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Hoosac Valley Elementary School in Need of Maintenance
By Sabrina Damms, iBerkshires Staff
05:12AM / Thursday, November 10, 2022
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CHESHIRE, Mass. — Superintendent Aaron Dean informed the Hoosac Valley Regional School Committee during a meeting Tuesday night that Hoosac Valley Elementary School in Adams is in need of maintenance.
 
The school's brickwork, gutters, sidewalks, and water diversion were assessed to determine what maintenance needed to be done. 
 
"And a lot of the issues that we're dealing with in that building has to do with water, and diversion of water or something to do with drainage," Dean said. 
 
The maintenance projects would deal with the school's gutter and water diversion system. This would be funded using the district's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief, or ESSER, funds. These funds, through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, are to be used for reopening and safe operations of schools.
 
"Some of the biggest things are trying to keep the water away from and out of the building to maintain the structure. There's some areas we looked at, for the brick that requires some reappointing and fixing in terms of safety, so nothing falls," Dean said.
 
The district now has a report that gives it a general idea of what some of the projects will cost.
 
"So at this point in time, it's really about putting together some smaller projects, and looking at what we can handle through the funding from Adams, some of the extra funds to really leverage some of that, and then maybe our long-term capital projects," Dean said. 
 
There are also some sidewalks that are in need of replacing around the building and, in the future, a roof project. 
 
"We're going to need to do a roof project down there with slate roofs that we're continually patching. The main roof is tenting. We didn't do a walk around on that, but that's something that's come up a few times that we're going to have to continue to patch for a few years. But really look at maybe a capital project down the road," Dean said. 
 
The district also received a $231,663 grant to improve ventilation and air quality in public school buildings. 
 
The district will also be conducting a needs assessment of its systems, particularly in looking into the high school controls that have had issues since the school was remodeled.  
 
This funding may also cover the cost of replacing the windows' counter weight systems that have not been working well for a number of years.  
 
"We've got a company that's actually going to come in and refurbish those, get the counterweights replaced, and get it so a lot of the windows are functional in the building," Dean said.
 
Dean also announced that the district was awarded $90,000 for an after-school programming grant. 
 
The district is in the development phase of surveying student interests and putting the programming together.
 
The district also started a partnership with Williams College for interns. The district utilized two interns this past summer and there will be eight during the winter session that lasts 3 1/2 weeks. The winter interns will synthesize and compile research. 
 
The policy subcommittee will ask the interns to research what the best practices are for homework. They will also be researching to inform the diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging policy
 
During the Oct. 20 meeting, the policy subcommittee received an overview of the administrative priorities for policy for this coming academic year but did not make any policy decisions. 
 
The policy subcommittee will have to consider the following new policies: booster/fundraising aims, homework, failure and diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging.
 
It will also have to review these existing policies: technology, attendance, social media, animals in school and the Title IX/Equal Opportunity policy due to upcoming changes to federal policy from the Department of Education. 
 
The School Committee also reviewed this year's draft of the district improvement plan and will discuss it in more detail at their next meeting.
 
"This year, the plan is not about doing new things. It's not about creating new initiatives. It's about going deeper into our work. I think sometimes people, every year when we come across these plans, they treat it as if it's new, but really having high-quality curriculums is not something that is new ... So we're really looking at ways to build upon the work that we started with last year," Dean said. 
 
Dean said this year they are leading with two new definitions. 
 
"Engagement: Everyone invested in the work, believing that all that can achieve at high levels, persisting despite challenges and obstacles, and taking pride in accomplishments" and "Rigor: the result of work that challenges thinking in new and interesting ways. It occurs when they are encouraged toward a sophisticated understanding of fundamental ideas and are driven by curiosity to discover what they don't know." 
 
The improvement plan covers three strategic objectives. The first objective being: "staff will implement curriculum(s) with integrity and analyze impact on student learning through the use of formative assessments for results cycle and FastBridge data collection."
 
The second strategic objective is: "staff will maintain a safe, inclusive and supportive environment for all students by regularly utilizing and reflecting on Social and Emotional Learning data to ensure students' needs are being met."
 
One concern that was raised was how the district intends to measure the improvement of this goal because it becomes less objective and more subjective. The district will work with the Williams College interns to research ways they can measure their improvement. 
 
The last objective is: "faculty/staff/administration will create, implement, and/or host a variety of communication strategies in order to support the mission of the district." 
 
This year the district is attempting to deepen engagement, raise rigor, and make sure the improvement plan is used throughout the year rather than checked just a few times. 
 
"We wanted this to be not just a district improvement plan that we checked three times a year, but a living hub, for lack of a better word, of resources that anyone in the district who's working on a particular action step, or strategic objective can go to find the resources they need that support the work, the data that informs the work, the professional learning experiences that we've done that directly aligned to the work, and then the goal," Director Of Curriculum Instruction and Professional Development Kristen Palatt said. 
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