Minutes of the
Monson School Committee
Regular Business Meeting
September 8, 2022
Members of the public were able to participate virtually in this meeting at https://us06web.zoom.us/j/83692908159 Meeting ID: 836 9290
Present (In-person): Chair Colleen Flynn; Vice Chair Alison Morgan Committee Member Kathryn Peterson; Committee Member Jamie Murphy; Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Clarke; Director of Business and Operations Leah Zippin; Director of Special Education Colette Bidus; Director of Food Services Tracy Blanchard; Granite Valley School Principal Joseph Trivisonno; Monson High School Principal Matthew Sullivan; Monson High School Assistant Principal Katie Czarniecki; Granite Valley Assistant Principal Myriah Hudak and Recording Secretary Karen Methe
Present (Remote): Secretary Emily Graves-Harrison;
Note: This meeting was recorded by M-Pact TV and Zoom.
Ms. Flynn called the meeting to order at 6:59 p.m.
Ms. Peterson read the Mission & Vision Statements.
Open House will be held for Monson High School on October 13, 2022 and Granite Valley School (GVS) on September 22, 2022. The Early Childhood Center (ECC) Open House date is to be determined.
Dr. Clarke distributed the Town Budget Calendar that she received. She thanked Ms. Wolowicz and Ms. Farnum for their work in creating it.
The next episode of Clarke’s Corner is out. Dr. Clarke thanked the students and staff from GVS that participated in the taping of this segment.
Dr. Clarke congratulated Karen Methe on her retirement from the position of Secretary to the Superintendent adding that she will remain as Secretary to the School Committee.
Motion by Ms. Flynn to approve the August 24, 2022 Regular Business Meeting Minutes as presented. (Second by Ms. Peterson)
Roll Call Vote:
Ms. Murphy Yes
Ms. Peterson Yes
Ms. Morgan Yes
Ms. Flynn Yes
Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes
Motion carries 5-0
Student Representative Report:
Monson High School (MHS) Brenna Brehan
The Welcome Back Barbeque was held on Thursday, August 25, 2022 for incoming 7th graders as well as students and families who are new to MHS with over 50 families attending. Students and families had the opportunity to tour the school, meet staff and see many different examples of curriculum across the building. A huge thank you to the food services department for providing a great meal to students, families and staff.
MHS had a successful first week back. Everyone is adjusting well to the new schedule and are looking forward to returning to many of the activities that have been on hold over the past few years. Fall sports are underway and everyone is looking forward to the Athletic Boosters Soccer Event on Monday, October 3, 2022. The faculty and student body would like to wish all the athletes good luck with their respective seasons.
The Student Council will be holding their annual Krispy Kreme fundraiser. It will run from September 16 through September 30, 2022, with delivery of donuts on October 6, 2022. An order form will also be available at GVS and the ECC. If any members of the community wish to purchase and do not have a student to purchase from, please contact Mr. Tremblay firstname.lastname@example.org to order.
School pictures will be held on Friday, October 7, 2022.
Open House will be held on October 13, 2022. Additional information will follow.
Seniors will be working with Ms. Sorel to begin their post high-school planning. College visits will begin next week. Junior and senior students interested in meeting with any of the visiting colleges should sign up in the guidance office with Mrs. Ladue.
Elms College September 15, 2022 1:00 p.m.
Southern New Hampshire University September 19, 2022 8:00 a.m.
Dean College September 19, 2022 1:00 p.m.
Keene State College September 23, 2022 10:00 a.m.
Wheaton College September 23, 2022 11:00 a.m.
University of Rhode Island. September 26, 2022 8:00 a.m.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute September 26, 2022 1:00 p.m.
The PSATs are being held on October 12, 2022 during the school day for any member of the junior class interested in taking them. There is no cost to students to take the test. More information will be given to students in the upcoming weeks.
Granite Valley School (GVS): Elliott Greene and Mia Hudak
Grade 1 students were interviewed to find out how their school year was going so far. One student said she likes the ROCKS Program which stands for Respect, Ownership, Communication, Kindness and Scholarship. Another student stated she was having an exciting time in technology class. All students will have a technology special this year.
The entire Grade 1 class participated in a pirate style scavenger hunt to learn the location of important places in the school like the office and ROCKS Room.
Students in Ms. Casimiro’s class reported that they enjoyed playing with their friends again and that it is exciting to be at a new school.
Everyone enjoys the lunchroom, especially when the menu has chicken patties and brunch for lunch. Breakfast and lunch are provided at no cost again this year.
The Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) Carnival, which was a big hit last year with the dunk tank, will be back again.
