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GROTON — There were a lot of smiles at the table of the last Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee meeting of the school year.

Superintendent Dr. Kristan Rodriguez exclaimed, “We survived!”

Completing her first year as the district’s new superintendent, Rodriguez said, “It’s been a joy to be a part of such a great team.”

Rodriguez recognized departing School Committee members who completed their terms in May, followed by the acknowledgment of the district’s staff, parents and students alike, thanking everyone.

Additionally, Rodriguez announced that residents should keep an eye out for a new, updated, Groton-Dunstable Regional School District website.

The first guest speaker of the evening was Barbara McNulty, a Groton-Dunstable Regional High School teacher. She brought student Chloe Malsick to ask for approval (also on behalf of GDRHS teacher Kelly Cook) of a field trip for four to eight students to attend the national High School Journalism Conference in Orlando, Florida, in November.

“The students would be attending workshops on broadcast journalism, yearbook design and photography,” McNulty said.

The trip was approved by the committee after hearing about the alignment with the academic curriculum and supplemental fundraising plans.

Groton resident Jon Strauss asked the district to consider resurfacing the running track behind Florence Roche Elementary School and the Groton-Dunstable Middle School, which would also benefit the greater Groton-Dunstable community.

“The current track surface is deteriorating and is a safety concern,” he said. “It is one of the reasons the Squannacook River Runners summer track and field camp is now held at the high school.”

Noting that he is a former Groton Parks Commissioner, Strauss spoke of the availability of Community Preservation funds and the additional financial enhancement they may provide.

At a recent school committee meeting, members agreed to establish a Public Communications and Community Engagement Advisory Committee. Advertising for volunteers, who will join School Committee members on this subcommittee, brought six candidates.

Marlena Gilbert of Groton was the only candidate who came in person. “The School Committee needs to communicate well with the community and I would like to help with that. Even though I own my own businesses, I always make time for what is important to me,” she said.

Statements sent in by other candidates were read aloud by GDRSC Chairman Jeff Kubick. Those candidates included Sarah Campbell, Christine Muir, Russ Harris, Malham Hamami and David Sciuto (who would like to be considered as an alternate.) Ultimately, although only three citizens were going to be added to the subcommittee, the School Committee voted to welcome all six candidates aboard.

Rodriguez announced that a settlement of $5,638.50 had resulted from an audit of the Merrimack Education Center (the district’s former Special Education Collaborative). The funds reflected the nine GDRSD students in the collaborative.

The committee voted to have the funds received as a tuition credit rather than a direct payment.

“This would be the cleanest and easiest for the business department to process,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez requested a stipend for interim Pupil Personnel Services Director Russell Hoyt for the additional hours required for him to take on these responsibilities for the month.

“Our current PPS director has been out for the month of June, and Mr. Hoyt has taken on this position in addition to his Early Childhood Center responsibilities,” Rodriguez explained. “I would like to compensate him for his time at a per diem rate that is the differential between his current pay and that of the PPS director’s pay.”

The committee agreed to the stipend.

Director of Budget and Finance Jared Stanton proposed establishment of a Regional Transportation Reimbursement Fund to help balance the Chapter 71 funds due to their fluidity. He also presented $60,000 in budget transfers.

Committee member Alison Manugian thanked Stanton, stating, “I really appreciate the format and process you use to present your department information. It is clear and is easy to follow, helping us to know what you’re doing and why.”

While the meeting adjourned at an earlier hour than usual for the public, the GDRSC voted to enter Executive Session at the end of the meeting, to conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations.

Summer break was going to have to wait just a little bit longer.

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