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December 20, 2023

Minutes of the 

Monson School Committee

Regular Business Meeting

December 20, 2023

Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meeting ID: 853 2642 0104

Present: Chair Emily Graves-Harrison; Vice Chair Alison Morgan; Secretary Jamie Murphy; Committee Member Colleen Flynn; Committee Member; Karen Nothe-Valley; Director of Business and Operations Leah Zippin; Director of Curriculum & Instruction Katherine Watts; Director of Student Services Colette Bidus; Granite Valley School/Early Childhood Center Principal Joseph Trivisonno; Granite Valley School Assistant Principal Myriah Hudak and Monson High School Principal Arthur Murphy 

Absent: Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke 

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

Ms. Graves-Harrison called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Ms. Morgan read the Mission & Vision Statements.


Ms. Zippin provided the following updates per Dr. Clarke’s request:

A reminder that this Friday is a half-day for all students.  Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and looking forward to seeing staff and students back on January 2, 2024.  

Ms. Zippin attended a holiday concert for grades 1-3 today at Granite Valley School.  It was a great concert and included a light show and a song with sign language.  

Mr. Trivisonno came to the podium to note that Grades 4 -6 had an outstanding concert and he thanked Ms. Martin for all her hard work.

The Administrative Leadership held a yearly retreat last week to begin planning for the 2024-2025 school year.  The team developed goals for the coming year and started a draft budget for FY25.

Ms. Zippin and Mr. DeMaio attended a Capital Planning Meeting at the Town Offices.  Mr. DeMaio is working on a 10-year capital assessment plan for facilities.  This year he is requesting capital funds to repair another one of the boilers at Granite Valley School and to work on a plan for the sidewalks.  Capital funds are also being requested to replace staff desktop computers,  The Windows 10 computers have an end of support life as of October 2025.  The district hopes to replace approximately 100 during the summer of 2024 and the remaining 60 during the summer of 2025.

This past Monday, Dr. Clarke hosted a holiday store.  Parents were able to sign up and come in to pick out presents for their children all free of charge.  The district helped approximately 50 families supplement their holiday gift list and, in addition, the district sponsored another 17 families this holiday season.  

A thank you was given to Main Street Tavern for collecting and donating so many gifts to families to families in the town.  


  • Motion by Ms. Nothe-Valley to approve the December 11, 2023 Working Meeting Minutes as presented.  (Second by Ms. Murphy)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 5-0

Superintendent’s Update:

Congratulations to Mr. Degnan who was chosen as Massachusetts Coach of the Year, Regional Coach of the Year and National Coach of the Year.  Everyone is very proud of him.  Dr. Clarke and Ms. Zippin would like to provide some financial assistance for Mr. Degnan to attend the conference in Anaheim, CA on January 12, 2024.  Ms. Zippin outlined the cost for attendance.  Ms. Graves-Harrison proposed that the gifts to the school revolving account cover the $515 convention fee and add an additional $500 for travel.  Discussion followed.

  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to grant Mr. Degnan $1500 from the gifts to the school revolving account.  (Second by Ms. Graves-Harrison)                                            

  • Further discussion was held.

  • Ms. Graves-Harrison would like to propose $1,000 be given to Mr. Degnan to attend the convention, so as not to drain the revolving account.  She requested the motion be amended.

  • Ms. Flynn offered her reasoning on why she would like to keep the $1,500 amount.

  • Ms. Morgan and Ms. Murphy noted that they are in favor of the $1,000 amount.

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley expressed her concern on setting a precedent and was agreeable to the $1,000 amount.

  • Amended motion by Ms. Flynn to change the amount in the original motion to $1,000.  (Second by Ms. Morgan)

  • Roll Call Vote

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley Yes

  • Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Ms. Murphy Yes

  • Ms. Morgan Yes

  • Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

Public Session:

Ms. Graves-Harrison opened Public Session at 7:18 p.m. 

No one came forward to address the Committee.

Ms. Graves-Harrison closed Public Session at 7:19 p.m.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Facilities and Long-Term Planning Subcommittee:

Ms. Murphy provided information regarding the 10-year capital assessment that Mr. DeMaio is working on in addition to the capital funds that are being requested to repair another boiler at Granite Valley School and create a proposal for the sidewalks.

Policy Subcommittee:

Report tabled until the January 17, 2024 Regular Business Meeting.

New Business:

Granite Valley School:

Ms. Hudak and Mr. Trivisonno presented a thorough PowerPoint entitled MCAS Presentation- Past, Present, Future.  They began with timeline information for 2019-2021, followed by 2021-2022, 2022-2023 and 2023-2024.  Scoreboard data was presented and explained.  Statistics were given including the standing of Monson Public Schools with other comparable districts.  Ms. Hudak and Mr. Trivisonno then presented strategies, to implement and/or continue with, for English Language Arts and Math.  The presentation closed with the MCAS focus plan going forward which was outlined as follows:

Emphasis placed on MCAS school and district wide

MCAS action plan

Ongoing data review

Focus on what do our assessments look like

Larger focus on teacher pacing-curriculum release days

Student conferencing and goal setting – beginning in January


Professional Development – Writing and Math

There was a discussion and question and answer period that followed.

Monson High School:

Mr. Murphy presented a detailed PowerPoint entitled MHS 2023-24 MCAS Plan-Where We Are, Where We are Going, Where We Want to Be.  He began by showing Achievement Scores for Grade 10 English Language Art, Math and Science comparing Monson to the State percentages. Mr. Murphy then spoke about  the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education District Analysis and Review Tools (DART) comparison for Grades 10, 8 and 7.  He explained the Growth and Achievement Graph.  He outlined where the district is going with a three-pronged focus:

Rigor – Define mastery and base our assessment and Instruction around mastery.

Mirror -Unpack the MCAS (targeted standards, question type, vocabulary, passages, etc.

Motivate – Help the “WHY” for students

Mr. Murphy then broke down each focus with specific information.  The PowerPoint slides included 50% Accountability Percentile

Top 3 DART school

Over 50% Student Growth Percentile and Achievement

Discussion and a question and answer period followed.

School Committee members thanked Ms. Hudak, Mr. Trivisonno and Mr. Murphy for excellent presentations.

Action Items:


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

  • No discussion                                                                                                                                             

  • Motion carries 5-0

Open Session closed at 8:51 p.m.  

Documentation for this meeting:

December 20, 2023-Regular Business Meeting Agenda

December 11. 2023-Draft Working Meeting Minutes


Distributed/Presented at meeting:


Approved by Committee:


Jamie Murphy, Secretary

SC-December 20, 2023-Reg Bus Mtg-FINAL
Download PDF • 262KB

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