Mr. Naso said that his presentation explains the levels and types of curriculum work, inform the School Committee about the status of that work, and identify areas of accomplishments and anticipated accomplishments. Mr. Naso set forth three “givens” for this work: (1) it is not creative writing by a small set of specialists, in that it requires the active participation of the faculty who will implement it, (2) this is district work, not separate paths for the campuses, and (3) curriculum is defined broadly. Mr. Naso explained that there are three levels of curriculum planning: (1) the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, (2) the Lincoln Public Schools’ organization of subject matter, and (3) the design and re-design of instruction. He noted that the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks are a set of assumptions and principles regarding curriculum of a specific subject area and are not curriculum in of and themselves. The purpose of setting forth a K-8 district curriculum is (1) to provide students and parents with an overview of what is taught and expected at each grade and (2) to provide faculty with direction and details to guide daily, weekly, and unit planning. Lincoln’s organization of subject matter involves assignment of subject matter to grades and aligning it with the Frameworks while considering intra-disciplinary strands, gaps in what the curriculum covers as well as whether there is unnecessary repetition, sequencing, placement of material at times when students are developmentally ready to understand it, time, cross-curricular possibilities, and multiple levels of mastering material. At the next level, design and re-design of instruction, Mr. Naso divided the planning into: (1) WHAT – Unit Topics, (2) WHY – Learning Expectations, and (3) HOW – Instructional Details. WHAT - Unit Topics involves choosing “chunks” of subject matter to be taught for a specific period. WHY - Learning Expectations involves deciding what students are expected to know, understand, and be able to do. HOW – Instructional Details involves deciding what instructional materials to use, how to structure lessons, and how to assess what students have learned. Mr. Naso said that the information needed by parents and teachers for Unit Topics and Learning Expectations are the same but that at Instructional Details level the faculty needs more detail than parents and students. Mr. Naso showed a format for communicating the curriculum to parents and students which presents three columns: (1) WHAT – Unit Topics, (2) WHY – Learning Expectations, and (3) HOW – Instructional Details.
Mr. Naso said the District is creating an accurate overview of what is taught in each of the five core academic subject areas (English language arts, social studies/history, foreign language, mathematics and science) over K – 8. He intends to apply the same model to the rest of the instructional program at a later date. He presented a status of where the district stands regarding laying out the units of study across the grade levels in each of the core academic subject areas. He noted that a specific detailed view of the status of the science curriculum is the subject of a presentation scheduled for the next meeting of the School Committee, and that the math curriculum will be discussed at a committee meeting in March.
Mr. Naso also reported on the status of creating Learning Expectations in each of the five core subject areas. For Science, analysis in underway and will be discussed at next week’s School Committee meeting. For Mathematics, Kindergarten and third grade expectations are under way and all grades are expected to be completed by summer of ’06. Social Studies will be considered when the overview is complete. For English Language Arts, reading expectations are in place for grades 1 and 6. For Foreign Language, the learning expectations are not yet under way but are ready to begin.
Mr. Naso put the curriculum work in context. He said that the work in the classrooms is central but that the curriculum work creates a common reference to what is happening in other classrooms in the same grade, in other grades, and across campuses. This creates clarity about what we as a district are doing.
The Committee members commended Mr. Naso on the extensive curriculum work taking place and on his clear presentation. They agreed that the model of what curriculum development entails and the status could be used by the School Committee to discuss areas where they may want to create additional emphasis. This can be factored into future goals setting and budget guidance discussions. The Committee discussed how values and characteristics such as leadership and creativity that we want students to acquire can be addressed in a curriculum. It also discussed ways of creating conditions which support faculty commitment to curriculum design and re-design. The role of building-based leadership at Hanscom and Lincoln in this work was also explored. Mr. Brandmeyer recounted the recent history of curriculum work in the district, noting that when there were financial problems four or five years ago this work was stopped because of lack of resources. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the previous Assistant Superintendent role was focused on early childhood and special education rather than curriculum. He also noted that the additional of the math curriculum specialists on both campuses has helped with this work.
The School Committee requested that the Communications Subcommittee should consider effective methods for making the community aware of the information presented tonight.
