthers (team #2262) competed at the NE First Western New England District Event held at Western New England University in Springfield this past weekend.  As part of the event they were also given the opportunity to tour the college.  The Robo-Panthers made it to the semi-finals for the second time this season with a dominating 4th rung climb for 15 points and averaging 8  8ft baskets per game for another 16 points with a final 4 points for programming the robot to drive in auto mode.  Recently they finished 5th in the round robin qualifiers and moved up to 4th during selections to become captains where they got to select their two teammates for the first time in program history.  Similar to their previous event at Salem NH High School, they lost to the 1st place team.   In 2020 they won their first blue banner in program history, winning the NE First Northern Connecticut District Event just before covid shut down the competition season.
  • It was so nice to catch a preview of the RAMS ReACT version of Mary Poppins this morning. The student actors and “behind the scenes” crew members did an excellent job, and the singing and costumes were wonderful.Tickets are going fast and may be sold out for some showings.

 

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Best,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

kindergarten students animation
  • Placentino

 

2022-2023 Kindergarten Registration

March 29, 2022- April 5, 2022

**In order to be considered for any potential lottery for Montessori or French Immersion Programs you must submit a completed registration packet (with all required documents) by noon on Tuesday April 5th.** 

Kindergarten Registration Checklist

New Student Registration Form- This is for students who have NEVER been registered at Placentino. 

2022-2023 Returning Placentino Students Kindergarten Registration Form- If your child is currently registered at Placentino as a preschooler, receives drop off services or was PREVIOUSLY registered (for either preschool or drop off services), please fill out the returning student form NOT the new student registration form.

If you have any questions about kindergarten registration, please contact our main office at 508- 429-0647 ext. 0.

 March 28th Kindergarten Information Session Recording

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Office of the Superintendent

March 18, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope everyone is enjoying the temperate, sunny weather today. It is a sign that Spring is just around the corner! Enjoy this while you can!

 

Office of the Superintendent

March 18, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

I hope everyone is enjoying the temperate, sunny weather today. It is a sign that Spring is just around the corner! Enjoy this while you can!

Strategic Planning Update

We will hold our final strategic planning meeting on Monday, March 21st with our incredible committee made up of central and building administrators, school committee, student and parent reps, and our town administrator and select board chair. I am grateful to be able to work with this excellent team of dedicated individuals and excited that we should have a draft 5 year plan ready to share at the May 5th HSC meeting. Once we share out this five year plan, I will be scheduling both a daytime and nighttime panel for families to attend to ask questions of and hear from some members of the team about the plan and future implementation of the components of this plan. Stay tuned for more details!

COVID-19 Updates

When the DPH published the updated town by town information this evening, our Holliston  community risk designation improved to the GREEN level. This week HPS was notified of a total of 3 positive cases at Placentino for a total of twelve in the two-week look back  as updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.

Families may still complete the Student Opt-In to receive test kits every other week beginning after the vacation and staff members can complete the Staff Opt-In for the next distribution as well. Anyone who opted themselves or their children in will be opted in until further notice and should not register again.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • The Holliston PTO, Holliston Mindshare, Diverse Holliston Education Committee, Holliston Public Schools, and the Holliston Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) hope to see you there as we look to build and sustain safe and supportive schools and in turn a safe and supportive Holliston Tuesday, March 22, 2022, 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm!    Establishing Inclusive, Safe, and Supportive Holliston Public Schools
  • Thank you to our Miller Superintendent/ Student Advisory Team! I enjoyed meeting with the students and Mr. Keim to talk about the good things that are happening in grades 3-5 and what we can do to improve our schools. Being kind to one another was an important part of this discussion.

 

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Best,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

March 11, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

In my visits to some of the schools and classrooms this week, it was exciting to see the smiling faces of students and staff. I now need to replace faces in my memory, as I had trouble recognizing faces of people that I may not yet have seen without a face covering, despite having worked in the school district since July 2020. We will continue to support and respect individual decisions on when and if to continue wearing face coverings.

