|Clarksburg Elementary Working on Student Opportunity Act Plan|
|By Brian Rhodes, iBerkshires Staff |
04:30AM / Monday, February 06, 2023
CLARKSBURG, Mass. — Clarksburg Elementary School hopes to provide more student intervention with the district's Student Opportunity Act plan.
Tara Barnes, director of pupil services for the Northern Berkshire School Union, spoke with the committee about the plan, which the department of elementary and secondary education requires each district to do. The goal is for districts to provide evidence-based programming for struggling student groups.
"Ultimately, you have to approve the plan that we submit as a district in an official meeting. So I hope by the next meeting that we have a plan for you to review," she said.
Barnes said the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are likely to lead to an increase in special education referrals. She explained that, as part of planning for the Student Opportunity Act plan, she applied for a grant for a reading specialist and a literacy-based coaching position, which would provide additional help for students who need it.
"We already have an interventionist position in this building, but really maintaining that and making sure we're funding that moving forward and we're committed to that, I think, is going to be really important," she said. "... [The positions] would also help students with disabilities across the board in the classroom to be able to access ELA curriculum."
Barnes said data from the school's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System scores shows a disparity in English Language Arts for students with disabilities and low-income students. Principal Sandra Cote said more student intervention is needed now more than in the past.
"It's great that we have one interventionist. I can tell you, at this point, after the pandemic, it's really not enough," she said.
Superintendent John Frazoni said grants are helpful and likely necessary for maintaining these kinds of positions. He said they have also, in the past, used Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief funds to fill some of the gaps for students.
"One of the things that we struggle with in our smaller schools that we don't get that funding that the other larger districts do receive. So it's hard for us to maintain a position, like the interventionist that we have right now," he said.
In other business:
Cote said the school was able to get a Massachusetts Cultural Council STARS grant to work with the Berkshire Academy for Advanced Musical Studies.
"The students who participate are going to really be exposed to some top notch musicians," she said.
The committee briefly followed up on discussions from its last meeting on school building renovation needs. The chair lift project, which is to be paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds, has not gone out to bid but is expected to soon.
The committee went into executive session to discuss negotiations with the teachers. Franzoni said the first meeting with the teachers is later this month.