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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  Meeting ID: 864 6072 8535

Present: Chair Emily Graves-Harrison; Secretary Jamie Murphy Committee Member; Karen Nothe-Valley; Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Business and Operations Leah Zippin; Director of Student Services Colette Bidus; Granite Valley School/Early Childhood Center Principal Joseph Trivisonno; Monson High School Principal Arthur Murphy (via Zoom) and Recording Secretary Karen Methe

Absent: Vice Chair Alison Morgan and Committee Member Colleen Flynn;

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. Nothe-Valley read the Mission & Vision Statements.


MassLive has identified the top 20 soccer teams in Western Massachusetts with the Monson Girls Soccer Team designated as #2.  Congratulations were given to the team with Kendal Bodak and Hannah Murphy being chosen as Super 7 players.


Dr. Clarke, Ms. Zippin and Ms. Bidus will represent the school district at the Public Safety Night Out scheduled for September 14, 2023 at Veteran’s Field.  School supplies and information about the schools will be distributed.  Food Services Director Ms. Blanchard will also be in attendance to share information about the Food Services Department.  Several other community organizations will be there as well.

Granite Valley School will hold an Open House on September 21, 2023.  

The Playground Project fundraiser dinner will be held on September 28, 2023 at Main Street Tavern.  

Young Athletes Day at the Early Childhood Center is scheduled for September 29, 2023. 

There is a Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) scheduled for October 4, 2023 at 6:00 p.m. and is also hosting a fundraiser at Main Street Tavern on October 5, 2023.

The Monson Athletic Boosters will be hosting the soccer night games on October 12, 2023. The boys’ team will play Chicopee Comp at 5:00 p.m. followed by the girls’ team versus Amherst at 7:00 p.m.  Those attending are encouraged to wear pink and there will be concessions and a raffle.  A percentage of this event’s proceeds will be donated to the Rays of Hope.  

A Fun Run, in support of the playground project, will be held at Granite Valley School on Friday October 13, 2023.  Specific information will be sent to families.


It was the consensus of the Committee members, in attendance at the meeting, to table approval of the August 9, 2023 Regular Business Meeting Minutes to the next meeting pending possible revisions requested by a member who is not present at the meeting this evening.

  • Motion by Ms. Murphy to approve the August 23, 2023 Regular Business Meeting Minutes as presented.  (Second by Ms. Nothe-Valley)            

  • No discussion

  • Motion carries 3-0

Superintendent’s Update:

Dr. Clarke welcomed all staff back on August 25, 2023.  The theme this year was strength and every employee received a framed poem of “The Oak Tree” which Dr. Clarke read as part of her speech, and a piece of wood with the last line of the poem to remind them just how strong they are. She thanked everyone for their continued commitment to the students and families of the district.  She noted that 3 days of meaningful Professional Development followed which also included faculty meetings, in-service training, information on the new copiers and an online system that will be used for tracking staff attendance. 

Dr. Clarke noted that students were welcomed back, acknowledging how hot the first week of school was and thanked everyone for their flexibility and support during that time.  Due to the extreme heat, there was ½ a day of school on Thursday and the other days building administration were creative in making schedules that circulated staff and students around to cooler areas within the building, ensuring everyone stayed as cool as possible. 

Dr. Clarke attended the first PTSA meeting and encouraged everyone to become a member.  She thanked leaders of the association for all they do throughout the year.  The PTSA is holding the annual Trunk or Treat on October 28, 2023.

The Alert Lockdown Inform Evacuate Counter (ALICE) training has begun in all schools.  Ms. Watts is reading the book I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared to students in grades Pre-K-3.  Mr. Trivisonno presented a PowerPoint to students in grades 4-6 and Dr. Clarke was at the high school presenting a PowerPoint to students in grades 7-8 and 9-12.  Tomorrow there will be drills for grades 4-6 and 7-12.  Grades Pre-K -3 will practice evacuation drills only.  Ms. Graves-Harrison asked if all grade levels are participating in the recommended protocols and Dr. Clarke responded yes to her question.

Dr. Clarke stated that the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores are currently embargoed and as soon as they are released she will provide a report at the next meeting.  

Ms. Nothe-Valley inquired about updates to the ALICE training program.  Dr. Clarke noted that though the basic premise is the same, the training is less aggressive for student comfort. 

Public Session:

Ms. Graves-Harrison opened Public Session at 7:12 p.m. 

The following town residents came forward to address the Committee:

Bob Lamb addressed the Committee speaking again on the proposed Health Frameworks, reading a lengthy personal statement and closed by urging Committee members to publicly and formally reject the 2023 Health Frameworks from the state.

No one else came forward to address the Committee.

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

Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:

Policy Subcommittee:

The Subcommittee met earlier this evening and reviewed several more Policies to bring forward to the entire Committee for vote. 

  • Motion by Ms. Nothe-Valley to accept the second read of Policies BDFA, CA, CB, CBD, CBI, CCB, CE, CHA/CHC, CHCA, CM and Monson Public Schools-Disposal of Surplus Property (M.G.L Chapter 30B) and move to a third and final read.  (Second by Ms. Murphy)            

  • No discussion                                                                                                                                             

  • Motion carries 3-0

Ms. Murphy stated that the Athletic Boosters are looking for volunteers and water/Gatorade donations for night soccer games on October 12, 2023.

Senior Night for the girls’ soccer team will be held the October 5, 2023 home game. 

Dr. Clarke would like to schedule a Finance Subcommittee meeting.

New Business:

School Opening Updates:

Early Childhood Center/Granite Valley

Mr. Trivisonno reported that the opening of schools has gone well at both the Early Childhood Center (ECC) and Granite Valley. 

He added that ECC had a successful opening with two days of orientation and open house, and the first few days with students has been excellent. Students are learning about our school and everyone is learning routines. 

ECC upcoming dates: 

Picture Day - Monday, September 18th

The staff is excited about Young Athletes Day which is being held on Friday, September 29, 2023.

At Granite Valley, students and staff have hit the ground running and everyone is doing well. Staff and students are developing routines and relationships, lots of positive energy. Beginning of year assessments and data collection is underway. 

GVS upcoming dates:

Kickoff Carnival – September 15, 2023 

Picture Day - September 18, 2023

Open House - September 21, 2023 

Playground Project Fundraiser - Main Street Tavern - September 28, 2023 

Fun Run in support of Playground Project - October 13, 2023

Monson High School

Mr. Murphy reported that the opening of school was a success. A BBQ/Open House was held on August 28, 2023. This event is geared towards 7th grade and new students, many families came and had great food and wonderful tours of the building by student leaders.  There is a big push this year for aligning grades 7-12 as one school.  Mr. Murphy noted that there is a focus on uniting the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) work from a 7-8 model last year to a 7-12 model this year. The Instructional Leadership Team met over the summer to update the work the 7th and 8th grade did last year to make it more appropriate for all grade levels. He explained, in detail, the specific components of the PBIS “Initiative: Keeping It Real” Be Respectful, Be Empathetic, Be Accountable and Be a Leader, as outlined in a PowerPoint presentation.  Throughout the beginning days of school, each class was taught the expectations and they are posted in all areas around the building. 

The MCAS scores will be reviewed and discussed.

All upcoming events are on the website.

Mr. Murphy noted that the School Resource Officer contributes to a feeling of safety for students.  

The first week ended with an assembly in the gym to play games as one school and reinforce all of the work the teachers did around the expectations. 

Special Education:

Ms. Bidus presented a PowerPoint of information on Special Education updates.  She spoke about new staff that was hired, the shift in terminology to Specialized Programs and Instructional Aides, Team Leaders and she expressed her appreciation and thanks to the departments Administrative Assistant, Nichole Martin.  

Ms. Bidus reviewed and discussed the district-wide focus areas that include SPIRE curriculum implementation, new Individualized Education Program (IEP) support and training for staff (a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education initiative and implementation) adding that funding will be available.  She stated that the goal of the department is to begin the new IEP program in September of 2024, providing staff ample time to get educated and comfortable with it.  The new approach to inclusive practices and 3:1 service delivery model was presented and discussed.  Ms. Bidus spoke about specialized programs and early literacy screening guidelines, providing specific information to the Committee. 

The SEPAC meeting of the year will be held September 28, 2023 at 6:30 p.m. in the PTSA Room at Quarry Hill Community School. Future meetings will be held the last Thursday of the month.  Ms. Bidus thanked Karen O’Toole for coordinating the program.  

There will be a virtual Executive Functioning Parent Session on October 25, 2023 at 6:30 p.m.

National Special Education Day is December 2, 2023.

The Special Olympics Unified Day Games are scheduled for May 3, 2024.

Action Items:

Schedule a Finance Subcommittee meeting when Dr. Clarke confirms available date and time.

Schedule a Policy Subcommittee meeting for October 11, 2023 at 6:00 p.m.

Send Ms. Nothe-Valley information on the MASC Charting the Course workshop.

  • Motion by Ms. Murphy to adjourn Open Session.  (Second by Ms. Nothe-Valley)            

  • No discussion                                                                                                                                             

  • Motion carries3-0

Open Session closed at  8:03 p.m.  

Documentation for this meeting:

September 13, 2023-Regular Business Meeting Agenda

August 9, 2023-Regular Business Meeting Minutes (For Approval)

August 23, 2023-Regular Business Meeting Minutes (For Approval)

Distributed/Presented at meeting:

MPS Special Education Update PowerPoint

Approved by Committee:


Jamie Murphy, Secretary

SC-September 13, 2023 - Reg Bus Mtg-FINAL.pdf
Download PDF • 426KB

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