Welcome to our Masconomet School Committee Blog

  • This blog is a vehicle through which we foster awareness of MSC topics, information, progress and resources for deeper learning. After each school committee meeting, we post meeting highlights and in-depth summary notes linked in the blog. We also post district highlights and community events such as our listening sessions.

    We intend to continuously connect our actions with the district vision. The school committee's focus is on vision, mission, policy, budget, superintendent oversight, and advocacy. We balance the needs of our many stakeholders, and monitor progress toward goals.

    To stay updated, follow us on the Masco App or follow us on Facebook.  Many thanks for your support!

    If you have questions please contact our committee chair, Carolyn Miller, at cmiller@masconomet.org 


School Committee Blog

  • Small Town Hero Award #1

    Posted by MSC on 4/20/2021

    Small Town Hero Awards

     

    Masco’s Student Council Honors Tri-Town Council with Small Town Hero Award

     

    By: Katie Bernard and Silas McLellan of the Student Council

     

    Tri-Town Council

     

    The Student Council strives to provide hope, build a sense of community, and cultivate strong student leaders within Masco. In keeping with this spirit, the Student Council would like to celebrate and appreciate an organization which inspires the student body: the Tri-Town Council. The TTC has shown profound resilience during the pandemic, and has continued to serve the Tri-Town with incredible efficacy and impact. 

     

    In the words of TTC Executive Director Meredith Shaw,  the Tri-Town Council “focuses on creating programs, partnerships, and initiatives that build youth assets—the foundational building blocks of healthy development.” According to Shaw, these include support, service opportunities, a sense of purpose, and values. The TTC’s mission is to “intentionally strengthen the social and emotional health and well-being of our youth and prevent and reduce youth substance use by fostering, growing, and promoting healthy decision-making and healthy behaviors.” 

     

    The Tri-Town Council has been organizing and leading various projects during the pandemic that support local students, from organizing a group of high school upperclassmen to read short stories and books to younger students, to creating a virtual peer tutoring program. In addition, the Tri-Town Council is currently sponsoring a series of meditation lessons which promote and encourage constructive mental health strategies. 

     

    This award is being given to all members of the Tri-Town Council’s amazing team: Meredith Shaw, Beth Whalley, Bonnie Collins, Dawn Seymour, Emma Roberts, Gretchen Rehak and Nicole Gregoire-Allis. Justin Crosby, Masconomet’s 2020-21 Student Body President, remarked that “The Tri-Town Council has brought incredible levels of support, joy, and hope to our community. Their leadership and dedication has inspired us all, and the Student Council is beyond humbled and honored to be naming them a small town hero.” 

     

    The Student Council would like to express its gratitude to the entire Tri-Town Council for their tireless efforts throughout this pandemic and beyond. In the spirit of building “bridges rather than walls,” the Masco student body has felt TTC’s impact, and we speak on behalf of the Tri-Town when we express our sincerest appreciation.

     

    The Annual Small Town Hero Awards is an initiative jointly led by the Masconomet Student Council and the Masconomet School Committee’s Community Relations Subcommittee. This year, it celebrates and honors local heroes who have stepped up and led significant change and impact during the pandemic. Ten different student groups selected ten different honorees from across the Tri-Town. This Small Town Hero Award is sponsored by the Student Council. Some quotes may have been edited for clarity. 

    Comments (-1)
  • 04.15.21 Mini-Update

    Posted by MSC on 4/16/2021

    WISHING EVERYONE A HAPPY APRIL VACATION! 

    spring tent

    Tent is ready for increase to in-person learning!

     

    SUPERINTENDENT BLOG

    Important updates for the return from April break in this post: https://mascosuper.school.blog/2021/04/15/information-regarding-masconomets-return-to-in-person-learning/ 

    • Delayed Openings on April 26, May 3, and May 17 
    • Health and Safety Guidelines
    • Student Attendance info
    • Links to more info on Reopening, Travel, Protocols, Nurses’ letter, and FAQ docs 

     

    FEATURED HIGHLIGHTS

      

    Comments (-1)
  • 04.07.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 4/10/2021

    “The future of Masco is one of inclusion, equity and kindness. It has to be.”
    —Junior Peer Leader during Peer Leaders’ Anti-racist Summit

     

     MS Totem Trophy

    Middle School teachers and students from the 7Blue team parade with the Totem Trophy to celebrate their spirit week win 

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • Lindsey Byman and Jackie Bazazi gave student reports
      • Student Council elections closed this week; Jackie will be Student Council  President
      • Projects include in-person campaign, leadership workshops, planning alternative  events to replace prom 
      • Students are struggling to find time and access resources to support mental health
      • Students are struggling with homework load, especially over holiday weekends, and would benefit from homework-free time to reset and prepare for busy weeks

    • Phil McManus presented a Middle School Update
      • Masco Connects has had two high-spirited trophy ceremonies for 7Blue and 7White
      • Middle School survey results: 510 in-person, 67 fully-remote (88% will be in-person)
      • Preparations for April 26 include: classroom set-up at 3-ft, welcome and team-building activities, new covid safety video

     

      • High School survey results: So far, 69% in-person, 31% full-remote; 894 have responded, of 1110 total (still awaiting 216 responses)
      • Upcoming changes to school calendar:
        • April 13 @12:30 early release: High School grades 9, 10, 12 full-remote; 270 Juniors taking SAT in-person; Middle School Cohort A in-person
        • April 26 & May 3: 10am Late Start
      • Working on planning year-end events with newest DESE guidance
      • Tent is up; 400 new desks arriving soon; re-stocking PPE

    • Assistant Principal Alyssa Schatzel and Peer Leader Advisor Jen Almeida shared a summary of the Peer Leaders Anti-racist Summit
      • Four senior peer leaders trained the junior peer leaders in a full-day summit on:
        • Anti-Defamation League program from 2019-2020
        • Key themes were: identity, common language, communication, understanding and challenging bias and bullying, allyship, open minds
        • Vision for Masco with plans for Peer Leader Freshman programming next year

     

    Further notes can be found in the Summary Notes* from the 4/07/2021 meeting.  *These are not meeting minutes and not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

    MASCO RESOURCES:

    DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS:

     

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

     

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    Our next School Committee meetings will be Wed, April 28 at 7pm. This meeting will be held in-person. PLEASE NOTE: NEW PROCEDURE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS: members of the public who wish make a brief statement or ask a question during the “Comments from the Audience” section of the agenda may join the meeting via Zoom Teleconference at 7:00 PM by clicking on the zoom link in the agenda. This link will only be open for the “Comments from the Audience” portion of the meeting and will be closed after the last commenter has spoken. Meeting agenda will also include a live-stream link to watch the full meeting. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41

    Comments (-1)
  • 03.31.21 Mini-Update

    Posted by MSC on 3/31/2021

    DECA state winners

    FEATURED HIGHLIGHTS

    • New Middle School Newspaper! Check out "The Masco Minute" - started this year! The students have designed it as a news website with their advisor, Mrs. Gatti. It includes news stories, interviews, reviews, theater articles, creative writing, art, craft projects, jokes, wellness, and (coming soon) sports. It's really impressive! You can see it at: https://www.masconomet.org/Page/797 
    • Congratulations to Masco's DECA Award recipients listed in the attached image! "DECA prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe."

    HIGH SCHOOL

    MIDDLE SCHOOL

    TIPS FOR TRANSITION IF CHOOSING FULL IN-PERSON

    • Remote students who choose full in-person can begin a gradual transition by switching to hybrid now. If they are anxious, the guidance office transition team is ready to help- Just ask!
    • Back in the fall, we made this "building tour" document that includes photos and descriptions about what to expect. Some details have changed (such as 3 feet instead of 6 feet between desks in classrooms) but otherwise this can be a helpful preview of the buildings and safety procedures. At the bottom it includes a link to a guide (map) showing traffic flow patterns as well:  https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OITSvKc8P9-urotkXcxkghp5x6tbyo8_/view 
    • Current hybrid students may adjust more easily, but can also reach out to guidance with any concerns.

    As always, anyone who’s not sure who to contact with a question or concern can refer to this guide and is encouraged to reach out for assistance:  https://www.masconomet.org/Page/699

    Comments (-1)
  • 03.24.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 3/27/2021

     

    “We want kids to come to school feeling connected and part of a community — to feel happy and excited. …  We are digging deep into how to support the ‘whole child’ not just as they transition into Masconomet, but throughout their entire time here.”
    —Alexis Kostas, MS adjustment counselor, about the Masco Connects and Pandemic Impact Transition Team (PITT)

     

     Who are our students?

    Slide from Student Services presentation 

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • MA State Legislators gave an update on the FY22 Budget 
      • Representatives Brad Hill, Brad Jone, Sally Kerans, Lenny Mira, Tram Nguyen, and Senators Joan Lovely and Bruce Tarr expressed appreciation to our education professionals during a year filled with obstacles, and spoke of the importance of maintaining quality education for student progress. Topics included:
      • FY22 Budget: Chapter 70, Special Education Circuit Breaker, Senate Docket 1111 on Retirement (which is identical to House Docket 1802)
      • Federal Rescue Plan 
      • Student Opportunity Act
      • Topsfield’s foundation budget changes
      • Economy of the Commonwealth

    • Pete Delani gave a High School Principal Update
      • Mr. Delani noted how impressed he has been by the creativity and adaptability of student groups, stating that "their resiliency in a difficult environment will serve them well throughout their lives.
      • Working on celebrating seniors - grateful for parent group collaboration
      • 60 guest speakers are lined up for senior workshops
        • Many Masco graduates and other professionals in our network happy to be invited and to give back
      • Please view the linked Update page (above), as there are many positive highlights included

     

    • Student Services presented a Wellness Update - by Patty Bullard, Irene Duros, Alexis Kostas, Kristin Duffy 
      • Numerous efforts taking place, including:
      • PD (professional development) on EF (executive function), SEL (social-emotional learning) and trauma-informed practices
      • Research into mental health screening tools to proactively identify tier 2 and tier 3 needs
      • Pandemic Impact Transition Team (P.I.T.T.)
        • Team: teachers, school counselors, school adjustment counselors, administrators
        • Ongoing focus is to accept, embrace, and support the whole child
      • Support groups for parents, for teachers and for students

     

    • Mike Harvey presented a Superintendent’s Update  
      • Middle School choice survey results for April 26 through end of year: 
        • 432 (89%) chose in-person; 54 (11%) chose full-time remote; 92 overdue
      • High School will begin full-time in-person on Monday, May 3
      • High School choice survey will go out Monday March 29 for one week
        • Survey choice is binding
        • HS will send a related FAQ doc 
      • Grateful to Tri-Town Boards of Health and school networks:
        • Secured vaccination appointment spots for Tri-Town teachers and staff on March 20 and 27 - 1000s of appointments available

     

    • SAB Nicole Messih gave her final update from the students, including: 
      • Student Council elections - new SAB will be Raquel Rave
      • Promotion of Mar 24-25 for hybrid in-person learning
      • Wish for rotating schedule, lockers, and lunch with friends
      • Gratitude for senior events, and school committee time

     

    Further notes can be found in the Summary Notes* from the 3/24/2021 meeting.  *These are not meeting minutes and not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

     

    MASCO RESOURCES:

    DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS:



    COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

     

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    Our next School Committee meetings will be Wed, April 7 at 7pm. This meeting will be held in-person. PLEASE NOTE: NEW PROCEDURE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS: members of the public who wish make a brief statement or ask a question during the “Comments from the Audience” section of the agenda may join the meeting via Zoom Teleconference at 7:00 PM by clicking on the link in the agenda. This link will only be open for the “Comments from the Audience” portion of the meeting and will be closed after the last commenter has spoken. Meeting agenda will also include a live-stream link to watch the full meeting. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41



    Comments (-1)
  • 03.10.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 3/12/2021

    “Next year will be a crucial year—and the Middle School years are when our students start developing who they are, and will be, at Masconomet and in the future. What we are producing here is thriving, curious, creative, problem-solving people—and this budget does a lot to support that.”

    —Bonnie Thornborough, Masconomet School Committee member

     

    3 ft desks classroom  

    Graphic shows placement of classroom desks at 3’ distance in order to expand to full-time in-person learning

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • School Committee approved the FY22 Budget with total expenditures of $38,302,489, for a total assessment to towns of $29,931,371— a 2.5% increase over FY21
      • Since the original proposed budget on January 20, several adjustments were made:
        • Four middle school teacher positions (1 team) and one part-time theatre position from the original reduction-in-force were restored to the budget
        • Funds to support more athletic scholarships were added
        • Significant cost savings from insurance and tuition off-set these additions
        • One high school art teacher position, one high school science teacher position, and one middle school paraprofessional position remained in the reduction-in-force

    • Mike Harvey gave a presentation on next phase of Re-Opening
      • Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Jeff Riley is requiring that all Middle Schools offer full-time in-person learning by April 28
        • The date for High School to expand  to full-time in-person is TBD
        • This ruling has the Force of Law, with limited waivers for exception
      • Masconomet will send a survey asking every student to commit to either full-time in-person or full-time remote learning from late April to the end of the school year. The survey will be binding.
      • Students who choose full-time in-person will only receive credit for remote attendance if their absence is for Covid-related reasons such as infection, close contact quarantine, or required travel quarantine
      • Students who choose full-time remote will participate as in current remote model, through blackboard with existing courses and teachers
      • Administration continues to prepare, and will present a proposal to the School Committee on March 24 to include: 
        • Plans for Middle School to expand into full-time in-person on Monday April 26
        • Plans for High School students to expand into full-time in-person on a date TBD
        • This timeline provides opportunity for staff to receive the vaccine before working with larger numbers of students
          • State offering teacher vaccination dates on: 3/27, 4/3, 4/10 and 4/11. 

    • SAB Olivia Richards gave an update from the students on several topics, including: Student Council elections, Small Town Hero Awards, in-person learning, senior privileges, schedule, mask breaks, lunch, lockers, homework, CP courses, and mental health

    • Community Relations will hold a Listening Session on Monday March 15 at 6:30pm

     

    Further notes can be found in the Summary Notes* from the 3/10/2021 meeting.  *These are not meeting minutes and not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

     

    MASCO RESOURCES:

    DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS:

     

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

     

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    Our next School Committee meetings will be Wed, Mar 24 at 7pm. This meeting will be held in-person. PLEASE NOTE: NEW PROCEDURE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS: members of the public who wish make a brief statement or ask a question during the “Comments from the Audience” section of the agenda may join the meeting via Zoom Teleconference at 7:00 PM by clicking on the link in the agenda. This link will only be open for the “Comments from the Audience” portion of the meeting and will be closed after the last commenter has spoken. Meeting agenda will also include a live-stream link to watch the full meeting. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41 

    Comments (-1)
  • 03.15.21 Listening Session

    Posted by MSC on 3/8/2021

    Listening Session 3/15/21

    Please click the graphic to view the agenda with zoom link. See you there!

    Comments (-1)
  • 03.03.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 3/5/2021

     “I don’t ever want to hear a Masco family say ‘I have three kids but only two could do a sport because we can’t afford it.’... This is one step that could help that type of family, and give us data for further adjustments.” 

    —Zillie Bhuju, Masconomet School Committee Vice-Chair, about $20k for athletic/co-curricular scholarships added to the proposed budget 

     

     Thaddeus Miles, Black Joy

    Click this link to view the full recorded assembly

    Student Council and the ACE Club held Masco’s first Black History Month assemblies on Feb. 25-26, featuring Thaddeus Miles of Black Joy. Watch the video and learn more in our HS Principal Blog, in this boston.com article, and at blackjoy.blog

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • Mike Harvey and Jeff Sands presented the proposed FY22 Budget
    • Public Hearing on the FY22 Budget 
      • Public comments and responses covered these topics: gratitude for performing arts and middle school positions added back into the budget, concern for Topsfield’s high % increase over FY21, concern about using one-time savings this year to cover RIF changes, impact of the HS RIF, questions about funds transferred in, and teacher retirement incentives
    • Athletics/Co-Curricular Scholarships
      • Proposal by Tasha Cooper to reduce fee offsets by adding $20K into the budget to increase the eligibility thresholds
      • Apportionment needs to be re-calculated to include this before an official vote can be taken on the FY22 Budget
    • FY22 Budget is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday, March 10 
    • Discussed Gov. Baker’s announcement about vaccinations for teachers beginning March 11, and Masco’s work on a possible site for tri-town educators

    Further notes can be found in the Summary Notes* from the 3/3/2021 meeting.  *These are not meeting minutes and not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

    MASCO RESOURCES:

    DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS:

     

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    Our next School Committee meetings will be Wed, Mar 10 at 7pm. This meeting will be held in-person. PLEASE NOTE: NEW PROCEDURE FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS: members of the public who wish make a brief statement or ask a question during the “Comments from the Audience” section of the agenda may join the meeting via Zoom Teleconference at 7:00 PM by clicking on the link in the agenda. This link will only be open for the “Comments from the Audience” portion of the meeting and will be closed after the last commenter has spoken. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41

    Comments (-1)
  • 03.01.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 3/2/2021

    “We’ve had a (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime event… Having those staff in place to help our kids recover makes sense to me.” 

    —Bill Hodges, Masconomet School Committee Topsfield representative, about returning four middle school teacher positions to the proposed budget 

     

    Masco winter sports

    Congratulations to all our winter sports athletes in basketball, ice hockey, ski, swim/dive, and gymnastics! Photos courtesy of Salem News and Boxford Cable

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • Jeff Sands presented the revised FY22 Budget Proposal 
      • 4.6 FTE added back in (removed from proposed reduction in force) for an increase of $357,473
      • New occurrences this week resulted in reduction of $462,017 
      • Increase in FY22 Operating Assessment (over FY21) was reduced from $824,513 to $710,159
    • Subcommittee updates:
      • Policy – meeting on 3/4 and 3/9
      • Community Relations 
        • Small Town Hero Awards nominations deadline on Fri. March 5
        • Listening session on Monday, March 15 at 6:30pm
      • DCI  - beginning preliminary work on a Capital Plan in spring
      • Anti-Racism
        • Inviting SEPAC for assistance with adding disability/ableism into Antiracism resolution 
        • IDEAS program offers training, courses, and events for school committee, administration, staff, teachers, and students
          • Title 2A grant would cover the cost of a membership; it is specifically designated for staff development
          • Would begin in summer 2021, work to build internal capacity over time  
      • Liaisons to Elementary School Committees
      • TTU - T. Cooper was on a panel for TTU to learn about the budget process for regional districts as compared to non-regional districts 

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    PUBLIC HEARING on the FY 22 Budget: SC Meeting Wed, March 3 at 7pm via zoom. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair, Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 02.24.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 2/27/2021

    “I call a meeting at 11am on a Sunday and all the nurses are there. I can’t say enough about how responsive they’ve been. They’ve gone above and beyond.” 

    —Mike Harvey, Superintendent, about Covid cases and contact-tracing process

     

     spirit week

     

    MEETING HIGHLIGHTS: 

    • Public comments were shared on three subjects: special education costs, planning for in-person learning, and pooled testing
      • Chair Carolyn Miller’s response to one letter, as well as other public comments, are in our summary notes

    • Senior SAB Nicole Messih gave a student update
      • Black History Month assemblies at the HS Feb. 25-26 featured Thaddeus Miles of Black Joy also described in the HS Principal Blog
      • Small Town Hero Awards: Deadline Fri, March 5 - Nominate someone now!
      • Upcoming events and projects include Senior Citizen St. Patty’s Day, Masco Morale Boosters, In-Person Learning Promotion Campaign, Mental Health Campaign, Leadership Workshop
      • Student Council elections will be starting soon

    • Phil McManus gave a Middle School update
      • Spirit Week March 1-5 (see image) 
      • Masco Excels has 8 virtual programs running with 50 students
      • Food drive, Valentine’s Day cards for community outreach
      • New MCAS guidance for April and May: half tests for hybrid, no tests for remote

    • Mike Harvey gave an update also posted in his Superintendent Blog
      • Dr. Mary Jo Carabatsos will be our new high school principal, starting July 1, 2021
      • State guidance on school re-opening is being updated and considered for Masco’s planning process

    • Planning for Spring & Fall Learning - Masco’s current mitigation measures have led to success in staying open for in-person hybrid, with no at-school covid transmission

    • Budget Presentation and deliberations continued 
      • Four full-time MS teacher positions and one part-time HS-MS position will be removed from the proposed reduction in force
      • Jeff Sands will revise the recommendation in advance of the meeting on Monday, March 1
      • The committee and administration working collaboratively on the budget process toward final approval on March 10

    • Subcommittee updates:

    Further notes can be found in the Summary Notes* from the 2/24/2021 meeting.  *These are not meeting minutes and not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

    MASCO RESOURCES:

    DISTRICT HIGHLIGHTS: 

    COMMUNITY RESOURCES:

    NEXT SC Meeting: 

    Our next School Committee meetings will be held on Mon, Mar 1 at 7pm and Wed, Mar 3 at 7pm. Mar 1 will be in-person, and is a special meeting for budget deliberations. Mar 3 will be held via zoom and includes a Public Hearing on the FY22 budget. Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair, Carolyn Miller at cmiller@masconomet.org. Watch our meetings live or recorded. Meeting agendas, minutes, documents, and videos are posted on-line at: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/41

    Comments (-1)