Ms. Rogers reported that she, Ms. Borgert, and Mr. Brandmeyer attended the recent Hanscom Primary School science fair and that she was very impressed with the science covered. Ms. Cruise reported that she attended the Hanscom spring concert and that it was wonderful.
The Committee discussed the desirability of providing Kindergarten parents with an overview regarding the transition from grade to grade. The Committee discussed coordination in the district regarding identification of formal and informal math assessments. Mr. Naso said that a team of teachers from both campuses are doing a 4 or 5 day training on math assessment and that there are plans for the primary math specialists to update the Special Education teachers on assessment.
Ms. Hessler said that exciting things are happening at the Hanscom Primary School and thanked Ms. Davis for her report. Ms. Borgert moved that the report be accepted. Ms. Cruise seconded the motion. All members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Cruise concurring.
Mr. Hopping reported on the Middle School’s progress with respect to its goals of enhancing student learning, reviewing and assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of the current middle school model, collaborating with Lincoln and the District in offering in-service and professional development regarding the needs and characteristics of adolescents, and improving communication. Mr. Hopping said that the addition of Carolyn Shannon, the math specialist has been very helpful in many areas including assessing new students. Mr. Hopping said that there has been even more turnover than usual with 80 students (including graduating 8th graders) who will not be back next year. He said that he, Ms. Davis and Ms. Shannon went to an EDCO workshop on Differentiation of Instruction and that this has been very helpful in his work in observing and evaluating teachers. Mr. Hopping said that the parent who coordinated the recent Primary School science fair has asked to include the 4th and 5th grades next year. Later this month there will be a Middle School science fair. The recent concert was great. The annual race will be next week. Ms. D’Alessandro mentioned that this is the first year of the mentoring program for teachers who are new to teaching or new to the district and that it has been useful.
Ms. Borgert commented on the lack of textbooks for many classes and that students often bring copied material home rather than textbooks. Mr. Hopping said that textbooks are a priority, there is money available, and that they are addressing this for next year. Mr. Hopping said that, although there is a 2.4 FTE reduction in staff for next year, there is no reduction in the budget for materials. He said that texts will be available for the fourth grade next year. He also said that a science text is being chosen for use in one of the upper grades next year. Ms. Cruise asked why 5th graders have textbooks which they don’t bring home with their homework. Mr. Hopping said that much of the instruction in 5th grade math is hands on and that the textbooks are a supplement to what is happening in class. Ms. Cruise and Tonia McCormick, parent, said that the problem is that this makes it hard for parents to help kids with homework.
Regarding evaluating the middle school model, Mr. Hopping said that the school lacks critical mass of students to really conform to the typical middle school model. Mr. Hopping said that there have been visits to middle schools in Lexington, Burlington, and Lynfield.
Ms. D’Alessandro spoke on goal three, collaboration with the administration and the Lincoln School. Next year the 6th grade trip to Ferry Beach will not be held. Mr. Hopping said that it has become too expensive for Hanscom because of the small number of students. It is also a problem when some students do not attend and a parallel program must be run back at the school. Ms. Glassman said that Lincoln has decided not to continue the Ferry Beach trip because it does not really fit with their curriculum. Mr. Hopping intends to replace the Ferry Beach trip with science day trips. Mr. Hopping said that they also discontinued the 8th grade trip this year. The 8th grade previously went to Washington D.C. with the John Glenn Middle School in Bedford but that the John Glenn Middle School got too big for the trip.
Ms. Cruise asked about fundraising to support fieldtrips. Mr. Lipton said that an environmental group on the base funded part of the three 8th grade field trips. Mr. Hopping said that fundraising can be difficult because certain types of fundraising cannot be done on base. He said field trips are well funded for field trips next year.
Regarding communications, Mr. Hopping said that this year at the 4th grade back to school night for parents and students they included how to use a locker as well as showing parents the play-strips and the cafeteria. He said that the curriculum night in the fall was not as well attended as he would like and that it is easier to get parents to come when students are included. He said that the planned forums on middle school education did not take place but that there was discussion of these issues in staff meetings. Mr. Hopping said that he still hopes to have a parent forum on the middle school before the end of the school year. The homework web page is working well but teachers need to update it daily. The Hanscom Schools are members of the Community Action Communication Board and the Integrated Delivery System. These are Air Force mandated groups. The Hansconian has given the schools a weekly article space for the first time. Ms. D’Alessandro said that Lunch & Learn is a lunchtime program for parents. Last week one was held for parents in grades 3, 4 and 5 about fluency in reading and comprehension skills. Mr. Hopping said that the Youth Advisory Board meets on a monthly basis. He said that there is improved communications and information sharing with the Youth Center including discussion of teen issues as well as coordination so that important school events do not overlap with Youth Center events. Mr. Hopping and Ms. Davis are included in the Commander’s Call. Ms. D’Alessandro said that a strong relationship is developing between the DARE officers and the students. The DARE officers come in once a week for ten weeks to work with the 6th graders. This is working well and a DARE officer now goes on the Canobie Lake Park trip and chaperones a group of kids. The DARE graduation has been moved to the base security offices and includes a tour.
Ms. Borgert asked whether there has been any attempt to track the level and degree of family participation in school events. She said that it is important to get more Hanscom parents into the schools and helping out as much as possible. She would be interested in knowing the number of volunteers over time. Mr. Hopping said that he could track this. He said that parent participation changes from year to year and that it is easier to get participation in 4th and 5th grades than in the later grades. He said that more parents sign up to chaperone than are needed.
Ms. Hessler asked whether Mr. Hopping has determined assessment criteria for determining whether goals have been met. She emphasized the importance of coming up with a definition of success. Mr. Hopping said that he believes there needs to be greater outreach to parents, more education of parents about the role of the advisory council, and a mechanism to allow parents greater input into the school improvement plans.
Ms. Koning had a number of suggestions for both Hanscom schools: e-mail the newsletter to parents (especially those at the 7th and 8th grade level who rarely see the contents of their child’s backpack), e-mailing notice of upcoming events, holding the 4th grade back to school evening before school starts, have an orientation for all new students rather than just 4th graders, and find a way to recognize parent volunteers. She suggested looking at the ideas generated by the School Committee’s Communication Subcommittee to see whether these ideas would work for the schools. She applauded the homework site.
Ms. McCormick asked whether middle school students could receive programs in addition to DARE regarding mental health, suicide, and drugs. Mr. Hopping said that he intends to offer an extensive health program taught by trained health instructors.
Ms. Cruise moved that the School Committee accept the Hanscom Middle School Improvement Plan End-of-Year Review. Ms. Borgert seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Howard Worona reported on music. The orchestra program is now offered two times a week during the school day without conflicts with other subjects. Private lessons are scheduled after school. Ms. Cruise thanked Mr. Worona for his work with the students.
The extensions will include the orchestra program and choral music. They will also include some remedial offerings as well as some enrichment programs such as Junior Great Books. Some placements will be by student choice but others will be teacher assigned or as a result of parent request. Extensions will be used for academic support and it is contemplated that students receiving academic support will have some elective options but not all. Ms. Koning said that it is important to leave room for new students in the most popular offerings as this is always a problem for military children. Mr. Hopping said that he does not think this will be a problem.
Mr. Hopping said that the reorganization changes are budget neutral. Mr. Picker wondered whether having the same teacher for two subjects would be a problem for some middle school students in the same way that having the same teacher for two years in a row had been. He pointed out an alternative staffing arrangement of having one Language Arts teacher for 7th grade and one for 8th grade and one Social Studies teacher for 7th grade and one for 8th grade. Mr. Hopping said that he will consider this and that there are pros and cons for either staffing choice.
Ms. Borgert commented about the importance preparing students for placement at the Bedford High School or wherever they go. Ms. Rogers asked about the AAP. Mr. Hopping explained that AAP stands for Advisor Advisee Program and that small groups of students are assigned to staff members. The groups are a wonderful place for kids to talk about problems. The groups do some community service and also incorporate some curriculum. The AAP has resulted in improvements in recess behavior and the new salad bar offered in the cafeteria.
Ms. Rogers asked about the distinction between technology education and computer. Mr. Hopping said that technical education is more engineering oriented involving the integration of science and technology and has had units on aerodynamics, hydroponics, and wind tunnels. For computers, for 4th, 5th and 6th grades computer instruction takes the form of computer class and for 7th and 8th grade computer use is integrated into subject matter.
Ms. Borgert observed that in the staffing arrangement Mr. Hopping is recommending one teacher will not be scheduled for regular team time. Mr. Hopping said that when this teacher is needed by the team coverage will be arranged for her class.
Ms. Hessler asked whether Mr. Hopping had strategies to evaluate which staffing models work best. Ms. Hessler emphasized the importance of coming up with a definition of success. Mr. Hopping said that he sees the staffing for next year as a transition piece but that he will observe what is working. Ms. Koning suggested asking whether the staffing model is working for kids moving though the system and that to answer this they may need to ask students and parents.
Ms McCormick asked about backup personnel noting that her son had had three different substitutes in the same week. Mr. Hopping explained that teachers make their lesson plans available on a weekly basis so that there can be as much continuity as possible with substitutes.
Mr. Brandmeyer announced that Mr. Jack has been appointed the Assistant Superintendent for Business and Public Relations for the Amesbury Public Schools and will be leaving as of July 1st. Mr. Brandmeyer congratulated Mr. Jack and thanked him for his excellent work for the Lincoln Schools.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary