THE GLOUCESTER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Our mission is for all students to be successful, engaged, lifelong learners.
School Committee Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 12, 2020 District Office Conference Room 2 Blackburn Drive, Gloucester, MA
Members Present Administration Present
Jonathan Pope, Chairman Dr. Richard Safier, Superintendent
Melissa Teixeira Prince, Vice Chairperson Gregg Bach, Asst. Superintendent Kathy Clancy
Samantha Verga Watson Mayor Sefatia Romeo Theken
Recorded by 1623 Studios
I. CALL TO ORDER – Chairman Pope called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. and stated the mission of the Gloucester Public Schools.
II. SALUTE TO THE FLAG
III. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS – Pam Steele of 10 Pilot’s Hill stated that she never received a response to her letter asking for funds for the intervention schools. Chairman Pope
indicated that the committee is in the process of meeting with the principals as part of the budget process and he will make sure she gets a response. Ms. Steele indicated that she is looking for some immediate support for the kids.
IV. COMMENTS FROM THE CHAIRPERSON – Chairman Pope encouraged people to weigh in on the superintendent search by completing the online survey or attending a focus group meeting. Ms. Teixeira Prince reported that there have been 99 responses to the survey to date and suggested sending an email to parents with a link to the survey.
V. RECOGNITIONS – Chairman Pope recognized the West Parish fifth graders for their production of Cinderella, and Kathy Clancy recognized the O’Maley theater students for their production of Frozen Jr. Mr. Bach recognized eighth grade Social Studies teachers David MacLennan, Hugo Smith and Jennifer McKay for organizing live video chats for their civics and government classes with plaintiffs from landmark Supreme Court cases. He read a couple of thank you notes from the students to the speakers. Finally, Mr. Favazza recognized the GHS girls’ hockey team for their excellent season.
VI. GHS STUDENT ADVISORY COUNCIL – None present.
VII. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Approval of Minutes
1. Building & Finance Subcommittee of November 20, 2019 2. School Committee and Executive Session of December 4, 2019 3. Personnel Subcommittee of December 11, 2019
4. Program Subcommittee of December 12, 2019 B. Approval of Warrants
C. Approval of Transfers D. Referrals
E. Acceptance of Donations/Gifts/Commissions
1. $700.00 donation from Associated Charities of Gloucester in support of O’Maley trip to Washington, DC in March 2020
2. $717.50 rebate from Bay State Textiles, Inc. to O’Maley Innovation Middle School
3. $2,152.98 commission from Hockmeyer by Barksdale to O’Maley Innovation Middle School
4. $883.00 commission from Sullivan’s Studio to Plum Cove School 5. $1,317.00 commission from Sullivan’s Studio to West Parish School 6. $154.43 commission from Ohiopyle Prints, Inc. to GPS
On a motion by Ms. Teixeira Prince, seconded by Kathy Clancy, it was unanimously VOTED: 6 in favor, 0 opposed to approve the Consent Agenda as noted.
VIII. DELIBERATIONS ON EDUCATIONAL ISSUES/SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
A. Location of School Committee Meetings – Chairman Pope distributed a list of possible locations for meetings and the dates they are available. He reported that a School Building Committee meeting at East Gloucester School did not work out well because of poor sound. The committee discussed the pros and cons of the locations, such as having a live feed from 1623 Studios at City Hall, the ability to have tables set up and Internet access at other locations, and whether there would be a cost for custodians. Dr. Safier and Mr. Frisch will report back at the next meeting on the viability of other locations and whether not being at Blackburn would pose any challenges for them.
(At this time, the agenda was taken out of order.)
C. Superintendent’s Report – Dr. Safier updated the committee on the following matters:
1. Student Opportunity Plans
2. Recommendations for High Quality Programs Associated with Student Opportunity Plans
3. Cape Ann Study for Education (CASE) Monthly Meeting – Dr. Safier reported that the UMass Donahue Institute is in the process of preparing its preliminary findings and we can expect a draft report by mid-March.
4. Race Identity Identification Systems – Dr. Safier discussed a PBS
documentary that exposes historical societal racism, judicial decisions, federal and state laws, etc. Chairman Pope requested the link to that documentary.
On a motion by Kathy Clancy, seconded by Ms. Watson, it was unanimously VOTED: 6 in favor, 0 opposed to accept the Superintendent’s Report.
B. School Committee Annual Calendar – The committee reviewed the annual calendar and discussed moving some items to different months. Chairman Pope stated that he will review the calendar with Dr. Safier and Mr. Bach and come back with a
recommendation at the next meeting. There was a discussion about scheduling budget review meetings for the full School Committee instead of the Building &
Finance Subcommittee. Finally, Ms. Teixeira Prince expressed concern that the items listed on the calendar in January and February have not come forward to the
committee yet. Dr. Safier reported that the District Improvement Plan is near completion.
IX. SUBCOMMITTEE REPORTS
A. Building & Finance Subcommittee Meetings of January 28, 29 and 30, 2020 – Kathy Clancy reported that the Building & Finance Subcommittee reviewed department budgets at its meetings of January 28, 29 and 30, 2020.
Chairman Pope reported that the subcommittee met just before this meeting and discussed a bus driver shortage. Dr. Safier discussed the route that is affected and indicated that there is currently a new driver in training but it will take months for him/her to be ready to drive (60 hours of training). Chairman Pope noted that Kathy Verga is trying to make an arrangement with CATA to transport some students to O’Maley, and Kathy Clancy discussed recruitment strategies. Ms. Teixeira Prince suggested reaching out to Essex Tech to see if they can help.
Finally, Kathy Clancy reported that the subcommittee discussed carbon monoxide detectors at tonight’s meeting.
B. Program Subcommittee Meeting of January 29, 2020 – Mr. Favazza reported that the Program Subcommittee discussed goal-setting for the subcommittee at its meeting of January 29, 2020, including a crowdfunding policy, the turnaround plans, policies
regarding holiday celebrations, choice out avoidance and diversion, use of vocational students in the district, school start times, public relations, and chronic absenteeism.
C. Personnel Subcommittee Meeting of January 30, 2020 – Ms. Teixeira Prince reported that the Personnel Subcommittee discussed the community profile to be included in the superintendent search brochure at its meeting of January 30, 2020.
She indicated that the brochure needs to be completed by the next meeting. She distributed suggested revisions made by Ms. Wiessen to the community profile, which the committee reviewed and made some additional revisions. Finally, there was a discussion about photographs to be included in the brochure.
On a motion by Ms. Teixeira Prince, seconded by Kathy Clancy, it was unanimously VOTED: 6 in favor, 0 opposed to accept the community profile as edited.
A. Acceptance of DESE Grant – Chairman Pope reviewed the purpose of the grant.
On a motion by Ms. Teixeira Prince, seconded by Kathy Clancy, it was unanimously
VOTED: 6 in favor, 0 opposed to accept the DESE Civics Teaching and Learning Grant in the amount of $15,073.00.
XI. DISCUSSION/OTHER COMMUNICATION/OLD AND NEW BUSINESS
A. MSBA Project Update – Chairman Pope reported that the City Council postponed the vote on the Article 97 disposition at its meeting last night, that there will be a public hearing on the matter on February 24th, and they will vote on it on February 25th. He also reported that the School Building Committee will be meeting tomorrow at Veterans at 5:00 pm and there will be a presentation on the traffic study. Dore &
Whittier will also provide an update on the schedule and a presentation on the site plan and interior layout changes. Dr. Safier reported that he provided flash drives containing the preferred schematic report to the City Clerk’s office to be distributed to the City Council and the FAQ’s on the website are being updated.
Chairman Pope reviewed the timeline going forward: The City Council will vote on Article 97 on February 25th. It will then go to the State House and needs to be approved by two-thirds of both the House and the Senate. It will then come back to City Council and they will vote to transfer the property to the School Department.
(Chairman Pope noted that at the time the Preferred Schematic Design is submitted to MSBA, the property has to be in the possession of the School Department.) The Preferred Schematic Design will be submitted to MSBA on July 8th and hopefully it will be approved on August 26th. At that point, the City Council and School
Committee will vote to enter into an agreement with the MSBA and the City Council will authorize the debt exclusion ballot for the national election in November.
Mr. Favazza asked whether the School Committee has the ability to request reports or provide instruction to the School Building Committee. Ms. Teixeira Prince also asked when the School Committee can weigh in on the process. Chairman Pope stated that Dore & Whittier will be making a presentation at the next School
Committee meeting, which will include site plan and layout changes and a progress report, and will take feedback from the committee at that time.
Mr. Favazza indicated that he would like Dore & Whittier to justify why this project is so much more expensive than those in other districts. Chairman Pope indicated that there is an itemized list of estimated costs in the Preferred Schematic Report from last October and noted that the estimated cost includes building a new softball field ($2 million), swing space, and teardown of two schools. Chairman Pope indicated that the real cost will be available when the community is asked to vote on the debt exclusion.
Ms. Watson stated that School Committee members need more information about the project because people are asking them questions. She indicated that the information they are looking for is not easy to find and stated that she put together some fact sheets that she will send to the School Building Committee for review.
Ms. Teixeira Prince indicated that people are concerned about how much their taxes are going to go up, and she would like to get the correct number out there. Chairman Pope stated that the tax increase is estimated at 38 cents per $1,000 of value and indicated that that number is included in the FAQs on the website. Ms. Teixeira Prince also stated that she would like the School Building Committee minutes included in School Committee packets.
Finally, there was a discussion about Article 97 and Chairman Pope indicated that he does not believe it can be challenged if it is approved by the legislature.
XII. ADJOURNMENT – On a motion by Mr. Favazza, seconded by Kathy Clancy, it was unanimously
VOTED: 6 in favor, 0 opposed to adjourn the School Committee meeting of February 12, 2020 at 9:39 p.m.
All reference documents and reports are filed in the Superintendent’s office.
Maria Puglisi Recording Secretary