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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary