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April 4 School Committee Update/Budget #5

by Erica Plunkett
April 9, 2013

The meeting opened with the Public Hearing on the FY14 Budget.  The hearing was attended by only one resident who spoke in support of the School Committee’s budget.

General comments included congratulations to: RAMS student, Michaela Michielli for her award-winning painting on the cover of the national journal, Teachers of Color; Holliston’s 20 student athletes who will be going to the Medfield Basketball School Day Games, a collaborative Special Olympics event in Medfield, Holliston, and several other communities; Dr. Brad Jackson, who was appointed to serve a three-year term on the Executive Board of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents; and lastly, Holliston Extended Day, who will, for the first time, be running a one-week Science Camp for students grades 1-6 the week of July 8.  This is a full-day, hands-on science program, being run in partnership with Club Invention.  The cost will be $245.

The major presentation of the evening was by Superintendent Jackson, and was a Year 3 Update of the 2010-2015 Strategic Plan.  This presentation was very detailed and can be found on the District website (http://www.holliston.k12.ma.us/administration/stplan.htm).  The Strategic Plan is a living document which provides input to the School Improvement Plans, and guides the budget development process.  The results of the goals in this plan are the bases for evaluating how the District is progressing and how the Superintendent is assessed.  Each Strategic Focus Area contains within it Critical Issues, Strategies/Initiatives, a Timeline, and a Progress Update.  The primary focus of the plan is the Student (Each students achieving at their own, individual, best level of performance in a physically and emotionally safe school environment).  Surrounding the Student are the three areas of: a Guaranteed and Viable Curriculum; Common Formative Assessments; and, Innovative State-of-the-Art Instruction.  Supporting the Teachers who provide these is Collaborative School Climate/Professional Learning Community.  The PLC is, in turn, supported by Technology, Communication, Resources, and Professional Development.  Surrounding all these areas is, of course, the community and Holliston’s Expectations for Excellence.  The most powerful message of this plan can be found in the Mission Statement, Dr. Jackson said, “… maximize individual potential.” Those who are interested in the progress made against the Strategic Plan are encouraged to check on the website for this presentation.

Dr. Jackson then gave a very brief update on the FY14 Budget, noting that the School Committee is now in a holding pattern, as the District awaits additional information from the state.  The School Committee presented their voted FY14 budget to the Fin Com on Thursday, March 28.  The Fin Com was presented with thorough and compelling information but was clear that the existing gap may be too large for them to close.  The School Committee is appreciative of their willingness to engage in further discussion.  All parties recognize the need to close the gap before May Town Meeting and await the Ways and Means Budget not out yet, which is hampering local efforts.

Important Information for HHS Parents: The decennial visiting team from New England Association of Schools & Colleges (NEASC) will arrive on Sunday, April 7. There are two opportunities for parents to meet with that group to offer feedback about our school programs as part of Holliston’s accreditation process. The hope is that at least 30 parents will be present at these meetings. Dates, times and locations are as follows:

·  Sunday, April 7 at 2:15 PM in the HHS Library

·  Monday, April 8 at 3:15 PM in the HHS Library

The next School Committee meeting is April 25. Central to this agenda is the official vote on the last day of school; and, the FY14 Budget.   The last School Committee Office Hours for the year are Friday, May 3, 7:30-8:30 at Pejamajo.  As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact any School Committee member or Central Office Administration.  

Kindest regards,

Erica Plunkett

Chair, Holliston School Committee

*Did You Know… that the Holliston Public Schools will be premiering a Facebook Page?  Look for it and information around this new communication tool for adults at the end of April!    
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