Thursday, May 19, 2005

Members present: Julie Dobrow, Laurie Manos, Dennis Picker, Cathy Rogers, Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator).
Absent: Sandy Hessler, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative).
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:16 P.M. Ms. Dobrow introduced the School Committee members to the audience and mentioned that the School Committee has been sitting without a Boston representative for the last year and that anyone who is interested in serving should contact her.


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Ms. Dobrow reported that she and Mr. Brandmeyer have written letters to legislators requesting more funding for METCO.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Proposal to Establish Edith Baxter Book Fund Gift Account
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to approve the consent agenda. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Cruise concurring.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Report on Special Education Program Evaluations
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the four sources of data regarding Special Education that the District has gathered this year and the plans to move forward. The four sets of data are: the PAC survey of parents, Dr. Brynes’ program evaluation, the MADOE Mid-cycle Coordinated Program Review, and post IEP meeting parent exit surveys. Mr. Brandmeyer said that Teresa Watts is establishing a steering committee of parents, teachers, and administrators. The committee will review the evaluation reports and additional sources of data such as IDEA 2004, and will develop an improvement plan. They will present a framework at the June 9 School Committee Meeting and will have a work-plan by the fall. In response to a question of whether there were specific items in Special Education that the District was studying, Mr. Brandmeyer said that the data assessed many different areas. He said that the District asked Dr. Byrnes to answer certain questions such as whether the staff in the District has the right set of skills to deliver the program, whether staff had professional development to support the program, and whether the administrative structure supports Special Education adequately.

    2. District Goals 2005-2006: Initial Discussion
      Mr. Brandmeyer provided an overview of the administration’s initial proposal describing four overarching goal categories: (1) curriculum, instruction and assessment, (2) teacher excellence and professional development, (3) leadership and governance, and (4) compliance and operations. Each goal presented included key components. Mr. Brandmeyer presented a template for the work plans which will be developed for each District goal. Mr. Brandmeyer stated that the purpose of tonight’s discussion is to get feedback from the School Committee.

      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.

    3. School Committee Goals 2005-2006: Initial Discussion
      Ms. Dobrow asked that the School Committee provide feedback on the draft created by Ms. Dobrow and Ms. Hessler. Ms. Picker said that the Oversight and Guidance Goals are more detailed than they need to be, that this level of specificity could cause problems if essential areas were omitted, and suggested carrying forward language from last year’s School Committee goals. Regarding Direct Initiative and Action, deletion of “insure the annual district finances are in order” was suggested since the School Committee does this anyhow. Further discussion of School Committee goals will occur at the next meeting.

    4. Discussion Period: General Topics of Interest
      Mr. Brandmeyer talked about the METCO Advisory Committee on which he serves. The Committee has been working for two years on a set of recommendations regarding: (1) program standards, (2) clearer language regarding entrance and exit criteria, (3) more clarity regarding responsibilities of organizational partners, (4) transportation, (5) program finance, and (6) the role of METCO directors and staff. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the Massachusetts legislature has added $2 million dollars to the governor’s budget for METCO, some of this may go to districts for student programs and transportation. In addition, there may be grant opportunities. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is interested in hearing from Boston parents about what improvements they would like to see if additional funds become available.

      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.

  6. Superintendent’s Report

  7. Curriculum

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      Ms. Manos said that she has reviewed the warrant article. She moved that the School Committee vote a warrant in the amount of $651,947.35. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Cruise concurring.

  10. Request to Establish Friends of Lincoln Music Gift Account
    Mr. Picker explained that since checks would be going to the Lincoln School he would like to see clarification regarding scholarships in the language of the Guidelines for Friends of Lincoln Music. Mr. Brandmeyer said that scholarships are contemplated for rental of instruments and for fees for trips by the performing groups and that scholarships are contemplated for in school programs, and not for after-school lessons. Ms. Hessler moved to approve the establishment of the Friends of Lincoln Gift Account with the understanding that the administration will add language to the Guidelines clarifying the types of scholarships to be granted, that scholarships are for in school programs, and setting forth how to apply for scholarships. Ms. Rogers seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  11. Old Business

  12. New Business
    Ms. Dobrow has sent the School Committee members copies of a letter regarding Edith Baxter’s retirement. She said that she intends to send it to Ms. Baxter and intends to send similar letters to retiring Hanscom faculty.

  13. Approval of Minutes

  14. Information Enclosures

  15. Adjournment
    Ms. Rogers moved that the Committee adjourn at 9:15 P.M. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Cruise concurring.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary