Part One of a transcript of the Dec. 3 School Committee Meeting. For the links to all parts of the transcript, click here.
7:00 p.m. to 7:05 p.m. (0:00 to 5:00)
The meeting began with a pledge of allegiance, an announcement there will be no consent agenda to go over minutes and updates from the committee’s student representatives.
In particular, the student representatives discussed “the bet” between Dr. Frank Tiano and Billerica Superintendent Tim Piowar over the Thanksgiving Day football game.
Chelmsford won, and Piowar served lunch earlier in the day at Chelmsford High School.
Dr. Kristin Rodriguez also provided an update on the BioTeach grant.
7:05 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (5:00 to 30:00)
Melissa Williams of 114 Robin Hill Rd. submitted a letter to the committee a month ago and wanted to speak on it.
It was regarding the wellness policy, specifically Grade 1 to 5 participating in recess while kindergarten does not, and was concerned that her child was not able to play with a friend who was being punished by having her recess taken away.
She said that in other several other towns that recess is an untouchable part of the day and taking away recess cannot be used as a punishment.
Additionally, she saw that walking the playground as a punishment violated policies that did not allow physical punishment.
Katie Filadoro of 8 Parlee Rd. asked about student lunches at the South Row School.
Filadoro was concerned that many children were eating their lunches sparingly and that they were eating Trix cereal, with is 26 percent sugar as well as other concerns regarding health issues in the long run.
She said she does not provide money for school lunch, which her daughter at the school wants, but she wanted to stand up for other parents who do not have the option of giving their children a lunch from hope, saying that some lunches are not edible.
Filadoro asked the committee to establish a subcommittee mentioned earlier in the year to be established sooner rather than later that would provide complete input in what children eat, and that parents and the committee collaborate towards making sure edible and nutritious food is provided.
She also requested a specific game plan on when kitchen improvements, which had been discussed earlier, will be made, and that in the short term the Trix is removed.
Danielle Evans of 18 Janet Rd. reiterated the recess issue, but focused on the school’s advertising policy.
Evans was shocked about naming rights for the turf fields given that advertising for the South Row playground were not permitted under School Department rules, specifically not being able to say thank you to Lowe’s for putting up a sign thanking them for their work renovating the playground.
While Evans was accepting of the policy, she felt that there was a double standard and that more public input should be provided if a policy on advertising should be changed, and that it should be done at a time of year where more parents would participate in meetings.
Evans remembered her vote as a Town Meeting Representative and that one of the reasons she and her colleagues voted for funding for the turf fields was that they would generate revenue, and she asked if they were generating revenue if naming rights were needed. She felt that if the naming rights were discussed, it may have changed the vote.
She continued that she is still trying to fundraise for the South Row playground and said that it would be helpful if she could put advertising on the playground. Evans wasn’t sure if she’d want to pursue that route, but she wanted the opportunity to pursue it if the turf fields also had an opportunity to advertise.
She concluded that there is a level of discontent at the South Row School among parents that saddened her.
School Committee member Nick DiSilvio asked Evans who told her not could put up advertising, Evans said it was the policy, and DiSilvio said that any group, particularly Parent-Teacher Organizations could come before the board.
Evans said she respected the policy and does not want advertising on school buses or inside the school. She said they tried to live within that policy at South Row.
School Committee chairman Mike Rigney thanked all three parents for their comments and said that the committee is trying to work through these policies as they move forward.