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January 26, 2021

george school

Brockton, Massachusetts
Organizational Meeting
January 26, 2021
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The Regular Meeting of the Brockton School Committee was held this evening, at seven o'clock. These minutes contain a summary of the meeting and list items that were under discussion.

Mayor Sullivan called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.

Mayor Sullivan, Chair read the following information for the record.  

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic and State of Emergency, on March 12, 2020, Governor Baker issued an Executive Order Temporarily Suspending Certain Provisions of the Open Meeting Law, G.L. c. 30A sec. 20. Pursuant to the Order, public bodies are temporarily relieved from the Open Meeting Law’s requirement that meetings be held in public places, open and physically accessible to the public, so long as measures are taken to ensure public access to the bodies' deliberations "through adequate, alternative means."

This meeting will be held and will be accessible to the public via Brockton Community Access, Brockton Public Schools website, www.bpsma.org, YouTube and Comcast channel 98

The public can access this meeting via this link: www.youtube.TheBrocktonChannels

    Mayor Sullivan took a roll call to establish a quorum.

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes                                    
    
    Also Present:  Superintendent Thomas, Executive Team Members, Kim Gibson, BEA President, Richard Bath

Mayor Sullivan established a quorum, followed by a salute to the flag.

Mayor Sullivan asked that Dr. Richard Herman is taken out of order this evening, Item IV-A, Report of Superintendent of Schools – Dr. Richard Herman, FACEP Pandemic Consultant COVID-19 Metrics update.

Mr. Sullivan motioned to take Item IVA, Report of Superintendent of Schools - Dr. Richard Herman, FACEP Pandemic Consultant – COVID-19 Metrics update out of order, seconded by Mr. D’Agostino.

    Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes            
    
Mayor Sullivan thanked Dr. Herman for attending the School Committee meeting this evening and turned it over to him.

Dr. Herman thanked Mayor Sullivan and the School Committee members for inviting him to come back and discuss the metrics for the City of Brockton and presented a power point.

COVID-19 Update:  City of Brockton (power point)

* US COVID-19 Average Daily Case Rate in Last 7 Days
* Brockton:  Daily Cases Through January 23, 2021
* City of Brockton COVID-19 Daily Dashboard – Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* Average Daily Case Count per 100,000 (14-day period from 1/3/21 to 1/21/21)
* Hospitalized Cases:  Good Samaritan and Brockton Hospital Last Three Months
* Cases by Age Group
* % COVID Positive Tests – Brockton Residents (through 1/23/21)
* Daily Case Count per 100.000 population (Each bar represents the average of prior 14 days)
* Contact tracing – Jan. 14, 2021 – Jan 20, 2021
* COVID:  Brockton Kids – 975 Total
* COVID:  Brockton Kids – 1,040 Total
* Brockton Children with COVID – Monthly Number of Cases Ages 0-18
* Pediatric Cases by Week – Age 0-18
* COVID Cases by School Age Group – LAST WEEK
* COVID Cases by School Age Group
* When can I get a COVID-19 vaccine in MA?
        
Questions/Answers    

* Superintendent Thomas asked Dr. Herman with the testing site not available at Massasoit Community College would that result in any of this dip in the number of cases?
Dr. Herman replied, the loss of the testing site not so much, the number of tests has not fallen off dramatically, we’re still seeing over 1,000 cases a week being tested.
* Ms. Asack reiterated Superintendent Thomas question and asked we will have another testing site in Brockton to help rather than having one location?
Mayor Sullivan responded, the Neighborhood Health Center is located at Legion Parkway and the Shaw’s Center for testing, it’s quick and easy and you do need to call and make an appointment.

    Mayor Sullivan thanked Dr. Herman and valued his professionalism and medical expertise.

Hearing of Visitors    

Ms. Kim Gibson, BEA President;  

Good evening, Mayor Sullivan, Supt. Thomas, Vice-Chair D’Agostino and School Committee Members:
 
I want to start tonight by thanking you all once again for the work you’re doing during this time. Over the past month or so you’ve been involved in some very difficult conversations around when to reopen schools safely. We’ve heard reports from Dr. Herman that demonstrate the numbers of Covid-19 cases are rising in the City of Brockton and our surrounding communities.  
 
With the new target date of February 23rd for the Special Education Sub-Separate students to return, I find it difficult to understand how you can reopen schools at this time with the Covid-19 positivity rates being as high as they are. When you set the metrics of needing to be in yellow for three weeks for a safe reopening back in September, you were basing that School Committee Policy on the data. While I understand the frustration and desire to have in-person learning, it is very troubling to now hear students may return during a time when Brockton’s positivity rates are increasing, and we have not been in yellow at any point in time since you adopted the Policy in September.
 
Dr. Herman has stated that once we reopen the schools there will be Covid-19 in the buildings and we know this to be the case from our experience in other Districts. Given that reality as well as the data showing the Brockton community remains in red, there are things that will need to be in place before we can safely reopen.  
 
There are currently 110 BEA Members that are working fully remotely due to medical conditions as well as about 40 paraprofessionals and/or MTAs. There needs to be a comprehensive support plan for when staff will be out for various reasons including being a close contact and needing to quarantine or they themselves testing positive. A district of our size cannot effectively run their buildings if a number of staff end up in quarantine or are just out sick. We’re seeing what happens in smaller districts around us having to pivot on a day’s notice from hybrid to remote learning when too many staff members are placed in quarantine due to being a close contact at school. During normal times the issue of class coverage can be challenging but class coverage will be even more of a challenge during Covid-19 times.  
 
An integral part to reopening schools safely is more access to testing sites and there needs to be in school testing for students. Unfortunately, instead of additional testing sites for Brockton we learned that one site was just recently closed making access testing more difficult for the community and likely meaning that more cases will go undetected.
 
A second integral part of reopening schools safely is the testing of staff. Last week, I was happy to hear Mayor Sullivan say he was actively investigating what the cost would be to provide Covid-19 testing for school staff. Testing of staff and students must go hand in hand and should not be one without the other.  

A third integral part of reopening schools safely is the Covid-19 vaccine. With the Governor’s announcement yesterday about Phase 2 of the vaccine rollout beginning February 1st we are on the verge of educators having access to the vaccine. I am urging you all to rethink the reopening target dates to keep staff and students safe until the vaccine is available and testing for students and staff is in place. Educators will continue to provide the strong remote teaching and learning that is currently happening as we have done an outstanding job in the remote model under these extraordinary circumstances.
 
Finally, over the past couple of months I have been contacted by an increased number of BEA Members regarding the reopening of schools and the content of the various School Committee meetings. I have always believed in and supported the BEA Membership’s ability to speak for themselves when issues arise and know some have contacted you directly. I don’t shy away from controversy and have always been committed to creating a strong working relationship with the School Committee. I’ve worked with some of you longer than others and know you have traditionally supported the Educators of Brockton. I have always tried to lead with honesty and compassion.  
 
At this time, I would be remiss if I didn’t share that I too have been surprised by comments made over the past few meetings in terms of Teachers socializing outside of work and students being babysat. I’ve had to go back and listen to the recordings of past meetings to be sure I heard what I thought I did and to see if some comments could have possibly been misinterpreted.  Unfortunately, the comments were clear, and they were not misinterpreted.
 
I’ve listened to and discussed with Members a frustration that this decision to return to in-person learning is being made while the School Committee meets virtually over Zoom and not in person due to restrictions the state has put in place limiting indoor gathering sizes. Your role as a School Committee member is a stressful one and you answer to your constituents. My role as BEA President is similar in the respect that I must listen to and represent more than 1,300 BEA Members. With a Membership that large there are many different perspectives on issues, but I can say we are a very strong Membership and support one another in times of need and adversity.   
 
As Supt. Thomas stated again last week the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has commended Brockton educators for the amount of synchronous also known as live teaching they are doing daily. Our teachers and support staff are going above and beyond daily to reach all the students. They have risen to the challenge of learning a new Learning Management System, dealt with engagement issues, found ways to support families with food insecurity and even partnered with the Brockton Police Dept to bring some cheer to their students during the holiday season.  
 
Our students can do much more than we think, and they too have made great efforts in remote learning. Trust me, everyone wants to return to in-person learning and teaching but only when it is safe to do so. None of my Members are babysitting and I am quite positive the students are doing what they can on their end to be active learners during this remote period. If there are parents that are concerned with the education their child is receiving, then those issues should be dealt with directly. We all have a responsibility to ensure a quality education for the students of the Brockton Public Schools and as a graduate of the Brockton Public Schools I don’t take that responsibility lightly.  
 
Brockton is not alone in the fact that other districts remain fully remote as we do currently. I am proud to work with the educators of Brockton Public Schools and I not only include all BEA Members as when I use the term educators, but I include the paraprofessionals, MTAs, administrative assistants, tech department, food service workers, custodians, administrators and all other staff as educators. We must all work together to ensure the safety of our schools.  
 
In closing, I thank you again for your time and I urge you to continue to look to the data and what is needed to be in place when deciding on the dates for reopening schools safely.

Consent Agenda    

Mayor Sullivan explained the purpose of the Consent Agenda and asked members if they would like to remove any items for further discussion.  Mr. D’Agostino asked to remove Items E, F, G, J, K and L giving an overview report on the consent agenda items.  Mr. Sullivan asked to remove Item H, giving an overview report on the consent agenda item.  Ms. Sullivan asked to remove Items C and D, giving an overview report on the consent agenda items.  
    
Ms. Sullivan moved the Superintendent’s recommendation to approve the remainder Consent Agenda items: A, B, I, M, and N seconded by Mr. Sullivan.

