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.


School Committee Blog

  • PSA - Re: Vaccine Clinics at Masco; Survey for Caring Adults; Budget Calendar

    Posted by MSC on 1/15/2022

     

    vaccine clinic flier

     
    • SURVEY FOR CARING ADULTS: We want to hear from you! The COALITION - a TTC program - invites you to participate in the 6th biennial adult perception survey. Share your thoughts about health, safety and risk behaviors of Tri-Town Youth. Complete the survey by January 21st (which should take about 10 minutes) for a chance to win a gift certificate to a local Tri-Town business. Your responses will help TTC plan upcoming programming for youth and families. Survey link: https://tinyurl.com/APS2022 --- Source: https://www.facebook.com/.../a.20437.../4808586799235415/...

     

    YRBS-adult-survey 
    • FY23 BUDGET CALENDAR: The Masconomet School Committee will begin a seven week process of review and deliberating on the FY23 Budget this month, with a Public Hearing on March 2. See the full Budget Calendar here: https://www.masconomet.org/Page/845

    budget calendar FY23

    budget process FY23

    Comments (-1)
  • Community Relations Forum 12/12/2021

    Posted by MSC on 1/9/2022
    Comments (-1)
  • 01.05.22 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 1/6/2022

    “I’ve been impressed with how the classes are still going and picking right back up from where we were before break, even with lots of teachers being absent.  …. Before the whole pandemic, I didn’t know how many online resources Masco offers, so switching to that remote model {last year} allowed more students to know how to access more information on their own, and on the other end it allows teachers to put out assignments online and creates a much easier back and forth between the students and teachers, which allows us to get more done - so I think it makes it more seamless now” - Student Advisory Board Representative Stella Nagle 

     

    SNOW DAY

     

    *These are not meeting minutes and are not intended to be a transcription of the meeting.

     

    • Remarks from the Chair.  Zillie Bhuju thanked administrators and staff for the extra work involved in being able to reopen school this week, amidst this new phase of the pandemic.  She went on to note that the current situation is yet another reminder of how individual choices and individual behaviors can impact entire systems and entire communities. For example, as bad as things are, if we had a lower rate of vaccination, we would be in a much worse situation right now. She thanked those who are taking their part seriously for the sake of our community – for the people within our schools, for our teachers, for the families of our students and staff, and for the health care systems that we all count on. This is how we show we care for one another. Our individual choices and behaviors make a difference.

     

    • Comments from the Audience.  Trevor Currier asked about the status of the mask mandate. As was shared at the previous meeting, the district applied for a waiver in December after meeting the 80% threshold. DESE approved it on December 17th. However, the Boxford Board of Health’s (BoH) mask mandate remains in place, and our public school buildings are under the Boxford BOH’s jurisdiction.  

     

    • Masconomet Teachers Union Negotiations.  The School Committee and the MTA have continued to make progress in the negotiation and have been in communication as recently as today. We look forward to completing our negotiations.

     

    • High School Principal’s Report.  Dr. Mary Jo Carabatsos confirmed that mid-term exams have been cancelled, a decision was based on concerns about student mental health and anticipated absences due to COVID.  She reviewed the School Improvement Plan, available online here, which she has been working on with the School Council and faculty.  The plan centers on three strategic objectives: School Climate and Culture; Student-specific Supports and Instruction to All Students; and Curriculum, Instructor, and Educator Growth.  Dr. Carabatsos also spoke about the efforts being made within new and existing programs designed to address both social/emotional and academic concerns arising from COVID.  

     

    • Student Advisory Board Update.  SAB representative Stella Nagle thanked the administration, faculty, and staff for everything they have been doing to keep everyone in school.  She reported that students are relieved by the cancellation of mid-term exams, preparation for which had been causing a lot of extra stress given the latest surge of covid cases. It was noted that the tools and skills gained from remote teaching & learning are being well utilized by both students and teachers to help stay on track through blackboard and other online apps during absences.

     

    • Financial Update.  Assistant Superintendent Jeff Sands reported that we are currently on track to finish the fiscal year in a favorable position, i.e., under budget. This forecast report reflects a mid-point for this fiscal year and can be viewed here

      

    • Superintendent’s Update.  Dr. Harvey provided a detailed update, which is available via his January 6th blog post, here.  During the discussion, Dr. Harvey talked about the increasing difficulty of maintaining an accurate picture of the percentage of positive cases in the Masco community.   The administration continues to conduct contact tracing on positive cases that are either a) resulting from a PCR test and reported through the Department of Public Health b) identified through the test and stay program.  Self-administered antigen tests cannot be verified so contact tracing is therefore not possible for those. Individuals should still report those to the school. Regardless, cases are on the rise in our community. We continue to look to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for guidance, and expect their update by January 15. Although Masconomet received a mask waiver, no changes should be anticipated at this time.  As was stated at our December 15th meeting, discussion of possible changes would take place later in January at the earliest.  The next steps involve hearing DESE’s Jan 15th update and consulting with Boxford BoH. In the fall, Boxford BoH had stated that if Masco did not mandate masks for everyone, there must be a clearly enforceable plan to require masks for unvaccinated individuals.  It is not prudent to pursue this question under the current conditions. 

     

    • Subcommittees.  The Policy Subcommittee will meet on January 10th at 7:30PM.  The Community Relations Subcommittee will meet on January 13th at 6:30PM, with the first 20 minutes reserved for a community discussion.  The Budget Subcommittee will meet with the purpose of hearing from department heads on January 26th at 5:00PM.

      

    Upcoming Meetings:

    Please refer to the “Public Meetings” page on the Masconomet Website for a list of upcoming meetings and agendas. The next regular school committee meeting is scheduled for Wed, Jan 19, 2022.

     

    Comments (-1)
  • 12.15.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 12/17/2021

    “To our student athletes: your achievements gave a huge boost to the morale of the district this fall. It was great to have you out there. You made a difference. Thank you!” - School Committee Chair Zillie Bhuju
    kennedy institute slide

    *These are not meeting minutes and are not intended to be a transcription of the meeting. 



    • Comments from the Audience.  Matt Coogan, Boxford Town Administrator, attended to introduce himself.  He said that he is looking forward to working with the School Committee and the administration in the coming months and years.

     

    • Athletics Recognition. Athletics Director John Daileanes thanked the community for their support of the athletics program and acknowledged the many amazing achievements of our athletes in fall 2021, of which there were too many to list here.  Many team captains were in attendance and Daileanes recognized several who have committed to playing their sport in college, as well as highlighted students and coaches who earned various regional and state honors this year. 

     

    • Masconomet Teachers Association Negotiations.  The Negotiations Team met with the MTA and a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service on Monday, 12/6.  We want to thank the Masconomet Teachers Association for agreeing to meet with the assistance of a neutral third party.  This was our third session with the Federal Mediator and we continue to feel that with the mediator’s assistance we are making great progress towards an agreement. Since we began negotiations almost a year ago, our top priority has been to ensure we have language in the contract that gives us the flexibility needed to make changes to our daily schedule.  This increased flexibility will allow us to address issues of student stress and workload through the inclusion of a WIN Block, meet the required state minimum for structured learning time, and allow time for the professional learning that will be necessary to move Masconomet towards meeting “Masconomet Vision 2025.”  During our negotiations, we have also been mindful of the financial commitment our member towns make when the School Committee commits to a contract.  We appreciate the high level of funding our towns provide, and understand that overburdening our member towns comes at the cost of other public services.  We feel that while we may not be able to achieve everything we’d like in this contract, we are very close to settling a contract that achieves our top priorities and will allow us to continue to work collaboratively with our teachers to achieve the goals of Masconomet Vision 2025.

     

    • Student Advisory Board Update.  Raquel Rave reported that the SAB has been working with the school community on several projects including a holiday season gift-giving program. They have also been sharing student feedback about mask break options with the HS principal directly. 

     

    • Vision 2025.  Social Studies Department Chair Jill Story spoke about experiential learning, specifically three student field trips that have taken place this year in her department.  Students have visited the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center, the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate, and the American Heritage Museum.  More details, and photos from the events, are available here.  

     

    • Middle School Principal’s Update.  Dr. Phil McManus reported on happenings at the Middle School, including an in-school holiday concert (the first concert in two years), a Thanksgiving food drive, and a holiday toy drive.  His full report is available here.

     

    • Superintendent’s Update. Dr. Harvey’s report is included in his 12/16 blog post, available here.  

     

    • Policy Subcommittee.  The Policy Subcommittee met on December 13th by Zoom.  They discussed a proposal to reduce the size of the committee, from 11 to 9 members, and recommended no action at this time. The consensus of the full committee was to postpone further consideration of this matter to the summer of 2022 or later. The Subcommittee also discussed some (minor) grammatical and procedural edits to the District Agreement that have been flagged by DESE. These edits will be sent to the Select Boards for review. Next meeting will be on January 10 at 7pm. 

     

    • Community Relations Subcommittee.  The CR Subcommittee met on December 8th by Zoom.  Two community members attended but did not request to speak.  The Subcommittee is pursuing two priorities–engaging with our Councils on Aging and our local business community– and is liaising with the Performing Arts Department about a concert for senior citizens.

     

    • Budget Subcommittee. The Budget Subcommittee is planning to meet with the department heads on January 26th  to talk about faculty priorities for the budget cycle.  

     

    • Anti-Racism Subcommittee.  The Anti-Racism Subcommittee met on December 7th by Zoom.  The group plans to create a consolidated archive of all materials from the committee’s discussions to date.  These are available publicly now, but it would be helpful for the community and the committee to have everything in one place. The Subcommittee discussed strategies for continuing its work to ensure that all students feel comfortable at Masconomet and that the district provides a full and complete history curriculum.  The next meeting will be in January (date TBD).

     

    • Middleton Liaison.  Kosta Prentakis reported that the Middleton Budget Committee has limited budget increases to 2.5% or roughly $800k.  Masconomet represents 35% of that town’s  budget.  The  budget review will be on Saturday, February 5th.  Finally, the Middleton Selectboard has drafted a letter to DESE, requesting that the mask mandate be returned to local control.



    Upcoming Meetings:

    Please refer to the “Public Meetings” page on the Masconomet Website for a list of upcoming meetings and agendas. The next regular school committee meeting is scheduled for Wed, Jan 5, 2022.

    Comments (-1)
  • Community Relations Forum 12/08/2021

    Posted by MSC on 12/6/2021
    Comments (-1)
  • 12.01.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 12/2/2021

    “The big goal for this year is to rebuild a sense of community for our students.”
    - Masconomet HS Principal Dr. Mary Jo Carabatsos

    athletics fall 2021

    *These are not meeting minutes and are not intended to be a transcription of the meeting. 



    • Remarks from the Chair. Vice-Chair Tasha Cooper opened the meeting with a reflection on the school shooting in Oxford, Michigan this week.  “We want to let everyone in Michigan know that our hearts are with them.  I hope that as we go forward, we can continue to think about the social-emotional health of our children.”  

     

    • Comments from the Audience.  There were no comments from the audience.

     

    • Masconomet Teachers Union Negotiations.  The School Committee and the Masconomet Teachers Union have made substantial progress on the contract over the past two weeks, crossing some hurdles on language.  The next meeting is scheduled for next Monday.

     

    • Student Advisory Board Update.  Junior class representative Stella Nagle reported that student leaders are working to continue making the most of another challenging year.  She raised a concern from students about the revised approach to Semester 1 exams.  Dr. Carabatsos addressed this in her presentation and remarks (see below).

     

    • Class of 2021 Report.  Irene Duros attended to celebrate the success of the Class of 2021 and to  provide an update on issues of concern to the Class of 2022.  You can read her report here.  

     

    • High School Principal’s Update.  Dr. Mary Jo Carabatsos provided an update on a number of topics.  We encourage the community to read her report here.  She expressed her excitement about the range of social and extracurricular activities that are underway and her pride in our student athletes and coaches, who had a very successful season.  The School Council will convene for the first time this week; parent representatives on the Council are Bethany Blacke, Danielle Emig, Karri Madonna, and Rachel Viera.  Dr. Carabatsos also addressed mask breaks, explaining how and why the mask break pilot was developed. She will deploy a student and teacher survey on masks next week. Finally, she addressed the exam schedule being piloted this month, remarking that the schedule is designed to mitigate stress on students by reducing the weight of the exam vs their regular coursework, and to allow faculty to spend time with students during exam week..  

     

    • Superintendent’s Update.  Dr. Michael Harvey alerted the committee that Masco is experiencing a spike in COVID cases following Thanksgiving. It is worth noting that based on the data in Dr. Harvey’s report, the rate of COVID cases among unvaccinated individuals in the Masco community is eight times the rate of cases among vaccinated individuals.  Dr. Harvey also reported that the hiring process for the new Assistant Superintendent of Student Services is getting underway and the timeline for presenting a preferred candidate to the School Committee is March 1, 2022.  The hiring committee will be chaired by Dr. Carabatsos and Dr. Phil McManus.  Please see Dr. Harvey’s blog post for more information.

     

    • Community Relations Subcommittee.  The Community Relations Subcommittee will meet on Wednesday, December 8th via Zoom.  

     

    • Budget Subcommittee. The Budget Subcommittee will meet with the department heads at the end of January to hear about faculty priorities for the budget.  

     

    • Anti-Racism Subcommittee.  The Anti-Racism Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday, December 7th via Zoom.  

     

    • Policy Subcommittee.  The Policy Subcommittee will aim to meet before the holiday break to begin a discussion about a proposal to reduce the number of School Committee members from 11 to nine.  Initial conversions with town leadership in Boxford and Middleton have not raised any major concerns.

     

    • Town Liaisons.  Carolyn Miller reported that the Boxford Finance Committee’s directive to town departments for FY23 will be to limit budget increases to 2.5%.  Melissa Ogden and Zillie Bhuju reported that Topsfield’s budget increase recommendation will be no more than 2.75%.



    Upcoming Meetings:

    Please refer to the “Public Meetings” page on the Masconomet Website for a list of upcoming meetings and agendas.

    Comments (-1)
  • 11.17.21 Meeting Summary

    Posted by MSC on 11/19/2021

    “I have noticed a lot of positive energy in our district! We’ve had respectful interactions this year during our meetings - It seems that generally at Masco, we put respect for our shared community first - Our children are watching and they learn from this - it makes a difference.” - Zillie Bhuju, SC Chair

    student wellness slide

     

    *These are not meeting minutes and are not intended to be a transcription of the meeting. 

     

    • Remarks from the Chair. Zillie Bhuju spoke about an issue that was brought to the School Committee’s attention by an individual regarding members and administrators who attended the recent Massachusetts Associationof School Committees/ Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents conference. The person expressed concern that Masconomet representatives did not wear masks at the event, citing a protocol found online that included a mask requirement.  MASC has shared a public apology because their protocol for this optional event, which took place in a privately owned venue that does not require vaccinated adults to wear masks, was unclear. Our schools, on the other hand,  are public buildings at which attendance is mandatory. In these buildings, we follow the most up to date rules and guidelines, which currently include wearing a mask. Finally, Zillie invited anyone who has a specific question or concern related to the School Committee to contact us directly by email or phone, or attend one of our public meetings. She suggested that calling out individual committee members by name on social media is not productive, sets a bad example for our students, and reflects poorly on our community. 

     

    • Comments from the Audience.  There were no comments from the audience.

     

    • Masconomet Teachers Union Negotiations.  The  School Committee and the Masconomet Teachers Union have agreed on dates to meet with the mediator to continue contract discussions.  The first meeting will be Monday, November 22.

     

    • Student Advisory Board Update.  Senior class representative Lindsey Byman spoke about Spirit Week, the Senior Halloween Dance, and the Senior Snow Ball.  She reported that athletes are enjoying themselves and looking forward to the winter season. She also mentioned that some students would prefer to have mask breaks indoors as the weather begins to get colder.  Dr. Harvey spoke briefly about the rationale for the current system and recommended that the Student Advisory Board approach Dr. Carabatsos to discuss their ideas.  

     

    • Middle School Principal’s Report.  Dr. Phil McManus reported that students have settled in well and that “the overall atmosphere and climate in the building is exciting and positive.”  He said that priorities  include social emotional learning and closing the learning gap that resulted from the pandemic.  Dr. Manus said that his team is tracking this, especially around math and writing, and that faculty members and specialists are providing extra help in these areas.  There was more detailed discussion about tracking academic progress as part of the Student Wellness Report (see below).  The Middle School community completed a coat drive and a Thanksgiving food drive, Project Adventure team-building, and a Halloween costume competition.  Dr. McManus’s full report is available here.

     

    • Superintendent’s Update.  Mike Harvey made a statement about the recent accusations of racist and sexist language made against athletes in local schools.  This statement and his full report are available here.   In his regular COVID update, he reported that there have been 31 COVID cases in the District since the beginning of the school year. The vaccination rate as of November 16, 2021 is 78.05%.  Dr. Harvey also announced that Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Patty Bullard will be retiring as of August 31, 2022.

     

    • Student Wellness Report.  Assistant Superintendent of Student Services Patty Bullard and Dr. Irene Duros presented a detailed report on student wellness at Masconomet. It outlines the current state of student wellness as well as the social, emotional,  mental health, and educational supports available to students via the Student Support Center and the Academic Success Center.  It also details special programs taking place in the schools over the next several months.  We strongly encourage all families of Masconomet students to read the report, which is available here, and listen to the recorded presentation for the many details shared. Families should reach out to the Student Services team if your student would benefit from any of these support services.  You can reach Student Services by phone at 978-887-2323.

     

    • District Enrollment Report.  Assistant Superintendent Jeff Sands presented the enrollment report, compiled each year as of October 1st.  This report is important because it helps to determine the amount of the operating budget each District member town is required to contribute for the following financial year.  Overall enrollment is down 2% from last year, continuing a five-year state-wide trend.   

     

    • Census Data and School Committee Membership Distribution.  Dr. Harvey reported that based on census data, the composition of the School Committee can remain unchanged (three representatives from Middleton, four from Topsfield, and four from Boxford.  The census data are available here.  The relevant section of the Masconomet Regional Agreement can be found here.

     

    • Massachusetts Association of School Committees Annual Conference.  Zillie Bhuju, Tasha Cooper, Carolyn Miller, and Superintendent Mike Harvey represented Masconomet at this year’s meeting, which took place in Hyannis over the first weekend in November.   All of the resolutions passed.  

     

    • Community Relations Subcommittee.  The Community Relations subcommittee began a monthly open community discussion at their second meeting of the school November 10th.  We had a good turnout and two community members raised topics for discussion. We are inviting representatives of our Councils on Aging to attend one of our upcoming meetings.  

     

    • Budget Subcommittee. The Budget Subcommittee reviewed the upcoming budget calendar.  They will be meeting with academic department heads and with representatives from each town’s governments. They also discussed athletic fees, and a majority would like to reduce the burden on families in a feasible and sustainable manner.  The School Committee recognizes that our current fees are not in line with comparable districts.  The administration intends to consider options to address this in their budget recommendation for FY22.   We can support the physical and mental health of our students by encouraging them to participate in sports and clubs.

     

    • Small Town Heroes Awards. ​The Student Advisory Board has confirmed that it wants to run this popular program again next spring.  We are grateful for the SAB’s hard work on this.

     

    • Masconomet Education Foundation.  We accepted a generous MEF donation of 3D Printers, Laser Cutter, Runone Electrophoresis Gel Boxes, Collaboration Monitors, Completion of an outdoor classroom for the 7th grade life science team, and RoboMaster TT Drones.  We are thankful for the MEF’s support!



    Upcoming Meetings:

    Please refer to the “Public Meetings” page on the Masconomet Website for a list of upcoming meetings and agendas.

    Comments (-1)
  • Community PSA

    Posted by MSC on 11/15/2021

     

    Community Conversations on Race - "What Can I Do?"

    Thursday, Nov 18th,  7:30-9pm

    Masconomet High School Library

     

    Last summer, the School Committee heard from dozens of community members that wanted opportunities to come together in a supportive, structured setting to discuss topics related to race, racism, diversity, equity, and so forth. Here is one such opportunity for that kind of community conversation!

     

    This community workshop is hosted by TTC with facilitator Lisa MacDonald - "What can I do?" is a question many are asking right now. Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, perhaps you’ve asked others. This program provides an opportunity to discuss, listen to different perspectives, and better understand the implications of intention vs impact this question may have.

     
     
     
    conversations on race flier
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  • Community Relations Forum 11/10/2021

    Posted by MSC on 11/4/2021
    Comments (-1)
  • 10.26.2021 Mini-Update

    Posted by MSC on 10/26/2021

    DESE Press Release

    - NEXT SC MEETING NOV. 17 -
    The School Committee will not meet next week due to scheduling conflicts with the Massachusetts Association of School Committee’s MASC/MASS 2021 Joint Conference. (Nov. 3rd had been tentatively listed in the draft schedule, but there will be no meeting on that date).
    The next regular SC meeting is currently scheduled for November 17th, at 7pm. This meeting will be held in person. Please refer to the “Public Meetings” page on the Masconomet Website for upcoming meetings: https://www.masconomet.org/domain/184
    Email any questions, comments or concerns to our committee chair Zillie Bhuju at zbhuju@masconomet.org
     
    - DESE PRESS RELEASE EXTENDING MASK REQUIREMENTS -
    Please see this Press Release from DESE extending the mask requirements in all K-12 public schools through at least January 15, 2022
     
    - ICYMI: NOTIFICATIONS ON SCHOOL CANCELLATIONS -
    As we prepare for winter weather, here is the district-wide information regarding notification procedures for school cancellations: https://mascosuper.school.blog/.../school-cancellation.../
     
    - WEEKLY SCHOOL NEWS -
    Please follow the Middle School Principal and High School Principal weekly publications to stay informed!
     
    - COMMUNITY PSA -
    The MASCO PAC is kicking off its fundraising efforts with Cookie Dough and Harrow Pies Orders! See the links below for more details:
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