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School Committee roundup: Conduct policy discussed; HHS addition work continues

by | Jul 25, 2021 | Education, Featured: Education

The bulk of Thursday’s School Committee meeting focused on the discussion of norms for committee members, which serve as a code of conduct and policy.

“Every year the School Committee looks at the norms of how we do business,” said Chair Nancy Cavanaugh. “And we update them as we feel is appropriate for the committee in terms of what helps us work more efficiently and meaningfully for and on behalf of our community.”

Committee members reviewed the policy guidance provided by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees (MASC) to incorporate into its past policy strategies. No vote was taken, as this was more of a working discussion.

One addition to the norms that was discussed was the MASC explanation of a committee meeting being held in public versus it being a public meeting.

“I think not always understood is kind of the difference between a meeting that occurs in public bound by open meeting law versus a public meeting where people can kind of come in,” the chair explained, noting that some of the committee’s meetings are forums where public participation is encouraged.

Member Joe Markey approved of the language that stated once a decision is made by the committee, its members will support the official position of the School Committee.

Cavanaugh agreed, noting that robust discussions and disagreements before a matter is approved can lead to better decisions that the members will then support.

One of the roles of the committee discussed was evaluating the superintendent’s effectiveness in hiring, evaluation and other staffing issues.

“I think the unspoken thing is that we’re not to get involved in the personnel operations of the superintendent,” Markey said.

Members should direct questions to the superintendent by the Tuesday before the meeting so that she can incorporate the answers into any presentation she gives. This was the norm before the pandemic, but meetings were more frequent because of urgency of the situation on school policy. This will help to shorten the amount of time during the meeting when the superintendent would need to answer follow-up questions.

“Some of this guidance is just implicit, because we already do this,” added Member Meg Tyler.

These discussion points will be compiled into a document to be presented at the next meeting on Aug. 12.

High School addition work continues

Susan Rothermich, the director of finance and operations, gave an update on the construction of the addition to the high school. Waterproofing has been sprayed on 95 percent of the building’s exterior and was to be completed by the end of the week, she said. The brick veneer installation is continuing. Once that work is complete, the windows can be installed.

Inside, the rough electrical work is nearly finished and will be ready for inspection shortly. The drywall then can be added.

“Right now, the schedule calls for final inspections at the end of August,” she said. “As you know, anything can happen.”

The exterior work had been delayed because of the rain. However, now that the waterproofing is done, interior work can be performed more quickly.

The metal framing for the classrooms also has been constructed, as well as the upper floor framing.

“It’s really nice how the shape matches the other wing really well,” noted Lya Batlle-Rafferty as the committee members viewed two pictures.

“It will look like it’s always been there,” Rothermich said.

Misc.: Paraprofessional hirings approved

The committee unanimously approved the request to hire two paraprofessionals, one for Hopkins Elementary School and one for the middle school.

“In each of those buildings, they have an EMPOWER program, which is designed to offer social and emotional supports during the day,” explained Superintendent Carol Cavanaugh, who said that the two principals each requested an additional staff member to support the program’s goals. Money for the positions would come from a $69,826 grant rollover from the previous year.

Also approved by a 5-0 vote was a memorandum of agreement to ratify the three-year contract for the paraprofessionals.

The vote on the ratification of the contract for the Hopkinton Teachers Association at the middle school was postponed until the next meeting at the superintendent’s request, as details still were being discussed. …

Over the past two weeks, 11 students have enrolled into the Hopkinton Public Schools, bringing the total enrollment for the upcoming year to 3,910. Class sizes range between 20 and 23 students at this time. …

The committee is preparing for its listening tour, which will be held on Sundays and Tuesdays in August. They will be held via Zoom. More information will be released shortly.

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