A. Approval of Minutes:  January 5, 2021 Organizational School Committee Meeting
B. Approval of Minutes:  January 19, 2021 Accounts Review Subcommittee Meeting Report
I.     Acceptance of December 9, 2020 Diversity, Race, Equity and Inclusion Report
M.   Notification of Personnel Appointments:  Non-Certified
N. Acceptance of Notification of Personnel Actions:  Leaves of Absence, Resignations, Retirements
    
Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote to approve the remainder Consent Agenda items:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
                Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

    Item H, Acceptance of December 9, 2020 Security, Safety, Transportation Report, discussing the agenda items:

1. Purchase of busses
2. DOJ COPS School Violation Prevention Program (SVPP) Grant update
3. Other Business

Mr. Sullivan moved to approve Item H, Acceptance of Minutes:  December 9, 2020 Security, Safety, Transportation Report, seconded by Mr. D’Agostino.

Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote to approve Item H, Acceptance of December 9, 2020 Security, Safety, Transportation Report.

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
                                
                    Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

    Item C, Approval of The Brian McSharry Memorial Scholarship.

Ms. Sullivan acknowledged the scholarship in the amount of $500.00 that will go towards a candidate graduating from Brockton High School.  She listed the requirements and information for the scholarship.

    Item D, Acceptance of Donation from Ms. Cindy Brown.

Ms. Sullivan acknowledged the donation from Ms. Cindy Brown, sister of the late Ms. Pam Brown, a grade 1 teacher at the Arnone School, donating $2,000.00 that was used to purchase string back packs and a book for each PreK through Gr. 5 student and distributed earlier this year.

Ms. Sullivan moved to approve Items C and D, C: Approval of The Brian McSharry Memorial Scholarship, D:  Acceptance of Donation from Ms. Cindy Brown, seconded by Mr. Sullivan.

Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote to approve Item C, Approval of The Brian McSharry Memorial Scholarship and Item D, Acceptance of Donation from Ms. Cindy Brown.

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes            
                                
                    Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Item E, Acceptance of December 8, 2020 Policy Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items:

1. Review of current COVID-19 metrics
2. Re-visit Re-opening plan
3. Winter Sports
4. Data Information
* 1st term
* Failure rate
* Attendance
* Engagement
5. Other Business

Item F, Acceptance of December 8, 2020 Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items.

1. Presentation of the School Based Strategic Improvement Plan
* Dr. William H. Arnone Elementary School
* Mary E. Baker Elementary School
        2.   Other Business
    
Item G, Acceptance of December 8, 2020 Finance Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items.

1. Plymouth County Cares Act update
2. FY21 budget
3. FY22 budget
4. Other Business
5. Emergency Executive Session

Item J, Acceptance of December 15, 2020 Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items.

1. Presentation of the School Based Strategic Improvement Plan
* West Middle School
2. Other Business

Item K, Acceptance of December 15, 2020 Finance Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items.

1. Discussion of the Executive Director of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion position
2. Other Business

Item L, Acceptance of December 15, 2020 Policy Subcommittee Meeting Report, discussing the agenda items.

1. Review of current COVID-19 metrics
2. Re-visit Re-opening plan
3. Other Business

Ms. Sullivan moved to approve Items E, F, G, J, K and L, seconded by Mr. D’Agostino.

Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote to approve Items E. F, G, J, K and L.

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – no (arrived later)      
Mr. Rodrigues – no (arrived later)  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes            
                                
                    Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.


Superintendent’s Report

Learning and Teaching

Follow-up on COVID-19 Metrics update

Superintendent Thomas discussed the COVID-19 report presented earlier by Dr. Herman and the committee needing to visit the target dates for students coming back to school, review the metrics along with our policy.  The committee only set a date for students with disabilities to return, the committee will need to discuss a date for students other than the students with disabilities.
 
Superintendent Thomas thanked Mayor Sullivan, Mr. D’Agostino, Dr. Cobbs, Dr. Murray for their hard work at Brockton High School getting ready for the vaccinations.  He also thanked Kim Gibson, BEA President who’s been pushing the Mass Teachers Association (MTA), and the Governor’s office to get these vaccines rolled out.  He mentioned, Mayor Sullivan spoke to the Department of Public Health (DPH) and is not pleased with the roll out of how the vaccines coming in for the City of Brockton.  
    
Superintendent Thomas, School Committee members and City Council will send a letter to the Governor asking that educators be moved up or get vaccines here sooner.  Under the leadership of Mayor Sullivan, Dr. Mondesir and Dr. Herman, distribution for our first responders went well at Brockton High School.  Our school nurses along with the Board of Health and Brewster Ambulance have done a tremendous job.

Mayor Sullivan mentioned it is extremely frustrating for the city to receive 200 vaccines today, it’s unacceptable especially with our population size here in the City of Brockton.  We initially received 600 vaccines for our first responders two weeks ago, and that was done flawlessly.  Mayor Sullivan, Mr. Steve Hook from BEMA, Dr. Richard Herman, Dr. Eno Mondesir have a standing call daily also including Brewster Ambulance, Ms. Linda Cahill, Nursing Supervisor/Brockton Public Schools.  We have the personnel and skilled clinicians ready to administer the vaccine, but we don’t have the medicine to administer.  

