SOUTHWICK – The Southwick-Tolland-Granville Regional School Committee approved the sale and lease of its vehicles to the Lower Pioneer Valley Education Collaborative (LPVEC) during its June 18 meeting.
The approval was necessary after the district entered into an agreement with the LPVEC in March as the district’s transportation provider. The district’s Director of Finance and Operations Stephen Presnal explained that the district had already agreed to sell or lease the vehicles when it originally joined the agreement, and these motions were to finalize the agreement.
He thanked the transportation staff for all the work they have done and wished them luck in their transition to working under LPVEC. “I wanted to extend my sincere appreciation for the work, faithful performance of their duties, and their true care for the safety and security of the students entrusted to them and getting them to and from school. We’re hopeful this is a smooth transition and we continue to see them behind the wheels of our vehicles,” he said.
The committee’s also voted on various positions after the Town Election in Southwick. The school committee opened the floor for discussion for nominations for the committee’s chair. With little discussion the committee unanimously elected to keep Jeffrey Houle on as the chair after nominations from Chelsea Berry and Pamela Petschke.
The committee then unanimously approved to keep on Petschke and Berry on as the vice chair and the secretary, respectively.
After the committee election, Superintendent Jennifer Willard introduced Robin Gunn as a candidate for the new director of Student Services. Gunn said that she was looking forward to meeting other staff throughout the district after spending most of her time at the Powder Mill School. She said, “One of the things that excites me so much is to broaden my knowledge of the people who teach in Southwick. I have spent my Southwick career at Powder Mill and I know it very well. I’m looking forward to working with other people and sharing my passion for inclusion.”
As the meeting’s first action item, the committee unanimously approved to hire Gunn as the director of Student Services.
The committee also accepted a donation of fitness equipment from Fitness First Health Center worth around $2,500.
As part of an ongoing agreement with school committees across Massachusetts, the school committee also voted to enter a resolution that requires the state to reimburse districts for any COVID-19 related expenses. Superintendent Willard said, “The Massachusetts Association of School Committees would like school committees as a whole to make these collective resolutions and stand together.”
The committee then accepted an Anti-Racism Resolution that would force the district to examine its own policies and curriculum regarding systemic racism. As part of the resolution, the district is required to offer training for professional development around racism, to commit to having a diverse workforce, and require the district’s leaders to speak out against racism and hate. Along with the resolution, the committee unanimously approved the resolution.
In her regular report, Willard gave an update on the district’s success at the annual Town Meetings in Southwick and Granville, including its one to one initiative. She said, “We were proud to be able to say that with the school committee starting our One to One initiative last year and with the CARES Act money, we are able to provide a device for all of our kids from grades 3 through 12 with the anticipation with a hybrid or some type of remote learning model for the upcoming school year.”
She added that she will be doing regular information sessions on the first and third Tuesday of each month during the summer to keep families and staff up to date on how the district will begin to reopen in the fall, with guidance still on the way from the state. Along with the information sessions, Willard announced the district will be sending a survey out to families to get their thoughts on the reopening plan.
The committee agreed to hold meetings when Willard has information to share over the summer.