Office of the Superintendent

March 11, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

In my visits to some of the schools and classrooms this week, it was exciting to see the smiling faces of students and staff. I now need to replace faces in my memory, as I had trouble recognizing faces of people that I may not yet have seen without a face covering, despite having worked in the school district since July 2020. We will continue to support and respect individual decisions on when and if to continue wearing face coverings.

Strategic Planning Update

We held our fourth strategic planning meeting on Tuesday with our awesome committee made up of central and building administrators, school committee, student, and parent reps, and our town administrator and select board chair. I am grateful to be able to work with this incredible team of dedicated individuals and excited that we should have a draft 5 year plan ready to share at the May 5th HSC meeting.

COVID-19 Updates

When the DPH published the updated town by town information this evening, our Holliston  community risk designation improved to the GREEN level. This week through March 9, 2022, HPS was notified of a total of 8 positive cases: 2 at Placentino, 3 at Miller, 2 at RAMS, and 1 at HHS as updated on the  HPS COVID Dashboard.

Families may still complete the Student Opt-In to receive test kits every other week beginning after the vacation and staff members can complete the Staff Opt-In for the next distribution as well. Anyone who opted themselves or their children in will be opted in until further notice and should not register again.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • The Holliston PTO, Mindshare, Holliston SEPAC, and Diverse Holliston Education Committee present a series of community education events entitled: Establishing Inclusive, Safe, and Supportive Holliston Public Schools
  • We are SO EXCITED for the return of March Mail! Placentino School transforms into a Post Office during the month of March. Our Placentino students spend the month of March writing, reading, and mailing friendly letters to classmates, teachers, and our school mascot Peppy.  In this whole-school letter writing unit, students will learn to use a variety of different types of writing to communicate with others. Each school day, the second grade Placentino Postal Service will don their official uniforms and postal sacks to pick up, sort and deliver the mail. Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat will stop the Placentino Postal Officers from delivering our mail!
  • Our Senior Showcase event on Wednesday night was a hit. The opening number was particularly enjoyable with so many students dancing and singing their hearts out.

 

With regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

March 4, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

It is very exciting to see the significant decline in COVID cases at the local, state, and national levels which is allowing us to reduce our mitigation efforts at this time. While this can be a welcome change for many of us, it is important that we remember to be considerate and empathetic toward others, as these changes can be a source of anxiety as well. Students have attended assemblies, watched presentations, and had discussions in classes to remind them to be respectful to one another, regardless of individual choices on wearing or not wearing of face coverings.

Additionally, the unrest and war in Ukraine is a source of anxiety, as we all watch from afar. Please take the time to talk with and listen to your children and family members this week, as we all struggle to understand the horrific events and loss of lives taking place across the world.

Face Covering Use

Effective on March 7, the wearing of face coverings will be optional in HPS.  Last night at HSC, we discussed the amendment of this policy which now makes face coverings optional on buses and vans as well, as per changes by the CDC as of 2/25/22. Face coverings will be available as needed by students and staff. Please read Policy EBCFA Face Coverings which has been voted on and updated as a result.

Ukraine

We have family members in our community who have come from Ukraine. One of our families is helping  to collect items for infants and little kids in order to send them to Ukraine and distribute them among those in need. The demand is very high as there are thousands of refugees and displaced people, and there are shortages of baby formula, diapers and other essentials in many parts of the country. Amazon list with needed items.

Here are some other links for donations should you wish to contribute:

International Red Cross ( humanitarian aid)

UKRAINE CRISIS | International Committee of the Red Cross

UNICEF

UNICEF USA ( Designate to children in Ukraine )

National bank of Ukraine help for Humanitarian Assistance

 NBU Opens Fundraising Account for Humanitarian Assistance to Ukrainians Affected by Russia's Aggression

National bank of Ukraine Help for the Ukrainian Armed forces

NBU Opens Special Account to Raise Funds for Ukraine's Armed Forces

NPR article of organizations working on assistance to Ukraine

COVID-19 Updates

In the past two weeks from February 17, 2022 through March 2, 2022, HPS has been notified of a total of 14 positive cases: 2 at Placentino, 0 at Miller, 4 at RAMS, and 8 at HHS. The Holliston community risk designation lowered to the YELLOW level. According to their weekly reports, our numbers lowered from 41.1 Average Daily Incident Rate per 100,000 on February 17 to 23.4 Average Daily Incident Rate per 100,000 on February 24. Our percent positivity lowered from 7.03% last week to 4.28% this week as noted on the HPS COVID Dashboard.

Families may still complete the Student Opt-In to receive test kits every other week and staff members can complete the Staff Opt-In for the next distribution as well. Anyone who opted themselves or their children in will be opted in until further notice and should not register again.

While we will no longer be sending home classroom or grade-specific notification of positive cases, HPS will continue to offer pooled testing, COVID Home Test Kits, and on-campus symptomatic tests as needed. We will continue to update the COVID Dashboard, monitor the data, and adjust practices accordingly.

Formative Survey

I am sharing graphs showing preliminary results of the February 2022 HPS Families Formative Implementation Feedback Survey. This data will be further examined and shared out at a later date.

Holliston Schools Good News

Upcoming Panel Webinar

The Holliston PTO, Mindshare, Holliston SEPAC, and Diverse Holliston Education Committee present a series of community education events entitled: Establishing Inclusive, Safe, and Supportive Holliston Public Schools

"For Parents and non-parents alike,this event is for all community members to come together and discuss how social and emotional learning, equity and inclusion are key components to maintain a mentally healthy student body"

With regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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  • School Committee

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT STATUS UPDATE

 

Teachers

The Holliston School Committee, in collaboration with the Superintendent of Schools and the Holliston Federation of Teachers are pleased to announce that we reached a tentative agreement on February 15, 2022. We anticipate ratification of the contract by both parties in March 2022. This agreement demonstrates our shared commitment to excellence in education and that our educators are appreciated for the outstanding work they do for our students each day.

Paraprofessionals

Following four months of negotiations, the Holliston School Committee is pleased to report that a three year contract with the Holliston Federation of Teachers, Paraprofessionals’ Unit for September 1, 2021 through 2024 has been reached. The tentative agreement was ratified by our valuable paraprofessionals last week and by the Holliston School Committee on February 17, 2022. Holliston recognizes and appreciates the educational support paraprofessionals provide our students daily.

 

BUDGET UPDATE

COLLECTIVE BARGAINING AGREEMENT STATUS UPDATE

 

Teachers

The Holliston School Committee, in collaboration with the Superintendent of Schools and the Holliston Federation of Teachers are pleased to announce that we reached a tentative agreement on February 15, 2022. We anticipate ratification of the contract by both parties in March 2022. This agreement demonstrates our shared commitment to excellence in education and that our educators are appreciated for the outstanding work they do for our students each day.

Paraprofessionals

Following four months of negotiations, the Holliston School Committee is pleased to report that a three year contract with the Holliston Federation of Teachers, Paraprofessionals’ Unit for September 1, 2021 through 2024 has been reached. The tentative agreement was ratified by our valuable paraprofessionals last week and by the Holliston School Committee on February 17, 2022. Holliston recognizes and appreciates the educational support paraprofessionals provide our students daily.

 

BUDGET UPDATE

The Superintendent presented her recommended budget to the School Committee on February 17. The School Committee will meet with the Finance Committee on March 22, 2022 to discuss the budget. A public hearing on the budget will occur on April 7. The FY22-23 budget will be voted on at Town Meeting which is scheduled for May 8. 

 

MODIFICATION OF MASK MANDATE

On February 9, 2022, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) announced that the statewide mask mandate for schools will not be renewed beyond February 28.  Consequently, each school district may determine whether to maintain, rescind or modify a district mask policy. On February 15, the Policy Subcommittee of the Holliston School Committee met in collaboration with the Holliston Nurse Manager and Emergency Management Director to discuss the Face Covering policy. Upon consideration of DESE’s recommendation, the availability of vaccines for individuals ages 5 and up, the availability of free rapid and pool testing at each school, Holliston Public School’s high rate of vaccination, case counts within our school community and participation in weekly testing, we are moving to modify the Covid-protection Face Covering policy to a mask-optional protocol commencing on Monday, March 7th. Enactment on March 7, 2022, one week beyond the expiration of the state-wide school mask mandate provides time to manage and respond to Covid-positive cases that occur over February vacation, during which limited nursing staff is available and reporting may be delayed. Pursuant to DESE’s recommendation, masks are recommended for the unvaccinated.

Our Holliston student dashboard reflects that 732 staff and students have been Covid-positive this school year resulting in lost instructional time, illness and stress. If Covid-positive cases among staff and students in a particular school increase, a mask mandate may be reinstated within a particular school for a limited period of time until the case count declines. Our highest priority remains the highest level of educational opportunities and achievement for all.

Masks must still be worn in school health offices and on school transportation, as federally mandated.

Families are encouraged to have discussions with their children to determine their mask preferences. Thank you to all Holliston students and staff in supporting a mask-optional learning environment that respects the choices of all our students and staff.

Covid-positive students and staff are still required to stay home until day 6, and must wear a well-fitting mask upon returning to school from day 6 until day 10. When staff or students test positive for Covid, it must be reported to the school nurse. Covid exposure notifications will continue to be provided to families. Holliston Public Schools will continue to provide weekly updates on the number of positive cases in each school.

 

REMOTE PARTICIPATION IN PUBLIC MEETINGS EXTENDED TO JULY 15

On February 12, 2022, Governor Baker extended the provision permitting remote meeting participation through July 15,2022.

 

 

School Committee Members

 

Cynthia Listewnik, Chair                             ListewnikC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Dawn Neborsky, Vice Chair                        NeborskyD@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Stacey Raffi                                              RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Lisa Kocian                                                  KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Catherine Savard                                        SavardMC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Minnie Gupta                                               GuptaM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Amanda Bigelow                                          BigelowA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Dr. Kustka Bitmoji Thumbnail
  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

February 18, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

As we begin to see a significant decline in the number of positive COVID cases in schools, we are optimistic that we are heading in the right direction with the Omicron variant in Holliston Public Schools. While we are still cautious as a school community, we are hopeful that this decline continues and allows us to return to normalcy at some point.

Office of the Superintendent

February 18, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

As we begin to see a significant decline in the number of positive COVID cases in schools, we are optimistic that we are heading in the right direction with the Omicron variant in Holliston Public Schools. While we are still cautious as a school community, we are hopeful that this decline continues and allows us to return to normalcy at some point.

Last night, the Holliston School Committee voted to allow optional wearing of masks in HPS effective as of March 7, 2022. Although Governor Baker and Commissioner Riley have announced that the mask mandate will end for schools at the state level as of February 28, 2022, local communities and districts were encouraged to make decisions that work best for the needs of the students, staff, schools, and community. After much input and discussion from parents, students, staff, the nurse leader, the emergency management director, administration, and the school committee members, we determined that March 7, 2022 will work for our HPS Community. Please read Policy EBCFA Face Coverings which has been voted on and updated as a result.

Important to note related to Policy EBCFA:

  • A face covering that covers the nose and mouth is strongly recommended to be worn by individuals who remain unvaccinated or are otherwise immunocompromised in school buildings, and on school grounds, even when social distancing is observed.
  • For all extracurricular and school-sponsored events (including athletics), we will adhere to host school and venue-specific restrictions. Member schools will need to communicate with and respect the specific protocols set forth at the local level. Anyone who chooses to wear a mask may continue to do so.
  • Individuals who are vaccinated are not required to wear a mask, but may do so if desired.
  • Students and staff returning from 5 day quarantine following a positive COVID test must follow strict mask use, other than when eating, drinking, or outside, and conduct active monitoring for symptoms, through day 10 of exposure.
  • Masks will be required in all school health offices.
  • By federal public health order, all students and staff are required to wear a mask on school buses.

After the break, more communications related to the optional wearing of masks will occur, as well as school/grade-level reminders, training, or assemblies to remind both students and staff to respect one another’s individual right to make personal decisions related to the wearing of masks. We know that there are many feelings/ concerns related to the wearing of masks, and we will continue to review data at the local, state and federal level to determine whether any changes will need to be made to this policy in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, HPS will continue to offer pooled testing, COVID Home Test Kits, and on-campus symptomatic tests as needed.

COVID-19 Updates

In the past two weeks through Wednesday, February 16, 2022, HPS has been notified of a total of 36 positive cases, with 16 of those this most recent week. Holliston community percent positivity rate lowered from about 10.24% last week to 7.03% this week but is still in the red metric, as noted on our HPS COVID Dashboard. [Until we get back below 5%, we will not emerge from the red. The positivity rate continues to be high because although there are fewer cases, there are also significantly fewer test results being entered in MAVEN.]

Families may still complete the Student Opt-In to receive test kits every other week beginning after the vacation and staff members can complete the Staff Opt-In for the next distribution as well. Anyone who opted themselves or their children in will be opted in until further notice and should not register again.

Student Vaccination Rates are strong in HPS!

Formative Survey

The February 2022 HPS Families Formative Implementation Feedback Survey related to school start times and student well-being has been reopened through the end of the school day on Monday, February 28, 2022, and data will be reviewed at that time.

Holliston Schools Good News

Congratulations are in order for our HHS athletic teams:

  • Boys Swim & Dive: TVL Champions
  • Girls Swim & Dive: TVL Champions
  • Girls Co-op Ice Hockey: Qualified for State Tournament
  • Girls Co-op Gymnastics: Qualified for Sectionals
  • Indoor Track, Swim & Dive and Wrestling all have team members participating in state and all state meets.
  • Girls Indoor Track: TVL Champions & Division 4 State Champions (won last night at the Reggie Lewis Center in thrilling fashion/ see below)


 

Regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

red bridge
  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

February 11, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

Today, I am sharing a link to the February 2022 HPS Families Formative Implementation Feedback Survey. This is something families have asked for in the past, related to changes in start times and student well-being. We ask that you submit this once for each child to share your feedback no later than Thursday, February 17, 2022. Responses will remain anonymous.

COVID-19 Updates

Office of the Superintendent

February 11, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

Today, I am sharing a link to the February 2022 HPS Families Formative Implementation Feedback Survey. This is something families have asked for in the past, related to changes in start times and student well-being. We ask that you submit this once for each child to share your feedback no later than Thursday, February 17, 2022. Responses will remain anonymous.

COVID-19 Updates

As of February 9, 2022, HPS has received communication of 75 positive cases in the two week lookback, with 20 of those from the current week. However, the town’s data which comes from the state update through 02/05/2022 shows Holliston percent positivity rate lowered from about 12.34% to about 10.24%, but it is still in the red metric, as noted on our HPS COVID Dashboard. [Until we get back below 5%, we will not emerge from the red. The positivity rate continues to be high because although there are fewer cases, there are also significantly fewer test results being entered in MAVEN.]

Today, staff who opted-in for test kits received two kits or four tests to utilize through and beyond the vacation week on each Friday. Students who opted-in should use their second test tonight and will receive a new two-week kit next Friday. Please communicate any positive results to your school’s health office.

Holliston Schools Good News

  • At Miller Elementary, 50 fourth grade students were randomly selected to take the NAEP Exam. RAMS eighth graders were selected to take it yesterday.
  • Pepy showed school spirit today at Sam Placentino. We love you Peppy!

 

Regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

red bridge
  • Superintendent

Superintendent updates includes COVID-19 status and testing info as well as therapy dogs bringing joy to Miller!

Office of the Superintendent

January 28, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

Here we are again at the end of a jammed-pack week. As I visited schools this week, despite the ongoing challenges still present with the pandemic, it is rewarding to see the hustle and bustle and rigor of academic lessons and outcomes taking place at all levels. As I paused in classrooms and asked some staff about their day, it made my day to hear the positivity and enthusiasm I was greeted with by our incredible staff members. I heard some updates, too, about some wonderful progress of students. This work is not easy, but it is rewarding.

COVID-19 Updates

This week we ended the week with 70 new cases for a total of 149 cases in the two week lookback.. However, the town’s data which comes from the state update through 1/27/2022 shows Holliston percent positivity rate was about 15.9% at that time. and while down, it is still in the red metric, as noted on our HPS COVID Dashboard. Let’s hope we are still on the decline.

Today, staff received their first two-week test kits for home use if they opted in for home testing. Yesterday families should have received a link to the Google form to opt-in by Tuesday, February 1, 2022, should they wish to receive free home COVID test kits to test their children at home each Friday. While we are no longer using the Test & Stay Option in School, we are continuing with weekly pooled testing at all levels, symptomatic testing as needed, and home testing. Thank you for your patience as we navigate these mitigation efforts with no additional staff of time in already busy schedules.

COVID Clinic Appointments:

Please see the flier from the Holliston Board of Health with information and a link to register for a COVID Clinic on February 5, 2022 from 9:00-11:00 am at Town Hall.

Holliston Schools Good News

At Miller Elementary, teachers were greeted in the break room by therapy dogs on Wednesday. What a great way to start the day. Dogs bring a lot of joy, and it reminded me of the joy my own two dogs bring to me when they greet me at home each evening, no matter how long or challenging the day has been. Children and dogs are my favorite combination!

Enjoy the snow and stay safe!

Regards,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

Prawdziwe Bałwany Spadły Z Nieba - Let It Snow Graphic - Free Transparent  PNG Clipart Images Download

     
red bridge
  • Superintendent

Office of the Superintendent

January 21, 2022

Dear Families, Caregivers, and Staff,

Today, I am mindful of the numerous and lengthy communications you are all receiving from the school district. Therefore, I will be very succinct, as I, too, am suffering from COVID exhaustion, and it has been quite a busy few weeks since our return to school on January 3, 2022. Given recent updates that you will see on our dashboard this week that was updated on Wednesday and again today, I am optimistic that we are at a turning point, but it is far too early to let down our guard with our mitigation measures both in and out of school

COVID-19 Updates

Last week we ended the week with 137 new cases and this week we added considerably less at 77. However, the town’s data which comes from the state update through 1/13/22 shows Holliston percent positivity rate from last week at about 19% and continuing to climb in the red metric, as noted on our HPS COVID Dashboard. Surrounding towns have noted similar increases, but this should also show improvement when updated from this week.

Next week, we will be reaching out to high school students and staff to share information about a plan to begin pooled testing for the foreseeable future beginning the week of January 31st. We will also be reaching out to all staff and families about opting-in to receive home test kits from DESE and the CIC to distribute at school. Stay tuned!

Testing:

As you may know, it has become increasingly difficult to obtain a COVID test.  For those with symptoms or exposure, Milford Regional has opened a drive through testing site.  Please see the link below for further information on registration, etc.

https://www.milfordregional.org/

COVID Clinic Appointments:

Please see the flier from the Holliston Board of Health with information and a link to register for a COVID Clinic on February 5, 2022 from 9:00-11:00am at Town Hall.

Holliston Schools Good News

We would like you to join together and participate in the Great Kindness Challenge during the week of Jan. 24-28, 2022. The Great Kindness Challenge is a nationwide initiative to spread kindness in schools and our community. You will hear about various activities throughout the district and schools, but this is something we can all take part in outside of school as well. Kindness goes a long way, particularly with the ongoing impact we continue to manage during this pandemic.

With kindness,

Susan E. Kustka, Ed.D.

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  • School Committee

This Holliston School Committee Newsletter includes updates on strategic planning, student testing, collective bargaining, mask requirements, and the 2022-2023 budget timeline.

Strategic Planning Update

Holliston is engaged in developing a comprehensive five-year strategic plan of objectives and initiatives to improve education for all here in town. The Strategic Planning Committee is comprised of teachers, administrators, School Committee members, students, parents, and other stakeholders in town, and we began meeting in October of 2021. The Committee met twice this month to go over the results from the survey data we collected in the fall. Over 1200 parents, students, teachers, and other community members responded to the survey, so thank you! We examined the quantitative data and comments from this, as well as data from the community forums that were held, the Metro West Health Survey, the most recent NEASC report, and the Culture and Climate Surveys that were given out at RAMS. All of this data suggests overarching goals for the district in conjunction with many specific strategic initiatives that will support these goals. Our steps for the coming weeks and months are to flush out these ideas and share them with the community. We hope to have a draft available this spring for implementation in 2022-2027.

 

Student Testing Data Update

At our December 9th meeting, Assistant Superintendent Joanne Menard shared some information about Star Assessment and MCAS Data with the community. Reviewing and analyzing this kind of data helps us identify trends over time, compare our areas of strength and growth with other districts, and ensure we’re meeting the needs of all students. A great strength of the Holliston Public Schools is our teachers’ willingness and ability to provide rich, varied, innovative learning opportunities, as opposed to “teaching to the test.” Data analysis helps enhance and improve these opportunities. One interesting finding from the MCAS data was that in all grade levels, Holliston did better relative to state averages during the pandemic, showing that all of the hard work by the teachers and administrators to keep schools open last year paid off! While Covid has certainly had a negative impact on our students in many ways, test scores included, Holliston is fortunate to have sustained less of an impact than we saw with the state. Holliston has also begun giving the Star Math and Reading assessment three times a year to help identify areas of strength and needs for individual students. This will help inform instruction and plan interventions that may have increased due to the impact of COVID on our instructional models. We are fortunate to have so many tools at hand to help our students!

 

Collective Bargaining Agreement Status Update

As reported in fall of 2021, the Holliston School Committee reached a one-year retroactive agreement with the Holliston Federation of Teachers for 2020-2021 providing for a 2% cost of living adjustment paid retroactively for the 2020-2021 school year. The Holliston School Committee continues to work to reach an agreement for a successor, multi-year Collective Bargaining Agreement. Our mission is to promote the highest quality education for all students. 

A fact-finding session occurred on October 12, 2021. A non-binding decision from the fact-finder is now expected in February/March 2022. 

 

Holliston Public School Mask Requirement

Pursuant to an Emergency Order of the Holliston Board of Health, there is an indoor mask mandate for all indoor Holliston buildings, including businesses, municipals buildings, etc., effective January 6, 2022. This includes the schools. In addition, the School Committee’s mask mandate remains in effect until and unless it is rescinded by the committee or superseded by state mandate. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s   mask requirement remains in effect until February 28, 2022. The School Committee will revisit the Holliston Public School’s face covering policy at our February 17th  meeting. 

 

Budget Update

The Superintendent will provide the Holliston School Committee a recommended budget in February 2022. The Holliston School Committee will meet with the Holliston Finance Committee on March 22, 2022 to discuss the budget. A public hearing on the budget will occur on April 7, 2022. The FY22-23 budget will be voted on at town meeting which is scheduled for May 9, 2022.  

Covid-19 Vaccination Clinic on 2/5/22 from 9:00 - 11:00 a.m. at the Holliston Town Hall

The Holliston Board of Health has scheduled a COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic for Ages 5 to 11 year olds (first or second shot) as well as boosters for 12+ on Saturday, February 5, 2022 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM at the Holliston Town Hall, 703 Washington Street

You must Preregister at https://home.color.com/vaccine/register/transformativehealth?calendar=e710308b-6c6f-41a8-9d2a-a894e0b46b64&fbclid=IwAR3SUhWb4E4_BwjPjCsKk45QenyfbEJDxxsOxWQ4ifVE02Hf-ZusFo_dnug

Event Sponsored by the Holliston Board of Health, Questions: call 508-429-0605

 

School Committee Members

 

Cynthia Listewnik, Chair                             ListewnikC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Dawn Neborsky, Vice Chair                        NeborskyD@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Stacey Raffi                                              RaffiS@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Lisa Kocian                                                  KocianL@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Catherine Savard                                        SavardMC@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Minnie Gupta                                               GuptaM@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

Amanda Bigelow                                          BigelowA@hsc.holliston.k12.ma.us

COVID-19 Educational Testing
  • Health

Why Do Routine COVID Safety Checks Work?

  1. Keep Kids and Staff Safe: catch cases before they spread to other students and staff

  2. Keep our Schools Open: prevent further time away from in-person learning and friends by knowing whether it's COVID, cold, or flu

  3. Stop the Spread: prevent infecting another member of your household or community

Visit https://covidedtesting.com/ for more information and resources.