Mayor Sullivan recently created two different taskforces, one is the county with all town managers and of the respective towns in the county all 27 and then a regional which is all the towns that touch Brockton plus Bridgewater and Randolph and we’re all saying the same thing we’re getting no leadership whatsoever in terms of when we can get these out to teachers.  It’s unknown in terms of the phases but the phases are what the phases are right now according to DPH, it’s very frustrating we need to take care of our staff and our teachers and our senior citizens as well.  

Mayor Sullivan mentioned he had a detailed call with Dr. Mary Brophy, she heads our Board of Health as the Chairwoman.  What is needed is a standing order from a doctor to get more tests.  To follow-up what Ms. Asack inquired last week was a great question, the process in place right now is we need to get a standing order from a Medical Clinician and MD to then be able to go out and procure additional testing and he is working diligently.  As he receives updates he will provide the information to everyone.

Mayor Sullivan opened the floor for discussion, questions and comments from the committee members.

* Mr. D’Agostino suggested having a return date March 1, 2021 and continue to look for a downward trend and see what that trend looks like.
* Ms. Asack mentioned how she has received emails, phone calls, and reached out to her constituents; we are their voices. Approximately 99.9% want to stay fully remote to keep their families safe, have their children have the same teacher, and need the stability.
* Superintendent Thomas mentioned the issue with staffing, currently we have 110 educators (BEA members) and another 30 to 40 Para’s and MTA’s that have medical documentation to work remotely and stay working remotely.  It was suggested to stream the teachers that are working remotely into the classroom of students in person to school and for the students remaining at home continue remote.  There must be an adult person in the classroom, and we are working hard to find staff.  We are not able to guarantee teachers will keep their same students if parents choose to remain fully remote.  We will continue to work with the BEA union, but we can’t substitute people without having to backfill and we unfortunately haven’t been able to guarantee they would keep their same teacher.
* Ms. Asack thanked Mayor Sullivan, School Committee members, Superintendent Thomas, Executive team as this is not an easy decision we’re making.
* Ms. Sullivan asked Superintendent Thomas about the survey of how many parents want to stay remote and if it was approximately 1,700 and we have 15,000 in the school system, and that tells us something.
* Mr. Minichiello addressed his comment made at the last meeting that caused controversy.  He mentioned he tries to talk openly and honestly and needs to clarify things that he said.  When he mentioned that certain students special ed students need their teachers, he meant that, they do best when they’re in front of their teachers and was a compliment to teachers.  Teachers are very valuable, and their kids benefit when they’re in front of their teachers for many of them, it’s harder to learn via the computer.  The comment about babysitting that was a mistake, what was meant to say was the babysitting was there are so many parents home trying to assist their kids babysitting their kids and it came out wrong and a fumble of words and wanted to clarify.  It was mentioned that his colleagues on the school committee were getting trashed because they didn’t stop him or clarify.  He mentioned his school committee colleagues know him.  His concern is that our students are going to be behind the eight-ball compared to other school systems in the state. We have a great school system and great teachers; our kids do the best when they’re in front of their teachers that is compliment to the teachers. The school committee and fellow members and he have been an advocate for the teachers of Brockton for years and on the school committee for 14 years.  The teachers all know how we value them and how I (we) fight for funding to be fair to the school system, the staff, the teachers and the students.  What was disappointing was not getting one phone call from a teacher or anyone questioning what was said during the meeting.  He only received two calls asking him what happened and hear there’s a big hullabaloo on Facebook and on the internet, and he replied he said some things, but he made a mistake but was shocked no one called him.  Mr. Minichiello mentioned he always puts Brockton students first and they need a safe environment and we will continue to be cautious.  At some point, we have to have students back like other communities as long as it is safe for all.

Mr. Minichiello asked Superintendent Thomas approximately how many of our staff have gotten COVID-19 to this point in time?  Dr. Moran, Director of Human Resources will retrieve the state reported information from last week.  Mr. Minichiello went on to discuss that staff has gotten COVID-19 without being in front of one student, people are going to get COVID-19 and God forbid someone gets very sick, we don’t want that, but we must do our best to participate in society.  Our hospitals are working, our nurses, our police, our fire, law firms, banks, the grocery store workers, the kid bagging the groceries for minimum wage is working and they’re working in Brockton.  We need to understand that there are no guarantees and we certainly are not going to put our staff at risk but we must recognize that the students in Brockton do best when they’re in front of you the teachers, and do this in a cautious way.  Surrounding towns are doing hybrid.  The point of my babysitting comment was the parents can’t continue to stay home and babysit all the time because they need to work.  He has heard from many parents and even some teachers who want to get back to work as it’s a major expense for them.  Brockton teachers are wonderful, the kids need you and that’s the point and we want to do it in a safe way, we will continue to support the safety of all our staff, we’re in this together and we must figure a way to make it work and we must educate our kids.  There’s no malice, there’s no bad feeling it’s just a matter of we’re all adults and we all must take the steps to do our jobs safely and get these kids what they need especially the special ed kids.  Mr. Minichiello concluded with the parent’s video of a special needs child in grade five crying and frustrated, it broke his heart. This motivates him to get these kids what they need and if he’s guilty of that, that’s fine. We have to have a safe environment for our staff but let’s work together to try and make it work, properly spaced, not bring everyone back at the same time, do it in a responsible manner.  If your mad at him that’s fine don’t take it out on his colleagues, call him, he’d love to have a conversation.

* Ms. Sullivan addressed her comment to Kim Gibson about teachers getting it form socializing. She was speaking about the school system that she is working at and it’s not being transferred between children to the teacher.  If the teacher gets it, it’s either from the household or friends from what Dr. Herman has presented.  It seems like many cases are coming from the household and she knows many of her friends have had it and brought it home from work and then their families get it.  Anyone that knows her that she is a teacher herself and would never disrespect a teacher.  As a school committee member for seven years, she has been working for the teachers and students of Brockton.  She does not disrespect anyone and if you have a problem with what she says to call or email her, please do not put it on Facebook.
* Mr. D’Agostino mentioned that the committee understands that everybody is at a high level of frustration We are happy to hear from teachers and constituents.  The committee wants to have dialogue with any parent and constituent but are not here to be abused either.  While people are upset and understandable as the committee is, we must treat each other with a little respect.  To the teachers and members of the public and anybody, we’re here to listen to you just remember that we’re not here to be abused by you either and knows we’ve got to take some action.
* Superintendents Thomas mentioned he would like to see us move forward to plan on making sure we have testing in place before students return.  He is working with the Department of Education and they have a program called pool testing where they do offer testing to students and staff, which ends on March 28, 2021 and the district is left to pick that up on their own.  We’re fine because the Mayor has said we would look to purchase our own tests.  He is looking for the doctor to write the order, so we could order the tests and come up with a plan for testing but thinks it’s important for us to have testing in place and to also keep pushing for the vaccine.  Superintendent Thomas agreed with Mr. D’Agostino and Mr. Minichiello that we cannot bring back large number of students until we have a plan in place with the testing and see where we’re going with the virus.  We have a plan for cohorts to start with only 25%, but we still need to continue to see a downward trend in the numbers as we go forward.
* Ms. Asack mentioned she was surprised to hear that there were only 1,700 replies to the survey that was sent out, given we have about 15,000 to 16,000 students.  She asked is there any way we can have our schools reach out to the families and possibly have Ms. Jess Hodges, Chief Public Relations Officer run another survey?  She also thanked Superintendent Thomas for doing an amazing job.
* Superintendent Thomas responded to Ms. Asack, he will make a call to our parents and have Jess Hodges run another survey this week that will give parents time to respond and will also have Principal’s follow up.  The survey was sent out in December and approximately 5,000 replied and 1,700 indicated that the students would stay fully remote.   
* Ms. Sullivan mentioned if she hurt anybody’s feelings she is sorry, it wasn’t meant to be harsh or anything. If any teachers, parents or students’ needs to talk, she’s here all the time and is ready to take your call you’re not bothering her. The contact information is on the Brockton Public Schools website.
        
Mr. Sullivan motioned to bring back students on March 1, 2021 provided there is a continuing downward trend in our numbers, and hopefully at that time the vaccine will be available in Brockton and the testing would be available, seconded by Mr. D’Agostino.

Superintendent Thomas had a question on the motion. He would like the school committee to have a vote but would like to come back next Tuesday to give more information about the testing that we can put in place.  He is not sure how much information we will have about the vaccine. The Mayor will continue to give us updates on the vaccines. We would get our educators vaccinated quickly once it’s available, and tests for the staff and students that want them for when the students return.

Mayor Sullivan mentioned to the committee members that he and Superintendent Thomas had an in-depth conversation today about the testing, the standing order is required by an MD.  Dr. Brophy, is vetting that out, there is a three-member committee of the Board of Health, Dr. Craig Andrade, Ph.D., Dr. Mary Brophy, Md., Mr. George Fiske and Dr. Eno Mondesir, Ph.D., all agree relative to the testing notion but the process in place to acquire through procurement, the first step is to get the standing order from a medical doctor.  Mayor Sullivan will provide updates relative to the rollout of the vaccine, he is not confident that we’re going to get the number that we need at this time, but we’ll continue our efforts.

Ms. Sullivan asked for clarification which testing is being discussed.  If it’s testing kids no one is doing that even with the schools that are open.

Superintendent Thomas clarified there are some school departments with the pool testing the state’s offering. It’s optional, it cannot be mandatory and it’s only if a parent would want to do that.  If this option of pool testing is available we would get the test kits and offer it the parents of the middle schools, high school but also have the option for teachers to get tested as well.  It is unsure how many districts are now doing the pool testing, the states rolling out a new second wave of pool testing which ends on March 28, 2021 and its unsure how much we can buy into it.  Superintendent Thomas will get the list from the Department of Education to see what districts are offering it for students but it’s only an offer it can’t be mandatory. It is just for safety and identifying positive cases early, having people quarantine, and having a plan in place.

Ms. Sullivan asked if we are still planning after the February vacation for the high needs students to return?

Superintendent Thomas responded yes, that was voted on last week by the committee and date was given and believes the motion was we would need to continue in a downward trend.

Mayor Sullivan confirmed the date was Tuesday, February 23, 2021 for our special needs students to return, but also to allow a parent to decide if they still wanted their student to stay remote.  What’s before us now is a March date that was made.

   Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – no
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes      
Mr. Rodrigues – yes  
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    

                                                        Voted:  to approve the motion, 7 - 1.

 Mayor Sullivan thanked the committee members for their efforts.
 
Cohorts

Superintendent Thomas followed up under cohorts, the committee knows the plan for coming back. We are going to start and keep to the 25% which would be four cohorts of students and that would be if we start in March. Then we would come back in the hybrid of two day a week getting students used to being back in school, parents use to the drop off and pick up, bus transportation, the cleaning procedures that take place throughout the day, how students will pass through the hallways, use the restroom, eating in cafeterias.  If we stay in the downward trend in March the first date would be Tuesday, March 2, 2021.  Mondays would stay remote and students would continue to meet with their teachers together as a class.  On Tuesday, March 2nd  25% of PreK and K, at the elementary school, grade 6 at the middle schools and grade 9 at Brockton High School would be brought back. Then the following ninth and sixteenth we would then phase the other students in at the 25% to keep the numbers in the classroom low.  Getting everybody use to being in the building and make sure we’re servicing the social and emotional needs of our students, and supporting our staff.  We would continue the 25% through March and then hopefully by that time the vaccines are rolled out and we can start to bring in students in larger groups as we get into April.  A timeline will be laid out to make it clearer but right now that’s the plan we would go with and the safest way to return to school especially with the size of our buildings.  We will keep you posted and keep an eye on staffing. Ms. Asack made a good point earlier and we will have to take into consideration the switch from in school to remote quickly as this will be an inconvenience for parents as it’s very difficult to plan. We will have to communicate effectively. A lot of this is unpredictable depending on cases and close contacts.

Mayor Sullivan thanked Superintendent Thomas for the update and mentioned at our next policy subcommittee meeting in addition to Dr. Richard Herman he is going to invite Dr. Eno Mondesir to give a presentation as he speaks to DPH daily relative to vaccines and believes his insight could be helpful.

Transportation
    
Superintendent Thomas invited Dr. Cobbs, Executive Director of Operations. He has been working with Ms. Peggy Killea and Ms. Marcia Andrade Serpa making sure when students return that transportation is in place.  He has also working with First Student and with our private companies.  First Student has been servicing students to Cardinal Spellman, Trinity Catholic, Norfolk Aggie and students who are attending outside placement agencies.

Dr. Cobbs mentioned we are in the process of having the bus routes scheduled with First Student and they are in the process of rehiring their drivers to bring back and transport 350 of our special needs students to their schools.  We are in the process of scheduling routes, now that we have an approval date for the remainder of students returning to schools.  Ms. Peggy Killea has worked diligently to map out all the routes for the 25 cohort students to return.  At this point we shouldn’t have any problems with our service provider First Student to transport students on February 23, 2021 and March 2, 2021.

Text alert information

Superintendent Thomas mentioned if parents/guardians change providers or their number they will need to re-enroll to receive text alerts are we are only allowed to outreach once a year.  Please text – yes to 67587 and you get a response that you’ve been enrolled to receive notifications.  Please call your child’s school if you do not receive a response.

Mr. Minichiello wanted to remind everyone there are too many students in Brockton where the Brockton Public schools was the most stable and safe environment; which provided stability, nutrition, nurturing and care. There are many students in this public-school system that need the adults, teachers and staff who have always shown how much they care for them and have been a rock or the stability to the students’ needs.  Our public school is unique and provides so much to so many of our student population.

Mayor Sullivan thanked Dr. Cobbs for his efforts in the various jobs he’s involved in and really cares about his profession.

Recognition

A grant from The Alan and Toby Bulotsky Charitable Fund Grant.  Superintendent Thomas acknowledged Dr. Alan Burton Bulotsky has been known in Brockton for several years.  A donation is being made by both Dr. Alan Burton Bulotsky and his wife Mrs. Toby Dvora Bulotsky for a grant donation from their charitable fund in the amount of $500.00 in memory of the Hirsch family of Brockton.  Funds will go into the BEF and will be a scholarship provided to a high school student attending college, more information will be provided.  Mayor Sullivan, Superintendent Thomas and School Committee members thanked Dr. Bulotsky and Mrs. Bulotsky for their efforts and generosity.