Richard Jewett asked how much of the instructional details will be shared with parents and the community. Mr. Naso said that he contemplated communicating some information about assessment and about vocabulary but that he did not want to include all the activities that would take place because this would narrow teachers choices in how to best present material. Laura Koning commented that differences across campuses should be examined to see whether there is sound reason for them. She specifically suggested that field trip differences across campuses be examined and that the question of whether these differences relate to curriculum be asked. She noted that, when Hanscom is doing something different that Lincoln, parents ask why. Gertrude Webb asked about encouraging abstract reasoning.
Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee adopt this document with the specific changes discussed. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
For the document entitled Roles and Responsiblities for School Committees and Superintendents, Mr. Picker suggested that more editing was needed than was appropriate to do at the meeting. He said that in certain places the document as currently written makes statements which do not accurately reflect how the Lincoln School Committee functions. The Committee determined that Mr. Picker will relay his comments in more detail to Ms. Hessler who will work with the Subcommittee to create another revision which will come back to the School Committee at the next meeting for approval.
Communications: Try to obtain more active representation from the Hanscom community on the subcommittee. Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise were invited to join the Communications Subcommittee or find some other way to participate in this work.
School Committee Effectiveness: No changes
Oversight of district operations: No changes
Oversight of Teaching, Learning, Professional Development, and Curriculum Development: The Committee decided to look further at the District goal regarding Middle School Improvement. Mr. Picker noted that there will be a mid-cycle report on progress on that goal at the February 17 meeting and that the Committee consider what actions it may want to take after hearing that status.
Policy: The Committee agreed to continue the current stance of only taking on policy revisions this year that were identified as necessary in order to comply with laws and regulations. Mr. Jewett commented on the deficiencies of the current policy book. Mr. Jewett also commented that there are some policies in the book that may be contrary to state law. Mr. Jewett is working to identify such policies for the School Committee so that changes can be made.
Strategic Planning: The Committee acknowledged that although work has been done, there is not enough traction or clear direction to this effort. Members agreed to have another workshop to put greater clarity on what we are trying to accomplish here after new members to the School Committee are seated in April.
Mr. Brandmeyer reported that on February 2 there will be a meeting with the Budget Communications Coordinating Committee at 6:30 P.M. and with the Finance Committee at 8 P.M. and that the School Committee will need to be represented.
Ms. Dobrow reported on the Communication Planning Subcommittee meeting that she and Mr. Brandmeyer attended on January 20. They discussed the need for a coordinated approach in presenting budget information to the town, different venues for presenting information to town groups, previous presentations by the Finance Committee and how they should be changed. The coordinated meetings would be organized with a overview from the Finance Committee and then short presentations from the School Committee and other town boards. The School Committee will answer questions and also have literature there. Ms. Dobrow said that Tim Higgins has prepared a memorandum about what a town board can and cannot say about an override request. Elected officials cannot take a position on voting one way or another on a ballot initiative. The School Committee can describe the impact of passing or not passing an override on the school but they cannot argue in favor of the override. They can inform but not persuade. It is permissible to help get out the vote as long as an elected official simply advocates voting and does not advocate voting a particular way.
Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the ongoing project to renovate and/or repair the Hanscom schools. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the federal facility team which looked at the facilities in the fall has written a preliminary report, that documents regarding building requirements have been exchanged, and that the team will be back February 9th and 10th.
The Committee considered proceeding in three phases: (1) the safety repairs, (2) replacing the screen, and (3) the curtains. The Committee also considered inquiring as to whether the Codman Trust might consider funding some part of this work. The Committee also discussed the necessity for closer monitoring of any stage modifications made for future productions. It was agreed to authorize funding for the safety repairs at this time, and await further details on funding before making a decision on the rest. Mr. Jack stated that the goal was to reopen the stage in time for the spring production and town meeting, and that he saw this as feasible.
Mr. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to authorize work to make the stage safe not to exceed $12,000. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Mr. Jack also reported on the condition of the folding walls in the two Lincoln school gymnasiums. In the Brooks gymnasium the wall is now closed and cannot be opened. Basketball games have been moved to the Smith gym. The repair will take about a week and cost approximately $8,500. In the Smith gymnasium, the wall is open, and there is difficulty in closing it. It is a different design than the one in Brooks. They do not want to risk opening and closing it because if it malfunctions there will be nowhere to play basketball. The Committee instructed Mr. Jack to return to them with more information about the folding walls but no action was taken on the two folding walls since this was not a safety issue and repairs cannot be done in time to make the gym available for the rest of the home basketball games..
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary