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Minutes for the Regional School Committee Meeting of May 8, 2012
Submitted by WestmorelandD on Tue, 06/05/2012 - 10:25am.
Regional School Committee
Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee Meeting
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Library, Amherst Regional High School
Rick Hood, Chair
Almicar Shabazz (arrived @ 7:17)
Zoe Langsdale, Student Rep
Maria Geryk, Superintendent
Jerry Champagne, Information Systems Director
Mike Hayes, ARMS Principal
Mark Jackson, ARHS Principal
Rich Ferro, Athletic Director
Debbie Westmoreland, Recorder
1. Welcome and Agenda Review 7:03 p.m.
A. Welcome and Agenda Review—Mr. Hood called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m. He welcomed everyone to the meeting and reviewed the agenda, noting that the agenda item "FY12 Budget Update" will be moved to the beginning of the New and Continuing Business section. He then noted that The Hurricane Singers, the ARHS choral group that recently won the WGBY Together in Song contest, will perform for the Committee. Anita Cooper, Choral Director, introduced the singers in attendance, noting that they will perform a song entitled My Girls. The students gave a powerful performance and received a standing ovation. Mr. Hood welcomed Michael DeChiara to the School Committee, noting that he is the new Shutesbury representative taking Kristen Luschen’s place as the Regional representative.
B. Minutes—Mr. Fonsh made a motion to approve the minutes of April 24, 2012 as presented. Ms. Appy seconded and the motion was approved with Mr. DeChiara abstaining.
2. Announcements and Public Comments 7:11 p.m.
Melissa Paciullli, SEPAC Co-Chair, read a statement regarding the AIMS program currently housed at Wildwood School. The full statement is attached. She noted that, since emailing Superintendent Geryk earlier today, she has heard from Jo Ann Smith and the Coordinator of the AIMS program so the statement has been somewhat revised from one she emailed to the School Committee earlier today. Vince O'Connor, community member, requested that the School Committee schedule a discussion on the matter brought forward by SEPAC. He also made a statement regarding the potential detrimental impact a later start time may have on the academic achievement of student athletes. Birdy (no last name given), Amherst parent, asked how to access information regarding district-wide professional development provided to regular education teachers regarding how to deal with special education students’ needs within the classroom. Ms. Geryk encouraged her to contact her for information. Mr. Fonsh noted that he understands that the district has denied a request by Pearson Publishing to film teacher’s classrooms. He expressed his support for that decision and stated he would like to find some way for the School Committee to support the administration in maintaining this stance through policy.
3. Superintendent's Update :24 p.m.
DOCUMENTS: Superintendent's Updates to the Regional School Committee dated May 8, 2012
Ms. Geryk introduced Jeff Stauder, ARHS art teacher, who described the ARHS Memory Project which was just completed as an after-school project in the art department. Project participants each painted an acrylic portrait based on one Peru orphan's photograph, which was then presented to the child along with a letter from the artist. Students Mei Reffsin, Sarah Waldman and Zihui Adams presented their work and spoke regarding what the project meant to each of them. Slides of all of the student participants' work were then shown. Mr. Jackson noted that The Memory Project is just one after-school project supported by the ARHS art department. He noted that the department sponsors many after-school opportunities for student artists. The School Committee members thanked Mr. Stauder and the students for their touching presentation. Ms. Geryk then very briefly highlighted upcoming events in the Regional schools.
4. New and Continuing Business 7:38 p.m.
A. Later Start Times
DOCUMENTS: Later Start Time Proposal—Additional Information, May 8, 2012; Start Times Staff Survey; Status Report: Start Time Committee (Sharon Public Schools)—Changing Start Time One Year Report; Should a School Change Start Time for Sleep? Later School Start Times Improve Student Performance: Study (Huffington Post website); The School Start Time Issue (National Sleep Foundation website)
Mr. Hood opened the floor for continuing discussion of the potential later start time at the secondary schools beginning in 2013-2014. Ms. Gould stated that she wants to see details regarding what late afternoons will look like for student athletes under a later start time. Mr. Jackson noted that he would be unwilling to stipulate that the kinds of after school supports we do now will be sacrificed for a later start time, noting that teachers would still be in their classrooms for 40 minutes after school is dismissed. He noted that 4:10 would be the earliest time that team practices could begin. Mr. Jackson said that he has heard from coaches who are concerned about how late their day will end with a later start time. Mr. Shabazz expressed concern that the elementary principals have not been at the School Committee discussions to provide input on the later start time issue. Ms. Geryk noted that the elementary principals have been in the conversation at the school level and are supportive of the proposed change. She stated that she is happy to have them attend the next Amherst meeting to discuss the issue from an elementary perspective. Mr. DeChiara noted that the Shutesbury School Committee supported the shift and move proposal. He expressed confidence that the administration will work out the details during the 16 months of implementation, noting that it is impossible to work out everything until you know the change is really going to happen. Mr. Spence asked how Holyoke has handled athletic events. Mr. Ferro reported that they shifted to a 4:30 start for their events, noting that there are so many variables it is hard to figure t hem all out without knowing if the district is moving forward with the change. Ms. Foley asked if there can be any flexibility to offer any courses before school. Mr. Hayes noted that there will be some opportunities for flexing schedules at the beginning of the day if transportation issues can be worked out. Ms. Appy noted that change is really hard and this is a very big change with many complicating factors. She stated that there are a lot of things to be worked out over the next 16 months, but she believes it is our job to do what is best for adolescents. Ms. Langsdale asked what the later start time will mean for students who want to take college classes later in the afternoon. Mr. Jackson thanked Ms. Langsdale for bringing that question forward, noting that Amherst College currently accommodates the ARHS schedule by offering a calculus course in the afternoon. He said he does not have an answer to the question yet, but will keep it in mind to be answered going forward. Ms. Langsdale reported that she surveyed 42 students, noting that 15 would like to keep the current schedule, 21 prefer a half-hour later start, and six prefer a 9:00 a.m. to 3:35 schedule. Ms. Gould noted that she believes it is important for the School Committee to vote with as much information as possible, including the impact on the end of the students' day as well as the beginning. She stated that the Sharon School Committee was presented with a full, block-by-block schedule before a vote was taken. Ms. Geryk said that this is an opportunity to look at the ARMS and ARHS schedules overall along with a later start, so we do not know exactly what the schedules will look like in 2013-2014. Mr. Jackson reported that he plans to go with Mr. Ferro to one of the monthly athletic director meetings to see if they are receptive to coming along with this change. Mr. Shabazz noted that he sees this as two changes instead of one—an earlier start time for the elementary students along with a later start time for the secondary. He does not feel the earlier start time for the elementary students is being given proper consideration. Ms. Appy, as Amherst School Committee Chair, confirmed that this issue can be added to the Amherst School Committee agenda next week. Mr. O'Brien expressed concern about the structure of the survey questions and the fact that no demographic data was gathered. He asked if the questions can be forwarded to him, and Ms. Geryk confirmed they can. Mr. DeChiara noted that two surveys were conducted in Shutesbury and the School Committee had two full presentations and discussions about the issue. He said that, by a straw vote, the full committee supported making a change in start times, and he believes they did due diligence with their elementary families. Mr. Fonsh noted that he has received many email and letters from his constituents in Leverett over the last two weeks, many in favor of the change and some against the change. He noted that he has made a concerted effort to study the research, and he still does not find it to be good research because it ignores many aspects of adolescents' lives. He said, however, that he believes a decision needs to be made soon because the longer it is delayed the more likely the decision will be made on an emotional basis. After further discussion about the research around adolescent sleep and circadian rhythms, Mr. Hood recapped the information needed for the Regional School Committee:
- Information about whether other athletic directors think we can maintain a competitive relationship under later start time;
- whether any consideration will be given to limiting the amount of time for practice;
- potential impact on college classes;
- the text and demographics of the phone survey; and
- information on where teachers stand on the issue.
