In emerging from an executive session held early in its September 8 meeting to discuss collective bargaining, the Marion School Committee voted to approve the Memorandum of Agreement with the Sippican Elementary School teachers and support staff.
The committee agreed with Sippican’s teachers on a two-year contract through the 2022-23 academic year and with the school’s support staff, including paraprofessionals, nurses, and cafeteria workers, on a three-year contract through the 2023-24 school year.
Marion Town Administrator Jay McGrail, appointed to work on behalf of the town with the School Committee, was not present because the meeting fell in conflict with a Select Board meeting, but Old Rochester Regional Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson reported that McGrail supports the committee moving forward with the agreements.
In an effort to achieve some consistency across the ORR district, the principals worked with Central Administration and one another on an updated Student Handbook. Sippican School Principal Marla Sirois called the result “a compilation” that reflects more additions than subtractions, along with updated language.
In answering committee member April Rios’ question on the three-step on-bus disciplinary system that begins with a warning followed in the next instance of a seat at the front of the bus and, ultimately, if warranted, a five-day suspension from riding the bus, Sirois said Sippican’s students are generally well behaved.
“I have not gotten to that [level of discipline with any student] yet,” said Sirois. “There are many bus policies that have complete expulsion. After that third time, as an elementary [school] principal, I have a real problem with that because our children are learning how to behave, so I feel like they need to be given as many chances as we can provide to them.”
The policy was not amended, but Sirois said, “Our children are well behaved and generally do their best on the bus.”
Nelson thanked the principals, noting that they also took the time to get legal counsel for feedback on language options in the Student Handbook.
The Marion School Committee voted unanimously to accept the Student Handbook as is.
In her Principal’s Report, Sirois thanked staff for its work in getting the Sippican building ready for the 2021-22 academic year. Spacing in classrooms is 3 feet and spacing in the cafeteria is 6 feet.
A parent informational session was held, but parents missing any notes can find information on the Sippican website. Sirois thanked VASE, which is working on a fall Ace program that will include a running club, a craft club, and a sign-language class.
New Assistant Principal Pete Crisafulli joined Sippican School after spending 18 years in the Frontier Regional School district in South Deerfield. “Not all districts are alike, and I’m learning a lot,” he said.
In a committee reorganization, Rios was unanimously voted to replace Michelle Smith as chairperson. Smith made the nomination. Nichole Daniel was unanimously voted vice chairperson.
Diana Russo was voted as recording secretary, but Nelson suggested the committee leave it “to be determined” while recognizing the “top notch” effort of Russo and Toni Bailey in the role. Russo was not present at the meeting.
Smith will continue to represent Marion on the ORR School Committee. Rios and Daniel will remain on the Joint School Committee Superintendency Union #55 and be joined by Marion School Committee member Christine Marcolini, who will fill the spot vacated by Jody Dickerson. Marion School Committee member Mary Beauregard will serve as an alternate.
Marcolini thanked Sirois and her staff for its attention to detail in getting the Sippican building ready for teachers and students. “I think that was very difficult for a lot of schools to do, and I think Sippican did it well,” said Marcolini, noting that Sippican has achieved a balance.
In her Chairperson’s Report, Rios thanked the building staff for making it possible for students to have a happy, in-school experience. “That’s the one thing that I feel when you walk in that door, I feel that happiness again. That’s kudos to all of you,” she said.
On August 26, nine new teachers were welcomed to the ORR District, and Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Janell Pearson-Campbell discussed the new Teacher Induction Program including mentorships and professional development opportunities.
At Sippican, Tracy Anthony is a new Special Education teacher. Anthony, in addition to having played rugby in college, competes on two billiards teams.
Susan Swoish is a new Grade 4 teacher; her father taught at ORR High School for over 30 years, and she has two daughters who attended Sippican and later graduated from ORR.
New support staffers include paraprofessionals Lucy Lizotte, Debra Smith, Sydney Swoish, and Jocelyn Ulloa, cafeteria staffer Jacqueline L’Heureux, and Assistant Head Cook Noreen Mackie.
Sirois told the committee that the school has an opening for a social worker.
In reporting on the summer break, Nelson discussed a staff retreat focused on helping others but making sure the person in a position of leadership helps her or himself. Dr. Alex Hirschberg conducted a social-emotional learning review on the staff with recommendations for the new school year.
Nelson said the Acceleration Road Map most noticeable during the week-long, intense Acceleration Academy will continue to influence the school year.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Janell Pearson-Campbell reported on the Teacher Collaborative, opportunities for the staff in keeping with the district’s three priorities of 21st century learning, global citizenship and project-based learning.
Director of Student Services Craig Davidson reported on the district’s preschool screening scheduled for Tuesday, October 19. Also to be held that day is the Tri-Town Early Childhood Council meeting at 6:00 pm.
In reporting to the committee, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Howie Barber said the food service indications are that students are eating well. Per the USDA, 100 percent of all meals were free in 2020-21. This year students receive will free breakfast and lunch, but any additional lunches will be charged.
Nelson reported to the committee on ORR’s Summer Acceleration Academy that brought K-2, Grades 3-4, 8, and 10 into the high school on August 16-20 for an intense week of learning. The K-2 students focused on early literacy, and the older grades focused on math.
The committee voted to accept a donation from Mike Demelo of Staples office store in Wareham, which has donated 125 boxes of school supplies and 50 packages of personal protective equipment.
The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for Wednesday, October 13. The next meeting of the Joint School Committee is scheduled for September 23. All meetings begin at 6:30 pm and are accessible via Zoom.
Marion School Committee
By Mick Colageo