MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, May 26, 2005
Hartwell multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Julie Dobrow (Chair), Sandy Hessler (Vice Chair), Laurie Manos, Dennis Picker, Cathy Rogers, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative), Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator).
Absent: none.
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M.

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  2. Chairperson�s and Members� report
    Ms. Dobrow congratulated Edie Baxter on her upcoming retirement. Ms. Dobrow said that the festival held in honor of Ms. Baxter�s retirement was fantastic. Ms. Dobrow said that she also went to the concert given by Lincoln grades one to three and that it was great.

    Ms. Dobrow made the following statement:
    �In response to an op-ed piece that appeared in last week's Lincoln Journal, I want to state that the School Committee is deeply cognizant of the longstanding and mutually beneficial relationship between Lincoln and Hanscom Air Force Base. We appreciate the opportunity to work with our colleagues on the base - military and civilian, teachers and administrators, parents and children. Our teachers at Lincoln and Hanscom are represented by one union, and we very much appreciate and value the contributions they make to our children in the classroom, every single day. We view our partners at Hanscom as colleagues in a joint educational mission.

    While anyone is free to express their opinion in the newspaper, I want to make it crystal clear that the op ed pieces that ran last week, and this week, on the topic of Hanscom, are the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of the School Committee, or the Town.�

    Ms. Manos said that she, Ms. Rogers, Ms. Borgert, and Ms. Cruise attended MASC orientation last week and that it was very helpful. Ms. Manos said that the presentations on communication and strategic planning were particularly helpful and that she had handouts from them that the rest of the Committee might find interesting.

    Ms. Hessler said that she attended the Lincoln 4th grade Japanese lunch and that it was wonderful.

    Ms. Borgert reported on two recent events at Hanscom. The 20th annual race was held Wednesday, May 18. The Hanscom Middle School Science Fair took place with a great parent turnout and a lot of excitement about science.

    Ms. Cruise reported that the Hanscom Kindergarten concert turned out well.

  3. Public Comments
    Deaver Brown presented a case for not renegotiating the contract to run the Hanscom Schools consistent with his recent letter to the Lincoln Journal.

  4. Consent Agenda
    None.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Proposed Amendment to CASE Agreement
      Ed Orenstein, Director of CASE appeared to explain the proposed amendments. Mr. Orenstein said that CASE was formed in 1974. The current agreement was written in 1987. In 2003 one item in the agreement was amended. The CASE Board wanted to change the standard for amendment of the agreement from unanimous approval by the 14 member districts to three-fourths approval. Mr. Ornstein reviewed the entire agreement with CASE legal counsel resulting in additional recommended amendments to protect CASE against liabilities and to align the agreement with recent changes in the law. Mr. Orenstein briefly reviewed the recommended changes and said that the other 13 districts have approved the amendments. Mr. Brandmeyer recommended that the School Committee vote to approve the amendments. Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to amend the CASE agreement as proposed. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Cruise concurring.

    2. Lincoln School Improvement Plan: End-of-Year Review
      Donica Hadley, Gian Criscitiello, Patrese Pierson, and Judith Glassman presented the year-end- review each presenting orally parts of the written report. Mr. Criscitiello said that in a mid-year staff survey 98% of the staff said that the leadership team was doing a good to excellent job.

      Mr. Criscitiello reported on the goal of creating a safe and positive school-wide community. Ms. Rogers asked whether the School Committee must vote on the School Handbooks or whether this requirement is for only secondary school handbooks. Ms. Hessler said that it is important to make the ideas presented in the handbooks come alive for students and parents and suggested thinking about how to do this in creative ways.

      The Committee discussed the need for the dress code, particularly at the middle school level. They also discussed the desirability of parents and teachers collaborating on modeling manners and behavior. Ms. Hessler asked whether the District uses programs on the emotional life of children such as the Stone Center�s Open Circle program. Mr. Criscitiello said that many teachers have been trained in the Open Circle and other programs but that at this time the Districts prefers to use the best of a variety of programs. Ms. Hadley added that the Leadership Team is always interested in hearing about effective programs.

      Ms. Hadley reported on the goal of facilitating communications. Ms. Hadley noted that in a mid-year staff survey 96% of the faculty said that the leadership team had the ability to pass on information and 94% of the faculty said that the leadership team had the ability to communicate well regarding procedures. Ms. Hadley mentioned, regarding communicating with students, the reinstatement of morning announcements, student poetry readings, and the work of the student council. Ms. Dobrow commended the team for their good work in communications and suggested that as they go forward it is important to ask which initiatives are the most successful. Ms. Borgert suggested that the exit survey for families leaving the District be used for Hanscom as well as Lincoln.

      Ms. Hadley reported on the goal of upgrading the Lincoln School Library. An Information Literacy Skills curriculum is being developed for grades K-6 in consultation with the Hanscom librarian. It concentrates on grades K-6 only because work on these skills for grades 7 and 8 is embedded in the curriculum. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he may be in a position to allocate some additional funds unspent this year (in addition to the $20,000 budgeted for FY06) for library improvement. Ms. Dobrow said that the Edith Baxter book fund may also be a source of funds for the library.

      Ms. Pierson reported on the goal of improving mathematics learning. She said that Kathy O�Connell, Math Specialist at the Lincoln School, has been a very important resource and has helped in the identification of students who need enrichment or support and in developing assessments. In addition to material contained in the written report, she said that teachers in grades 6 to 8 participated in math workshops by the Bureau of Educational Workshops, there were a variety of instructional activities supporting math such as ? Day and next year Discrete Math for Girls will be an elective offering. She reported that Lincoln students had distinguished themselves in math: 4th grade students were regional winners in a math competition, the 5th grade team received an Honorable Mention in the Math Olympiad, the 6th grade team placed in the top 10% in the Math Olympiad, and two students advanced to the next level in MathCounts. Mr. Naso said that learning expectation will be developed for math but that initially grades 4 and 5 will not be part of that effort. Ms. O�Connell explained that the school is seeking to offer enrichment and remediation as needed and that the staff prefers not speak in terms of �selection� for these offerings. Ms. Pierson said that as teachers learn more about differentiation they are able to offer more in the classroom for students of at various levels of mastery. The Committee noted the positive impact of the math specialists and the impact of collaboration between Lincoln and Hanscom.

      Ms. Glassman reported on the goal of partnering with Hanscom to create a series of in-service and professional development opportunities. Mr. Picker applauded the ordering of science texts. The Committee considered the value of cross campus discussions.

      Mr. Picker congratulated the Leadership Team on its accomplishments. Ms. Dobrow moved that the Committee vote to approve the Lincoln School End-of-Year Report. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    3. District Middle School Improvement Plan: End-of-Year Review
      Ms. Glassman presented the end-of-year review of the Lincoln School�s effort to improve the middle school. Ms. Glassman reported on changes in the elective program, and in programming and scheduling. Surveys have been sent to 20 area middle schools to find out what they do with regard to programming and scheduling. The District has hired Interaction Institute for Social Change to assist in middle school improvement including facilitating parent faculty collaboration.. Ms. Glassman anticipates that changes will be recommended for the 2006-2007 academic year. Ms. Dobrow said that it is important to find ways to communicate steps taken and underway to parents. Mr. Naso said that the work regarding the middle school academic program is taking place in the curriculum work the he is leading. The Committee thanked Ms. Glassman for her report, noted that middle school improvement remains an important ongoing goal, and said that to request any help that the Committee or the Administration can provide.

    4. End-of-Year Status of District Goals
      Mr. Brandmeyer said that last year the District reframed how they presented their goals and adopted work-plans. The District has endeavored to present goals which are not easily reached rather than choosing more modest goals simply because they can be reached. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in addition to the stated goals, the District developed the FY06 budget and conducted contract negotiations.

      Mr. Naso reported on establishing K-8 learning expectations, adopting aligned curricula and developing a process to measure student success. Mr. Naso said that the work should begin to go faster now that this initial work has been done. The Committee applauded the significant accomplishments made this year, acknowledged that the work has not been easy, recognized the importance of Mr. Naso�s position is to making progress. They considered how to make the public more aware of this progress and discussed how the real value will be in the students� learning.

      Mr. Naso reported on professional development and revised evaluation protocols. Mr. Naso said that the quality of the in district programs has increased and that benefits from this can be seen in the teachers� response. The professional development programs have been beneficial for both campuses. The teacher evaluation process has been revised and evaluators and teachers are working together on a plan for implementation which increases the quality of feedback to teachers. For the first time this year, the District developed criteria for the evaluation of tutors and instructional assistants. Mr. Naso said that teachers interviewing for jobs ask about professional development opportunities and about reimbursement. The Committee discussed the need for enough teachers to participate in specialized in district professional development.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the District-wide Technology Plan. The final technology report will be presented on June 9.

      Ms. Watts reported on the goal of evaluating special education programs. On June 9 Ms. Watts will report on the action plan being developed to respond to recommendations made by Dr. Byrnes.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on strategic planning. Mr. Brandmeyer, Ms. Hessler, and Ms. Nyquist (who resigned from the School Committee last fall) were working on this and they did not manage to develop a common vision. Mr. Brandmeyer is planning to develop multi-year goal documents which are strategic in nature.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the goal of improving district-wide communication. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he wants to work on improving the webpage next year. Ms. Manos offered to place information on how to sign up for e School Committee News and the District News .in the PTA summer mailing that goes out to all parents.

      Ms. Watts reported about the implementation of new administrative software which aids in the preparation of IEPs. Ms. Watts said that the software is up and fully functioning and that it is working very well. The format keeps up with regulation changes better than the previous program. With it the staff has been able to produce IEPs which are more timely, more thorough, and more compliant.

      Mr. Jack reported on the conversion and implementation of Financial Accounting Software. He said that everything is up and running. The program�s report writing capabilities have not yet been fully utilized. With this software the District is able to report on two fiscal years at the same time easing the transition from one fiscal year to the next. Mr. Picker thanked Mr. Jack, the business office, the town financial office, and the town IT office for their work to make this transition a successful one.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on compliance. He noted that the Coordinated Program Review was successful and that the Hanscom Kindergarten had been awarded NAEYC accreditation and that the Lincoln application is pending.

      The Committee commented on the many goals reached by the District. Mr. Brandmeyer thanked the Leadership Team, the principals, the teachers, and all the staff for their roles in these many accomplishments. The Committee determined that Mr. Picker will post the End-of-Year Status Report on District Goals on the website and that Ms. Manos will place a notice on the mini-link that states that the report is available. Mr. Dobrow will draft a letter to the faculty on both campuses in appreciation of their work and the good year the schools have enjoyed.

    5. Discussion of School Committee Self-Assessment and Goals Review for 2004-2005
      Ms. Dobrow presented draft of the School Committee�s Accomplishments for the 2004/2005 School year which set forth each goal, what the School Committee did, and asked the School Committee to reflect on this in creating the 2005-2006 goals. Regarding adopting the budget, the Committee discussed that multiple presentations with other town organizations were very time consuming, that the get out the vote effort did not necessarily help with bringing parents to Town Meeting, and that presenting the proposed budget at a PTA meeting should be added to the list of actions taken in adopting the budget.

      Regarding oversight of District operations, Mr. Picker said that oversight this year was efficient and he would continue working in this way. Ms. Hessler said that establishing the long term agenda should be added to this list.

      Ms. Dobrow said Ms. Rogers has been assigned to policy and that there will be more activity on policy next year. Richard Jewett suggested that the School Committee might want to plan to take three years to update the policy book since it will take some time understand what needs to be done, to prioritize, and to get uniformity in the format. He suggested the possibility of creating a subcommittee for policy. Mr. Naso said that there may be some policy issues that need more immediate review than others, in part due to becoming compliant with state and federal policies

      Ms. Hessler observed that last years goals in strategic planning were identical for the School Committee and the District and that the different roles at each level should be created.

      On communications, Ms. Dobrow said that it is important to evaluate what worked and what did not. The Committee discussed having quarterly School Committee coffees rather than monthly ones, the need for more consistent TV coverage of School Committee meetings, and the maintenance of School Committee bulletin boards. Ms. Manos will have a wrap up meeting with the Communications Subcommittee.

      Ms. Dobrow said that School Committee operations are more efficient after this years work and that they may not need to be a goal next year

    6. Discussion of 2005-2006 Goals
      1. School Committee
        At the May 19 meeting, the School Committee had its first discussion of School Committee goals. Based on that discussion, Ms. Dobrow created a second draft which incorporated the comments from the May 19 meeting. The Committee discussed this draft. The Committee plans to vote and adopt the School Committee goals at the next meeting.

        The Committee discussed strategic planning and developing multi-year work plans. They discussed the need for a separate goal on strategic planning and the need to look at the vision and mission statements and to develop vision for the school. There are regulations from the governors office on vision statements or strategic plans and audits of them. Ms. Hessler will write a proposal for the Committees consideration.

        The Committee discussed their desire to find more and better ways of facilitating two way communication, the need to do this at School Committee meetings and the possibility of having public hearings in which they listen to peoples concerns. Mr. Jewett said that he is not sure that it works for the School Committee to merely listen to opinions without any response. He also said the public comments tend to be better when a topic is set in advance.

        The Committee discussed the proposed goal of negotiating a contract to run the Hanscom schools, how to correct misinformation on this topic, how to communicate about the benefits and challenges of running the Hanscom schools, and the importance of maintaining this goal..

        Arthur Sweetser commented that the School Committee should make a full assessment of whether it makes sense to continue to run the Hanscom schools. He also said that it is important for the School Committee to be open to other points of view. Members of the Committee responded that they were in the process of gathering information, and that they had asked the Superintendent to prepare a report about the possible benefits and challenges of the Hanscom contract.

      2. District
        The initial goal statements were presented at the May 19th meeting. Committee Mr. Brandmeyer said that tonight the administration was presenting revised goal statements that responded to School Committee suggestions of maintaining a manageable and achievable set of goals (including oversight for school-based initiatives), seeking aspirational goal statements that could still yield measurable results, goals that express benefits to students, and using three-year rolling goals as a form of strategic planning.

        Mr. Naso reviewed revisions in the goal on curriculum, instruction and assessment. The Committee discussed: how initial goals might be quite concrete but over time might become more aspirational for example speaking in terms of high engagement of students; how to balance this with the need to be able to measure progress; whether creating more aspirational goals for future years could backfire if these ideals were not completely achieved; the concept articulated by the MASC of a never-ending cycle of continuous improvement where being best is the next step; how the aspirational goals, such as engaged learners, are really continuous and not just for the future; and whether the multiyear goals might include both concrete goals and guiding principles.

        Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is looking toward a three year planning cycle and that a five year cycle would take the planning too for into the future. This years goals will be one-year goals and as the work plans are developed it is expected that goals for years two and three will be articulated. At the June 9 meeting the School Committee will be asked to approve goal categories, goal statements, and key components.

        Mr. Naso presented revisions in the goal on teacher excellence and professional development. Mr. Brandmeyer presented revisions in the goal on leadership and governance. He said that the number of components was reduced to 5 and that communications and handbook revision were combined. Language was added to state that the central office would provide support for school- based initiatives such as Middle School Improvement. Mr. Brandmeyer recommended that the structure of the leadership of the Lincoln School (whether to have 2 or 3 principals) not be re-examined at this time because the school needs stability at this time.

        Mr. Brandmeyer presented a report on the benefits and challenges of operating the Hanscom schools and the consequences if the District elects not to submit a proposal for the new contract. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the March 2003 Lincoln Schools K-8 Task Force concluded that the contract to operate the Hanscom Schools is a way of sharing administrative costs which reduces the per pupil cost of administration. Mr. Brandmeyer said that Lincoln benefits from the expanded scale of the District in curriculum improvement, professional development, the ability to satellite food service, shared staff, and central office financial support. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the contract covers all operational costs with one exception. The cost for retired staff members health insurance is passed on to the Town of Lincoln. The administration is currently researching the existing Hanscom agreement to see if contract funds can be applied to the cost of retirees health insurance. The town does not make any contributions to retirement funds for teachers, assistants, support staff or custodians. If the contract with DOD were not renewed, more experienced Hanscom teachers could bump less experienced Lincoln School teachers, thus raising costs since we would have a more senior staff, some people would lose jobs, and the town would be responsible for unemployment benefits. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that Bedford receives impact act of $265,000 for 118 students who live on the base which is a per pupil reimbursement of only $2,245, far less than we receive per pupil with the benefit of a contract. He noted that since all the base housing is in Lincoln, it is also possible that without a contract the town could be responsible for educating students who live there but with a impact aid similar to what Bedford now receives.

        The Committee thanked Mr. Brandmeyer for the report. Ms. Dobrow, Mr. Picker and Mr. Brandmeyer will work on revisions to the report.

  6. Superintendents Report
    None.

  7. Curriculum
    Mr. Naso said that he attended the Science Fair at Hanscom and that there was wonderful student to student talk about the science in the exhibits. B. J. Pegram, a Science Teacher at Lincoln-Sudbury who coaches the Science Olympiad, contacted Mr. Naso regarding the Science Olympiad students doing community service by putting on a Science Activity Day for grades 3, 4, and 5at the Lincoln School. There are plans underway for this to take place. Mr. Naso said that the 8th grade at the Lincoln School had four national place winner in the National Spanish Exam: Mira Vale, Ellie Hylton, Charlie DeFrancesco, and Geoffrey Tam. Lincoln 7th graders placed seventh out of the top ten in the state for their performance on the exam.

  8. Policy
    None.

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      None.

  10. Old Business
    Ms. Dobrow reported that the charge to the form the facilities committee has been given to the Selectmen, Capital Planning Committee and the Finance Committee. She and Mr. Brandmeyer discussed it at a Selectmens meeting last week, and will be going to the Finance Committee next week.

    Ms. Borgert reported that Mr. Hopping submitted a report on the number of parents who participated in the Middle School this year but not information about participation in prior years. A meeting of 7th and 8th grade parents about the Middle School is set for June 7.

  11. New Business
    None.

  12. Approval of Minutes
    None.

  13. Information Enclosures

  14. Adjournment
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the meeting be adjourned at 11:35 P.M. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary