Thursday, January 13, 2005
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Dennis Picker, Ashton Peery, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler, Laura Koning (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator)
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Mr. Picker called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M.


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Mr. Picker reported that on January 10 the Selectmen and the School Committee held a joint meeting for the purpose of interviewing candidates and making an interim appointment to fill a vacancy on the School Committee. He said that two candidates, Cathy Rogers and Laurie Manos appeared before them and both were well qualified. Mr. Picker said that the Selectmen and the School Committee decided not to make an interim appointment to fill the vacant position, and instead wait for the upcoming election. Mr. Peery said that they decided to wait because they did not want to select one potential candidate over another. It was felt that, being so close to the election, selection of one candidate might have the appearance of an endorsement.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Leadership Model: 2005-6
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported that, after receiving feedback in meetings with each of the three faculty clusters and in two meetings with parents as well as written comments from some faculty members and parents, he recommended that the current leadership model be retained for the next year. He noted that a small number of parents took the opportunity to meet with him or send in written comments. Of the approximately 20 parents providing feedback, their views were fairly evenly split between wanting to continue the current leadership team structure and wanting to bring in a strong principal for the Lincoln School. There was also mixed feedback as to whether there should be a single principal or two principals for a lower and middle school respectively. The feedback from the faculty was overwhelmingly in favor of retaining the current leadership team model as long as it could be funded without impacting the number of classroom sections or teaching aides. The faculty expressed the view that they felt that under the leadership team the school was running smoothly and that they were working in an environment where they could focus once again on teaching and on making ongoing improvements to the programs. They valued the organizational stability that the leadership team has brought.

      Mr. Brandmeyer went on to say that he would make one change in the leadership model next year as compared to how it was implemented this year. This year Gian Criscitiello and Patrese Pierson are sharing the leadership role for grades 3-5. He recommends that next year only one person serve as leader for each cluster so that there is one leader for grades K-2, one for grades 3-5, and one for grades 6-8. He said that this would avoid a mid-year transition which is not necessary.

      Mr. Brandmeyer emphasized that his recommendation, with the slight modification, was not an evaluation of the people currently serving as the leadership team but rather an exploration of whether the current model would best serve the Lincoln Public School for the upcoming academic year. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the stability offered to the faculty under the current model is very important. He said that they faculty has more access to leadership than it had in the past, leadership is more visible to faculty and students, and that they are providing better support for the faculty. This has allowed the faculty to center their energies on teaching children. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the leadership team model is proving effective in helping the school and District to meet their goals. Specifically, it has helped improve communications and information sharing. He said that the team has been effective in enlisting and energizing faculty to join in support of the district change initiatives.

      Mr. Brandmeyer discussed the cost of this model versus the model of a principal and assistant principal. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the current team leadership model is about $40,000 to $45,000 more expensive. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in making his recommendation he considered the impact of the structure on the Lincoln School and its affordability. He said that for next year he would like to call the leadership team principals.

      The Committee discussed the process for the future, the importance of stability for the School to make progress, whether the leadership team is a viable long-term model, the difficulty finding qualified outside applicants for principal positions, and the possibility that changes at Hanscom may have large implications for the District. Each member of the Committee expressed their support for the recommendation to continue the leadership team model for another year, along with their reasons for giving support. It was emphasized that the indications are that the leadership team model is enabling the school to function well and is well received by the faculty. It is providing an environment that is conducive to achieving the various goals set for the District, which include ongoing improvements to the program. Members pointed out that this model is a good fit for the current situation, and is not a make-do interim fix.

      Cathy Rogers asked whether it would be possible for the School to apply for grant money since there seems to be interest in studying distributive leadership. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the administration has considered this and will be looking into the possibilities for some grant funding to help offset the costs. He also said that an article written by Mr. Naso based on the experience with the Leadership Team at The Lincoln School will appear in the February issue of a journal called Perspectives published by the Massachusetts Association for Curriculum. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he has also heard from a doctoral candidate interested in writing a dissertation on this leadership model.

      Nancy Marshall commented that during her six years in Lincoln there have been three sets of principals and two different superintendents. She said that she is interested in the deliberate cultivation of a school culture and identity. She wondered whether this is the best way to build an identity as a school. She said that the School needs to decide whether it should remain a K-8 school or be organized as an elementary school and a middle school. She also suggested that the article that Mr. Naso wrote might be distributed to people in the Lincoln community.

      Mr. Picker noted that the School Committee has had a chance to read the revised proposal for next year’s base budget that will be discussed in more detail later in tonight’s meeting. He said that the revised base budget proposal has made provision for funding the incremental cost of the leadership team in the base budget, and that the Committee is making its decision with an awareness of the budget impact.

      Mr. Picker moved that the Committee vote to endorse the Superintendent’s recommendation regarding the leadership model. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Laura Koning concurring.

    2. FY06 Budget Discussion and VOTE

      Mr. Brandmeyer recapped the process explaining that the original proposed budget was for $9,371,000 and that the contract with federal government is for only $9,124,000 leaving a budget gap of $247,000. On December 7, the School Committee considered $20,000 in adjustments reducing the elementary school budget and $120,000 in adjustments reducing the middle school budget by reorganizing the 7th and 8th grades into one team. The reorganization of the 7th and 8th grade into one team will mean that content teachers will be only teaching in their area of expertise next year. The remaining budget gap was eliminated by applying $70,000 from circuit breaker reimbursement and $37,000 from reserve fund of monies left from prior years funding.

      Ms. Koning expressed a concern about the consolidation of the 7th and 8th grade teams. She said that with this change some students will have the same teacher in a subject area for two years, and that this can be a problem in some situations. She suggested that Mr. Hopping will need to monitor this situation and that he may need assistance from Nr. Naso in making sure that all students are well served. Mr. Picker suggested that it would be important for the school to communicate with parents about this upcoming change before the end of this school year.

      Ms. Koning also asked whether additional classroom space would be available so that the Hanscom Preschool might be able to return to the base. Mr. Brandmeyer said they have been internally discussing whether it might be possible to bring the preschool back to the base.

      Ms. Koning commented about the need to make sure that future contracts with the federal government will be able to provide for dramatic increases in enrollment that she expects will occur as a result of the upgrading of the on-base housing.

      Pam Borgert, parent of a Hanscom student, commented on the consolidation of the 7th and 8th grade teams. She wondered whether the school would be locked into this model if the population grows in the future. Mr. Brandmeyer said that there is some budget flexibility to make changes if large numbers of additional students move in and that the District will strive to maintain appropriate student/teacher ratios. If enrollment rises sharply in future years, the number of teachers and sections for the various subjects will be reassessed. Ms. Borgert said that teachers will need to prepare to teach two lessons, one for each grade. Mr. Brandmeyer said that teachers currently prepare and teach two lessons, one in their area of expertise and one outside of it. The change means that they will stay within their subject area.

      Mr. Peery moved that the School Committee vote to approve the Hanscom budget of $9,231, 000. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Koning concurring.

      -Lincoln: Base and Override


      Mr. Brandmeyer recapped the many conversations regarding the Lincoln School budget. The initial budget proposal was for $8,601,385, which was $662,150 above the Finance Committee’s target for the base budget. He provided a memorandum with a revised base budget proposal that reflected additional revenues and funding of the three person leadership team. Additional revenues of $316,913 have been identified during the budget process, resulting in an increase in the original base budget target to $7,939,235. The additional revenues were a combination of a portion of circuit breaker funds, grants, and use of some revolving account funds. The Committee discussed whether the $316,000 in additional revenue would also be available in future years, and concluded that some but not all would continue to be a source of funds. The Committee discussed its desire to fund the leadership team in the base budget and felt that the impact of this was manageable and did not have a significant negative effect on funding for the rest of the program. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the METCO office assistant position is not in the revised based budget proposal. He anticipates a slight increase in the METCO grant amount which would allow funding to continue this position.

      Mr. Peery moved that the School Committee approve the $7,939,235 base budget for the Lincoln School. Ms. Hessler seconded. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Koning concurring.


      Mr. Brandmeyer described the items (athletic funds $5,000, instrumental music funds $5,000, curriculum office administrative assistant $8,400, professional development funds $30,000, library materials $15,000, instructional materials $35,000, funds for community events $5,000, and curriculum office published instructional materials $5,000) suggested for inclusion in an override proposal of $108,4000.

      Mr. Brandmeyer raised an additional item for possible inclusion in an override request, crossing guards. There is currently one crossing guard that is currently co-funded by Lincoln School money from a gift account and by the Lincoln Police Department’s special detail account. Next year, the gift account will not be available and the police special details money may not be available. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he and the Lincoln Police Chief had discussed the locations that appeared to be in greatest need of having a crossing guard. The Chief suggested three locations: at the Old Town Hall Exchange (the current guard location), the five corners at the library, and a Route 117 crossing. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he recommended that the Committee consider attempting to fund one or two crossing guards with locations to be determined. The cost of police guards would be $9,360 for one guard, $18,720 for two guards, and $28,080 for three guards.

      Laurie Manos had a suggestion for one additional override item. She suggested that the Committee consider to an override request $43,000 to restore a forth section of second grade, with the cost partially offset by elimination of one of the aides in the base budget. Ms. Manos said that with only three classes next year’s second grade classes would be the largest since 1997. The Committee pointed out that with the current enrollment projections, the class sizes would be at the target set in the class size policy if we stick with the proposed 3 sections. Members also noted that should there be an increase in class size above target due to new students moving in, there were various avenues for providing more support, including the possibility of adding a section. Members discussed the importance of the work done by the task force on class size policy. The Committee reiterated their commitment to following the current policy and to not add sections to provide classes significantly smaller than target unless there are special situations. Diane Trueblood said that she anticipates that class sizes at target will be successful given the needs of the specific cohort of students who will be entering the second grade. The Committee discussed the ability to reallocate resources if additional support is found to be needed. The Committee determined that they are comfortable with the base budget allowing for three second grade sections and that they did not want to support $43,000 in an override request to add another section of second grade.

      The Committee then discussed whether to increase the override proposal in order to fund crossing guards. They discussed that other types of personnel could be more cost effective than special police officers and asked Mr.Brandmeyer to explore those options with the Chief of Police. Mr. Brandmeyer said that crossing guards were previously funded as part of the $20,000 line item for community service which has been eliminated in previous years. The override proposal includes restoring $5,000 to this account to meet some basic needs. It was noted that this amount would not be sufficient to fund any crossing guards. The Committee discussed the matter and decided to increase the community service line item in the override proposal from $5,000 to $15,000 and use the additional $10,000 to fund crossing guard(s) if the override passes.

      Mr. Picker moved that the Committee recommend an override in the amount of $118,400 including the override items listed in the 1/9/05 budget memorandum plus an additional $10,000 for community service/crossing guards. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

    3. Town Meeting Message: Initial Discussion
      Mr. Peery reported that he attended a Selectmen’s meeting on December 20 to discuss how to communicate about the budget and the proposed override. This year the general election is before the town meeting and information will need to be provided to the voters prior to the elections. Tim Higgins will prepare a schedule of presentations to various audiences in town at which each major board will have approximately 5 minutes to make a presentation. The School Committee will also want to make presentations to the Parent Teachers Association and possibly at other special meetings. The Selectmen are holding another meeting on January 20 to organize and plan for the budget communications efforts, which would include presentations and columns in newspapers. Ms. Dobrow volunteered to represent the School Committee the January 20 planning meeting. Ms. Dobrow will report on this meeting at the January 27 School Committee Meeting. The Committee agreed that Mr. Peery, Mr. Brandmeyer, and Ms. Dobrow will work on a draft of the presentation for town meeting and Mr. Brandmeyer will draft the budget letter that is sent to school households. Mr. Steinbrook of the Finance Committee reported that sometime during the week of January 31 there will be a joint meeting of the Finance Committee and the Selectmen to finalize the override request and that the School Committee should be represented.

    4. 2005-2006 School Calendar: First Reading
      Mr. Brandmeyer presented a draft of the 2005-2006 which he has also sent to the Lincoln Teachers Associations since their vote is required when teachers are required to return prior to Labor Day. According to the draft calendar, teachers return on August 31 with students returning on September 6. For Christmas vacation, school will be closed from December 22 until January 3 to provide a window for families who are traveling. School will end of Monday, June 19 if there are no snow days. With five snow days, school would end on Monday, June 26. The calendar provides for the required 180 school days and five snow days. The Committee considered whether there was a feasible way to not have the school year end on a Monday and concluded that a change is not necessary. Mr. Brandmeyer will note the conference days on the final calendar that is sent to parents.

    Ms. Koning left the meeting at this point.

  5. Superintendent’s Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that he and Mr. Naso attended a METCO academic achievement recognition event in which students with all As and Bs were recognized. They told the students that they are proud of them and to keep up the hard work.

  6. Curriculum
    Mr. Naso reported that the Lincoln School has been randomly selected by the federal government to participate in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). The Hanscom Schools were not selected. Students in grade four will be tested on March 2 and students in grade 8 will be tested on February 7. The 90 minute long test is administered by NAEP staff but Lincoln staff will be present. The test will cover reading, math, science, and may have trial questions in other areas. Patrese Pierson is coordinating with NAEP. Lincoln faculty will also need to complete questionnaires. Letters notifying parents of the testing will be sent to eighth grade parents next week and to fourth grade parents soon after.

  7. Policy

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote the warrants in the amount of $645,683.69. Mr. Peery seconded. All members voted in favor.

  9. Old Business
    1. Recommendation on Legal Representation
      Ms. Dobrow reported that seven proposals were received, this was narrowed to four firms, further narrowed to two firms who were interviewed and that the subcommittee recommends that the School Committee hire the firm of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP. Ms. Dobrow reported that references were thoroughly checked with Mr. Brandmeyer speaking with superintendents, Ms. Watts speaking with Directors of Special Education, and Ms. Dobrow speaking with other school committees and with the Executive Director of MASC, and that the references were quite positive. The subcommittee was impressed by the firm’s ability to provide coverage, ability to get back in a timely fashion, and to proactively educate so that problems are avoided. Lincoln would be working primarily with Andy Waugh, Jim Toomey, and Mary Ellen Sowyrda with backup from other attorneys. The firm will bill on an hourly basis rather than requiring a retainer. The Committee discussed whether they would be better served by Murphy, Hesse than their current counsel and concluded that it is in their best interest to make this change.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to appoint the law firm of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey and Lehane, LLP to represent the School Committee and the district. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

  10. New Business
    1. Proposal to Establish Consent Agenda
      The Committee discussed a proposal to establish a consent agenda for School Committee meetings. The consent agenda is seen as a way to help streamline the meetings, while still leaving opportunities to open up any item for more extensive discussion if a member feels this is needed.

      Mr. Picker moved that the Committee adopt the consent agenda mechanism as described in the proposal. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

    2. Accept Gifts
      Mr. Peery moved that the Committee vote to accept a $50 donation from Lueders Environmental, Inc. and a Dell color printer from another individual. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

    3. Need for School Calendar Change Because of MCAS
      Mr. Naso reported that the long composition part of MCAS must be given for the 4th and 7th grades on Wednesday, April 6, a date that is normally a half day. The testing date was recently set by the state. Since the test is un-timed, Mr. Naso recommended that Wednesday, April 6 be made a full day and that either Friday, April 8th or Friday, April 15th, the day before vacation be made a half–day. The Committee discussed the disruption to family schedules and after school activities, and agreed that notice should be provided as soon a possible. The Committee also discussed the possibility of facilitating after-school care for families who need it for the Friday half day.

      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to modify the schedule to make April 6 a full day and April 15th a half day. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor. Mr. Naso will write a letter informing parents of this change as well as reminding them of no school on Institute day and the spring conference day.

    4. Mid-Year Status Check
      The Committee discussed and agreed to a process for conducting the mid-year status review of progress against School Committee goals, scheduled for the 1/27 meeting.

    5. Posting of School Committee Report on Web Site
      The Committee agreed to post it submission to the annual Town Report on its web site.

  11. Approval of Minutes
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of December 16, 2004 as modified. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor.

  12. Information Enclosures

  13. Adjournment
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee adjourn to Executive Session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion.
    The motion was approved by the following roll call:
    Ms. Dobrow: yes
    Ms. Hessler: yes
    Mr. Peery: yes
    Mr. Picker: yes
    The Committee adjourned to executive Session at 9:55 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary