Thursday, September 30, 2004
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Building Meeting Room

Members present: Dennis Picker, Ashton Peery, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler, Jan Nyquist, Laura Koning
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer, Superintendent; Paul Naso, Assistant Superintendent; and Dave Jack, Business Administrator.
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Dennis Picker called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Julie Dobrow thanked Dave Jack and others involved in getting field hockey goals functioning.

    Ms. Dobrow expressed appreciation for open house/curriculum night events that have occurred at the schools. Mr. Brandmeyer added that four have occurred at the two campuses.

  3. Public Comments
    There were no public comments.

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Lincoln Facilities Study
      Mr. Picker explained that the School Committee authorized the preparation of this study concerning the facilities at the Lincoln campus, and that Ron Alex from LPBA/Architects, Inc. was present to provide a summary of the report.

      Mr. Alex reported that the buildings are generally in good condition. He explained that two principles guided his review of the conditions: the need to address building code deficiencies and the need to ensure that components of the buildings do not fail. He cited two priorities. Priority 1 refers to actions that are needed within 1-2 years to prevent further deterioration. Priority 2 refers to actions needed to extend the life of existing components. Mr. Alex also explained that there are some needs (e.g. parking needs; programmatic needs) that were not part of the scope of the study.

      Mr. Alex outlined the recommendations for the two levels of priority.

      Mr. Alex also recommended that the Committee anticipate planning that would be needed in the event there is a significant increase in enrollment. The work that would be needed in the pod area, for example, would depend to a great degree on what the programmatic needs will be. He also urged the Committee to consider a second means of egress for the general site, especially for emergency purposes.

      Mr. Picker thanked Mr. Alex and his firm for a comprehensive report.

      Members of the Committee discussed the scope of the needs indicated by the study and the benefits of investing soon so that the community may get more years of service from existing facilities. There was also discussion about the limits of routine renovation/rehab funding that is available on a yearly basis.

      Ms. Dobrow observed that there may be a need for the formation of a building committee.

      Ms. Nyquist observed that roughly 50% of the estimated $10 million costs are directly attributable to the pods and main Hartwell building. It was observed that these facilities serve a variety of community functions beyond those of the schools, and that the Town made a conscious decision in the early 1990’s to defer any investment in the Hartwell complex.

      Mr. Picker commented that the study suggests that there is a great deal of work needed and that it appears the Committee will have to address these needs. He added, however, that at this time it is difficult to place these needs in the context of other things to which the Committee is already committed. Further discussion is required at a future meeting to define next steps, including the formation of a subcommittee to address facilities needs.

    2. FY06 Budget Guidelines
      Mr. Brandmeyer introduced his memo suggesting FY06 Budget Guidelines. He explained the steps under way for the budget building process. He reviewed examples of how the priorities from the previous years influenced the budget priorities.

      Ms. Dobrow urged that the process consider costs and alternatives regarding the leadership component of the budget. Ms. Hessler observed that the budget priorities should also reflect the areas of focus related to curriculum improvement.

      There was also some discussion about instructional assistants. Ms. Hessler asked that the budget process confirm that assistants are being utilized in the best possible manner. Jan Nyquist observed that assistants are valued and that any change in the model should also explain how the new model will improve matters.

      Mr. Picker asked if there were a way to distinguish between costs incurred by the schools that are ancillary to the prime mission (i.e., community use of Brooks auditorium, funding of crossing guards) and those expenses clearly involved with the teaching and learning responsibilities.

      The Committee discussed several other possible efficiencies.

      Mr. Peery expressed a need for the priorities to stress a continued interest in meeting class size targets. He also asked if there might be opportunities for further efficiencies in special education. Ms. Nyquist responded that the Committee should not seek efficiencies that result in higher costs later on.

      Mr. Peery also urged that the budget ensure there is a breadth of education and that they find ways to fund as many “specialist” experiences as make sense. He offered as an example the continued improvement of the language program.

      Mr. Brandmeyer responded that consideration of additional elements is interesting, but he hoped that additions would not be made at expense of other instructional areas. He observed that there is limited time in the school day.

      The Committee discussed the need to notify the community about the budget preparation process and how best to distribute a letter with an overview soon.

    3. District Work Plans
      Mr. Picker reminded the Committee that they are embarking on their plan of reviewing work plans for district goals. The purpose, he explained, was for the Committee to give feedback and guidance but not approval of these plans. The Committee will evaluate the accomplishments achieved against the goals at the end of the year.
      1. Strategic Plan
        Mr. Brandmeyer explained that the District and the School Committee share this work plan. It did not make sense to develop two plans. The plan is an attempt to articulate key activities and strategies and serve as a device to help the district prioritize its work. The Committee discussed the steps in the process and the results and timeline. They also wanted to ensure that there are opportunities for substantial dialogue with stakeholders.

        It was agreed that a key checkpoint on progress against this plan would come in the next two months: to see if the strategic planning task team has been formed, and whether data collection has begun.

        There were no questions from the audience.

      2. SPED Evaluation
        Teresa Watts joined the Committee at the table. She explained that she welcomes the independent review of the program as outlined in the plan.

        Mr. Picker asked about how difficult it will be to find an individual or organization to do what is needed on this timeline. Ms. Watts has a promising lead and that individual is proposing a timeline.

        The Committee and Ms. Watts discussed the potential overlap with the State-mandated mid-cycle coordinated review that may occur soon. Mr. Brandmeyer suggested that by late October or early November the district should know when the mid-cycle visit would occur. He suggested that he report the status at that time to determine if there is a need to revise the timeline for this work plan.

        Mr. Picker inquired about funding. Mr. Brandmeyer reported that expenses had been built into one of the Special Education grants.

        Mr. Picker invited questions from the audience. Gabriella Muscolo requested that details be provided about how the community will learn about the study.

        It was agreed that a key checkpoint would come in about one month when we had more information about the relationship of the mid-cycle review to this review, and when we had information as to whether we had obtained a consultant who can do the review on the proposed schedule.

      3. Technology Plan
        Mr. Peery asked that the plan also indicate how a determination will be made regarding the hardware and software needs for management purposes (e.g. software for the development of special education IEPs). There was agreement that a milestone about planning the administrative needs will be added.

    4. School Committee Works Plans
      Mr. Picker made the point that since these plans represent specific activities to be undertaken by the School Committee, that they should be subject to explicit approval by the Committee.
      1. Oversight of District Operations
        The Committee discussed the plan.

        Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee adopt the plan and post it on the web site. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously adopted the work plan for Oversight of District Operations.

      2. Oversight of Teaching and Learning
        There was discussion about the scope of the work and the additional tasks that may be imposed on the administrative team. The sense of the Committee was that the tasks were important and needed to be done, but that we would be on the lookout for overload conditions as we assess progress during the year.

        Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee adopt the plan and post it on the web site. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously adopted the work plan for the Oversight of Teaching and Learning.

      3. School Committee Communications
        The Committee discussed the plan and offered some minor revisions.

        Ms. Dobrow moved that the Committee adopt and publicize the plan as amended, including posting it on the web site. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously agreed to adopt and publicize the plan for School Committee Communications.

  5. Superintendent’s Report

  6. Curriculum

  7. Policy

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      There was no warrant.

  9. Old Business
    1. Communications Subcommittee: Update
      Ms. Dobrow provided an update on developments with the subcommittee’s work. Ms. Hessler asked that in the absence of adopted guidelines for the use of the SCNews email list, that the Committee agree to send notices of meetings and items such as agendas posted on the SC web pages out via this email list.

      Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee use the email service to send a link out to subscribers when the agenda is posted. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

      The Committee discussed the letter developed by the subcommittee explaining the communication goal and inviting their input. They also reviewed a chart developed by the subcommittee that presented the various initiatives related to improved communication.

      Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee send the letter to residents and members of the Lincoln Public Schools community but not include the informational chart at this time. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

      Mr. Jewett, a member of the subcommittee and present in the audience, asked for clarification about the role of the subcommittee.

      Mr. Picker responded that the Committee regards the subcommittee as a “staff arm” that provides recommendations and performs specific actions when agreed to by the School Committee (such as maintenance of the bulletin boards). Mr. Peery asked Mr. Jewett to extend the School Committee’s appreciation to members of the subcommittee.

    2. Approve School Committee Long-Term Agenda
      The Committee reviewed agenda changes made at last meeting including changes that did not appear in the most recent version. Mr. Picker asked for permission to integrate timeline items from tonight’s work plan into the long term agenda. The Committee agreed that this should be done.

      The Committee discussed special arrangements needed for the upcoming meeting at Hanscom, including the need to communicate instructions about how to get onto the base.

      Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee approve the latest version of the long-term agenda and post it on the web site. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

    3. Carroll School Approval
      Mr. Peery restated the responsibility the School Committee has under the General Laws of Massachusetts to approve private schools within the Town. He reminded the Committee that the previous packet included details about program and faculty. He explained that he and Mr. Brandmeyer visited the school and briefly reported what they learned. In addition, Mr. Peery spoke with several parent members of the Carroll School PTA who also have children in the Lincoln Schools.

      Mr. Peery moved that the School Committee approve the Carroll School. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

  10. New Business

  11. Approval of Minutes
    Ms. Nyquist moved that the Committee approve the minutes of the September 16, 2004 meeting. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the minutes.

  12. Information Enclosures

  13. Adjournment
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee adjourn to Executive Session for purposes of discussing negotiations, not to reconvene in open session. Mr. Peery seconded the motion.

    The roll call vote approved the motion with Ms. Hessler, Ms. Nyquist, Ms. Dobrow, Mr. Peery and Mr. Picker voting aye and Ms. Koning concurring.

    The Committee adjourned to Executive Session at 10:52 p.m.

  14. Executive Session