Mr. Hayes noted that any concerns he has heard from ARMS teachers have been about their own personal lives, not programmatic concerns. Mr. Jackson reported that he forwarded the Gazette article about the later start discussion to faculty and asked for feedback. He noted that the response has been about 50% for and 50% against, with concerns being mostly about how their program may be impacted. Mr. Shabazz noted that he believes it is important for people to understand that whatever the final decision is, their concerns have been heard and considered. Mr. Hood noted that the issue will come for a vote on May 22nd.
B. Approve Clerical/Media Awards
DOCUMENT: Memo to the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee from Debbie Westmoreland, Assistant to the Superintendent, regarding Clerical/Media Awards (dated May 8, 2012)
Ms. Foley reported that she met with Debbie Westmoreland and Jennifer Ryan, APEA Union representative, to review letters of nomination for the clerical/media award. The committee recommends awards for Terry Ominsky, ARHS Principal’s Assistant, and Michael Caporello, District Electronics Technician. Mr. Fonsh made a motion that, in accordance with the Unit B employee contract, the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee approves clerical/media awards in the amount of $500 each for Terry Ominsky and Michael Caporello. Mr. Spence seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
C. FY12 Third Quarter Update
DOCUMENT: Amherst-Pelham Regional School District FY12 Third Quarter Report
Mr. Detweiler reported that the FY12 budget is currently on track to close out positively and noted that the School Committee has had the report for several days. He offered to answer any questions and there were none.
D. Accept Gifts
DOCUMENT: Memo to the Amherst-Pelham Regional School Committee from Mary Wallace, District Treasurer (dated 5/2/12)
Mr. Spence moved to accept gifts of $1,000 from the Washington Post Company Matching Gift for the ARHS; $500 from Stephen & Brille Cotsoradis, $500 from Regina and Daniel St. John, $500 from David Perry and $500 from Deborah Ritzer for the Kingsley Perry Award; $500 from Exxon-Mobil Corporation Educational Alliance Program for the ARHS math and science departments; and $300 from the Rotary Club of Amherst to purchase a banner for the Ultimate tournament. Ms. Gould seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
5. Subcommittee Updates None
6. Policies for Second Reading 8:46 p.m.
A. Policy KHB: Sponsorship, Signage and Advertising
Mr. Fonsh noted that this is a rough draft policy for the School Committee's discussion only, not even as a first read. He noted that the Policy Subcommittee is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 14 and hope to come forward with some wording on class size policy on May 22. Mr. DeChiara noted that he has a large amount of input on the policy that he will email to Mr. Fonsh for the subcommittee's consideration. He spoke briefly about his overall concerns, noting that we must be cognizant about the objective of advertising which is to build brand loyalty and to gather data about consumers. Mr. Fonsh noted that the budget crisis for the athletic department is the impetus for developing the policy. Mr. Spence expressed concern that the wording around banners may be too restrictive and also noted that it may be important to think about local versus regional businesses because some may believe it is not the School Committee’s place to determine which businesses can advertise. Ms. Gould and Ms. Appy agreed with Mr. Spence’s concern around the banner as well as his point about local versus regional businesses. Mr. Hood noted that he is in favor of accepting any advertising that may come in order to raise more money in support of students. Mr. Jackson recommended that the decision making around advertising reside at the school level, as the superintendent's designee, and that it be based on broad parameters established by the School Committee.
School Committee Planning 9:01 p.m.
A. Calendar—Retreat from 6:00-9:00 p.m. on June 26; Orientation from 4:00-6:00 p.m. on June 26 for members who have never attended an orientation
B. Items for Future Agendas—later start vote, discipline update, district report card class size, partnership and equity report (retreat agenda: district report card, how do we make our goals, responsibilities of the School Committee vs. the superintendent, governance project)
8. Adjournment 9:09 p.m.
Ms. Appy moved to adjourn at 9:09 p.m. Mr. O'Brien seconded and the motion was unanimously approved.
Approved May 22, 2012
Last updated June 05, 2012