Thursday, February 17, 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), Dave Jack (Business Administrator)
  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 began the meeting by noting what it would be like if the New England Patriots had to play by the same rules as the School Committee.

    Ms. Dobrow reported that she went to the Lincoln School instrumental and choral concert and that it was the best Lincoln School concert that she has been to in her years with the school.

    Mr. Peery reported that since the last meeting a School Committee coffee had taken place. Ms. Hessler and Mr. Peery were joined by two members of the community. One community member attending was new to the school. They had very positive feedback about the Lincoln School. They did have a concern that the music program was not broader but were otherwise pleased.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Amendment to CASE Agreement
      Mr. Peery requested that this item be held out for discussion.
    2. Revisions and Posting of Long-Term Agenda
    3. Approval of Communications Subcommittee Documents

    Items B and C remained part of the consent agenda. Mr. Picker moved that the items on the consent agenda be approved. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion, which passed unanimously.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Special Education Parent Advisory Council Annual Report
      Gabriella Muscolo, Debra Orr, Betty Green, and Mary Jo Veling, the officers of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (PAC), presented their Annual Report. Ms. Muscolo made a presentation which set forth the many PAC activities and presentations which have taken place in the last year.

      The School Committee asked the PAC members for their perspective on how the School Committee can best direct its efforts regarding policy and budget in ways that would improve the Special Education programs. Ms. Muscolo said that it is important to know what we mean when we talk about Special Education and who they students are that are being served. She said it is important to know what type of disorder is most common in the community at a given time. She said that Specific Learning Disorder is currently the most common in the community right now. She commented that it is also important to know what resources are most useful for this disorder and what interventions are effective. Ms. Green said that progress monitoring in the form of data-based measurements which shows what is working and what is not is important. Ms. Muscolo said that as part of the annual IEP meeting parents are given an evaluation form and that this provides feedback from parents on their experience.

      The School Committee and the PAC representatives discussed the experiences in the district to date from the use of assistive technology that was purchased by the district, as an outcome of the PAC’s previous efforts to educate our community about the opportunities this technology can provide. There was a discussion about how the PAC engages with Hanscom and METCO parents, and how families whose children receive Special Education services communicate about their experience with the district.

    2. Special Education Parent Advisory Council Parent Survey
      Ms. Muscolo said that, because there have been some concerns voiced by the administration about the methodology used on the PAC parent survey, the PAC would prefer that the School Committee not discuss the survey at this meeting. Mr. Picker said that the School Committee is interested in gathering information that will help guide efforts to improve all aspects of school programs, including Special Education. He noted that the results of the parent survey had not yet been discussed at a public meeting of the School Committee. The School Committee views the PAC parent survey as one source of data to guide its thinking. Other information related to the Special Education program will also be coming before the School Committee that will also be taken into account to identify areas and actions for improvement. Specifically, at the next meeting, the Committee will hear a report from a consultant that has been hired by the District to conduct an evaluation of the program. Later in the year, the Committee will hear the results of the mid-cycle review of the program conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Education. Towards the end of the year, the Committee anticipates discussing specific actions for improving the program. Mr. Picker said that the Committee values its collaborative relationship with the PAC. The Committee decided to discuss the survey, keeping in mind the concerns expressed by the PAC. The Committee’s stated intention is to discuss what the survey data means so that it can be used as one source of input to guide future decision-making.

      The Committee discussed: the high response rate of 28%; but noted that there is no way to tell whether this was a representative random sample of the population, since respondents self-selected themselves. Consequently, the survey data must be interpreted carefully, and statistical extrapolation is questionable. In addition, it was noted that the overall sample size was small. The difficulty in drawing conclusions from a small number of people responding “not satisfied” was noted. As a result, the Committee questioned the specific conclusions stated in the summary analysis of the survey provided by the PAC.

      The Committee reviewed the raw response data and identified those questions for which the number of “dissatisfied” responses was noticeably higher. More than 3 people reporting “dissatisfied” represented 15% or more of the respondents. Using this screen of the data for the Lincoln school, the Committee identified several areas that are worth further study:

      Question 8 - communication with the administration (including principal and central office) Question 13 - teacher/staff knowledge
      Question 13B - measurable goals in IEPs
      Question 18B - written and agreed upon goals in IEPs before placement and services
      Question 19 - reporting progress in measurable terms

      The Committee noted that it needed to examine the Hanscom data in the same way.

