School Committee Meeting Minutes 05/06/2019

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Farmington River Regional School District

Farmington River Elementary School

555 North Main Road, Otis, MA 01253

Monday May 6, 2019

Minutes #372


Members Present:  Nicholas DellaGiustina, Jessica Drenga,, Carol Lombardo, Billie Pachulski,  John Skrip, Arlene Tolopko, Thomas Nadolny, and Eric Jesner


Absent:  none


Guests:  Aimee Magovern, Dawn Odell Lemon, Craig Drenga, Judi Mabee, Sonia Morrison

Jennifer Heath-Thomas, Jennifer Hibbins, Karen Yvon, Daniel Stevens, Sarah Davis

Linda Curtis, and Lisa LaGrant


Call to order:  The meeting was called to order at 6:00 P.M. by Nicholas DellaGiustina.

Community Discussion:  Sarah Davis was in to speak about a personnel issue.  Nicholas DellaGiustina explained the protocol to Ms. Davis about attending meetings with a personnel issue.  For any item to be put on the agenda for discussion, it must be approved by the chair of the School Committee within the required amount of time.  48 business hours before the meeting, is the time frame.  The School Committee allows 3 people to represent the group.  Also, a discussion about personnel issues constitutes an executive meeting, which falls under one of the 10 purposes for Executive Session.  Nicholas gave the option of an executive meeting being put on June’s agenda.  Sarah stated she will get back to the  School Committee.

  1. Approval of Minutes #371. Carol Lombardo motioned to accept Minutes #371 as submitted, Arlene Tolopko seconded the minutes.  Vote by School Committee was unanimous.
  2. Introduction of Andrea Wadsworth. Andrea Wadsworth attended the School Committee Meeting to introduce herself to the Board.  Andrea was just voted in to represent our County’s School Committees (masc).  She is the Chair of Division VI.  Andrea works in Lee, MA and would like to get more attention to Western MA towns.  She is willing to help out our School Committee if needed.  Andrea did mention a meeting that is coming up that would be beneficial to our school.  The meeting is being held at Monument Mountain High School.  Tom is already signed up to attend.
  3. Principal/Superintendent monthly updates. Noldony started his updates by stating we only had 1 blizzard bag used this year.  Again, the percentage was very high with completing the blizzard bags, the students did a great job returning their completed work.

The students are in the mist of MCAS.  That would be grades 3-6.

Tom reached out to Flying Cloud again.  They are going to write a grant for the students to take a robotics class after school in the fall.  Hopefully this will turn into a robotics team for competitions.

Tom wrote a grant for a security camera system.  We do not have a video camera surveylence even though we have a newer building.  The system costs around $15,000 which we do not have in the budget at this point.  The grant is primarily for older school systems because some schools don’t even have electronic doors.  But hopefully with asking for a smaller amount of $15,000, they will help us out.  The cameras would be placed outside the building as well as the hallways, cafeteria and external entrances.  Also a lighting system is in the works for the loading dock.

A Professional Training Day is coming up on May 24th.  Part of the training is call Stop the Bleeding.  This is put on by medical staff.  This is to teach the teachers how to help prevent bleeding to death.  This is an issue that happens after a bad situation occurs.  This program will teach how to administer tourniquets on bleeding students.  This class has been taught all over MA and is finally here for us.

The Spring Concert is coming up on May 17th along with a cookout put on by Mr. Keller to help fund his trip to Fort Ticonderoga.

The 6th Grade students are going to be going to a step up day in Lee on June 3rd.  This year is a record number of students attending Lee Middle School.  9 out of the 14 students in the class will be choosing Lee.  Tom is going to try to get in touch with Great Barrington to see if the remainder of our students can shadow on the same day.

Carol Lombardo asked what happened with the 5th grade field trip, why the shortfall?  Tom explained that the grant written to the Sandisfield Cultural Council was denied.  The explanation for denial was that the paperwork was submitted incorrectly, which in fact it was not.  The Sandisfield Cultural Council did not send a denial/approved letter to Mr. Keller or Farmington River stating this information.  When Mr. Keller reached out to the Council months after the fact, they reconsidered and did not give the full amount as requested, only a small portion of the requested amount. This was unexpected and disappointing.  This also happened to another teacher this year, but it wasn’t as detrimental for that field trip.  Carol Lombardo and Arlene Tolopko, who are on the Cultural Council for Otis, are going to try and see how the Otis Cultural Council can help this trip happen.

One of the vans was in an accident recently.  No students were on the van, it happened before the school day.  The van did need some damage fixed, but nothing too bad for the van to be out of commission.

Mr. Flower’s, the music teacher, position is coming to an end for the year.  Tom would like to see Mr. Flower stay, but the position needs to be posted for a certified licensed teacher.  Until Mr. Flower finishes his testing and becomes licensed, the School has to post the position.

May 3rd, the Student Council hosted a fun night for the school.  There were Olympic Games for the younger students.  Snacks, prizes and medals were handed out to the winners.  Then starting at 7pm, a dance was put on for the 4-6 graders.  All the students who attended had a great time.

  1. PTA to discuss playground.  Tom started the topic off since it was part of his update.

             Tom called a company who installed a playground for him when he worked at Southern

Berkshire School.  Tom told him what we were looking for and asked them about a

playground that he found in their closeout catalog.  After negotiating a few times, the

quote given was $21,900.  This included installation, and free delivery.  The only thing

not included is the woodchips.   The PTA then brought up their findings.

Jennifer Hibbins discussed the safety of the playground and what they were quoted just

to fix the spots that are rusted through.  The cost to repair the playground was too high.

It would be better for a new structure.  At this point, the School does have money from a

rural grant that could pay for possibly half the cost.  The PTA is willing to give the

School $15,000, but that would have to be voted on in their next meeting.  They will let

The School Committee know the outcome when presented to the rest of the PTA.


  1. Financial Update.  Eric Jesner was in to update the finances.  Eric handed out a spread-

             sheet showing FY19 budget and where we are at with our expenditures at this point in

time.  We will be roughly $14,000 under budget once all of our state/federal monies

come in, such as our regional transportation and school choice funds.


The School Board voted on how to spend the rural grant(16,150.24) the school received.

Arlene Tolopko motioned to spend the grant on a portion of the playground with the

contingency of the amount the PTA will donate once voted on.

Jess Drenga seconded the motion, it was a unanimous vote by the School Committee

to spend the grant on the playground.


Eric Jesner reminded everyone that the Annual Town Meeting for Sandisfield is

on Saturday May 18th, and Otis’s Annual Town Meeting is on May 21st.  Eric let the

Committee know that the Berkshire Eagle and the Sandisfield Times both reached

out to him asking to publish information from the School in both papers.  So more

information will be coming out.





  1. The School Committee to vote on the 2019-2020 School Choice.  The School

Committee voted unanimously to continue to accept School Choice Students and

to let our students School Choice out of district.  Jess Drenga motioned to accept

School Choice students, Billie Pachulski seconded the motion.


  1. Vote to move into Executive Session only to return to Selectman’s Meeting to

              adjourn.  Carol Lombardo motioned to move into Executive Session, Jess Drenga

seconded motion.   Rollcall:  Carol Lombardo—yes, Jess Drenga—yes, Arlene

Tolopko—yes, John Skrip—yes, Billie Pachulski—yes, Nicholas DellaGiustina-yes.


  1. Adjournment:  Returned from Executive Meeting only to adjourn.  8:55PM





Respectfully Submitted,



Teresa DellaGiustina, Secretary to the School Committee