BOYLSTON – In the first meeting of the Berlin Boylston Regional Transition School Committee, without the separate town school boards being in existence, one item of business was another part of the consolidation: The new teacher’s union contract.
Member Angela Yildiz reported on progress toward a new contract for teachers as the two teachers’ unions were now one and the three existing contracts need to be negotiated into one since the towns now have a single school district.
Yildiz said all worked well as a group during summer meetings. The target is to bring the contract before the board at the Sept. 12 meeting, member James Spencer said.
Yildiz said teachers have a draft and the proposed contract is headed to the union for ratification before being brought to the School Committee.
“It was not adversarial at all,” member Lorie Martiska said of the personnel subcommittee’s negotiation with teachers.
The committee also went through its evaluation of Superintendent of Schools Jeffrey Zanghi.
“There was a lot of meat in the comments,” Chairman Clif LaPorte said, noting “comments were uniformly thoughtful and substantive.”
Members discussed the form itself, which several had concerns with, and may opt to change in some way.
But the rating was generally proficient. State evaluations provide limited categories of: exemplary, which is designed to be rarely attained; proficient; and lower levels of significant progress and needs improvement.
Members rated Zanghi as meeting goals, with some individual rankings of making significant progress or exceeding goals.
He achieved a proficient rating in all the categories of evaluation.
“I like the fact that the numbers suggest a pretty broad consensus on performance on this committee,” member Susan Henry said.
LaPorte commented on Zanghi’s “low key, yet folksy, yet serious approach,” and he credited Zanghi for “giving people the opportunity to build their own skills set.”
Spencer said he had recalled many items Zanghi had discussed in his hiring interview.
“I’m pleased to see a lot of follow through and delivery on items you discussed,” Spencer said.
Yildiz said there is “a general sense of empowerment you bring to your team, the school and us,” noting he maintained a good working relationship with the committee.
The board met in executive session to discuss the superintendent’s contract, coming out to public session to vote on a raise.
The committee voted a 1 percent raise retroactive to January in accordance with the contract, a 2 percent increase in the new contract year based on the contract, as well as an additional 1 percent increase. The committee voted 5-1, with Henry opposed.
The committee also voted unanimously its desire to negotiate a successor agreement.
In other business
• Zanghi is working on his goals for discussion at a future meeting as well as updating the District Improvement Plan to guide the schools.
• Zanghi also proposed a webmaster position be filled to help improve the school website.
Members noted things that could be improved, as did Zanghi, from how links work to School Committee information. The webmaster would be a stipend position.
• Students at the Boylston Elementary School continue to benefit from the Race for Education.
The Boylston Elementary School Parent Teacher Organization effort has generated funds for the school over the years and this year it generated $14,499 to purchase chromebooks and a cart for students.
“Yeah to the PTO,” Boylston member Lorie Martiska said.
• The committee supported purchasing a four-wheel drive vehicle for the athletic department at Tahanto, spending up to $3,000.
The vehicle would be used for quick access, such as transporting injured athletes off the field, as well as in equipment set-up.
• A proposed trip for grade 8 students to Philadelphia was discussed, but put off after discussions of equity.
The School Committee had in the past discussed concerns that trips may not be financially viable for some students, and how to address that.
Zanghi said he was especially concerned if some students would not be able to go because of eligibility issues, such as grades and discipline, as well as cost, if the trip is treated as part to the curriculum rather than an enrichment offering.
“If it is really part of the curriculum, denying access because of failing grades or detention is not a good idea,” Zanghi said.
He suggested taking the eligibility part out.
The teachers expressed concerns about allowing students who had behavioral issues since they would be responsible for them in an out-of-state city where they could not contact the parents to get them, and Zanghi suggested the academic portion could still be removed.
The committee put off acting so teachers and administration could discus the trip and options.
LaPorte suggested meeting with the superintendent and principal, noting “we’re concerned about equity and safety."