Thursday, January 27, 2005
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Dennis Picker, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative), Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator)
Absent: Ashton Peery
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Mr. Picker called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M.


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Mr. Picker announced that Ms. Koning has resigned after having served as the Hanscom representative for over a year and thanked her for her service. Ms. Koning introduced her replacements, Pam Borgert and Corie Cruise. Mr. Picker welcomed the new Hanscom representatives and told them that a current School Committee member will be assigned to act as mentor for each of them. Mr. Picker explained that the Hanscom representatives are appointed by the Wing Commander and that they participate actively in the School Committee but that they do not vote.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Curriculum Report
      Mr. Picker said that the purpose of tonight’s presentation is to provide the big picture regarding curriculum development work, and is intended to educate rather than form the basis for a specific School Committee decision.

      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.

    2. Review Communications Subcommittee Document
      The School Committee thanked the Subcommittee for its work. Mr. Picker provided and the Committee discussed specific edits for the document entitled 2004/05 Lincoln Public School District Management and Organization.

      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.

    3. School Committee Goals: Mid-year Review
      Mr. Picker said that the purpose of this status review is to determine whether the Committee feels it should take any corrective actions or make any changes to the various work plans. The Committee went through the work plans and came up with the following:

      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.

    4. Town Meeting Message: Continued Discussion
      This year the general election takes place prior to town meeting. The School Committee will need to inform the public about the budget and the proposed override. Ms. Dobrow presented a to do list and a timetable for the budget communications work. The first task is to create a five minute School Committee presentation for a series of community budget discussion meetings along with other town boards. The second task is to create a town wide mailing. Mr. Brandmeyer has primary responsibility for this but Ms. Dobrow and Mr. Peery will help as needed. There will be a draft by February 17 and the final will be ready to go out by March 15. The third task is to write an op ed piece for the Lincoln Journal. The School Committee has been assigned to the March 7 edition. The article will need to be written and approved by February 17. The final task is the presentation at town meeting. There will be a draft of the presentation by March 10 and a final by March 24. The Committee also discussed publishing a Frequently Asked Questions document. Mr. Picker agreed to put a first draft together for the next meeting.

      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.

    5. 2005-2006 School Calendar- second reading
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported that the teachers voted to return to school on August 31. Ms. Dobrow moved that they adopt the calendar as proposed. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    6. Hanscom Facilities Report
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported that there is concern about the safety of some large plate glass windows. Mr. Jack proposed that a mylar film be applied to the windows to make them less likely to shatter. Mr. Jack, having received three quotes, says that this will cost approximately $20,000 and could be funded from unexpended monies from prior years Hanscom budgets. Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to authorize the expenditure to apply a safety film on windows at the Hanscom Middle School. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

      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.

  6. Superintendent’s Report

  7. Curriculum
    Curriculum Report was given under Time Scheduled Appointments.

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote warrants in the amount of $575,300.65. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  10. Old Business

  11. New Business
    1. Superintendent’s Evaluation Procedure
      The Committee discussed the draft process for evaluating the Superintendent’s performance, and agreed to use this process. The timing of the evaluation is prior to the town elections so that the School Committee members who have worked for a full year with the Superintendent participate in the evaluation. The Committee reviewed a proposed template that would be used to collect detailed input from each committee member, and agreed to use the template as presented. The evaluation template is to be filled out by each of the School Committee members and provided to Mr. Picker no later than February 28. Mr. Picker will take the input from all the School Committee members and synthesize it into a draft evaluation that will be discussed in public session at the March 10, 2005 meeting. The Committee agreed that Ms. Koning would be asked to fill out the evaluation template as a Hanscom representative since she has had more time to work with the Superintendent than Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise.

    2. Report on the Condition of Lincoln School Auditorium Stage
      Mr. Jack reported on the condition of the Lincoln School auditorium stage and the need for repairs so that it is safe. After a rail fell off a projection screen in the auditorium, the District hired a consultant to assess the condition of the stage. The risk assessment report concluded that there were several situations that require immediate attention including the overhead rigging, the clutter from sets from past years, and the curtains that are not flame retardant. The stage has been closed until these conditions are corrected. Mr. Jack has sent five custodians who removed many items, cleaned out closets, and cleaned the ventilation in the floor. Mr. Jack has quotes from one firm on work and is seeking others. There are four types of repairs must be made before the stage can be reopened. First, everything that is suspended from the ceiling must be removed and put back up securely. Mr. Jack has estimates that this will cost roughly $8,600. Second, there must be a fire curtain that drops and seals the stage off in the event of fire. A fire curtain exists, but is not operating properly. Third, the dimmer needs to have dust removed from it so that it does not present a fire hazard. Fourth, the lights outside the stage area need to be taken down, have a safety piece reattached and to be put up again making sure that they are attached to something solid. Mr. Jack said that about $10,000 to $11,000 must be spent on urgent safety items before we should reopen the stage. Mr. Jack identified three other repairs that are not necessary for safety but should be done to allow the stage to be used as it has in the past. First, a new screen will be needed at a cost of roughly $3,000. Second, strip lights will be needed for about $6,800. Finally, the masking curtains off to the side of the stage need to be replaced for $16,000 to $17,000.

      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..

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of December 16, 2004 as modified. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  13. Information Enclosures

  14. 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. Picker – yes
    Ms. Borgert – concurring
    Ms. Cruise - concurring
    The Committee adjourned to Executive Session at 9:55 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary