The Silver Lake Regional School Committee met in-person on Thursday, July 8. Superintendent Jill Proulx began the meeting with the reorganization of the Committee. Paula Hatch was once again nominated to serve as Chair and the vote was unanimous. “Thank you for your continued trust, I will try to do my best for you as always,” Hatch told the Committee. Eric Crone was nominated to serve as Vice Chair and was also voted in unanimously. Leslie-Ann McGee was nominated and voted in as Secretary; she was also named to the Pilgrim Area Collaborative. Summer Schmaling was named Assistant Treasurer. John Tuffy was reappointed as Treasurer. Jason Fraser was named as Legislative Agent. Before moving on, Hatch welcomed Gordon Laws to the Committee as he is the newest member.
The Committee then turned their attention to the Subcommittees beginning with Negotiations. Hatch said, “For those that don’t know,, this Subcommittee acts on behalf of the full Committee negotiating any contracts that come up.” Crone and McGee agreed to stay on the Negotiations Subcommittee and Hatch and Laws agreed to join. Summer Schmaling was named as the alternate. Crone and Emily Davis volunteered for Policy. Davis was also named to School Start Times. Hatch said the last time the topic of school start times was really looked into was back in 2016. Chris Eklund stayed on the Safety/Facilities/Fees/Revenue Sub-Committee.
Director of Business Services Christine Healy spoke to the end of year financials. “We are returning to E&D [Excess and Deficiency] $411,450.17.” She did note that there were some things that were not yet confirmed, the main thing being the CARES Act funding. “In total that was $636,000 that we had access to; the difficult thing is we have not received all the reimbursements,” Healy said speaking of the money that was allotted to the school district from the three towns. She said they had received reimbursements thus far of $207,000 calling it “not a very fast process.” Schmaling asked, “Are we at risk for not being reimbursed for some of the purchases that we made?” Healy replied, “Everything that was submitted fit into the guidelines of what they were looking for.” Healy said that she planned to hold back $25,000 to $30,000 from E&D as a reserve to accommodate the slow reimbursements. “I just want to thank you Christine for dealing with all of these issues this past year,” Crone said addressing Healy.
A Representative from the Kingston Police Department, Laura Casey-Pupek was in attendance. Proulx said she was there to discuss the National Night Out that is meant to foster a relationship between the community and the Police Department. The event is scheduled for Tuesday, August 3. Pupek, who said she has been a part of the event for 14 years, said she is currently looking for any student volunteers.
Proulx provided the district update. “Masking indoors and maintaining other safety guidelines is not required but encouraged,” Proulx said. She added, “Unvaccinated individuals are encouraged to continue to mask especially when you can’t socially distance.” She said for the fall schools will be required to be in-person, five days a week. She said that all DESE requirements including socially distancing will be lifted but added that there was a caveat that states, “DESE will continue to collaborate with the Department of Health to issue any additional health and safety recommendations over the summer, for example masks for elementary students. DESE will provide updates to districts as it receives them.”
Davis asked if there would still be a protocol for contact tracing. Proulx said, “the Local Board of Health and the Department of Health may put in certain expectations… similar to the ways when someone has strep throat; the nurse might put out a notification that there was a child in the classroom that had strep throat and if you experience any of these symptoms, please contact your physician.”
Proulx also said that she has been made aware of the possibility of a vaccination clinic for residents 12 and up in Kingston, Halifax, Plympton, and Duxbury. She said the event would be staffed by volunteers from the Kingston Board of Health and nurses. “We will send out information to community members if they’re interested,” Proulx said. The event will take place at Kingston Intermediate School. She said they were hoping for two dates in July and two dates in August.
McGee asked Proulx if there had been any kind of polling done on the families that had elected to be full remote this past year to see if they plan on returning or homeschooling or some other alternative. Proulx said that anyone wishing to homeschool would send in an application. She also pointed out that the school district would not be responsible for providing any sort of virtual option. “As you know, it’s very expensive to provide that option,” she said. She also said that she anticipated students returning in the fall.
Davis asked that the emotional well-being of the teachers and other staff also be remembered as they enter into a new school year pointing out that some may still be uncomfortable returning to school particularly without safety requirements. Proulx said that they absolutely plan to acknowledge that and celebrate the staff during this year’s opening day. “One of the things we will talk about is the hero’s journey,” she said.
There was also a report given by the standing committees. Silver Lake Education Association (SLEA) President Jon Lay pointed out that the aides will be part of the SLEA during negotiations for the first time this year. “We’re all very excited to be going back to school, hopefully as normal as possible,” Lay said. Lay said that he was nervous regarding the Delta variant of the Covid virus. He also said that he would like to see the district continue to spread the message that unvaccinated individuals are still encouraged to mask. He also said that he wanted to make sure that kids that are still wearing masks are not being bullied for it.
McGee gave an update on PAC. She said that the one bit of fun news is that they voted to establish a student council. She said the idea was initiated by two students and two teachers.
Eklund provided an update on Safety/Facilities/Fees/Revenue Sub-Committee. He said they plan to do a campus tour with CTE. “The plan, additionally, is to setup a sort of three town summit I’ll call it, in September with Selectmen, Fin Com, Capital Plans, whoever else wants to join the fun in one big three town meeting,” Eklund explained.