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Ashland School Board appoints Associate Principal

Interim Principal's position will be advertised

May 28, 2020
ASHLAND — At their May 19 meeting, the Ashland School Board voted to hire an Associate Principal for the next school year, to continue food distribution through the end of June, to increase school lunch prices, to establish an exit interview process, to withdraw funds from the health insurance expendable trust fund. and to approve changes in the

support staff benefits. They also learned of past and future school activities.

Since Principal Shannon Bartlett is leaving the Ashland Schools in June after eight years of service, the School Board has been considering a proposal to replace her next year with current teacher Kelly Avery serving as Associate Principal in charge of the day to day school operations, under a part time Interim Principal Julie Flynn, the retiring Plymouth Elementary School. After an hour long non-public session at the end of the meeting, it was announced that

Kelly Avery would be hired as the Associate Principal for the 2020-21 school year, and that, as part of the process, the part time Interim Principal position would be advertised. The School Board will consider further action at its June 2 meeting.

The school has been providing meals that would have been served in the school cafeteria to students in need. The school's food service has been preparing the meals and the bus company has been delivering them. Funds are now available to help pay for the meals through the end of June. But, since the bus contract expires at the end of the

school year, the district may have to pick up additional transportation costs. The total cost of extending the lunch program would be around $2,400. The school board members favored the extension of the lunch program, but wanted to explore alternatives for the distribution of the meals, such as using the Got Lunch! drivers or having the recipients pick up their meals at the school. They hope to make a final decision at their June meeting.

Assistant Superintendent Trish Temperino presented a proposal to increase the price of each school meal by ten cents in the coming school year. School Board member Sandra Coleman questioned any increase in a time of high unemployment and preferred leaving prices alone. Temperino agreed with her sentiment, but explained that federal

regulations required this increase and that the school could potentially lose its school lunch funding if it did not comply. The school board therefore voted to approve the increase.

New school board member Steve Felton had suggested exit interviews for employees leaving the school. Allison Caron, the Human Resources Coordinator for SAU 2, presented an exit interview process, which described the steps in the interview, including an invitation to participate, prior notice of the questions to be asked, and the school officials who would participate in the interview, depending on the position. The proposal including having one school board member take part in the interview of a departing principal. It was suggested that all the school board members might want to participate in the interview of Principal Bartlett. But the Board ultimately agreed that one board member would suffice and Steve Heath was given that task.

The school district had established a Health Insurance Expendable Trust Fund when it self-funded some costs for employees insurance. However, as that is no longer the case, the Board decided to use the Trust Fund money to help pay health insurance premiums over a three year period. The Board approved what should be the third and last

payment from the fund. The School Board also approved the Ashland School District Support Staff Benefits Overview for the next school year. The only change was in health insurance benefits, to match those included in the agreement with the teachers.

Principal Shannon Bartlett reported on school activities, as the school year is coming to an end. She distributed a schedule of the virtual learning classes. She did note that, with warmer weather and screen fatigue, participation in the online classes has begun to drop. She thanked parents for their videos of the students working at home and Jacgui McGettigan for turning them into larger videos. An anonymous donor came to the aid of the families of Ashland students in these difficult times, giving $2,000 worth of Hannaford gift cards for the school to distribute and paying for two rounds of family style takeout meals from the Common Man Restaurant. Instead of the usual

large graduation ceremony, 8th grade students will take part in individual graduation ceremonies of about 20 minutes each, attended by just parents and the immediate family. Videotapes of these ceremonies will be combined into a tape for the whole class. A viewing party will be held on June 4. Plans for the end of the year include a drive-through drop-off and pickup day for the students on June 2. Teachers will clean out their classrooms on a staggered schedule. The teachers will also have virtual wrap-up meetings and training to close out their school year. Summer school will be both on-line and in-house.

Temperino noted that the fund balance at the end of the year will be about $165,000, not counting the $40,000 already allocated by the March school district meeting. Possible encumbrances from that surplus will be proposed at the June meeting.

Martin Lord & Osman
Varney Smith
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