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March 15, 2023

Minutes of the

Monson School Committee

Regular Business Meeting

March 15, 2023

Hybrid Model

Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at Meeting ID: 82427936379

Present (In-person): Chair Colleen Flynn; Vice Chair Alison Morgan; Secretary Emily Graves-Harrison; Committee Member Kathryn Peterson; Committee Member Jamie Murphy (via Zoom); Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Business and Operations Leah Zippin; Director of Special Education Colette Bidus; Director of Curriculum and Instruction Katherine Watts; Granite Valley School Principal Joseph Trivisonno; Monson High School Assistant Principal Katie Czarniecki and Recording Secretary Karen Methe

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

Ms. Flynn called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Ms. Morgan read the Mission & Vision Statements.


Granite Valley School will host a Literacy Night for grades 1-3 tomorrow from 5:00 p.m.- 6:30 p.m.

The Parent Teacher Student Association will hold a Thunderbirds hockey game fundraiser on March 18, 2023 at 7:00 p.m. Dr. Clarke encouraged families to attend this fun evening.

The Special Education Department will host a fundraiser at Main Street Tavern on March 23, 2023 to benefit the upcoming Special Olympics.

A 5K Color Run will be held on April 1, 2023, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., beginning at GVS.

The Cradle to Crayons Clothing Drive which is part of the Project 351 program is underway. Maddie Moreau, this year’s program ambassador has set-up donation boxes at GVS and MHS. Dr. Clarke recognized and thanked Maddie for her efforts adding that informational flyers will be sent home this week.

Pre-school screenings are being planned for April 11-13, 2023 and Kindergarten screenings will be held April 26 and 27, 2023.


Dr. Clarke congratulated Amanda Nobbs, who was chosen by a group of her peers that were former winners, as this year’s Harold Grinspoon Excellence in Teaching Award recipient. She noted that Amanda has been with the district for many years and is an inspiration to all. She is also mentor and helps to lead Professional Development when requested.

A ceremony honoring all the participants of the Reflections Program was held prior to February break. Dr. Clarke and members of the administration team attended.

Four of our students placed at the State Level of the Reflections Art Competition and 3 of those earned 1st place in their categories so they will be moving on to the National Level! All four were recognized this weekend at the MA State PTA Annual Meeting. The three listed below in blue are going on to the National Competition.

Elliot Greene (6th grade): Middle School Level (Grades 6-8) Photography 1st place Award of Excellence Title: Stood Out Among the Rest.

Allyssa Grinnell (11th grade): High School Level (Grades 9-12) Visual Arts: 1st place Award of Excellence Title: The Best Medicine.

Stephanie Gilmore (6th grade): Middle School Level (Grades 6-8) Visual Arts: 1st place Award of Excellence. Title: Being Left Out Artist statement:

Yeriel Gonzalez (6th grade): Middle School Level (Grades 6-8) Visual Arts: 3rd place Award of Achievement. Title: The Martin Luther King

Student Representative Report/Work:

There were no student reports but Monson High School English teacher Caitlin Walker, who was introduced to the Committee by Dr. Clarke, talked about an after-school reading and writing center that she created at the high school. She noted that students are tutoring students and the program is doing very well.


  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the February 8, 2023 Regular Business Meeting Minutes as presented. (Second by Ms. Morgan)

  • No discussion

  • Roll Call Vote:

Ms. Murphy Yes

Ms. Peterson Yes

Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

Ms. Morgan Yes

Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

Ms. Morgan. Vice-Chair of the Committee asked that a vote not be taken on the February 8, 2023 Working Meeting minutes that the Committee received for approval. She provided revisions to Mrs. Methe to make for an approval vote at the next meeting.

Superintendent’s Update:

The new School Resource Officer (SRO), Mai Grover, started in the district this week and Dr. Clarke will introduce her to the Committee at a subsequent meeting. Office Grover did some shadowing of SRO’s in other districts and is now getting to know the staff and students in Monson.

The Drug Free Community Partnership Alliance Grant continues to move forward. Dr. Clarke is working with a member of the Quaboag partnership on this grant.

In conjunction with the Alliance, students in grades 7-12 will be electronically administered a Student Health Survey on April 5, 2023. All parental requests to review the survey were honored.

Narcan training will begin soon, coordinated by nurse leader Kelly Ramsland along with a member of the Board of Health. All staff will be trained and community members will also be encouraged to participate.

A Town Health Fair will be held on May 6, 2023. Dr. Clarke and the district nurses will have a table set up at that event.

Dr. Clarke said that the recent Professional Development Day was very successful. The day began with a State of the District and FY24 Budget Review for all staff at GVS. Dr. Clarke thanked Ms. Bidus and Ms. Watts for a well-planned day tailored to specific needs of all staff. She added that there were mid-day festivities that were enjoyed by everyone. Dr. Clarke thanked members of the administration team for their help in making the mid-day break so fun. She gave a special thanks to Ms. Zippin for excellent cotton candy making skills.

An on-site Administrative Leadership Team retreat was held in the Central Business Offices lounge. Topics of discussion included FY24 budget, ESSER III grant, Professional Development and faculty meetings.

Public Session:

Ms. Flynn opened Public Session at 7:11 p.m.

No one from the public came forward to address the Committee.

Ms. Flynn closed Public Session at 7:12 p.m.

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Policy Subcommittee:

Ms. Graves-Harrison stated that the recent meeting was great with members from the Boosters in attendance.

Following a brief discussion, it was agreed upon that all MPS Flag and Banner Display Requests will be filtered through the Policy Subcommittee first, followed by a vote by the entire School Committee.

New Business:

Caitlin Walker distributed a packet of information for an out of state Walt Disney World trip proposal. She reviewed the key takeaways, safety information, and specific Disney parks safety requirements and provided an in-depth overview of the proposal that was followed by a question and answer period.

  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the next stage of planning for Ms. Walker’s out of state Walt Disney World trip proposal. (Second by Ms. Peterson)

  • No discussion

  • Roll Call Vote:

Ms. Murphy Yes

Ms. Peterson Yes

Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

Ms. Morgan Yes

Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

Mr. Trivisonno spoke about a backpack program that he was an integral part of running in a previous district. The purpose of this program is to send a backpack of non-perishable food items home to Monson families in need on Friday afternoon, with return of the empty backpack to school on Monday. He noted that the school already has a collection of backpacks to use and a pantry has been set up at Quarry Hill Community School. A round up option is currently in place at Adam’s IGA. Administration will communicate with families for their decision to opt-in. Committee members were supportive of Mr. Trivisonno’s initiative following discussion on how best to respect participating family’s privacy and discretion.

Dr. Clarke reviewed and explained the changes to the FY24 draft school calendar.

  • Motion by Ms. Flynn to accept the proposed Monson Public Schools FY24 school calendar as presented. (Second by Ms. Graves-Harrison)

  • No discussion

  • Roll Call Vote:

Ms. Murphy Yes

Ms. Peterson Yes

Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes

Ms. Morgan Yes

Ms. Flynn Yes

  • Motion carries 5-0

Ms. Zippin distributed and spoke about the FY24 Transportation Department budget, noting that the only increases are negotiated raises and contractual services. A brief question and answer period followed. Dr. Clarke stated she received a list of questions from Select Board Chair Patricia Oney and Town Administrator Jennifer Wolowicz which included questioning the timeline for the district to be getting out of the van business. She is concerned that inaccurate information is circulating out in the community and among the van transportation staff. Dr. Clarke explained that the department is going into the last year of a 3-year contract with the district. There is a specific procedure to follow, including bringing the topic to Subcommittees and the entire Committee for input, if the district decided to go out to bid for this service adding that the district is nowhere near that right now. Another question was what is the return on investment to which Dr. Clarke noted there are several non-monetary benefits in addition to the monetary ones. Ms. Morgan stated that time would be needed, including collection of data before moving forward with any decision regarding the district van transportation. A brief discussion was held on the garage lease for the vans that includes the district’s own mechanic.

Old Business:

Dr. Clarke stated that there is a .57% increase to the FY24 budget adding that it is very low compared to surrounding districts. She provided specific information.

Dr. Clarke stated that another question that keeps coming up is whether the district has considered regionalization. She said that 5 years ago, when she did the analysis looking at the consolidation and reconfiguration of the schools, parent groups, involved in the process, were adamant that the district remain a sole district. The enrollment projections that were done at the time were right on track and Dr. Clarke feels that is still the case post-COVID. She stated that the district is not in a place to regionalize at this time. Ms. Graves-Harrison suggested that Dr. Clarke bring the original consolidation data findings to the Select Board meeting, noting that Ms. Wolowicz was not the Town Administrator during that transition. She also mentioned that currently there is no interest from surrounding communities to regionalize with Monson Public Schools. Dr. Clarke offered to do a draft survey regarding regionalization and bring it to the Committee at the next meeting but Ms. Flynn stated that she would like to get through the FY24 budget process, an actual year of in school teaching, and mask free learning before moving into the sustainability of the district. Brief discussion followed.

Ms. Zippin told the Committee that a slightly modified budget, from the one the Committee has seen, will be presented to the Select Board at next Monday’s meeting. Referring to a past discussion the Committee had as to whether or not to take out $100,000 of ESCO money or leave it with the town to assume at the end of the fiscal year. Ms. Zippin stated that the monies left from last year were applied to the town’s general fund. She added that, moving forward, the Town would like to have the $100,000 up front which decreases the electricity line from the originally allocated amount of $226,000 to $126,000 that was previously presented. Referencing an email that she received, Ms. Zippin said that the town would now like $184,455 removed from the electricity line and after conversation with Town Accountant, Ms. Farnum, who informed Ms. Zippin that that was the initial number Siemen’s had come up with. If that is done the electricity budget line will drop to $41,545 which Ms. Morgan expressed would not cover the FY24 electric costs and would drop the budget request approximately 1/5%. Ms. Zippin noted that if the electric costs went over the adjusted figure, funding would have to be requested from the town. Ms. Flynn read an email from Ms. Farnum from November that contained all of the information just presented. Dr. Clarke and Ms. Zippin will review all the information and revise as necessary, keeping the Committee apprised of all updates.

Action Items:

Schedule a Policy Subcommittee meeting for March 23, 2023.

Reschedule the Curriculum Subcommittee to April 4, 2023 at 5:30 p.m. and notify members.

Schedule a Working Meeting on April 4, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

Schedule the Public Budget Hearing meeting for April 12, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. followed by a Regular Business Meeting at 7:00 p.m.

Run legal ad for Public Budget Heating meeting in the Journal for 2 weeks prior to the meeting.

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

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 5-0

Open Session closed at 8:43 p.m.

Documentation for this meeting:

March 15, 2023-Regular Business Meeting Agenda

February 8, 2023- Working Meeting Minutes-DRAFT

February 8, 2023- Regular Meeting Minutes-DRAFT

Distributed/Presented at meeting:

Out-of-State Walt Disney World Trip Proposal

FY24 Transportation Budget

Approved by Committee:


Emily Graves-Harrison, Secretary

SC-March 15, 2023-Reg Bus Mtg-FINAL
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