School Committee Meeting Minutes 07/02/2018

Farmington River Regional School District

Farmington River Elementary School

555 North Main Road, Otis, MA 01253

Wednesday July 2, 2018

Minutes #363


Members Present:  Nicholas DellaGiustina, Jessica Drenga, Carol Lombardo, Billie Anderson-Pachulski, John Skrip, Tom Nadolny, Eric Jesner


Absent:  Hillary Howard, Arlene Tolopko


Guests:  Susan Ebitz


Call to order:  The meeting was called to order at 7:02 P.M. by Nicholas DellaGiustina, chair.


Community Participation:  Susan Ebitz was present to comment on the student’s artwork that is displayed at the Otis Library.  It is very positive for the community.  Susan also brought up that Farmington River was the only school that did not sign on for a second common Professional Day.  She was wondering if that could happen.  It is a county wide instructional day.  This day is in March.  Farmington River does participate in one county wide Professional day already.  Tom will look into the second day.


Susan wanted to bring to the attention to the Board that 6 districts are using the same Kindergarten screening process/program which Farmington River already uses.  This is a positive move to have many districts on board with the same screening.


Mrs. Ebitz asked the Committee how the school managed to get out of school so early considering the amount of snow days the school had.  Tom explained the process of the Blizzard Bags.  Teachers put together a day’s assignment ahead of time that coincides with the material that they are working on at the moment.  Most of the time, the teachers can anticipate when a snow day may be coming and put together the bag in a timely manner.  It is not busy work and the results from the survey that was sent out to teachers, parents and students were very positive.  More schools are going to explore the Blizzard Bags for this upcoming school year.


Approval of Minutes:  Carol Lombard asked if the Board could approve the minutes in August’s meeting.  The Board agreed.


Principal/Supterintendent monthly updates:  Mr. Nadolny shared the results of the surveys sent out to the Teachers, Parents and Students.  The Teacher results were positive.  They liked the Blizzard Bags and the work involved with putting together the bags was not an issue.  They would like to continue with the bags in the future.


The Parent responses to the Blizzard Bags were also positive.  A very high response came back.  Parent responses were mostly about the amount of work that was sent home.  The teachers sent appropriate work home, not just busy work.  There were suggestions to make it more “fun” such as baking for fractions.  Overall the majority would like to see the bags back for the upcoming year.


Lastly, the Students’ responses were considered.  This was roughly 50/50.  Most students didn’t like to do the work on their days off.  They thought there was too much work.  The students thought that the help after school could have been more voiced to the students.  Very little turn out occurred with the after school teachers’ help.  On the other side, a lot of the students loved getting out earlier in the year and did not mind doing the work sent home.  A week is plenty to get the assignment in.


Maintenance crew is doing a great job with the summer cleaning.


School van will be here 3 weeks into the school year.


Busing issues:  It came to the School Board’s attention that the Sandisfield Fire Department borrowed the School’s van to drive to a convention.  Because of this, Nick DellaGiustina made a motion to vote on not lending the school van to anyone or any department.  The van is to be used for school use only.  Carol Lombardo seconded the motion for a vote.  All agreed unanimously.  Nick motioned the vote, Carol seconded the vote, the School Committee voted unanimously on not lending the van to anyone or department.  The van will be used for school purposes only.  A new policy will be issued.


The second issue is about the policy that was passed in the previous June meeting concerning out of district student transportation and school choice transportation.  It has always been a policy to NOT provide transportation for school choice students from Otis or Sandisfield to other schools outside the district.  The School did allow transportation as a courtesy to the graduating, school choice students of Farmington River School.  But the new policy implements that no one other than district students will be allowed to ride the van.


The issue that came up was from a parent whose child is out of district that graduated from Farmington River.  The expectation was that we would provide transportation to another out of district school.  Jessica Drenga asked for the number of students that ride the bus.  There is always room, but the bus holds 47 students.  There are 48 students between Otis and Sandisfield.  We as a district must save a seat for every student attending school.  This is the bus to Great Barrington.  Unfortunately, not all students ride the bus for various reasons, but if they wanted to take the bus even one day, we would have to provide that student a seat.  The School Committee feels for the out of district families, but we have to account for our district students first.


Nick motioned to take a vote on either keeping the policy as is, or change the policy to include out of district students.  Carol seconded.  The vote was unanimous to keep the policy as is.


Financial Update:  Eric Jesner was in to discuss the finances.  Jess emailed Eric with questions about the new accounting software that the Town of Otis has switched over to.  Eric looked into the system.  It will not save the school any more or less money to switch over, especially for the tasks that we need to run the school.  Eric plans on going to the next meeting to further this topic and will report back when he finds out more information.


Adjournment:  Nick motioned to adjourn the meeting, Carol seconded the motion.  The meeting was adjourned at 7:40 P.M.


Respectfully Submitted



Teresa DellaGiustina, Assistant to the Superintendent