- Falmouth High School
January 4, 2021
MINUTES - FHS SCHOOL COUNCIL: January 4, 2021
Present via Zoom: Deb Berglin, Paula Carlson Cahill, Bill Cone, Mike Feeney, Mary Gans, Zorianna Petrosyan, Noah Schmidt, Sean Sullivan, and Jennifer Vu.
Ms. Gans opened the meeting at 4:30 pm, welcoming members and giving a medical update. Noah Schmidt spoke to us about the events the students last year missed out on and hopes for this year.
Ms. Gans reminded us of the 5:00 pm virtual Joint Budget Presentation by Lori Duerr and Patrick Murphy along with the Lawrence School Council.
Ms. Gans thanked Mr. Cone for being willing to co-chair the Council again this year and spoke of her appreciation of the investment of our parent members and commended their wonderful students.
FHS Racial & Social Justice Committee Update:
Zorianna is writing an article for the school newspaper through her journalism class. The committee is collaborating with an expert and are being thoughtful and intentional about moving forward and are working on action steps for student involvement, making sure to address how to provide a safe space for them. The committee consists of 27 staff members working together on this huge topic with a commitment to “student voice” as top priority, review of discipline data and policies for implicit bias and curriculum review for diversification. Also - currently meeting is a book group studying White Fragility, led by Mr. Feeney. Ms. Berglin asked if FHS is the only school to include students in their book group? Ms. Berglin doesn’t think it’s appropriate material for younger students, and hadn’t heard of student involvement. Mr. Feeney believes that yes - only FHS and it came about because when Dr. Santa reached out to different groups via school councils and since our FHS Council has student members - those students also received the invitation to participate. Ms. Berglin asked if there is a plan to do anything school wide to bring all staff up to speed? Ms. Gans replied that yes - it is a goal of the committee to educate faculty and staff on equity, inequities, and discrimination, and she believes the committee will want to hear from students before she/they talk about this at a faculty meeting. The committee will need to hear from our students before deciding on how to move forward school-wide. Ms. Berglin was in favor and said that the Town Committee would support whatever FHS wants to do.
MCAS Update: Grade 10 MCAS testing did not happen during last spring’s remote status. The state is discussing testing those current juniors along with current sophomores this year. While Ms. Gans believes MCAS testing serves as a level of accountability, though she may not always agree with the content - Ms. Gans has reservations regarding DESE requiring all Grade 10 and 11 students to test this spring. Cape & Islands Principals are opposed, and are writing a joint letter to legislators voicing this. Education has been interrupted for these students, we don’t know what they’ll include in the test - so it doesn’t seem it can work as an accountability tool at present. Testing logistics are a nightmare - if bring all students in while working within cohort restrictions, all other students will have to remote while one grade tests. One third of FHS students are 100% currently remote - the state hasn’t discussed how we mandate they come in to take the exam. The required 95% attendance for the test to count for a school doesn’t seem even possible. We cannot force students to come in - there are a legitimate variety of reasons they are remote. We will wait to see what the state decides. Ms. Gans does believe the school committee feels similarly and hopes a
Page 2, Minutes FHS School Council, January 4, 2021
moratorium is declared for this spring. While the Sandwich school committee said no MCAS - the state can still require it of them. Ms. Berglin said the MTA voted overwhelmingly against the MCAS requirement for 2021 and 2022 students. Mr. Feeney described the perspective of explaining frustrations of how to give the proposed Grade 8 Civics test remotely to the state and the state’s still wanting to try. Ms. Gans said the state has yet to say no to MCAS this year - yet, hasn’t heard any district say it will be fine for them. Noah spoke of his MCAS process, and that he believes there are still a few seniors who need to pass to graduate. Ms. Gans said that last year the state allowed exceptions to the competency determination (from passing MCAS) - schools had to input a lot of data and course info to be granted the exception. Ms. Berglin asked if the letter includes 2021, or also 2022? Ms. Gans will note that request and will keep us posted.
Handbook Review by Council Members prior to next meeting on March 1st. The Handbook is available on the website - please note that there is a different link for each section (for accessibility reasons). Members are requested to review and bring recommended changes forward for discussion at our March meeting. Do we need more restorative justice and progressive language added? Ms. Gans mentioned that in the past Council members have contributed valuable insights/changes, so she is looking forward to our review and our input.
Ms. Gans reminded all of the separate zoom invitation for the 5:00 pm Budget Presentation, with hopes to see us all there and encouraged us to ask any questions we may have of Dr. Duerr and Mr. Murphy.
Meeting adjourned at 4:59 pm.