Carlisle School Committe June 19 meeting shorts 

by Carren Panico

Committee reorganization

New member Christine Lear was welcomed to the Carlisle School Committee (CSC) meeting on June 19. Officers and representatives were elected as follows: David Model is Chair, Mary Storrs is Vice Chair, Melissa McMorrow and Mary Storrs are Carlisle’s representatives on the Concord-Carlisle Regional School Committee (RSC). Josh Kablotsky continues as the CSC liaison on the town’s Long-term Capital Requirements Committee. McMorrow reminded the group that two people would also need to be designated as contract negotiation liaisons. Model said that they would decide that at the summer meeting.

Enrollment requests

The Carlisle School Committee (CSC) considered two unusual enrollment requests. The first involves a student placement request made by a family that recently moved to Carlisle from Concord. Carlisle School Superintendent Jim O’Shea reported that the family has a rising 8th grade student and wants the student to finish middle school in Concord. The parents went to the Concord School District and requested that their child be allowed to finish school there. The superintendent declined the request and the family appealed to the Concord School Committee. Legal counsel for the Concord School Committee stated that for the request to be considered, the school committee in the town of residence would need to make the request. As a result, O’Shea was bringing the request to the CSC for consideration.

Committee members raised a number of issues. Kablotsky was reluctant to set the precedent of sending a Carlisle student to another district without good reason. Storrs agreed, pointing out that the student would be going to high school with Carlisle students so “why not start now?” The issue of whether or not Carlisle would have to pay Concord tuition was also raised. Others thought that the CSC should consider the request as there might be an opportunity for reciprocity down the road. In the end, CSC members felt that they needed more information before considering it. Model planned to contact Chair of the Concord School Committee and O’Shea will contact the Superintendent to gather more facts. The issue will then be taken up at the summer CSC meeting.

The second enrollment request involved Elementary School Principal Dennet Sidell, who sought approval for three of his children to attend the Carlisle School next year. When first presented at an earlier CSC meeting, O’Shea had noted that there is a provision in the teacher contract that allows for staff members’ children to attend, but there is no provision in the administrator’s contract. It was generally agreed at the previous meeting that if the request was granted, the language would need to be updated in Sidell’s current contract.

CSC members had several concerns.  The main concern was how to handle conflicts and/or actual or perceived favoritism that might arise from a teacher instructing their supervisor’s child.  Kablotsky said that he had received at least one email from a parent voicing these concerns. O’Shea stated that he had some experience in this area, as his children had attended the school in the town of Harvard where he was principal.  He felt that his experience could aid him in managing any issues that might arise.  

Secondary to that, CSC members worried about having the request be formalized in Sidell’s contract. As one member pointed out, “It’s very hard to take things out of a contract once it gets put in.” It was noted that once the request was granted, the children would be allowed to attend until they graduate from 8th grade (or employment ends). It was suggested that maybe they could grant the request without changing the contract and perhaps make it contingent on “how well the year goes.” In the end, members felt that that would be too uncertain for the family and unfair to the children. On the flip side, CSC felt that, in general, teachers and administrators would work harder for a school attended by their own children. The CSC decided to grant the request by a vote of 4 to 1.

Mistake Room

O’Shea reported that there is an effort underway to see how the Mistake Room in the basement of the Corey Building might be used and how much that would cost. Due to an error during construction, the basement includes an extra room that was not in the plans. The 1,450 square foot room is long and relatively narrow (see diagram) and is currently used for storage. According to Carlisle Education Foundation (CEF) Co-president Alyson Becker, the administration applied for a grant from the CEF to fund a study to see if the room can be made into usable space. The study was finished in June but neither the school nor the CEF have had time to analyze the results.

Volunteer recognition

Two parent volunteers were inducted into the Volunteer Hall of Fame in recognition of their service to the Carlisle School community. Mary Daigle has been reading to students in the first and second grade students for years. She said that the work truly helps keep her young and she has no plans to stop anytime soon. Retiring School Committee member and RSC Chair Bill Fink has worked tirelessly on behalf of the students of Carlisle (and Concord) since 2006. Daigle and Fink each received a Carlisle Husky Blanket and other tokens in recognition from Superintendent Jim O’Shea. Their names will be added to the Volunteer Hall of Fame Plaque displayed in the Middle School Trophy Case.

8th-grade DC trip approved

Middle School Principal Carrie Wilson requested that the CSC approve the planning for an 8th-grade trip to Washington, DC, for the 2017-18 school year. Eighth-graders went to Washington during April vacation this year and Wilson would like to make the trip a formal part of the curriculum. The trip would likely occur Wednesday through Friday during the latter part of Spring Term. By adding it to the curriculum, the school would be agreeing to provide financial help to students who would otherwise not be able to go. Storrs worried about approving the trip without seeing an itinerary or knowing what the potential budget ramifications are. It was clarified that CSC was voting to allow Wilson to proceed with the planning phase. Wilson would then come back with details such as dates, itinerary and costs. CSC voted unanimously to proceed with planning. 

Executive session

At the end of the meeting the CSC went into executive session to discuss non-union personnel negotiations. ∆