top of page

February 10, 2021

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting February 10, 2021 “Pursuant to Governor Baker’s March 12, 2020 Order Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A, §18, and the Governor’s March 15, 2020 Order imposing strict limitation on the number of people that may gather in one place, this meeting of the Town of Monson School Committee will be conducted via remote participation to the greatest extent possible. Specific information and the general guidelines for remote participation by members of the public and/or parties with a right and/or requirement to attend this meeting can be found on the Town of Monson website, at For this meeting, members of the public who wish to listen to the meeting may do so in the following manner: Meeting ID: 949 6110 2164, no in-person attendance of members of the public will be permitted, but every effort will be made to ensure that the public can adequately access the proceedings in real time, via technological means. In the event that we are unable to do so, despite best efforts, we will post on the Town of Monson’s website an audio or video recording, transcript, or other comprehensive record of proceedings as soon as possible after the meeting. Present: Chair Jeffrey Lord; Vice Chair Emily-Graves-Harrison; Committee Members; Colleen Flynn; Kathryn Peterson and Jackie Watts Also Present: Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Student Services/Early Childhood Center Suzanne Tetrault; Paul DeMaio Facilities Director: Granite Valley School Principal Katherine Watts; Granite Valley School Assistant Principal Joe Trivisonno; Director of Guidance Robert Bardwell; Director of Food Services Melody Gustafson; Monson High School Principal William Metzger; Monson High School Assistant Principal Jill Foulis; Early Childhood Center Dean of Students/Special Education Coordinator Colette Bidus; and Recording Secretary Karen Methe Note: This meeting was recorded using Zoom technology. Mr. Lord called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. Ms. Peterson read the Mission & Vision Statements. Announcements: Dr. Clarke reminded everyone that school vacation is next week. Nurse leader Mrs. Fedora gave Dr. Clarke an update on COVID cases in the town. Currently there are 20 cases, zero students, 2 staff members (1 last week, 1 this week) and 3 affected families. Mr. Lord welcomed interim School Committee member Jackie Watts. Mr. Watts was appointed at last night’s joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen. He will serve on the Committee until the June 2021 annual Town Elections are held. Minutes: Motion by Ms. Graves-Harrison to approve the January 6, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes as presented. (Second by Ms. Flynn) No discussion Motion carries 5-0

School Committee Minutes: Page 1 of 6 Regular Business Meeting-February 10, 2021

DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting-March 24, 2021

Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the January 13, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes as presented. (Second by Ms. Graves-Harrison) No discussion Motion carries 5-0 Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the January 20, 2021 Regular Meeting Minutes as presented. (Second by Ms. Peterson) No discussion Motion carries 5-0 Subcommittee and Liaison Reports: There were no reports for any Subcommittees. The Human Resources/Negotiations Subcommittee will meet once a date/time is confirmed with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union. Mr. Lord revised the Subcommittee and Liaison assignments due to the resignation of Mr. Dubois-White. Superintendent’s Report: New Business Agenda item 8d, Monson High School update, will be moved and included in this report. Dr. Clarke began by saying that there has been a lot of connection with the town as of late. She was a member of the interview panel to move forward candidates Interim Town Administrator. She added that she is happy with the choice of Jennifer Wolowicz appointed last night. Dr. Clarke and Mr. DeMaio met with outgoing Town Administrator Evan Brassard to discuss transition and also review all the positive work for the district that has been done in his time as Town Administrator. A capital meeting was held with the town and Dr. Clarke was happy to report that funding will be secured for the continuation of carpeting at Quarry Hill Community School (QHCS), a boiler, technology, and a dishwasher; adding her thanks to the town for the funding. Dr. Clarke attended the virtual National Honor Society Induction and said she is very proud of the students. They are hoping to hold and in-person ceremony, if possible in the future. The Fall 2 season of basketball begins March 1, 2021 and that includes the Unified Basketball team. There will be no swimming or diving this year. Cheerleading has been moved to the spring season, per MSSAA now scheduled to begin on April 26, 2021. Discussion was held on who will monitor the games and at what cost. Mrs. Zippin responded that she and other staff have always and will continue to oversee games and the cost has been a part of the athletics budget. Discussion continued on allowing fans to attend the games. Motion by Ms. Graves-Harrison to allow the admittance of 1 family member per player at basketball games for the foreseeable future all who will be required to wear and maintain 6 feet distancing, and games will be supervised by the basketball leaders as stated by Mrs. Zippin, applicable to home games. (Second by Mr. Watts) No discussion Motion carries 5-0

School Committee Minutes: Page 2 of 6 Regular Business Meeting-February 10, 2021

DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting-March 24, 2021

Dr. Clarke added that football has been approved for a March 1, 2021 start date. Monson students are allowed to participate on Palmer teams. Mr. Lord expressed his concerns about the School Committee having no jurisdiction over another district regarding COVID protocol. Mrs. Zippin remarked that all districts must follow Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) and Department of Public Health (DPH) rules or they cannot play and the modifications are in place to protect all athletes. Ms. Graves-Harrison, Mr. Watts, Ms. Flynn and Ms. Peterson said they do not have concerns regarding Monson students participating in out of district football. Locker rooms are closed and though Mr. Trivisonno is not coaching basketball this year he added that the guidelines set in the fall are pretty solid and reduce close contact for athletes. Games have been modified as such. Mr. Metzger said he was on board with this and would prefer to give families the choice for participating. Motion by Ms. Peterson to allow Monson athletes to play in Palmer football. (Second by Mr. Watts) No discussion Motion carries 5-0 The bid for the QHCS roof will be going out to bid soon and a walk through will be held next week for prospective bidders. The Energy Service Company (ESCO) work continues. Dr. Clarke noted that the Administrative Leadership Team (ALT) and the maintenance department is preparing for a return to in-person learning on February 22, 2021. Rooms are being moved to adhere to social distancing guidelines and new teachers are being hired to follow class occupancy parameters. Mr. DeMaio welcomed new member, Mr. Watts and addressed the Committee regarding the recent flood at Monson High School caused by a mechanical failure, backed up by a control failure which was a series of events that caused the flooding and subsequent damage. He stated that on his weekend check of the buildings he discovered a flood at the high school due to a frozen coil in a univent that caused significant damage. He immediately shut everything down, cleaned up what could be with the assistance of some of the maintenance staff and contacted SERVPRO to complete the remainder of the work. The insurance company was promptly notified. Currently the school is dried out on 2 of the 3 floors. Affected drywall has been removed to prevent mold and/or bacteria. By Friday, clean-up was complete and a call was made to the state building inspector. The maintenance staff has been lined-up to do any additional repairs. Mr. DeMaio stated that he is working with the control people and plumbers to be sure this does not happen again and will keep the School Committee apprised as such. Technology Specialist Mr. Schubach did an assessment of the technology equipment. There are 14 computers and 9 boards total that will need replacing. Approximately $10,000 of replacement novels for English teachers and World History books will be necessary. Mr. Lord inquired as to whether all the computer and whiteboards will be se-up for the anticipated February 22, 2021 return to in-person learning. It was noted that February 22, 2021 will be an asynchronous learning day for students to allow teachers into the buildings to check out their classrooms. Mr. Lord asked Mr. DeMaio if certification has been received from the state building inspector for safe return into the school to which Mr. DeMaio said yes. Ms. Graves-Harrison asked if the building ventilation had been affected. Mr. DeMaio assured her that it had not. Ms. Graves-Harrison questioned whether all damages were covered under insurance. Dr. Clarke responded that they are. Mr. DeMaio, when asked if there was any need to prioritize ESCO funds, added that the

School Committee Minutes: Page 3 of 6 Regular Business Meeting-February 10, 2021

DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting-March 24, 2021

water valves in the ceiling univents would be changed. The ESCO lighting project at QHCS is complete and they are now working at the high school Public session: Mr. Lord opened Public Session at 7:49 p.m. The following town residents addressed the Committee: Rhys Houghton, high school student and junior member of the Town Board of Health, expressed is concern regarding mental health issues with the pandemic. He added that he’s done more research and began to review studies from the American Psychology Association. Mr. Lord, noting that time in public session is limited, asked that he be added as a separate Agenda item at the next meeting to continue his presentation. Demetra Atkins thanked Rhys for the concern and added that she would like schools to re-open, that there is no reason for them not to. Tara Slozak agreed that schools should re-open and added that the process should have been thought out better. Chris Fontaine would like students back in school. He is an administrator in another district and added that there are so many ways to keep everyone safe. Joe Kaminski agrees with the parents that spoke on behalf of re-opening the schools, noting that they are not a super spreader venue. He stated that private schools have been 100% in-person. Amber Letendre is looking forward to her 2 daughters returning to in-person learning, expressing her appreciation to the Committee for being cautious, but adding that being overly cautious is detrimental to students. Mr. Lord reminded everyone that the case count has to be under 43 to return on the anticipated date of February 22, 2021, noting that the entire town needs to pitch-in and do their part to help fight the virus. Mr. Lord closed Public Session at 8:07 p.m. Old Business: Dr. Clarke is requesting a vote to approve pooled testing in the district. Mrs. Zippin has attended all the required trainings. She did an informational PowerPoint on Project Beacon Pooled Testing to help people feel more confident about the process. She outlined the purpose, who will be tested, and the testing options available. This testing is provided by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) free of charge until March 28, 2021. She reviewed the cost to the district after that date. She added that the 2 people hired to oversee the testing will be thoroughly trained. A brief question and answer period followed. Motion by Ms. Peterson Mr. Lord to put in place and endorse pooled testing for the district until March 28, 2021, as presented by Mrs. Zippin. (Second by Mr. Watts) No discussion Roll Call Vote: Mr. Watts Yes Ms. Peterson Yes Ms. Flynn Yes Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

