CHESHIRE, Mass. — Savoy may extend its tuition agreement with the Hoosac Valley Regional School District to the middle school level.
After reviewing decreasing school choice numbers Monday, Superintendent Aaron Dean said he has been in communication with Savoy about possibly including its middle school-age children. The school already sends most of its high school students to Hoosac Valley High School.
"I have engaged in discussion with Savoy ... and we are working out those pieces and working out the numbers," Dean said.
Savoy offers prekindergarten through Grade 5 at Emma L. Miller Elementary School but typically sends Grades 6,7 and 8 to the larger Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida. Both town schools are part of the Northern Berkshire School Union, which also includes Clarksburg, Monroe and Rowe.
Dean said the addition of Savoy wouldn't massively increase Hoosac Valley's population but would add a few more kids to the student body.
"There is the potential to have 10 to 15 more students tuitioned in ... so I am excited," he said.
In other business, the School Committee approved a letter of engagement from a cybersecurity firm that will review the district's email system and provide a checkup.
"It is about looking at what our practices are, who manages what, and what we need to look at moving forward," Dean said. "We live in a society where information needs to be protected and we need to make sure we are taking the right steps to do that."
The superintendent said the firm will do a forensic review of the district's email system and look for possible weaknesses. It will offer ways to improve the system and steps to respond to a possible breach.
There was an initial hesitancy among the committee with member, Marty Bush afraid to commit without more information.
"I am struggling. I know this is better for the district, there is no question, but I don't feel comfortable with this," Bush said. "I am going on what you are telling me and it is not that I don't trust you I am just having a hard time putting myself out there because I don't have the knowledge behind it."
Dean said he could have the district's legal counsel provide more information at a future meeting but that the district's insurer had recommended going through the process and will fund it. Not utilizing the service would mean the district would not be insured if it came to an email breach.
"I am afraid that if we don't go through with this, we won't have the information we need," Dean said. "We have a good policy in place thanks to the School Committee, but we won't be insured if something happens."
He added that a breach investigation could cost nearly $100,000 and hours of manpower.
Bush came around and along with members Adam Emerson and Michael Mucci approved the letter of engagement.
Member Regina Hill voted no but gave no reason why.
Dean reported that the safety upgrades throughout the district are largely complete.
The district received a $50,000 Safe Schools grant last year that was used to upgrade security throughout the buildings and implement a swipe-card system.
Dean said there is still one door that is not working properly and has to be unlocked manually at the high school but he suspects this is a simple fix for the contractor.
"It should be a fairly easy fix ... right now it is more of an inconvenience," he said. "I am told it is not a big deal and I am pretty confident we are on solid ground with that."
He said he hopes eventually to provide every employee with an identification swipe card.
Before closing, Emerson read a letter from committee member Jennifer Gageant, who has resigned from the committee for family reasons.
"I want to thank everyone over the four years who have guided me through this journey and I have learned so much along the way," she wrote in her letter. "I believe that our district is moving forward and positive changes are coming and I still plan to be an active part of our schools and community.
The School Committee will look to fill her position sooner rather later and will post the opening. Whoever it chooses, will fill out the term until 2022. Gageant represented the town of Adams on the committee.
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Hoosac Elementary Principal Invites Selectmen to Be Guests for a Day
By Jeff SnoonianiBerkshires Staff
Principal Becky Sawyer invites the Selectmen to see a day in the life of students and faculty at Hoosac Valley Elementary.
CHESHIRE, Mass. — The Selectmen were invited to spend some time at Hoosac Valley Elementary School in Adams.
Principal Becky Sawyer attended the board's Tuesday's meeting to issue the invitation to spend a day with the staff and students. Sawyer sees it as a way to not only get to familiarize themselves with the staff but also to see how the town's largest expenditure is being utilized.
"I know the school district occupies such a large percentage of your budget and I feel like it's only fair to let you come see what we're spending it on. What good work is being done with what we are getting [from the town]," Sawyer told the board. "We'd like to have our third-graders give a public tour of the building, and then ... have you shadow a teacher, and then we would invite you to have lunch and recess with our children.
"Which I can tell you is the best part of the day. It's the most fun that I have."
The Green Team is a state educational program designed to empower students and teachers to help the environment through waste reduction, recycling, composting, energy conservation and pollution prevention.
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