      The Committee suggested that it could collaborate with the PAC in preparing next year’s survey. The Committee made some suggestions for next year’s survey: having a “satisfied” answer choice and conducting the same survey each year so that trends can be examined.

    3. Review and Update to Middle School Improvement Work Plans
      The Committee noted that although tonight’s presentation focused on efforts at the Lincoln school, there is a District initiative to pursue improvements at the middle schools, and the Hanscom middle school improvements will be subject of a future discussion. Mr. Brandmeyer said that a work plan was developed this fall to assess, coordinate, and improve the middle school program, as one of the District goals.

      Ms. Glassman, principal for grades 6-8 at the Lincoln School, presented a mid-year status report on that work. She said the work of last year’s study group has been considered and that three areas have been identified for further work: (1) breadth of middle school offerings and the role of electives; (2) interactions between parents and teachers; and (3) student engagement.

      Regarding electives, the Committee emphasized the importance of the student evaluations of electives. It discussed looking at how other schools handle electives including other areas of the country. The Committee also suggested looking at criteria for selecting which electives to offer. Ms. Glassman said that they will look at the current criteria for evaluating electives and consider whether they still meet our needs. It was suggested that electives may not be as important as other areas for change noting that the task force report said that Lincoln spends less time on core subjects than other comparable middle schools.

      The Committee expressed its support for efforts to increase student engagement.

      The Committee discussed the importance of getting the message out to the community about the plans and status of middle school improvement efforts. It was noted that venues beyond presentations at School Committee meetings are needed in order to broadly communicate this information.

      Nancy Fleming, a parent, said that electives are important but that she is more interested in student engagement. She said that some teachers really light a fire in students and that others do not. She said that some classes have used the same work sheets for years. Laurie Manos said that it important to get the information about middle school improvement efforts out to parents including those who do not have middle school children. She said that there are a lot of misperceptions and that there are areas of strength. Ms. Fleming said that she has a child who is a tenth grader at Lincoln Sudbury and that her child reports being well prepared as a result of attending the Lincoln School, but also reports that fewer Lincoln students go into the highest levels in science than Sudbury students.

    4. Budget Communications
      Ms. Dobrow reported on the Budget Communications Coordinating Committee meeting on February 16. The School Committee agreed to change the date of a School Committee coffee from the evening of March 9 to the evening of March 8 as this would be a more useful time for the various town groups to make their presentations. The Committee determined which members would attend each of the various scheduled presentations to give the School Committee portion of the presentation.

      Ms. Dobrow said that there may other venues but that arrangements are still being made. Ms. Borgert said that she would be glad to help as needed.

      Ms. Dobrow reported further on the Budget Communications Coordinating Committee meeting. She said that the School Committee will need to provide its five minute presentation to the Finance Committee who will blow up the slides and place them on big boards. She said that the Budget Communications Coordinating Committee was delighted with the FAQs and that Lincoln Sudbury now wants to also prepare FAQs. Ms. Dobrow volunteered the School Committee Communications Subcommittee to help with publicity for the town-wide presentations. She reported that there needs to be a get out the vote campaign and that it is important for K-8 parents to vote. As elected officials, the School Committee can make calls to get out the vote.

      The School Committee reviewed and edited a draft of the Budget FAQs. Mr. Picker moved that the Committee publish the FAQs as edited. Ms. Hessler seconded. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

      The Committee edited the draft of the op ed piece for the Lincoln Journal. Mr. Picker moved that the Committee publish the article as edited in the Lincoln Journal. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring. Ms. Dobrow will make the changes and submit the article to the newspaper.

      The Committee discussed the need for an additional letter to the editor of the Lincoln Journal about the costs and benefits of the leadership team model to respond to questions and misinformation. The Committee decided to submit a letter for publication in the Lincoln Journal in the issue of the week after vacation. The Committee agreed that Mr. Peery will write the letter and Ms. Dobrow will review it prior to submission.

      The Committee revised the five minute presentation to be made during the budget communication sessions. Mr. Peery will take some new photographs to be included. Ms. Dobrow will send the slides to the Finance Committee on February 18. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that someone will need to proof the documents that the Finance Committee prints out because sometimes transferring between PCs and Apple machines can result in unintended changes.

  6. Superintendent’s Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that he and Mr. Naso went to the Lincoln School instrumental and choral concert and that it was great. They are thinking about how to bring Lincoln and Hanscom together for a joint concert.

  7. Curriculum

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. FY05 Budget Report: through February 10, 2005
      Mr. Peery introduced the Lincoln School Financial Report for the period ending February 10, 2005. This report covers through the second quarter but because of the conversion of accounting software it was delayed slightly. Mr. Jack, his team, and Town Hall have been working diligently on the transition and virtually all the glitches have been corrected. Mr. Peery and Mr. Picker spent time going over the report and the conversion status in a meeting with Mr. Jack. Getting this right is crucial as the FY01 financial problems were the result of the internal school numbers not matching the actual town payroll expenditures. After reviewing the report, the Committee agreed with Mr. Jack that spending is in line with the budget for FY05, and everything is on track.

      The Committee discussed the difference between the available budget and YTD encumbrances. Hanscom has a larger proportionate number in the available budget than Lincoln as a result of the timing of recognizing the cost of Hanscom employee benefits. For Hanscom, monies not expended move forward into the next contract year. The third quarter report will come soon now that the results of the conversion to the new account system have been reconciled.

      The Committee thanked Mr. Jack and his business office staff for their diligent work.

    2. Warrant Approval
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote warrants in the amount of $1,337,759.22. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  10. Old Business
    1. Update on Repairs to Auditorium Stage
      Mr. Jack reported that the repairs of the auditorium stage are proceeding according to plan and that the work will probably be finished by the end of this week with the exception of the screen and the fire curtain. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the quality of the work has been good, that the company has made great suggestions for improvements, and that the district has gotten great value for money. Mr. Jack reported that some of the seating in the lower level is broken and that this should be fixed before town meeting. He will contact the company that does repairs to seating. He is also interested in developing a relationship to repair the seating on an annual basis.

    2. Update on Windows at Hanscom
      Mr. Jack reported that the Mylar coating has been placed on the windows that the district contracted to have coated at a price of $19,668. Some additional windows in high traffic areas should be coated: 32 windows between the B and F cluster and the windows where the gym goes into the middle school. An additional $8,304 will be needed out of the Hanscom reserve fund to do this work. Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee authorize Mr. Jack to contract to coat the additional windows mentioned. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring. Mr. Jack also mentioned that for some windows the company will be returning in September to place a rigid translucent board at shoulder height.

    3. Update on Gym Door at Brooks
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported that the quote on repairs for the field-house door is $8,500 but this could change depending what is found when the repairs are begun. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he asked about this when he talked with the Finance Committee about requesting the money from the reserve fund for the auditorium stage. He said that the Finance Committee urged him to make the request for funding for the field-house at the same time as the auditorium request. Mr. Peery moved that the School Committee authorize him to ask for a reserve fund transfer not to exceed $10,000 for the field-house door repair. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  11. New Business
    1. Amendment to CASE Agreement
      This item was held out from the Consent Agenda for discussion. Mr. Peery expressed concern about the change in the proposed new CASE agreement regarding allocation of liability in which he believes catastrophic costs could get pushed back to collaborative members. Mr. Peery asked whether the District is required to do this by law. He said that he would like to know this before the School Committee agrees to sign the new agreement. He noted that collaboratives are by design extensions of local school districts but they are also their own entities. He noted that the new language in the CASE agreement was provided by the same law firm that represents Lincoln, so that there may be a conflict. Mr. Brandmeyer will let the collaborative know that Lincoln is looking into this question. The new collaborative agreement must be voted by the end of the school year. Mr. Brandmeyer will investigate this issue and inform the School Committee of his findings.

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Mr. Picker moved that the January 27 minutes as edited be approved. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. Mr. Picker, Ms. Dobrow, and Ms. Hessler voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring and Mr. Peery abstaining due to his absence at the prior meeting.

    Mr. Picker moved that the February 3 minutes as edited by approved. Mr. Peery 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. Mr. Peery seconded the motion.

    The motion was approved by the following roll call:
    Ms. Dobrow – yes
    Ms. Hessler – yes
    Mr. Peery - yes
    Mr. Picker – yes
    Ms. Borgert – concurring
    Ms. Cruise - concurring
    The Committee adjourned to Executive Session at 10:55 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary