March 26, 2020

School Committee

Brockton, Massachusetts

Regular Meeting

March 26, 2020

PDF VERSION

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, Chair took a roll call vote under the revised open meeting law:

Mr. Minichiello – present                        
Ms. Asack – present            
Ms. Mendes – present
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – present        
Mr. Rodrigues – present        
Ms. Sullivan – present
Mr. Sullivan – present                             
Superintendent Thomas – present (non-voting)

Also Present:  Executive Team Members, Kim Gibson BEA Representative

Mayor Sullivan announced that this School Committee meeting is being live streamed under the open meeting law revised by Governor Baker, where municipalities, cities, boards and councils can live stream meetings in lieu of the COVID-19 epidemic. He thanked Superintendent Thomas, Malinda Campbell Executive Assistant to the Superintendent and Joe Campbell Senior Tech from Tech Services along with all who called in for this meeting for their collaborative efforts to make this meeting come to fruition.  
 
Mayor Sullivan called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m., followed by a salute to the flag.

Mayor Sullivan took a roll call to establish a quorum.

Mr. Minichiello – present                        
Ms. Asack – present            
Ms. Mendes – present
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – present        
Mr. Rodrigues – present        
Ms. Sullivan – present
Mr. Sullivan – present                            
Superintendent Thomas – present (non-voting)

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, there were no requests.  

Mr. D’Agostino moved the Superintendent’s recommendation to approve the Consent Agenda in its entirety; the motion was seconded by Ms. Asack.

A.    Approval of March 3, 2020 Regular School Committee Meeting Minutes
B.    Approval of March 3, 2020 Finance Subcommittee Meeting Report
C.    Approval of February 27, 2020 Accounts Review Subcommittee Meeting Report
D.    Approval of February 29, 2020 School Committee Retreat Report
E.    Approval of March 15, 2020 Special School Committee Meeting Report

Mayor Sullivan took a roll call vote to approve the Consent Agenda in its entirety:
    
Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes    
Mr. Minichiello – yes                            
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes                
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes            
Mr. Rodrigues – yes    
Ms. Sullivan – yes                
Mr. Sullivan – yes

Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Communication    None


Mayor Sullivan publicly thanked Superintendent Thomas for being a great leader of the Brockton Public Schools and for all the collaborative efforts made during this COVID-19 crisis.  

The Mayor also thanked School Committee members and City Councils.  He said we will get through this as a City, Commonwealth and Nation.  He then turned the meeting over to Superintendent Thomas.

Superintendent Thomas thanked Mayor Sullivan, School Committee members, Executive Team members, Kim Gibson BEA President, Tom Burke Chartwell’s Manager, Chartwell’s workers, Jess Hodges Chief Public Relations Officer, Teachers, Principals, Assistant Principals, Associate Principals, Department Heads, Directors, Staff and families we serve for all their continued support.  
        
Superintendent’s Report    

COVID-19
                         
Grab and Go Lunch Program
Superintendent Thomas spoke regarding the Grab and Go lunch program operating at ten school locations throughout the city Monday thru Friday beginning at 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. where Chartwell’s’ has provided breakfast and/or lunch for all BPS students.

Questions/Answers
•    Do families receive meals for Saturday and Sunday?
Yes, the FDA has given a waiver to prepare breakfast and lunch to families every Friday until the FDA changes their guidelines or COVID-19 is over.

Online learning options

Superintendent Thomas discussed online learning with regards to the guidance received by the Department of Education on March 18th.  We must provide our students with enrichment and engagement activities.  Resources are posted on the BPS website and updated regularly.   

He reported on new guidance that was received today from the Department of Education regarding online learning.  Our district is not set up for online learning for all students as it is in many other districts.  Budget cuts in our district the past several years have not allowed us to have implemented online teaching that is readily available to all students, but the district will have online resources available on the BPS website within the next week to ten days for our students.
          
Superintendent Thomas introduced Dr. Ethan Cancell Executive Director of Assessment, Accountability, Technology & Student Data Research, June Saba-Maguire Chief Academic Officer and Dr. Clifford Murray Principal of Brockton High School to discuss the online program we currently have that is used for credit recovery and students unable to attend for various reasons.  We are looking to expand this program and possibly implement it once it is discussed and approved with the BEA.  We have a MOU agreement with the BEA effective now through April 6th of expectations through remote learning and support for our students.  As the Department of Education provides new guidance will move forward with a new MOU with the BEA after April 6th.

Dr. Ethan Cancell and June Saba-Maguire reported that resources will continue to be available to all students on the BPS website along with printed resources at ten school sites.  Edgenuity is an online platform for students to take courses from grades 6 to 12 offering a wide range of courses.  We are licensed grades 9-12 and have several licensing for grade 6-8 at the alternative schools.  Thus far feedback regarding Edgenuity is positive.


Questions/Answers

•    Will this program be offered to students K-5?
We offer students K-5 a high quality online of resources where lessons are posted on the BPS website with daily assignments.

Printed packets
Superintendent Thomas reminded parents with internet access to visit the BPS website for up to date information and outreach on COVID-19, grab and go locations and learning resources.  He mentioned printed packets of new materials will be available next Wednesday to give out at the 10 locations.  Superintendent Thomas thanked the Principals for going out to the lunch locations distributing packets.

Superintendent Thomas mentioned at his request that Daniel Vigeant Director of Technology Services and Informational Technology (IT) department will gather 5,000 district laptops to update and install filters in the event school closure is extended.  The state has postponed MCAS testing and will make a ruling on cancellation within the next few days.  Therefore, we must wait before we are able to deploy laptops.  Principal’s will conduct surveys with families of students who attend their schools to determine a need, one device will be issued per family.

Questions/Answers
•    What will happen to families that have no internet?
Xfinity have set up hotspots, we will print instructions when laptops are distributed

•    Is this internet hotspot free?
Yes, the service is free

Mr. D’Agostino spoke on the topic of MCAS and the Student Opportunity Act.  On behalf of    the School Committee he reached out to Representative Claire Cronin and Representative Gerard Cassidy to indicate our concerns and support.  They understand and stated that it is being worked on.

Mayor Sullivan mentioned he and Superintendent Thomas spoke with three state representatives and senators regarding MCAS.  They are working diligently on this matter.  We anticipate a decision soon.
        
Opportunities for all students

Superintendent Thomas asked Sharon Wolder Chief Officer of Student Support Services to discuss opportunities for all students.  She discussed the work that is being done with English language learners that is being led by Kellie Jones Director of Bilingual Education.  Facilitators have been issued work phones to communicate and provide parents with information to help navigate resources online.  The BPS website has a Bilingual/ESL tab with learning opportunities in multiple languages.  Laurie Mason, Special Education Director, has taken calls and responded to emails from parents.  A resource guide was distributed at the grab and go lunch locations providing access to the BPS website and local mental health agencies for support.  It is expected that the district focus on regular communication with families, provide two modes of instructions: one being a low-tech mode and second provide level of instructions for students to maintain their skills they’ve learned.  The BPS website has a Special Education tab with a range of resources.  The district is not holding team meetings at this time and are postponed until further notice.  Student Support Services and social emotional, adjustment counselors are able to provide support by reaching out and working with families making sure they are connecting with the resources the district has.  Currently we are developing a support system team that will consist of 12 adjustment counselors and 3 nurses that will have district issued phones, once this is in place Jess Hodges will put this tab on our BPS website.  

Superintendent Thomas thanked Dr. Cobbs for overseeing the gathering of the 5,000 laptops, Daniel Vigeant and members of the IT department, Aldo Petronio and Ken Thompson for coordinating the lunches at the locations and providing drivers to help assist, also Dr. Murray who helped in the print shop making packets for our students.  

Mayor Sullivan echoed the same, thanking everyone for their support and combined professional effort.
                             
Finance during closure (Payroll for employees)

Superintendent Thomas reported that all BPS employees receiving a paycheck as the main
source of income and will continue to receive a paycheck.  He thanked School Committee members for their support and for approving that employees receive their regular salary.  He thanked Aldo Petronio, Diane Shaw and Payroll Department for their hard work, Dr. Moran and Human Resources Department for their hard work for all their collaborative efforts.

Mr. Petronio mentioned we pay approximately 3,030 employees’ salaries that are mostly direct deposit and that will remain the same, all live checks will be mailed by city hall.  Non-payees are per-diem substitute, anyone who works sporadically and retirees.  Mr. Petronio asked School Committee members for a vote to continue paying employees.

        Questions/Answer

•    Have we received guidance on payment to vendors?  
We have not received guidance.  The Department of Education and their Finance department and until we hear from higher up the Mass General law says unless services have been rendered we cannot pay them.

•    If there is a mistake in an hourly paycheck who do they contact?  
Email any of the following below:
1.    Aldo Petronio at aldoepetronio@bpsma.org
2.    Jess Hodges at jesshodges@bpsma.org
3.    Union President
4.    Principal

Mr. Minichiello motioned to continue paying all BPS certified and non-certified   employees, seconded by Mr. Sullivan.

A Roll Call Vote was taken:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes    
Mr. Minichiello – yes                            
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes                
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes            
Mr. Rodrigues – yes    
Ms. Sullivan – yes                
Mr. Sullivan – yes

Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

2020-2021 School Year Calendar – First Read

Superintendent Thomas discussed the 2020-2021 School Year Calendar – First Read and asked school members to review it.

Questions and Answers
•    Can calendar events go through at central to avoid overbooking of events during holidays?  
This calendar only shows the start of school and holidays.  
Jess Hodges will take over the master district calendar shared drive for all employees.


Items to refer to Subcommittee    

Superintendent Thomas requested a Finance Subcommittee meeting be held Thursday,
April 2nd to discuss MOU’s from all unions except the school police.
                
Mr. Minichiello motioned to schedule a Finance Subcommittee meeting on Thursday,
    April 2, 2020 at 7:00 p.m., seconded by Mr. Sullivan.
    
A Roll Call Vote was taken:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes    
Mr. Minichiello – yes                            
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes                
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes            
Mr. Rodrigues – yes    
Ms. Sullivan – yes                
Mr. Sullivan – yes

Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Unfinished Business    

Superintendent Thomas discussed the Student Opportunity Act (SOA) 3-year District Plan.  
We anticipate receiving information within a few days from the Department of Education of a new date to submit our application.   

New Business    

Mayor Sullivan thanked Jess Hodges Chief Public Relations Officer for her support to both City Hall and BPS during this time it is appreciated.
    
Ms. Asack thanked Mayor Sullivan, School Committee members, Superintendent Thomas, BPS family, Chartwell’s and Principal’s passing out lunches and packets to our students and pulling together in a timely fashion to support. Thank you Cradle to Crayons for their recent donations of six pallets of toys, school supplies, hygiene products, and diapers and for always supporting the district.

Mr. Sullivan thanked Chartwell’s, Tom Burke Manager, Mike Dombrowski the Chef and Michelle, Kerry, Debbie and Christine/ lunch ladies and Lee/ truck driver for an outstanding job during this time providing breakfast and lunches to our students in the City of Brockton.

Superintendent Thomas asked for approval to expand BPS email access capability for BPS students PreK-5, this will help families that do not have email address a great communication tool moving forward with our online platforms.

Mr. D’Agostino motioned approval of email address access capability for BPS students PreK-5, seconded by Ms. Asack.

A Roll Call Vote was taken:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes    
Mr. Minichiello – yes                
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes                
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes            
Mr. Rodrigues – yes    
Ms. Sullivan – yes                
Mr. Sullivan – yes

Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

Superintendent Thomas spoke about the new guidelines that came out today from the Department of Education.  The guidelines were signed off by the Mass Association of School Committees, the American Federation of Teachers, the Mass Association of School Superintendents, the Mass Parent Teacher Association and the MTA Association.  This information will be posted on our website and go into effect on April 6, 2020.  

Kim Gibson BEA President spoke about the MTA having conference calls working together and were key participants with AFT Massachusetts drafting new guidelines.  It was important to represent districts such as ours that may not have funding as other towns do.  It is important that remote learning is not just online we need to keep that in the forefront in what we are doing.  We need our students to be engaged in a new way, so they can learn at home.  Guidelines for ESL and Special Education will need some work on and hopefully have it completed in the next few days.  

Superintendent Thomas thanked Kim Gibson BEA President for her leadership during this time and all team members working together.  

*Mayor Sullivan read the following statement for the record:  Out of respect for public health and in response to the Governor’s declared state of emergency, this meeting will be closed to the public and interested parties can instead access the deliberations via a livestream featured prominently on the Brockton Public Schools website, bpsma.org. This meeting is being held in accordance with Governor Charlie Baker's signed open meeting law order dated March 12, 2020 which relieves a public body from the requirement of section 20 of chapter 30A that it conduct its meetings in a public place that is open and physically accessible to the public, provided that the public body makes provision to ensure public access to the deliberations of the public body for interested members of the public through adequate, alternative means.
    
Mayor Sullivan gave an updated report on the COVID-19 cases in Brockton.  As of today, we have 43 confirmed cases.  All precautions are being taken, conference calls are being held throughout the week with various organizations, updates from Governor Baker, Congressman Lynch, U.S. Senator Markey’s and U.S. Senator Warren’s office.  We need to maintain all precautions that healthcare is saying, social distance, washing hands, disinfect all hard surfaces and stay at home.

Executive Session    

Mayor Sullivan announced School Committee members have personnel matters to deal with and would go into Executive Session pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 30A, Section 21 (a)(3)), To discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining Brockton Educational Paraprofessionals Association and IBAA-TEA and Brockton Education Association.

Mr. D’Agostino motioned to go into Executive Session, seconded by Ms. Mendes.

A Roll Call Vote was taken:

Mayor Sullivan, Chair – yes    
Mr. Minichiello – yes                
Ms. Asack – yes
Ms. Mendes – yes    
Mr. D’Agostino, Vice-Chair – yes            
Mr. Rodrigues – yes    
Ms. Sullivan – yes                
Mr. Sullivan – yes

Voted:  to approve the motion, unanimous.

    School Committee Members went into Executive Session at 8:18 p.m.
                              
    Respectfully submitted,
    
                                        Michael P. Thomas
                                       Superintendent/Secretary   
 
                                        mdc