School Committee Minutes: Page 4 of 6 Regular Business Meeting-February 10, 2021

DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting-March 24, 2021

Mr. Lord Yes Motion carries 5-0 Mrs. Loglisci stated that a bid for school bus transportation has gone out. She explained that this is done regularly. She added that 5 companies have requested the bid specs. One bid has been received by J. P. McCarthy & Sons and is in the process of comparing to town operated costs. Mrs. Loglisci confirmed that Monson will continue providing van transportation. She will work on the cost savings to the town and then the information will be presented to the UFCW union to bargain out of the current contact. There is a deadline of Mach 4, 2021 for this to occur. Mrs. Watts presented an informational PowerPoint on the student supports available at Granite Valley School for Counseling and Social Emotional Learning. She stated that she knows students are having difficulty socially and emotionally and discussed, in detail, each option contained in the presentation and how the service can be accessed. She noted that parents can ask for a home visit and prior to the visit staff will connect with the child’s teacher(s) and counselors to gain more information, adding that she and Mr. Trivisonno facilitate many of the options for families. Mrs. Watts will provide a progress update to the Committee at a subsequent meeting. New Business: Mr. Lord told Committee members that their annual Ethics training should be completed and sent to the Town Clerk as soon as possible. Mrs. Loglisci provided a COVID Related Grants Overview to the Committee. She gave detailed information on the current CARES/ESSER I, (extended to September 2022) and CvRF-Coronavirus Relief Fund-School Reopening (extended to June 30, 2021) grants and reviewed the following Anticipated Coronavirus Relief Funding/Grants: FY21 State Coronavirus Prevention Fund Program and CARES/Esser II. She noted that there is discussion at the federal and state level for further support and as funds become available, the district will apply for any appropriate funding opportunities that can help the schools, teachers, students and families recover and move forward from the pandemic. Mrs. Loglisci added that she works closely with a Grants Management Administrator from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. There was a request to schedule Finance, Human Resources/Negotiations and Policy Subcommittee meetings. Mr. Watts needs to register for Charting the Course. Ms. Graves-Harrison requested a cost comparison be developed for Plexiglas to be installed around all desks, in the cafeteria and the teacher’s rooms. Mr. Lord asked that a meeting be scheduled for February 18, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. with the sole Agenda item being Review of School Opening. Action Items: Add Rhys Houghton to the February 24, 2021 Agenda. Add Monson High School to the February 24, 2021 Agenda re: counseling options for students in grades 7-12. Add Mrs. Watts to the March 10, 2021 Agenda re: provide student support update to the Committee. Motion by Ms. Graves-Harrison to adjourn to Executive Session under M.G.L. Chapter 30A, 21a, Purpose #3, to discuss strategy with respect to

School Committee Minutes: Page 5 of 6 Regular Business Meeting-February 10, 2021

DRAFT COPY for distribution/approval at the Regular Business Meeting-March 24, 2021

collective bargaining and litigation, not to return to Open Session. (Second by Ms. Peterson) No discussion Roll Call: Ms. Peterson Yes Ms. Flynn Yes Mr. Watts Yes Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes Mr. Lord Yes Motion carries 5-0 After the vote it was deemed unnecessary to hold Executive Session. Ms. Graves-Harrison had already signed off from the meeting. Motion revised by Ms. Flynn to adjourn Open Session. (Second by Mr. Watts) No discussion Roll Call: Ms. Peterson Yes Ms. Flynn Yes Mr. Watts Yes Ms. Graves-Harrison (signed-off prior to this vote) Mr. Lord Yes Motion carries 4-0 Open Session closed at 9:27 p.m. Documentation for this meeting: February 10, 2021-Regular Business Meeting Agenda January 6, 2021-Regular Business Meeting Minutes-DRAFT January 13, 2021-Regular Business Meeting Minutes-DRAFT January 20, 2021-Regular Business Meeting Minutes-DRAFT Monson Public Schools Project Beacon Pooled Testing-PowerPoint COVID Related Grants Overview Distributed at meeting: N/A Approved by Committee: ________________________________________ Kathryn Peterson, Secretary

Recent Posts

See All

November 2, 2023

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting November 2, 2023 Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meeti

October 11, 2023

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting October 11, 2023 Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meeti

September 13, 2023

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting September 13, 2023 Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Me

bottom of page