Approval of Brockton Community Schools new logo/slogan

Superintendent Thomas invited Dr. Soraya deBarros, Director of Community Schools to present the new logo/slogan for approval.  He also acknowledged Mr. Richard Bath, Chair of the Community School Advisory Board.  

Power point presentation

Dr. deBarros discussed the efforts to rebrand our community schools and shared a proposed logo and slogan. The current logo is a schoolhouse, and then Brockton community schools, the slogan is play, move, learn and grow.  As part of the rebranding we’re looking at a more contemporary look that will stand out and has a visual appeal for an audience that keeps evolving.  Brockton has evolved throughout the years and we want a logo that represents the community.  The new logo also has the Brockton colors and encompasses all the programs and activities that are put forth by the community schools’ office, which target the educational, cultural, recreational, and social needs of Brockton.  We’re also looking for a logo that fosters a desire for lifelong learning achievement and service in students and having a logo that highlights a whole array of partnerships.  The proposed logo that we have been working on, Ms. Michelle Bolton and Sign Design have worked on this and have had the blessing of the advisory board and it’s good to have Professor Richard Bath here with us.  The slogan if approved will be “A partnership for Learning, Enrichment and Empowerment”, a slight change to the name instead of Brockton Community Schools we’re looking to have The Community Schools of Brockton and it’s still under the umbrella of the Brockton Public Schools.  

Mayor Sullivan thanked Dr. deBarros and Professor Bath and thinks it’s brilliant and supports the change.

Question/Answer

* Ms. Sullivan asked upon approval of the school committee does it go to the community schools board next?

Dr. deBarros replied yes, the advisory board have been working as part of the strategic team, rebranding and looking at every single program for the past few months. We have met in a small group of eight people that way have a strategic meeting.  We’re trying to rebrand for people to understand what we stand for and it shows all the programs that we have been doing.

Mr. Sullivan thinks it’s a great idea and is 100% in support.

Mr. D’Agostino motioned to approve the new logo/slogan of the Community Schools of Brockton, seconded by Ms. Sullivan.

    Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes  
Mr. Rodrigues – yes
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
                                            Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.


First Read of the BPS 2021-2022 District Calendar

Superintendent Thomas highlighted a few dates on the 2021-2022 district calendar.  A vote is not needed tonight but at the next official school committee meeting.  This is the district calendar that goes over the start date of the starting date of school. the ending date of school, the legal holidays and school vacations.  

Wednesday, September 1, 2021 – Teachers report
Thursday, September 2, 2021 – First Day of School, Grades 1-12
Friday, September 3, 2021- Monday, September 6, 2021 LABOR DAY Weekend, No School
Tuesday, November 2, 2021 – ELECTION DAY, No School
Friday, June 17, 2022 – Last Day of School, Early Release (with no snow days)
Monday, June 20, 2022 – JUNETEENTH (Observed)
Tuesday, June 21, 2022 – Monday, June 27, 2022 (Scheduled Reserved School Days)

Items to Refer to Subcommittee      

Mr. D’Agostino requested the following subcommittee meetings:

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 – 5:30 p.m. – Security/Safety/Transportation Subcommittee Meeting
                                        Tuesday, February 2, 2021 – 6:30 p.m. – Finance Subcommittee Meeting
                                        Tuesday, February 2, 2021 – 7:30 p.m. – Facilities Usage & Planning Subcommittee Meeting
                                        Tuesday, February 9, 2021 – 5:30 p.m. – Curriculum Subcommittee Meeting
    
Unfinished Business    

 Mr. D’Agostino discussed the Curriculum Subcommittee meeting held on Tuesday, January 12, 2021; Agenda Item #1, Student Opportunity Act.

A motion was made by Mr. Sullivan to approve Superintendent Thomas to submit the Student Opportunity Act as presented tonight and written to the Department of Education, seconded by Ms. Sullivan.  A roll call vote was taken, and it was a unanimous vote in favor to approve.

Mr. Sullivan motioned to approve Superintendent Thomas to submit the Student Opportunity Act as presented and written to the Department of Education, seconded by Ms. Sullivan.
    
   Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes  
Mr. Rodrigues – yes
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    

                                        Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Mr. D’Agostino discussed the Superintendent’s Contract Subcommittee meeting held on Tuesday, January 12, 2021; Agenda Item #1, Superintendent Evaluation Review.

A motion is needed to accept the Superintendent’s end of cycle summative evaluation together with corresponding 2.8% base salary contract increase.  A 2% of the 2.8% increase will be processed now and the remaining .08% will be processed in June of 2021 implement retroactively to July 1, 2020.

Mr. Sullivan motioned to approve the Superintendent’s end of cycle summative evaluation together with corresponding 2.8% base salary contract increase.  A 2% of the 2.8% increase will be processed now and the remaining .08% will be processed in June of 2021 implement retroactively to July 1, 2020, seconded by Ms. Sullivan.

   Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes  
Mr. Rodrigues – yes
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
    
                                                Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.
 

New Business      
        
Mr. D’Agostino took a moment to discuss the last meeting.  He received emails from teachers and did write a response to them and wanted to share that with the public and teachers who were watching this evenings meeting.  He wanted to take a minute to assure everyone that the Brockton School committee as a body has the utmost respect for our teachers and remain very appreciative of all the efforts being undertaken by all of you.  I am sure you have heard the members of the committee and the Superintendent say many times how appreciative we are, and we know that this is not how you want to teach. The committee appreciates and knows that your already very difficult work has been made even more challenging during this pandemic.  Special education teachers have a role that I can’t begin to understand, each of you have gifts that many of us don’t have and the students and families you serve are lucky to have all of you.  For the return of school, your even more important than ever, you’ll be the first back in front of students and the committee knows that you have a vital role in our district that has now become even greater, because you’re the first to go back.  I understand there is some upset, I assure you that you all have the admiration respect and appreciation of the school committee.  Thank you.

Mayor Sullivan asked to respond.  He thinks Mr. Minichiello hit it on the head there’s a lot of anguish, anger, and confusion, there’s so much emotion and it’s raw because of COVID-19.  As chairman people have questioned why Sullivan is the chairman of the school committee as mayor.  Unfortunately, that’s the way it is in a city, every city in the commonwealth has that.  He wanted to say that he is proud to serve with each one of you, he is proud that the Superintendent is Michael Thomas and he is extremely happy that Kim Gibson is the President of the BEA and that we serve the Brockton Public Schools -the wonderful staff, teachers and of course the students, that’s the next generation.  Thank you.

Superintendent Thomas echoed Mayor Sullivan sentiments.  What happens in Brockton is different. The support and the unity of the school committee working hand in hand with the superintendent, executive team and all the members of the Brockton Public schools but also working hand-in-hand with all our unions, there’s no way we would have got through this without that strong bond that we have, because we’re all from Brockton we all want what’s best for Brockton and that’s why it always works.  We have our differences and we get through some tough times and we navigate our way, but the passion for doing what’s right for the students and the families of Brockton is always there from all of you, our teachers, our staff in the Brockton Public schools.  There’s no other place he’d rather be.  Thank you.  

School Committee Approval – Certified Negotiating Bargaining Member Disclosure
Mr. D’Agostino discussed a disclosure by Superintendent Thomas requesting a vote from the committee that allows him to participate in the collective bargaining with the BEA.  In this disclosure is a line item that is checked off that an immediate family member has a financial interest in this matter.  It is necessary for him to disclose that to us and for the committee to take a vote whether to allow him to participate in those negotiations.

Superintendent Thomas mentioned this must be done legally, his wife, Patricia Pica-Thomas has worked in the Brockton Public School for 25 years is a member of the BEA.

Mr. D’Agostino motioned to approve Superintendent Thomas request to remain on the Brockton Public Schools certified negotiations bargaining team, seconded by Mr. Sullivan.

   Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes  
Mr. Rodrigues – yes
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
                            
                                                        Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Mayor Sullivan mentioned this Thursday, January 28, 2021 he is doing the State of the City address beginning at 7:30 p.m.  It will air on BCA, he thanked Mr. Mike Simmons and his team at BCA for always accommodating us here on the school committee and the airing of the State of the City address and the City Council meeting, it will also be able to be viewed on Facebook (City of Brockton)              

Ms. Asack thanked Cradle to Crayons for their donations that will be delivered next week, 500 bags with masks, school supplies and some toiletries.  The items will be distributed at one of the grab and go sites in the next few weeks.  There are some coats left over just before the Christmas break, if you need them please reach out to me.  Again, thank you to Cradle to Crayons for all that they do for our Brockton families it’s an amazing partnership and hopefully when we are back in person for our meetings we can invite them.

Mayor Sullivan thanked Ms. Asack for her efforts year in and year out.  Always extremely diligent and really impacted and helped families in Brockton.

Executive Session

Mayor Sullivan announced, “The Committee will enter Executive Session:  Pursuant to Session  M.G.L. c. 30A, § 21(a)(3), to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining, as conducting this deliberation in an open session would have a detrimental effect on the bargaining position of the Committee.  The Committee will not return to open session following the executive session.”
            
Mr. D’Agostino and Mr. Sullivan both motioned to enter Executive Session, seconded by Ms. Asack.    
        
  Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote:
    
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes        
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes       
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes            
Mr. Minichiello – yes  
Mr. Rodrigues – yes
Ms. Sullivan – yes            
Mr. Sullivan – yes    
    
School Committee Members went into Executive Session at 9:08 p.m.
                          
                                   Respectfully submitted,
                                        Michael P. Thomas
                                        Superintendent/Secretary   
 
    mdc
                                            
    Power point:  COVID-19:  City of Brockton, Community Schools logo/slogan