Dr. Clarke talked about the first few days for staff noting that it was great to have everyone back in person and unmasked. There was a great first day back gathering followed by 2 more Professional Development Days that included various topics and curriculum. She added that this year’s theme is Your Health and Wellness which was introduced at the initial staff meeting. There is a new gym for employees located in the Central Business Office Pod of Quarry Hill Community School. It is open before and after school and has been well received by staff. Dr. Clarke distributed a Health and Wellness Class Schedule for September which includes Belly Dancing, Holistic Nutrition, Chair Yoga, Water Aerobics and Lap Swims at the pool, all at no cost. Dr. Clarke said that monthly competitions will also be held. Funds for this initiative were paid for by a health grant.
There will be a Flu Clinic offered in October. Specific date and information will follow.
The Journal Register publication continues to highlight Monson Public Schools Administrative Team.
Dr. Clarke said that the chickens are certainly a big hit with everyone. She, once again, thanked the DiPasquale family for donating them to the school district. Students will begin to collect eggs and participate in the care of the chickens now that school is back in session.
It was the consensus of the Committee to move Agenda Item 9 Old Business c: New Cell Phone Policy Proposal (Mr. Sullivan).
Mr. Sullivan presented a PowerPoint on Cell Phones and Students–Proposed Changes and Rationale. Presented and discussed at great length were the following components of the PowerPoint:
What Has Changed
Monson High School Issues/Struggles
Issues of Safety
Results in Other Schools
Mr. Sullivan informed the Committee that 48 out of 50 staff members are in favor of the new cell phone policy with YONDR. The target roll-out date is November 8, 2022.
Ms. Graves-Harrison asked about the current Policy. She wanted to know what is working and why it cannot be upheld. There was a review of the Policy and Mr. Sullivan spoke about the process of what happens when a student is using a phone in class now.
Ms. Murphy questioned the possibility of a new Policy being written.
Ms. Peterson stated that she feels not enough follow through is happening to enforce the current Policy.
There was lengthy discussion that followed the concerns and questions that had been brought forth.
At this time a representative from YONDR gave an overview of the product and answered all questions posed to him.
Ms. Morgan expressed concern as to why all students have to suffer consequences for those that do not follow the rules.
Ms. Flynn stated that she feels if the district has a problem that is so pervasive that is affecting academic achievement, health and safety and social emotional well-being of students and are presented with a solution that could possibly address the situation she wouldn’t be doing her job in meeting reality where it is at culturally in high school. She added that she feels that most school districts are headed in this direction.
There was an extensive discussion that followed which included additional and specific product information from the YONDR representative.
Mr. Sullivan was tasked with scheduling a visit to Chicopee High School to learn more about the YONDR product, plan parent information meetings, send out an informative, in-depth survey to parents and revisit the topic at the next meeting. Ms. Morgan requested an updated survey with teachers to be able to state why they are a yes or a no on the proposal.
Ms. Flynn opened Public Session at 8:43 p.m.
No one came forward to address the Committee.
Ms. Flynn closed Public Session at 8:44 p.m.
Subcommittee and Liaison Reports:
Ms. Murphy advised Committee members that there is a Town Finance Subcommittee Meeting on September 12, 2022 at 7:00 p.m.
Ms. Graves-Harrison spoke about a Boosters Fundraiser that is possibly not school related. Ms. Flynn said it will be looked into further.
The next Parent Teacher Student Association meeting will be held on October 5, 2022. Dr. Clarke added that she has been invited and will attend the September 12, 2022 PTSA board meeting to listen to upcoming ideas for the year.
A Curriculum Subcommittee meeting will be scheduled.
Mrs. Zippin introduced and welcomed Tracy Blanchard, newly appointed Director of Food Services. Ms. Blanchard gave the Committee an overview of the very successful Summer Eats Program, noting that 3,997 free breakfasts and lunches were served to all children, 18 and under, between July 5, 2022 through August 12, 2022.
Massachusetts allocated $3.5 million dollars for Summer Food Programs and the National School Lunch Programs to receive free produce from the USDA Department of Defense Program from July 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022. Ms. Blanchard explained that Food Services has been taking advantage of the opportunity every week since it began. Produce deliveries have been fresh, delicious and often locally grown.
Universal free meals have been extended in Massachusetts for the 2022-2023 school year. Quarry Hill’s participation rate has more than doubled. Breakfast and lunch will be served to all students this year.
With just 5 operating days the district has already served 3,218 meals.
Every Friday this year a vanilla or chocolate ice cream cup will be included with every lunch purchased at each school and in conjunction with Dr. Clarke’s health and wellness initiative, self-serve salad bar carts and smoothie stations will be offered soon.
Ms. Blanchard told the Committee that she recently attended a Department of Elementary and Secondary Education webinar, via Zoom, on financial management. It was stated that double lunch meals for students should be set at a mandatory $3.31. Currently they are $3.25 at the high school and $2.75 at GVS and QH. Ms. Blanchard is proposing that for change purposes the price be increased to $3.35 for double lunches at all 3 schools.
Adult lunches should have a mandatory minimum increase to $4.95. Ms. Blanchard that for change purposes that amount be rounded up to $5.00, which increases the cost by one dollar. She noted that supply chain issues and increased food and supply prices have dramatically increased since the pandemic, prompting the increase in meals and she is asking for the Committee to vote to permit the price increase.
Motion by Ms. Flynn to set the rate of a student double lunch to $3.35 at all 3 schools and, in addition, set the rate of an adult lunch to $5.00 at all 3 schools for the 2022-2023 school year. (Second by Ms. Peterson)
Roll Call Vote:
Ms. Murphy Yes
Ms. Peterson Yes
Ms. Morgan Yes
Ms. Flynn Yes
Ms. Graves-Harrison Yes
Motion carries 5-0
Mr. Sullivan reported that MHS has had a positive overall start to the school year. The new schedule is working very well and students and families have quickly adjusted. He noted that it has made the days at MHS seem much more fast paced and has helped rejuvenate teaching and learning.
The Back to School Barbeque, welcoming new students and families to the building, was a huge success and set the tone for a nice transition to MHS. He thanked Ms. Blanchard and her staff for providing a wonderful meal.
Mr. Sullivan acknowledged the tremendous work that the central maintenance has done over the summer getting the building ready for the new year adding that particularly impressive is the design of the library which has new collaboration space and a much more open feel.
Fall sports are underway and everyone is looking forward to supporting our athletes as they begin what will surely be successful seasons.
The Counseling Department has been reorganized. Previously students were divided alphabetically by last name, but will now be divided by grade level. Ms. Kajula will be working with students in grades 7 and 8 and Ms. Sorel will work with grades 9-12. Mr. Sullivan added that this reorganization will help better serve MHS students. Mr. Trivisonno reported an increase in PreK-Grade 5 class size. He stated that the 9:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Pre-K Program is very popular and the EXTEND Program is being utilized for families with before or after school care needs.
Mr. Trivisonno noted that there is a focus on resource sharing between the Early Childhood Program and Granite Valley School, adding that the intervention staff is being shared.
ECC will launch a new sensory room in early October.
Parents were thanked for their patience in the car line while administration worked out any issues.
Mr. Trivisonno noted that there will be increased support for students this year at Granite Valley School.
There has been an expansion to music, band and chorus for students in grades 4,5 and 6. Lessons will be available before school and during the school day in lieu of a student’s special.
Ms. Clifford and Ms. Darling are running an after-school Girls on the Run program which has fun, evidence-based programs that inspire girl empowerment by building confidence, kindness and decision-making skills. Dynamic lessons instill valuable life skills, including the important connection between physical and emotional health, culminating in the running of a 5K. The program fee is $160 per participant (with a sliding scale), which includes: 10 weeks/20 lessons led by trained coaches, curriculum materials, a program t-shirt, and 5K event registration. It is important to note that financial assistance is available to all families who cannot pay the full registration fee. Girls on the Run Western MA is proud to provide a sliding scale to $5. This makes the program accessible to any girl who wants to join, ensuring that program cost is never a barrier to participation.
The PBIS Carnival, mentioned earlier in the Student Representative Report, will be held next Friday.
Open House is scheduled for September 22, 2022.
Picture retakes dates are:
October 7, 2022 – GVS
October 11, 2022 - ECC
Dr. Clarke distributed and reviewed the report of the districts that School Choice students are from. There are currently 81 School Choice students attending Monson Public Schools from Belchertown, Brimfield, Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Hampden, Palmer, Southbridge, Springfield, Wales, Ware, Warren and West Springfield.
Dr. Clarke reported that all Administrative Assistants in the front offices of each school have been given a script to follow when a visitor requests access to the building, including a request to present identification upon entering. She added that the School Security Officer is doing a fabulous job and she has received positive feedback from staff.
She reported that Police Chief Kozloski and new officers to the force recently toured each school building.
Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate (A.L.I.C.E.) training for new staff and anyone wanting a refresher will be held next week. Drills for students will be upcoming.
Dr. Clarke reported that the recent fire drills were great. All schools were out in under 5 minutes.
Dr. Clarke distributed a detailed list of trainings for the School Security Officer recommended by Chief Kozloski.
Change meeting dates as follows:
September 21, 2022 Regular Business Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
October 12, 2022 Working Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Regular Business Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
October 26, 2022 Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting at 6:00 p.m.
Regular Business Meeting at 7:00 p.m.
Motion by Ms. Morgan to adjourn Open Session. (Second by Ms. Peterson)
Motion carries 5-0
Open Session closed at 9:26 p.m.
Documentation for this meeting:
September 8, 2022-Regular Business Meeting Agenda
August 24, 2022-Regular Business Meeting Minutes-DRAFT
Distributed/Presented at meeting:
September 2022 – Health & Wellness Classes Calendar
Town Budget Calendar
Cell Phones and Students Proposed Changes and Rationale-PowerPoint Presentation
School Choice Students-Town of Residence-2022-2023
Recommended Trainings by Chief Kozloski for School Security Officer
Approved by Committee:
Ms. Graves-Harrison, Secretary