top of page

January 17, 2024

Minutes of the 

Monson School Committee

Regular Business Meeting

January 17, 2024

Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meeting ID: 857 1601 9172

Present: Chair Emily Graves-Harrison; Vice Chair Alison Morgan; Secretary Jamie Murphy (via Zoom and then in person at 7:57 p.m.); Committee Member Colleen Flynn; Committee Member; Karen Nothe-Valley; Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; 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; Early Childhood Center Dean of Students Lauren Brin; Granite Valley School Assistant Principal Myriah Hudak and Monson High School Principal Arthur Murphy 

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

Ms. Graves-Harrison called the meeting to order at 7:13 p.m. due to technical difficulties.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Ms. Morgan read the Mission & Vision Statements.


January 18 and 19, 2024 are Early Release days for students.

On January 21, 2024, 2:00p.m. at Columbia Hall, across from St. Patrick’s Church, on Green Street, Mary Farrin from the Board of Health will host a listening event about the opioid funds hoping to hear from residents on how best to utilize those funds and assist in the process of identifying priority needs for our programs and community. This event ties in to the Monson Substance Use Partnership.

January 24, 2024 the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) will host the Reflections Ceremony at 6:00 p.m. at Granite Valley School. 

January 29, 2024 is Banner Night.  The banner for the girls’ varsity soccer team will be raised during half-time at the evening athletic competition.  Special guests will include students from the Early Childhood Center and Granite Valley School.

There will be 2 basketball game cancer events coming up on January 30, 2024 at the boys’ game and February 2, 2024 at the girl’s game.  

There will be a  PTSA meeting on February 7, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

Student Representative Reports:

Granite Valley School:

The following report was presented by Grade 6 students Lacey Stebbins and Caden Gonzalez:

In December we had the winter concert where the band and chorus performed at night. It was well attended. Their instructor was our music teacher Mrs. Martin. They played and sang several holiday songs.  Grades 1-3 performed during our daytime holiday concert.  In front of a packed auditorium they sang songs, played recorders, did a  dance with scarves and grade 3 even performed a light show.  Thank you to Mrs. Martin and all who attended. 

On January 11, our principal Mr. Trivisonno let the students who had snow gear which included gloves, boots, snow pants, and a coat to go outside and play in the snow for recess. It was a great way to enjoy the winter weather.  Mr. T even let grade 5 bury him in the snow.

Every month our school puts together a PBIS earn for us to turn in ROCKS tickets for.  This month we get six different options as long as we pay 10 R.O.C.K.S tickets.  The 6 options are flashlight reading with Ms. Cassie in the technology classroom, yoga with Mrs. Casimiro in the Cafeteria, origami with Mrs. Novak, basketball with Ms. Darling and Mr. Dylan, Just Dance with Mrs. Martin and board games with Mrs. Murphy.  These choice events are always a hit with students.  

Across the building, students have been taking their midyear DDM’s and assessments.  This helps students and teachers see how we have grown from the beginning of the year to the middle of the year. We know this is just some way to see what we have learned and we know students will try their best.

Thank you for having us tonight.

Monson High School:

Sophia Galarneau provided the following information:

Students are working hard on their mid-terms and semester one finals.  The original schedule was revised due to the recent snow day.

The Student of the Week initiative in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program has celebrated 75 students that were nominated by teachers for keeping it REAL, showing Respect, Empathy, Accountability and Leadership in the classroom.  The PBIS program is going well in its first year.  Close to 1000 tickets have been handed in to the school store for merchandise and Student Council is working on adding additional items as a result of discussions.

Grades 7 and 8 had a Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) kick-off assembly.

Winter Carnival is coming up the week before February vacation.  The Student Council and several staff members have been working hard to plan the event.

The first band and chorus concert with Mr. Wurtzel was a success. Although the program is currently small, everyone did a great job.

The Travel Club will be having a fundraiser at the Texas Roadhouse on January 18, 2024.  The club will receive 20% of the meal cost upon the diner presenting the information found in the recent In the Loop publication.

Student Work:

Granite Valley School:

Not available

It was the consensus of the Committee to move Agenda Item #10 – Old Business – Monson High School Walt Disney World Trip Update to this point in the meeting.

Mrs. Walker distributed a print-out of specific information, pertaining to the trip, to the Committee.  She reviewed the itinerary and answered questions.  She thanked C.R. Levesque Trucking for their sponsorship donation and Adams Hometown Market for their “Round-Up” donation.

She also extended her thanks to Camelot Kennels, Solidos Musical and Brenda Gagne for their gift donations.  There are 6 students participating in the trip after meeting the criteria of eligibility.

Agenda Item #6 returned to this point in the meeting.


  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the December 11, 2023, December 20, and  November 29, 2023 –REVISED Regular Business Meeting Minutes as presented.  (Second by Ms. Morgan)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 5-0

Superintendent’s Update:

The budget has been the main focus the past several weeks. Dr. Clarke stated that there will be a budget overview later in this evening’s meeting.

The district Instructional Aides will participate in Professional Development (PD) tomorrow.  Dr. Clarke thanked Ms. Bidus and Ms. Watts for creating some really great PD for them.

Dr. Clarke spoke about the statewide and nationwide problem of students not attending school as they did pre-pandemic, adding that 25% of students in Massachusetts have been absent more than 18 days which is considered chronic. Dr. Clarke and Ms. Watts have co-chaired the District Attendance Team, which is part of Dr. Clarke’s goals, and are working with district counselors, Ms. Hudak, Ms. Czarniecki on the first task of developing a district-wide first tier of interventions to support all students.  Dr. Clarke wrote a small grant to receive funding for anything related to chronic absenteeism.  One of the things being looked at is a Recovery Academy which would entail 3 days during February break, 3 days during April break and 4 Saturdays for 4 hours each day.  She explained that they are also looking at students who are on the cusp, in an attempt to reclaim some of their absent days back.  Principals are working to identify the students that would benefit from this program.  The administration is in the process of determining how the program will be designed and job postings. 

High dosage math tutoring, that Dr. Clarke previously spoke about, is happening.  There are 32 students in grade 4 and 32 students in grade 8.

The Center for School and District Partnership, part of the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), was at Granite Valley School (GVS) last Friday. They will be issuing a progress monitoring report for GVS and the full report will be based on findings, teacher surveys, principal questionnaire, data and focus groups.  Monson Public Schools was selected by DESE to participate in this program.

Ms. Watts, Ms. Zippin, Mr. Trivisonno and Ms. Casimiro worked together on writing a grant for Supporting Students’ Behavioral and Mental Health for approximately $100,000.  Notification of acceptance of the grant was received yesterday. A kick-off is slated for January 24, 2024 and Dr. Clarke will keep the Committee updated as the work progresses.

Tomorrow will be the first Technology Committee Meeting, having been reformed after COVID.  An initial 5-year plan was developed in 2017, to be reinstated in 2022 but was not due to COVID and the restructuring of the Technology Department last year.  Dr. Clarke noted that there is a great cross-section of staff on the Committee and they will assess the current plan and develop a new one for the future.  

Dr. Clarke has asked to meet with Tim Pascale from the Parks and Recreation Department and Kim Uliana, a conservation agent in town, Mr. DeMaio and Ms. Zippin to explore another Community Preservation Committee application.  She noted that she has concerns about GVS and how they might evacuate and where they might go as they are away from the other 2 schools.  The proposal will be to widen and re-purpose the trails behind GVS and clear some space so students and staff could travel among the buildings. 

Public Session:

Ms. Graves-Harrison opened Public Session at 7:33 p.m. 

Brett Douty came forward to address the Committee on absenteeism being linked to the ongoing bullying problem in the district.

Bob Lamb read a personal statement about MCAS results and testing requirements.

Ms. Graves-Harrison closed Public Session at 7:41 p.m.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Finance Subcommittee:

Ms. Nothe-Valley reported that the Committee met on January 10, 2024 to take a preliminary look at the FY25 budget.  There was a brief discussion.  She added that Dr. Clarke and Ms. Zippin did a great job and she is looking forward to collaborating with the Town.  

Human Resources/Negotiations Subcommittee:

The Committee met last week to set ground rules with all parties involved.  Additional meetings were scheduled for February 7 and 13, March 5 and 19, 2024.

Policy Subcommittee:

Ms. Graves-Harrison read the Policy codes and Ms. Morgan gave the Policy title.  Ms. Graves-Harrison reviewed the changes that were made, stating they were mostly grammatical.  

  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to accept the first read of Policies BEDH, BHE, GBGF, GBGE, JB, JBB, JFABE, JFBB, JH, JHD, JICFA and move to second read.  (Second by Ms. Flynn)                                            

  • Discussion followed

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley requested revisions to Policy BEDH.

  • Ms. Flynn is not in favor of a timeframe in Policy BEDH.

  • Motion was amended to eliminate Policy BEDH from the original motion to approve and bring it back to the Policy Subcommittee for further review.

  • Ms. Flynn had questions on Policy JH which were discussed.

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley questioned on Policy GBGF and wording on Policy GBGE. Dr. Clarke and Ms. Graves-Harrison answered her questions.  

  • Roll Call Vote:

  • Ms. Nothe-Valley Yes

  • Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Ms. Murphy Yes

  • Ms. Morgan Yes

  • Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

New Business:

High School Principal Mr. Murphy requested permission to set this year’s graduation date for May 31, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.  with a rain date of June 1, 2024 at 10:00 a.m.  He contacted the Pathfinder Regional School District to inquire on the graduation date which is on the same date but scheduled for 4:00 p.m.  Mr. Murphy felt that would work out for both districts.  Rain date for Pathfinder is also June 1, 2024 with a start time of 12:00 p.m.

  • Motion by Ms. Morgan to approve May 31, 2024 at 6:00 p.m. with a rain date of June 1, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. as graduation date as presented.   (Second by Ms. Murphy)                                            

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 5-0

Dr. Clarke reviewed the FY2025 Budget Overview hand-out that was distributed to Committee members. She spoke about revenue reductions and additions, staff reductions and utilities costs.  Discussion followed.  Dr. Clarke thanked the Administration Leadership Team for great collaboration on the budget development.


Action Items:

Schedule Policy Subcommittee for January 22, 2024 at 5:30 p.m. prior to the Tri-Board meeting.

Schedule Policy Subcommittee Meetings for February 7 and March 13, 2024 at 6:00 p.m.

Schedule Regular Business Meetings for February 7, March 13 and 27, 2024 at 7:00 p.m.

  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to adjourn Open Session and move to Executive Session under M.G.L.  Chapter 30A, Section 21-Purpose #3 - To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining or litigation if an open meeting may have a detrimental effect on the bargaining or litigating position of the public body and the Chair so declares, not to return to Open Session.  (Second by Ms. Murphy) 

  • No discussion                         

  • Motion carries 5-0

Open Session closed at 8:30 p.m.  

Documentation for this meeting:

January 17, 2024-Regular Business Meeting Agenda

December 11, 2023-Draft Regular Meeting Minutes

December 20, 2023-Draft Regular Meeting Minutes

November 29, 2023-Draft-REVISED Regular Meeting Minutes 


Distributed/Presented at meeting:

FY2025 Budget Overview-Monson Public Schools

Approved by Committee:


Jamie Murphy, Secretary

SC-January 17, 2024-Reg Bus Mtg-FINAL
Download PDF • 480KB

Recent Posts

See All

May 1, 2024

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting May 1, 2024 Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at Meeting ID

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  Meetin

March 27, 2024

Minutes of the Monson School Committee Regular Business Meeting March 27, 2024 Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at  Meetin


bottom of page