MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, June 9, 2005
Hartwell multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Julie Dobrow (Chair), Sandy Hessler (Vice Chair), Laurie Manos, Cathy Rogers, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative), Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator).
Absent: Dennis Picker.
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:04 P.M.

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  2. Chairperson�s and Members� report
    Ms. Dobrow reported that she attended the Lincoln concert by grades 5 through 8 and that it was great. She congratulated Laurel Reckert, Pam Roberts, Susan Gottschalk, Ron Chibaro, and the students. She said that she, Mr. Brandmeyer, and Mr. Naso attended the Hanscom parent meeting on Tuesday night. She also said that she, Mr. Brandmeyer, and Mr. Naso attended the end of year METCO celebration in Boston on Wednesday night. She thanked the Magic Garden Board and parents for refurbishing and edging the flower beds in front of the Hartwell Building. She congratulated Donica Hadley and Patrese Pierson on their recent graduation. Ms. Hessler reported that she and Cathy Rogers went to the Lincoln 4th grade performance and that it was wonderful. Ms. Cruise reported that she attended the Middle School Reorganization Forum and that there are very good changes happening in the Hanscom Middle School.

  3. Public Comments
    None.

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Request for Permission to do Research in the Lincoln Schools
      Ms. Manos requested that this item be held out for discussion.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Special Education Improvement Plan
      Ms. Watts reported on the Special Education Improvement Plan. She was joined by Karen Kantor, the Administrator of Student Services at Hanscom. Ms. Watts presented a summary of the work of the Collaborative Evaluation Committee (CEC), a group composed of administrators, teachers and parents (from both campuses and across age ranges). Ms. Watts also presented the Continuous Improvement Plan and Special Education Goals for 2005-2006 which were developed out of the work of the CEC. A written summary of the CEC�s work and the Continuous Improvement Plan were provided to the Committee. Ms. Watts said that the CEC will meet two to three times next year with additional representation from general education teachers. She noted that many parents of Special Education students believe that there is a stigma to being labeled as a Special Education student and that some Special Education parents are interested in preserving their anonymity. Ms. Watts said that parent information sessions have not been well attended. Plans for next year are to create a website with information that parents need about special education which parents can seek out as needed. She also plans to pilot having Special Education office hours. She is looking for ways to enhance communication with parents of students referred for evaluation and wants to design a document for parents of students referred for evaluation. She is looking for more neutral ways to phrase questions on the Parent Feedback Form so that it invites all input, positive or negative. She is also seeking ways to enhance communication with preschool and early childhood parents. Next year, an attempt will be made to ascertain whether all of the functions of the social worker have been taken on by other staff. Compliance with IDEA will be addressed and IEP software will be modified to incorporate anticipated changes in regulations. Greater emphasis will be placed on making sure that parents know what information they have received such as parental rights information and progress reports. She also reported on actions to support the general/special education integrated model and initiatives providing professional development.

      Ms. Dobrow commended Ms. Watts and her staff for developing these goals. The Committee discussed how placing additional information on the website would coordinate with redesign of the web site, uncertainties regarding staff to place information on the website and maintain it, and noted the existence of possible budget implications. Ms. Dobrow commented that she has found that at the University level students prefer e-mail to office hours, and suggested that Ms. Watts pilot the use of office hours to see if this is a mode of communication that parents will utilize. Ms. Watts said that she anticipates continuing to explore the co-teaching model. Ms. Manos expressed interest in external research of the effectiveness of co-teaching.

      The Committee discussed eligibility of students and Ms. Watts indicated that she does not believe that this is a problem. The Committee discussed the desirability of monitoring referrals by looking at the number of referrals per year, the results of team action, and determinations of eligibility for Special Education or other support services. The Committee requested that Parent Feedback Forms be summarized next year and that Ms. Watts report to the School Committee on what the summaries show. The Committee discussed the possibility of coding the Parent Feedback Forms to show whether a child was found eligible for Special Education or not. Ms Watts explained that she had not attempted to do this because she felt this might identify students since very few students who are evaluated are determined not to be eligible. Adding questions about eligibility might be another way to get information on whether parents whose child is determined not to be eligible are satisfied with the process. It was suggested that the CEC might have representation from a general education parent. Ms. Watts said this is a good idea so long as special education parents do not feel their privacy is compromised.

      Gabriella Muscolo, head of the Special Education Parent Advisory Council, said that as part of the IEP process each parent is asked if they are happy with the testing conducted but that this question is asked orally as part of the IEP process though is not asked as part of the Parent Feedback Form. She said that parents would like information about satisfaction with testing. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the answers to the oral questions can not be made public because they are part of student records. Ms. Muscolo who will no longer be heading the PAC next year, shared some observations. She said that the Schools are doing a good job of looking at evidence based programs in the field of reading, trying to put programs in place for the whole class, and measuring progress. She said that children in grades 5 through 8 who diagnosed with a disability need to be supported with programs which specifically address the child�s disability.

