Thursday, February 3, 2005
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Multi-purpose room, Lincoln

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


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Ms. Hessler reported that there will be a School Committee Coffee on Tuesday February 8 from 7 - 8:30 P.M.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Science Curriculum Report
      Mr. Naso reported on the Science Curriculum. He referred to his report last week on the curriculum work that is taking place across the five core subject areas. Mr. Naso provided the School Committee with a written memorandum that included a one page Science Unit Overview. Mr. Naso explained that this put in one place information as to what is being taught in science K-8 on both campuses. He noted that there are some differences between Hanscom and Lincoln in the science curriculum and discussed how this came to pass. He noted that a district goal is to bring these two science curriculums into alignment over time. He also discussed potential areas of overlap, repetition, and misalignment in curriculum that appeared to have developed over the years since this issue was last addressed.

      While the names of units do not fully describe what is happening in the classroom, it does inform as to what is taught where. This organization of subject matter provides clarity and focus for the meaningful and effective design and re-design of instruction. The next steps involve determining what the learning expectations will be and what the instructional details will be.

      Mr. Naso explained how he collected information about what is taught in science in each grade in meetings with the teams and science teachers. He created the Science Unit Overview. He then created a template for collecting additional information about each unit. On December 15, Mr. Naso met with all science teachers and K-5 teachers. He then introduced the template which provides a format for teachers to communicate: (1) whether a unit is taught to all students within a grade, (2) to identify the length of time devoted to a unit and the time of year it is taught, (3) whether a unit needs design work, and (4) the instructional materials used in teaching a unit.

      Mr. Naso will meet again with the science teachers and the K-5 teachers on March 16 to consider three areas: (1) missing or misplaced subject matter content, (2) specificity of learning expectations, and (3) the strength and effectiveness of resources. The next steps will be to: (1) determine priorities for summer curriculum work, (2) create first drafts of science curriculum descriptions for selected grades that include both unit names and learning expectations, (3) assess the greatest needs for materials, textbooks and other resources, (4) plan 2-3 science specific professional development offerings for 2005-2006, and (5) analyze how to best use science education expertise in the district and community.

      The School Committee thanked Mr. Naso and the teachers for this work. They discussed how to handle differences across campuses, repetitions across grades, delivery of science learning and use of the Lincoln School Science Specialist, use of community resources both natural and human. They also discussed how to make progress in a reasonable amount of time, getting the faculty to buy-in to curriculum change and creating conditions favorable to the faculty taking on more responsibility for curriculum work. A concern was voiced about students being turned off to science instead of being engaged in the subject, and whether additional resources are needed to make faster progress on the science curriculum work.

      The Committee emphasized that this is critical work in order to maintain the program quality that parents expect, and that this work cannot be done without appropriate and sufficient administrative resources to lead the effort. The School Committee said that this direction is sound but expressed desire for the work to be done more quickly. Mr. Naso said that the resource that is most needed is time so that they can be tenacious in keeping to schedule and that there are only so many Wednesday afternoons when he can meet with teachers. Mr. Naso said that he is setting the stage for change and that he has observed a lot of failed curriculum reform efforts. He observed that teachers are willing to go forward if they know that someone will be there with them and that the effort will not be halted. The Committee thanked the science teachers from the Lincoln school who attended the meeting and participated in the discussion and a member expressed regret that the Hanscom and Lincoln department heads did not attend.

      Terry Green, the Science Specialist for grades 1-4 on the Lincoln campus and a Lincoln resident said that teachers were very excited about this work at the December meeting and that she believes that teachers want to go forward as long as they have support and resources. Ann Doyle thanked Mr. Naso for his work and suggested that in assessing curriculum he look at the students’ preparedness for the two high schools to which they matriculate. Andrew Singer asked where things can fall short procedurally, economically, or physically. He also asked whether there are issues related to the facilities we have for teaching science. As the School Committee considers facilities, it will consider whether they are adequate to support needed programs. Cathy Rogers asked whether there has been any attempt to ask students for their input about what units they are excited about as a way to assess what units are working. She also suggested that the district look for more opportunities to interweave math and science instruction. She also suggested that she would like to see this work be on-going with the curriculum regularly being fine-tuned. Mr. Naso said this curriculum design and re-design is intended to be ongoing. She also suggested that the school could have a science night as a means of keeping middle school parents involved.

    2. Budget Communication
      Ms. Dobrow updated the Committee on two meeting that she and Mr. Brandmeyer attended the prior evening. The Communications Planning Subcommittee planned the presentations that will be made to various town groups about the budget. A maximum of eight meetings is now contemplated. The earliest possible date for these meetings is February 14 but this date will probably be changed to later. The meeting will run through mid-March. At the meeting of the Selectmen, the various town groups reported on their override requests. The Lincoln Sudbury override request is still being determined and this could impact the overall size of the town override request.

      The School Committee considered a draft written by Mr. Peery of the five-minute presentation its members will make to various town groups. He will prepare another revision to reflect the feedback, for discussion at the next meeting.

      Ms. Dobrow will begin a draft of the op ed piece for the Lincoln Journal for the February 17 meeting. The next Communications Planning meeting is on February 16. The Finance Committee annual budget meeting is on March 17. Mr. Picker will attend.

      The Committee considered a proposal for how the FAQ document the Committee is creating will be used. The purpose of the FAQ would be to supplement the presentation and to correct misinformation. It would be made available at the presentations, on the web site, on the bulletin boards, at town meeting, and its existence could be noted in a letter to the editor of the Lincoln Journal. The draft of the FAQ was discussed. The Committee agreed that members will send their comments to Mr. Picker who will incorporate into another draft for discussion at the February 17 meeting. He will work closely with Mr. Brandmeyer and Mr. Jack to check the accuracy of the answers provided in the FAQ.

    3. District Work Plans: Midyear Status
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the midyear status of the following district work plans: (1) K-8 learning expectations, (2) professional development, (3) technology plan, (4) special education program review, (5) strategic planning, (6) district-wide communication, (7) administrative software systems, (8) financial accounting software, and (9) compliance with NCLB and Massachusetts Department of Education mandates.

      The Committee agreed that the large majority of the work is on track but identified a few items that warrant further discussion: (1) the development of a Middle School Improvement Plan (Middle School goal status will be a topic of the next School Committee meeting), (2) the financial accounting software conversion (the Committee will see what the status of the account reconciliation is at the next meeting), and (3) strategic planning (to be addressed as discussed at last meeting, via a workshop to be held once the two new committee members are seated in April).

      The Committee said that it would be helpful for them to know how many FTE’s are spent on compliance reporting work.

  6. Superintendent’s Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that nine students were accepted into the NE District Boys and Girls Choirs. The seven Hanscom students accepted are: Lauren Sepp, Shelby Keener, Kaetlyn Miller, David Kercher, and Joseph Gerner. The two Lincoln students accepted are: Alice Blackwood and Michael Merullo. Mr. Brandmeyer congratulated the students.

    Mr. Brandmeyer also reported that the Hanscom Kindergarten has been awarded NAEYC Accreditation, a significant accomplishment. The Lincoln Kindergarten will also be undergoing the accreditation process and Mr. Brandmeyer hopes to be announcing their accreditation next year.

    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that Mylar safety film had been successfully applied to a sample of the Hanscom windows. In addition preventing the glass from shattering, it keeps out UV rays and keeps in the heat. The work is proceding.

  7. Curriculum
    Mr. Naso reported that Lynn McGrath, a seventh grade English teacher at Hanscom, was quoted in an article called “Back to the Future” in the magazine NEA Today. Mr. Naso also pointed the School Committee’s attention to the information of the included in their packet regarding the Institute Day Planned for March 11, which will consider “Teacher Collaboration/Teacher Leadership.”

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant

  10. Old Business
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the auditorium stage. Mr. Jack has received three quotes. He rejected one as too high. In the preferred quote, repair of the screen, curtains and taking care of the safety issues will cost $25,700. The safety work previously authorized has been awarded to this group. Last week, the Committee had approved the expenditure of up to $12,000 for the safety repairs. Mr. Brandmeyer said that there is some money left from previous facilities warrants that can be applied against the repair expenses and that he would like to ask the Finance Committee for $10,000 to $11,000 from the reserve fund to complete the funding. Mr. Picker moved that the Committee to authorize Mr. Brandmeyer to spend $16,000 for safety and the screen, or alternatively to spend $25,700 with the curtains included if additional money from the contingency fund is obtained, and to authorize him to approach the Finance Committee for funding. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    Mr. Brandmeyer also gave an update on the status of the folding doors of the Brooks Field-house and the Smith building. It will be a maximum of $8,500 to fix the Field-house door. The problem with the Smith door cannot be diagnosed without taking the door apart. This will be done over February vacation. For the $8,500 for the Field-house, Mr. Brandmeyer articulated the following options: (1) go to the Finance Committee, (2) wait until the end of the year and either use left over money or go the Finance Committee, or (3) use FY06 money. The School Committee decided not to take any action.

  11. New Business

  12. Approval of Minutes

  13. Information Enclosures

  14. Adjournment
    At 9:55 P.M., Mr. Picker moved that the meeting adjourn. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary