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April 25, 2024

Minutes of the 

Monson School Committee

Regular Business Meeting

April 25, 2024

Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meeting ID: 825 8242 5068

Present: Chair Emily Graves-Harrison; Vice Chair Alison Morgan; Secretary Jamie Murphy; Committee Member Colleen Flynn; Committee Member; Karen Nothe-Valley; Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Business and Operations Leah Zippin; Director of Curriculum and Instruction Katherine Watts (Remote); Early Childhood Center/Granite Valley School Principal Joseph Trivisonno and Recording Secretary Karen Methe

Note:  This meeting was recorded by M-Pact TV and Zoom.

Ms. Graves-Harrison called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m. 

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

 Ms. Murphy read the Mission & Vision Statements.


Monson’s Night Out is being held tonight at Beth’s Family Dining, Maria’s Pizzeria and Mains Street Tavern.  A percentage of all sales will benefit Monson Special Olympics.

May 1, 2024 is the National Honor Society Induction ceremony, 6:00 p.m. at the high school.

The district will host the Special Olympics on May 3, 2024 at Granite Valley School.  

Monson High School’s prom and the Grade 7/8 Spring Fling Dance will also be held on May 3, 2024.

May 6, 2024 begins Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week. The Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) will kick off the week by providing lunch to everyone at all 3 schools.  The PTSA is seeking donations to help support the event.

May 9, 2024 is PTSA Night at the Main Street Tavern.

May 11, 2024 is Spring Sports Homecoming Day. Baseball, softball and lacrosse games will be played all day. Food trucks will be there as well.  Dr. Clarke encouraged attendance at the event.

A senior meeting was held yesterday to finalize all the upcoming events.  Dr. Clarke will be finalizing and sending out a list of all the dates at the beginning of next week.  Graduation is on May 31, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. in the auditorium at Granite Valley School.  Dr. Clarke explained that having the ceremony inside negates the need for a rain date so families can plan their events accordingly and is more accessible to the grandparents that may attend.  She added that the auditorium is also air conditioned.  


There was a visit this morning from the Western Mass News Surprise Squad.  They travel to area schools to honor educators that make an impact in their community.  Jen Guerin, an Instructional Aide in Grade 4 had been nominated by a colleague of hers.  Dr. Clarke stated that Ms. Guerin does make an impact with everyone and is an exceptional staff member and has been in the district 18 years, stating that she always goes above and beyond what is expected.  Dr. Clarke congratulated Ms. Guerin adding that it was a total surprise involving staff and students.  Dr. Clarke thanks Western Mass News and all of their sponsors for their contributions.  The segment is scheduled to air on May 29, 2024.

Student Representative Reports:

Granite Valley School:

Grade 6 student, Caden Gonzalez, provided information on students taking MCAS in Grades 3-6.  Prior to the testing, students met with individual teachers to set personal goals.  There were fun review days that included the ELA Adventure and Math Amazing Race. Caden added that everyone is so proud of all the students’ hard work.

He noted that spring field trips have started and Grade 1 had an excellent day at Norcross Sanctuary, exploring the trails and Grade 2 students enjoyed the many exhibits at the Connecticut Science Museum.  Upcoming trips have been planned for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Interskate 91 and Plimoth Plantation.  

The Chess Club with Ms. Stello started on February 29, 2024 with 96 students from Grades 1-3 and 4-6 participating. There will be a meeting of the club and there will be a grade wide tournament.

Girls on the Run, a group of 18 girls, including 7 staff members as running buddies, ran 3 miles in celebration of their hard work this season with many others cheering them on.  There will be a large 5k celebration, with students from other districts, in June at Western New England University.


  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to approve the March 27, 2024 Public Hearing Meeting  and the March 27, 2024 Regular Business Meeting Minutes as presented.  (Second by Ms. Nothe-Valley)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 5-0

Superintendent’s Update:

The first ever Soup with the Superintendent event was held on April 2, 2024.  Dr. Clarke stated that it was very successful with a mix of parents, grandparents and community members in attendance.  She stated that an overview of the budget was presented, a question and answer period followed and everyone enjoyed a delicious soup that was prepared by the food services department.

Dr. Clarke and Committee members attended the Town Finance Committee meeting on April 22, 2024.  The districts’ Building Use Policy was reviewed in conjunction with the collaboration the district has with the Parks and Recreation department, adding that she felt confident that things will continue to move forward in a positive way.

The Capital Planning meeting was attended this week where approval was given for $97,000 for teacher computers and screens and $35,000 to rebuild one of the boilers at Granite Valley School.  Dr. Clarke thanked the Town.

Ms. Watts orchestrated the event One Book, One School, this past Monday at the Early Childhood Center and Granite Valley School, as part of the Earth Day celebration.  Each student received a copy of the Energy Detectives and participated in a variety of activities throughout the day including a story walk outside.  Dr. Clarke thanked Ms. Watts for her work on that event.

A $211,000 grant was received for the Summer Acceleration Academy for students entering Grades 1-8.  The program runs 5 days a week from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. beginning July 15, 2024 for 4 weeks.  Transportation and food are included.  There will be a counselor, an administrator and specials teachers on staff.  This program is in addition to the Summer Feeding Program that is being provided by food services.  

Dr. Clarke provided an update on the drug free grant. The coordinators will be attending the Wellness Fair on May 18, 2024.  There is a retreat on May 4, 2024 for the sector representatives to talk about goals with Ms. Manley and Ms. McRobbie.  Dr. Clarke noted that there have been some youth mental health first aid classes for high school staff. Ten percent of the staff were needed to participate in a train the trainer type program.  There are 3 sessions of training for staff to be able to teach the class to students.  Dr. Clarke noted that she will keep the Committee updated and also invite Ms. Manley and Ms. McRobbie to a future School Committee meeting to provide an overview.

Dr. Clarke stated that they are working hard to fill the Principal position at the high school adding that she feels good about the pool of applicants.  The Instructional Team Leaders from the high school are spending time reviewing the cover letters and resumes to identify a group of applicants to be interviewed.  All high school staff received an email from Dr. Clarke asking if they would like to be a part of the interview committee. Eight staff members, from varied positions in the district, replied and are part of the committee.  There have been 3 interviews and Dr. Clarke said there will be further information at the next meeting.  

Public Session:

Ms. Graves-Harrison opened Public Session at 7:15 p.m. 

The following town residents addressed the Committee:

Erin Grassetti spoke about the interview process for the new high school principal and asked for clarification regarding any decision made to fire a Superintendent being an entire Committee action or can one member make that decision.  She was told that the action to fire a Superintendent is a full Committee vote.

Bob Lamb read a personal statement regarding the new Health Frameworks from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education being reviewed by a two- member Policy Subcommittee.

Karen O’Toole gave a personal statement in response to Mr. Lamb’s statement regarding the new Health Frameworks.

Ms. Graves-Harrison closed Public Session at 7:26 p.m.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Human Resources/Negotiations:

Negotiations continue for Units A and C, having met on April 11 and 24, 2024.  Both Ms. Graves-Harrison and Ms. Flynn reported that the negotiation process will continue and has been very productive to date.

Curriculum Subcommittee:

Ms. Morgan provided an in-depth report that included a curriculum mapping update, the new Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Physical Education and Health Frameworks, summer reading and math fluency and Math Spiral Review weekly assignments for the 24-25 school year.

Policy Subcommittee:

Policy JICE – Student Publications (First Read) will be moved to the next meeting.

  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to move Policy BEDH-Public Participation at School Committee Meetings to a third read.  (Second by Ms. Murphy)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Roll Call Vote:  

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley Yes

  • Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Ms. Murphy Yes

  • Ms. Morgan Yes

  • Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

Ms. Morgan noted that the PTSA is accepting monetary donations, via a QR code, for the Staff Appreciation Luncheon adding that it is a nice way to show support for all the great things the district staff members do each day. 

Old Business:


New Business:

Agenda item #10a-Summerfest Approval will be moved to the May 22, 2024 meeting.

Ms. Watts presented an in-depth PowerPoint on the Student Opportunity Act (SOA).  She explained that the SOA requires each district to create an evidence-based, three-year plan for reducing persistent disparities in achievement across student groups. She outlined how districts engage in the SOA process, and identified the districts subgroups as Low Income and Students with Disabilities who will be targeted for acceleration improvement in the areas of reducing chronic absenteeism, reducing the high dropout rate, increasing student achievement in English Language Arts and Math.  Ms. Watts reviewed data and spoke about the Evidence-Based Programs selected, concluding with the following plan:

Multi-tiered Systems of Support will provide targeted and monitored interventions to identified students from the subgroups identified.

A multi-year Professional Development focus in High Leverage Practices will be implemented.

Partnering with families will be enhanced through additional community engagement opportunities at the school and district level.  A question and answer period followed with discussion.

Mr. Trivisonno spoke about a Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS).  He stated in January a hefty grant was awarded from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education that focused on building out MTSS.  the May Institute has been at Granite Valley School (GVS) one day a week since January doing classroom observations, coaching teachers, providing after school Professional Development that is open to teachers and instructional aides, that ranges from de-escalation and managing anxiety to ways to increase engagement in the classroom.  They will also be at GVS 3 days this summer with the goal to be creating a manual for teachers that captures all of the resources of the current tiered intervention assisting in building out a strategic tier 3 intervention.  

  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to approve the three-year Student Opportunity Act as presented by Ms. Watts.  (Second by Ms. Flynn)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Roll Call Vote:  

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley Yes

  • Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Ms. Murphy Yes

  • Ms. Morgan Yes

  • Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

Agenda item #10c-Approval of the 2024-2025 District Calendar will be moved to the May 22, 2024 meeting.

Action Items:

Change the Policy Subcommittee Meeting from May 8 to May 7, 2024 at 5:45 p.m.

Post Negotiations Subcommittee meetings for May 2 and 14, 2024.

Reminder that Town Meeting is May 6, 2024 at Granite Valley School.

  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to adjourn Open Session.  (Second by Ms. Murphy)                 

  • Roll Call Vote:  

  • Motion carries 5-0

Open Session closed at 8:14 p.m.  

Documentation for this meeting:

April 25, 2024-Regular Business Meeting Agenda

March 27, 2024-Draft-Public Budget Meeting Minutes (Revised) (For Approval)

March 27, 2024-Draft-Regular Business Meeting Minutes (For Approval)

Distributed/Presented at meeting:

MPS 2024-2025 Draft Calendar

MPS District Student Opportunity Plan (April 2024) 

Approved by Committee:


Jamie Murphy, Secretary

SC-April 25, 2024-Reg Bus Mtg-FINAL
Download PDF • 422KB

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