      Harold Engstrom asked about support for students who do not need Special Education but who need help. Mr. Naso said that the Instruction Support Team addresses problems a student may be encountering by trying to find adjustments in teaching that will yield better results for a student.

    2. Technology Plan
      Mr. Brandmeyer said that the Technology Plan presented tonight addresses two key issues: learning standards and network infrastructure and hardware. He said the plan is a work-in-progress and that many issues remain to be addressed in the upcoming school year such as: determining appropriate configurations of technology in classrooms, determining level of teacher skill and designing professional development program to implement the learning expectations, establishing a help desk and/or support functions, developing phased capital purchasing plan, and budgeting resources for software.

      Mr. Naso addressed the learning expectations. Mr. Naso explained that in the science curriculum there are learning expectations about technological systems regarding engineering and design. The technology addressed here is addressed in the Recommended PreK-12 Instructional Technology Standards, what a student should know to be able to use technology. Mr. Naso presented a draft of Technology Learning Expectations which addressed: (1) basic proficiencies and concepts, (2) ethical social and human considerations, and (3) tools for productivity, communications, research, problem-solving and decision making. He said that learning expectations are highly dependent on the technology and its reliability. Regarding tools for productivity, students are currently using many applications, but that the faculty needs to develop consensus on what skills are essential.

      The Committee discussed the importance of spending enough time learning and practicing keyboarding to become skilled. Mr. Naso said that research indicates that it is appropriate to introduce keyboarding at the end of 3rd grade or the beginning of 4th. Phred Borrello, Technology Integration Specialist, said that there was a specific typing lab for 5th grade and that they spent 20 to 25 minutes practicing every day for four weeks and came back for refreshers and that in 6th grade the teachers have seen the benefits of this work. A keyboarding lab has been developed that students can use to practice. Mr. Naso said that keyboarding is addressed in various ways from grades 4 though 8.

      Mr. Brandmeyer addressed infrastructure. He said that the District must make decisions about how to use the hardware it currently owns and how to go forward. He noted that the District has been building and rebuilding the infrastructure with annual warrant articles for technology. He provided a memorandum which described the structure of the current network. He noted that the Lincoln side of the network is more developed than the Hanscom side because Lincoln has town network resources and because the age of the Hanscom buildings makes them harder to wire. In Lincoln the high speed network is in place and an issue is that the wiring of the classrooms does not match teachers� preferences (usually for a cluster of computers in one area of the room). It is important to determine how to configure the technology spaces of labs, smaller satellite labs, classrooms, and portable technology. He said that portable carts with 25 computers that are available on each campus are working well. The portable labs and the labs are very much in demand. As the technology plan develops there may be need to develop a funding strategy to pay for hardware and infrastructure costs. Mr. Brandmeyer also provided an inventory of all the computers in the system using the DOE rating system for computers. Computers with A and B ratings are very useful, those with C rating are used mostly for typing, and Ds have been discarded. There are often three computers in a classroom but only one computer that can run current software and is appropriate for all applications.

      In Lincoln, 17% of the computers have been obtained as a result of grants which impacts infrastructure maintenance. The Tufts Lego computers do not belong to the school.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that in the fall effort will be devoted to getting more clarity in the learning expectations and developing configurations of hardware to support them. Mr. Naso said that specific learning expectations regarding applications will be developed starting with certain grades or topics. Mr. Naso said that the challenge is to move from particular teachers� preferences to baseline expectations for the learning we expect all students to have. Mr. Naso explained that he intends to work with a group of teachers this summer to take category three (tools for productivity etc.) to the next step. Mr. Naso and Mr. Brandmeyer discussed the role of the Technology Integration Specialists. They currently both teach students and support teachers as well as fix equipment, and work on web pages. The ultimate goal is for the Specialists to work primarily in supporting ongoing instruction in the classes and to work with teachers on projects incorporating the use of technology and not to have regularly scheduled teaching responsibilities. They can be utilized to teach students the foundation skills that will be used to produce work in other areas of the curriculum. An example is that the Technology Integration Specialists taught PowerPoint this year for the 5th and 6th grades and the foreign language teachers had them do projects using it. Previously, the foreign language teachers had been teaching PowerPoint.

      The Committee noted that there is interplay between the technology plan and the work on facilities. Ms. Rogers expressed interest in knowing how much each of the computers is used. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this information can be obtained for the labs and the carts from the sign-up sheets. His belief is that the classroom computers are not used as much because they are so few in number.

      Ms. Dobrow suggested that the importance of remembering that technology does not mean just computers. She also suggested that the administration return to the Committee with thoughts about what is needed to accomplish the task of completing and implementing the Technology Plan, and asked about capital planning implications. Mr. Brandmeyer said he expects to have more specifics on capital planning next fall, capital improvements will be made over time, and capital improvements sought next year may be larger than in the past but will not be the full capital improvements for technology. For Hanscom, this is funded under the contract. Ms. Hessler suggested the importance of instructing students on the use of the library for research as well as the internet.

      Cindy Sweetser had a number of suggestions: (1) teachers would benefit from having MS Word or Office, (2) it might be advantageous to purchase the new version of FilemakerPro, (3) a family in town has a business which specializes in wiring hard to connect buildings, (4) the observation that typing expectations are part of the expectations for quality work (typed labels were expected for �A level� work in one of her children�s classes), (5) there are opportunities to tie-in technology instruction with other objectives such as an on-line newspaper for/by 7th and 8th graders, and (6) that she believes it is important for students to receive some instruction in computer programming.

      Mr. Engstrom asked whether private support from the community could be a source of hardware. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the District looks for outside resources and noted that the challenge with technology donations is to make sure that what is given is what is actually needed. Mr. Brandmeyer said at Hanscom they have been looking into receiving donations of computers the Air Force no longer needs.

    3. Goals
      1. School Committee Self-Assessment 2004-2005
        Ms. Rogers suggested the addition of a statement that a new restraint policy was developed this year in the policy section of the document. There were no other additions or edits. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to approve its self-assessment of its work in 2004-2005 as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

      2. School Committee Goals
        Ms. Dobrow said that the goals had been discussed at meetings on May 19 and May 26 and that she has incorporated comments into the goals. She noted that goals can be altered, revised, or deferred based on new information. Ms. Dobrow said that work plans will be developed next. The Committee discussed the options of a subcommittee for policy, ad hoc subcommittees for certain policies, or a policy steering committee. Ms. Rogers will address this in the work-plan.

        Ms. Manos said that she had a concern about the inconsistency between the School Committee and the District goals in the area of the benchmark Identifying and implementing leadership structure under the goal regarding oversight of district operations. The Committee discussed what wording might be appropriate. She also suggested adding align 06/07 goals with the mission/vision statement. The Committee deferred the vote on School Committee goals until the next meeting.

        Ms. Sweetser said that: (1) concern about school culture is not reflected in the goals, (2) an opportunity to take full advantage of community resources and connections with the schools is being missed, and (3) there is not a formal vehicle for parents to provide feedback on teacher performance to the schools. Mr. Brandmeyer said that school culture would be a goal at the school level rather than a School Committee level and would be a proper subject for the School Improvement Plans. Regarding parental feedback, Mr. Brandmeyer said that under the contract with the teachers the school cannot conduct formal surveys of teacher performance, although teacher performance is formally evaluated by the principals and this year a system of teacher mentoring and feedback was implemented. Parents are invited to share their perspective with the principals in person or via letter or e-mail.

        Ms. Sweetser suggested the School Committee appoint an independent group to study whether the Hanscom contract should be renewed. She said that she is concerned about the economic sustainability of the current model and about the need for continuous overrides. She compared the administrative structure of Lincoln Schools to that of the Carlisle K-8 district. She also asked whether Hanscom students are best served by Lincoln operating their schools.

        Ms. Dobrow thanked her for her comments and said that the Committee would take them under advisement. The Committee discussed possible drawbacks of not continuing to run the Hanscom schools including, if the contract to run Hanscom is not renewed, significant labor contract ramifications that would be to the financial detriment of Lincoln. The teachers at both campuses are members of one union, and if there were to be a reduction in force, a likely scenario would be that Lincoln ended up with a very senior teaching staff adding to payroll costs, as well as carrying the unemployment costs for those teachers who would have to be laid off. Ms. Dobrow said that there are benefits to running the Hanscom schools beyond the cost sharing that occurs, and that we get economies of scale in curriculum and professional development from which all students benefit. She stated that the relationship between Lincoln and Hanscom Air Force Base has much historical precedent, and has been affirmed by the Town over the years.

        Robert Steinbrook of the Finance Committee commented that the Hanscom budget has not been a driver of Lincoln overrides. He said that there are immediate costs to Lincoln taxpayers if there is no contract to run Hanscom. Mr. Steinbrook said that it appears that the town has been paying the costs for both campuses retirees health care coverage and that this may be an appropriate charge to the Hanscom contract.

      3. District Goals for 2005
        Mr. Brandmeyer said that as a result of School Committee comments at the May 19th and May 26th meeting, he has added made changes to the goals. The revised goals include an aspirational statement, a category statement, and key components for year 1. Mr. Brandmeyer anticipates presenting project plans (specific for year one, indicating work for year 2, and taking a longer look in year 3) in the fall.

        Regarding leadership and governance, the Committee discussed key component number 4: provide Central Office Support, guidance and resources for follow through on school based initiatives, e.g. Middle School Improvement, School Improvement Plans, school leadership.

        Ms. Manos and Ms. Rogers expressed the view that school leadership should be a separate component. Ms. Manos said that the leadership model was proposed as an interim measure and that the effectiveness of the current model and leadership in place should be assessed. Ms. Rogers said that it is important to go back to the community to see that the leadership model is working from their perspective. Ms. Dobrow said that last fall Mr. Brandmeyer examined the leadership structure for the upcoming year and that he did seek input from the community.

        Mr. Brandmeyer explained that for the short term he is interested in sustaining the current leadership model so that progress can be made in other areas. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the school has functioned best in the past with three administrators.

        The Committee discussed the desirability of considering the structure of the school (K-8 versus primary school and middle school), the leadership structure to best support the appropriate model, and the sustainability of the current model, and the best ways of communicating regarding the leadership structure to the entire community. They considered developing a plan to address this in the three year work plans and the mission/vision statement.

        The Committee determined that the administration should undertake another revision of the District Goals with particular attention to the leadership and governance goal and that they would defer the vote until the next meeting.

        Ms. Sweetser suggested that additional attention be given to advanced learners and their needs and that should be separated out as a separate component in the plan. Mr. Naso said that meeting the needs of a range of learners is being addressed in the curriculum work that is in progress.

    4. Enrollmentment Update
      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the actual enrollment numbers and recommended adjustments in class size. Mr. Brandmeyer said that a fourth section may need to be added for the Lincoln 6th grade but that additional staff does not need to be hired. The remaining sections are still below target.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that Hanscom enrollment is hard to predict but that Kindergarten already has fifty-nine students enrolled, more than have usually enrolled by this time in the year. He proposed adding a fifth section for the Hanscom Kindergarten. He said that there are resources to hire the necessary staff under the Hanscom contract. He noted that there is some risk in hiring now because, if the enrollments do not materialize, it is difficult to release a teacher in September.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that there was a typographical error and that there would be three, not four, sections for Hanscom grades 4 and 5.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that an additional section be added for Kindergarten at the Hanscom Primary School and that the additional staff required be hired. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

      Ms. Sweetser said she would like to see a breakout of METCO children and resident children in the Lincoln enrollment numbers. She is particularly concerned about the size of the 3rd grade class.

    5. Review of Food Service Operations and Consideration for Price Increase
      Mr. Jack recommended that the cost of lunches be increased $.25 for lunches and $.10 for milk. Mr. Jack said that one benefit of the Hanscom contract is that food is prepared at Hanscom and transported to Lincoln because of lack of full kitchen facilities in Lincoln. He said that without the increase he projects a deficit of $3,000 for the Food Service Program.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the cost of school lunches be increased by $.25 for lunches and $.10 for milk. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  6. Superintendents Report
    None.

  7. Curriculum
    None.

  8. Policy
    None.

  9. Budget and Financial
    Ms. Manos said that she has reviewed the warrant article. She moved that the School Committee vote a warrant in the amount of $637,251.55. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  10. Old Business
    Ms. Dobrow reported that she and Mr. Brandmeyer attended a recent Finance Committee meeting to talk about facilities. She said that the Finance Committee does not wish to be represented on the facilities committee but that they do want periodic updates.

  11. New Business
    1. Establish July Meeting Date
      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to add July 14, 2005 to the calendar an additional School Committee meeting in case one is needed. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    2. Request for Permission to do Research in the Lincoln Schools
      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve participation in a research project by a Tufts graduate student. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. Ms. Rogers abstained. Ms. Dobrow, Ms. Hessler, and Ms. Manos voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Ms. Borgert moved that the School Committee approve the minutes of May 12, 2005 as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. Ms. Dobrow abstained. Ms. Hessler, Ms. Manos and Ms. Rogers voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve the minutes of May 19, 2005 as amended. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve the minutes of May 26, 2005 as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  13. Information Enclosures

  14. Adjournment
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the Committee adjourn to Executive Session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion.
    The motion was approved by the following roll call:
    Ms. Dobrow - yes
    Ms. Hessler yes
    Ms. Manos-yes
    Ms. Rogers - yes
    Ms. Borgert concurring
    Ms. Cruise - concurring
    The Committee adjourned to Executive Session at 11:25 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary