At the meetings of the Old Rochester Regional/Superintendency Union #55 Joint School Committee and the Mattapoisett School Committee, it was time to recognize those members whose terms are expiring in concert with this academic year.
Region side Chairperson Cary Humphrey opened the May 5 JSC meeting by thanking outgoing member Tina Rood for her 15 years of service. Humphrey said he heard of Rood since moving to Rochester in April 2002 and met her during a subcommittee meeting shortly after he was elected to school committee in 2013.
“I was just wowed with her unbelievable skillset of breaking down things and understanding things when it comes to the schools,” he said, telling Rood “We’re very, very, very thankful for your service.”
“It has been a pleasure and super fulfilling for me and really an honor to serve our town,” said Rood, noting that she would speak more extensively at the next Rochester and ORR school committee meetings. “What a pleasure it is to work with all of you … and to work together in achieving great things for our students. Thanks for your kind words.”
Union side Chairperson Shannon Finning recognized outgoing Mattapoisett and Union #55 School Committee member Carole Clifford, who was not able to attend the start of the JSC meeting because she is “devout to the very last moment” (and attending another subcommittee meeting).
Finning discussed Clifford’s remarkable service to the Union side school committee for three years, alluding to her role in the superintendent’s search and return-to-school planning “and so many more efforts.” A former school administrator and teacher, Clifford will be taking “her real retirement,” according to Finning.
Finning also thanked Humphrey, saying it’s been an “honor to co-chair these meetings with you the last two years,” focusing on the meeting with the leadership of Tri Town Against Racism and ORR’s resultant new anti-racism agenda, the superintendent search, and COVID-19 coordination. She called serving with Humphrey an “honor and a pleasure. You have demonstrated day in and day out … that public officials are accountable to the public they serve.”
Humphrey’s final ORR School Committee meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 12. He thanked his “Rochester peeps,” Robin Rounseville and Sharon Hartley, for their support.
On May 3, Mattapoisett School Committee Chairman Jim Muse announced that a book, “The Perilous Voyage That Changed The World,” would be donated to the Old Hammondtown School library in Clifford’s name.
“This has been a nice four years, working in this school committee,” said Clifford, who retired from her career as an educator in Connecticut and took up in Mattapoisett the very next day.
Before that announcement, the Mattapoisett School Committee held its school-choice hearing.
ORR Superintendent of Schools Mike Nelson conducted the public hearing, saying that eight students are currently enrolled in Mattapoisett elementary schools on school choice.
A vote was required to open slots to allow kindergarten-age students for 2021-22. Nelson told the Mattapoisett School Committee that they could set parameters and priorities with their votes. Muse instructed the members that two votes would be taken.
Finning motioned that the eight existing school-choice students be maintained and that three kindergarten students be invited to join the schools. The motion was amended to add three students in grades K-2 with a priority on kindergarten and voted unanimously.
Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Janell Pearson-Campbell reported to the May 5 JSC on a detailed survey of students and staff in all district schools. The data collected from many questions asked in several categories, a professional development plan is emerging with a calendar for the 2021-22 academic year.
Frances Kearns asked about how technology is worked into the 2021-22 program, and Pearson-Campbell said technology will be imbedded throughout. Hartley requested an update so that new teachers would be able to use responsive classroom.
Both the Region and Union sides voted unanimously to approve Pearson-Campbell’s Professional Development Plan.
The JSC voted its approval of the 2021-22 academic calendar. Rood suggested a longer break in lieu of traditional February and April vacation weeks.
Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations Howie Barber discussed his budget approach for the 2021-22 academic year.
In his report, ORR High School Principal Mike Devoll said the Senior Walk will not take place, but the Prom is scheduled and the Senior Parade will take place on June 4. The June 5 graduation will be held on the same basic format with a slightly relaxed standard from family pods to group seating.
Nelson brought the JSC up to date on the district’s negotiation for an amended agreement with the three member towns and then state approval. Nelson reported that all three towns have indicated that they will bring the agreement to their respective summer or fall town meetings.
In referencing the failed attempt to fund the ORR track rehabilitation, Rood said the establishment of a stabilization fund is a document whose time has come.
The Mattapoisett School Committee also voted to authorize the school nurses to delegate other school personnel to dispense medication as necessary.
Finning and Muse both opened their respective school committee meetings by remembering 27-year bus driver Brian Dean, who recently passed away.
The ORR School Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 12, at 6:30 pm. The next Mattapoisett School Committee meeting will be held on Monday, June 7, at 6:30 pm. The Marion School Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday, May 19, at 6:30 pm. The Rochester School Committee will meet on Wednesday, June 2, at 6:30 pm.
By Mick Colageo