Mr. Naso described proposed goal for the curriculum, instruction and assessment. Curriculum work begun this year will be continued, common assessments for specific subjects and grade levels will be identified, and the district’s Technology Plan will be implemented. The Committee discussed the possibility of rewording the district’s proposed goal of “the district strives to articulate a coherent curriculum” to include reference to the quality of the curriculum such as “state of the art,” “best practice,” and “research based” and rewording “inspire imaginative and effective teaching practices” to include language regarding the benefit to children.
Mr. Naso also set forth the proposed goal regarding teacher excellence and professional development which will include implementing the revised Teacher Evaluation Program, developing professional development opportunities, and other key events. Mr. Naso said that a core team of administrators and ten teachers will work together on professional evaluation. He noted that the improvements to the teacher evaluation plan are part of the new teachers’ contract and that it is important to implement the changes so the new process is communicated to all faculty members and so that there is productive feedback and discussion. In professional development, the District needs to provide opportunities for teachers obtain “highly qualified” status and to provide training that will advance what the District needs to do internally. Mr. Naso also said that the District is introducing professional development for its instructional assistants and tutors. Regarding professional development, the Committee discussed the need for specifics in terms of what the District is attempting to accomplish. The Committee also discussed the possibility of including language linking the professional development activities to the end benefit to students.
Mr. Brandmeyer described the proposed goal regarding leadership and governance. Mr. Brandmeyer outlined key components in this area: (1) develop and adopt strategic plan, (2) improve communications, (3) develop and implement Special Education Action Plan, (4) align district goals, School Committee goals, and school improvement plans, (5) sustain Lincoln School leadership, (6) negotiate Hanscom contract, and (7) prepare for BRAC decisions. Regarding the BRAC process Mr. Brandmeyer said that previously the focus was on whether Hanscom would be on the closing list. It is not on the current closing list but would be getting approximately 1100 more jobs, some military and some civilian, as a result of the realignment. The District needs to be prepared to deal with the possibility of additional students as well as be prepared in case the base is placed on the closing list.
Ms. Dobrow asked that Mr. Brandmeyer provide a report at the next School Committee meeting on the possible benefits and challenges of negotiating a new Hanscom contract and directed that the report should consider the possible consequences if the District did not go forward with another contract to run the Hanscom Schools. She also asked Mr. Brandmeyer to provide a timeframe for the contract bidding process
The Committee discussed the importance of not taking on too many goals and asked whether aligning goals needs to be on the goal list. They commented that the wording of a couple of goals” might create confusion, considered the desirability of communicating clearly about the leadership model to parents, suggested the possibility of combining aligning school improvement plans and sustaining leadership into one goal which would for both the Lincoln and Hanscom campuses. Regarding communication, they commented that evaluation of what has been successful this year and what has not should be done and communications efforts which have not been effective should be discontinued to make room for new and potentially more effective initiatives.
The Committee began a discussion of whether the strategic plan should be a district goal. This discussion will continue at the next School Committee meeting. The possibility that the district goals with modifications could form the basis for a strategic plan was mentioned. In this context, the possibility of setting forth multi-year goal was raised. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the District’s goal structure with work plans is more substantive than some strategic plans of other districts that he has reviewed.
Mr. Brandmeyer presented the proposed goal regarding compliance and operations which includes: (1) develop FY07 budget, (2) develop and publish student and faculty handbooks, (3) negotiate secretary’s contract, (4) assess the needs of the school lunch program, (5) develop capital plans for facilities, (6) comply with NCLB and Massachusetts DOE regulations, (7) implement warrant articles, and (8) facilitate transportation.
Regarding student handbooks, Mr. Brandmeyer said that the some schools have fairly well developed student handbooks but that others do not. The district could use student handbooks which are really also parent handbooks for compliance purposes. He said that there is not a district-wide faculty handbook.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that the District has discovered that in past years warrant articles were not fully utilized and that the District will benefit from closer monitoring and oversight of warrant expenditures.
The Committee suggested fine-tuning the language “develop capital plans for facilities” so that it does not promise more than can be delivered. They suggested that consideration of the school lunch program could incorporate the federal government’s new food pyramid and guidelines. The Committee suggested the possibility of including the new handbooks under communications rather than under operations and compliance.
The Committee considered whether goals could be stated in a more aspirational manner and still be goals against which progress can be measured. They also suggested the possibility of stating more clearly the anticipated benefits of the goals in terms of their impact on student learning.
The Committee discussed this year’s goal of a Middle School Improvement Plan for the Lincoln School and suggested that further improvement of both Hanscom and Lincoln middle schools is needed. The Committee considered whether middle school improvement is properly a district goal issue or a school improvement plan issue, and suggested the possibility of including middle school improvement under alignment of goals with emphasis on making sure that the schools gets the support they need to make progress.
Ms. Dobrow mentioned the opening for a Boston representative on the School Committee and urged anyone who might be interested to come forward. Christina Horner, the METCO Director, said that the METCO Coordinating Committee for the Lincoln program is looking for more support from both communities. They meet on a Tuesday evening at a restaurant midway between Boston and Lincoln.
Ms. Horner said that the METCO staff met with METCO students in grades 5 to 8 who are Academic Achievers having Bs or better in all subjects and with students on the Honorable Mention list who came close to reaching the Academic Achiever standards. She asked each of these groups of students how the program could help them in achieving academic excellence. They students said that they need more time after school working with teachers. Currently students in grades 5 through 8 stay on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2:45 to 3:30 P.M. Based on her conversations with the students, if funding becomes available Ms. Horner is considering extending this for another 30 minutes but she wants to hear from parents how this would impact them. Ms. Horner also said that Math Club meets on Wednesday and kids have the opportunity to work on math skills in a group with a lower student teacher ratio. If funding becomes available she would like to have more programs like this. She is interested in parents’ ideas about how additional funds could best be used.
Parents asked about a variety of things. One set of questions centered on if additional time were added, how much would it be. Ms. Horner said 4 PM was the latest. A parent asked about using Wednesday afternoons for additional help. Ms. Horner said that teachers would not be available on Wednesdays due to professional development activities and team meetings, so any work would have to be with tutors. A parent asked how the staff determines which students get this extra help. Ms. Horner said that these programs are open to all METCO students but that sometimes they call a parent to suggest that a student come and that sometimes they guide a student to be sure they get help in the subjects in which they need help . A parent asked about where the students would be dropped off if an additional 30 minutes were added for academic help. Ms. Horner said she contemplated that students in grades 5 to 8 would be left off at their regular stops. A parent asked about which grades might have a longer day for extra help. She asked about grades K to 1, grades 2 to 4 and grades 5 to 8. She said that the length of day affects the choices that she must make for after school care. Ms. Horner said that she is interested in hearing from parents on this. Her initial thoughts were that more academic work might be too much for kindergarteners and first graders but that a quality program might be beneficial for students in grades 2 to 4, and that if money is available she would like to add an 30 minutes twice a week for students in grades 5 to 8. A parent asked about after school care which connects with the academic day. Ms. Horner mentioned the SMART Kids program offered at the METCO Inc. location which has goals and priorities which are in keeping with Lincoln’s goals. She said that this year seven Lincoln students are in this program and that next year there are going to be an additional six slots for Lincoln students. Finally a parent asked whether the late program on Tuesdays and Thursdays will actually be extended until 4 PM. Ms. Horner said that she wants to hear from parents on this and that have provided feedback tonight and can provide additional feedback by contacting the METCO office or the School Committee.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary