MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, November 4, 2004
7:00 Open Session
Franklin Park Golf Course, Dorchester

Members present: Dennis Picker, Ashton Peery, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler.
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator), Teresa Watts (Director of Special Education)
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Mr. Picker called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M.

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  2. Chairperson�s and Members� report
    Mr. Picker announced that Jan Nyquist has resigned from the School Committee, effective immediately and that the Committee would discuss the matter of replacing her at a future meeting. Mr. Picker thanked her for her service. Ms. Dobrow agreed to write a letter of thanks on behalf of the Committee.

    Mr. Picker noted that the Finance Committee meeting on the budget will be on December 1. Mr. Picker said that at this time the School Committee will not have its final base budget, and will be presenting the first pass bottoms up budget.

    Mr. Picker said that he, Mr. Peery, and Mr. Brandmeyer are meeting with the Finance Committee on Monday morning and will report back to the School Committee.

    Mr. Picker noted that this year, because of a provision in Lincoln�s bylaws, town meeting will be held after the town election. Mr. Picker said that if there is an override request there will have to be a special effort to get information out to the voters. An override would have to be approved both at town election and at town meeting.

    Mr. Picker said that the Capital Planning Committee will be meeting again in about a week and that after this meeting the School Committee will know the status of its capital requests.

  3. Public Comments
    None.

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. METCO Reports
      Christina Horner, METCO Director, presented goals for the upcoming year, which fell into three categories: (1) academic achievement, (2) diversity, and (3) family involvement.

      Mr. Picker asked the reasons for the focus on math. Ms. Horner said that examination of MCAS scores showed need for improvement in math and that improvement in 4th grade math would lay the foundation for better performance later as well. Mr. Picker asked whether there was any help that they could use from any other part of the system. Ms. Horner replied that she is interested in exploring pairing seniors who want to participate in community service to reduce with METCO students. Ms. Hessler asked when the math club will be meeting. Ms. Horner said it will meet on Wednesdays. Ms. Dobrow asked how the tutor will be funded. Ms. Horner noted that funding for the tutor will be from the METCO budget. Ms. Dobrow asked whether there will be tracking of success over time. Ms. Horner said that this year there will be ongoing tests and that they are hoping for funding to continue the testing into next year. Ms. Dobrow asked whether there are plans to get parents involved. Ms. Horner said that many Boston parents have already asked about the plans for the math club.

      Ms. Horner discussed goals for diversity enrichment, which include bus trips for Lincoln teachers, parents, faculty, and students to Boston to learn about the rich cultural heritage of neighborhoods of Boston resident students. Ms. Horner said that the first bus tour is at 12:30 on December 1 and that the School Committee is invited.

      Ms. Dobrow asked about others ways to encourage teachers to include learning about diversity in the classroom. Ms. Horner replied that some teachers are doing this and that they are sharing what they do with other teachers. Ms. Dobrow asked whether there are sufficient diversity resources in the library. Ms. Horner said that she is working with the librarian to identify materials already in the library and materials needed. Mr. Picker inquired about finding students from Asian and Hispanic/Latino families. Ms. Horner said that referrals from current parents have been her best way of finding new families and that she will ask them to refer Asian and Hispanic/Latino families. Ms. Hessler asked whether there would be any publicity on the bus tours. Ms. Horner said that for the first tour she has been signing up teachers first but that by Tuesday she will open it up to a broader group and that there will be more publicity about the spring tour.

      Ms. Horner explained the planned family involvement activities. Mr. Picker asked about ways to increase the involvement of Lincoln families in the METCO program. Ms. Horner said that the Lincoln METCO Coordinating Group is addressing this.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is impressed at how fast the program got started this year. Mr. Peery said that the plan is concrete with focused actions and should yield good results.

    2. FY06 Budget Discussion
      Mr. Brandmeyer presented a brief overview of the budget. He reviewed the School Committee guidelines. He went over the schedule noting tonight�s district services presentations and November 18th�s building budgets presentation. December 2nd will consider Phase 1 reduction. December 7th and 10th will consider Phase 2 reductions. The Base Budget recommendation and vote is scheduled for December 16th. The FY06 initial budget proposal seeks $8,554,000 for Lincoln and $9,371,000 for Hanscom. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that level funding is not the same as level service and that the proposed Lincoln budget is approximately $700,000 over the 0% increase budget requested by the Finance Committee.

      Mr. Naso presented the Curriculum and Professional Development budget proposal. Mr. Naso noted that in this area requests for budget funds are coordinated with funding from federal grants under Title II and Title V. He described program improvements contemplated in: (1) identifying and developing specific skills in mentoring, (2) providing programming for increasing numbers of English Language Learners consistent with state and federal statues, (3) funding the middle school improvement plan (4) improving methods to record and track student performance over time and (5) providing in-service training for paraprofessional staff, such as teacher aides.

      Mr. Peery asked whether, in tracking student performance, testing other than MCAS and other currently required standardized tests is contemplated. Nr. Naso said no, that they would attempt to capture more information about informal assessments made in the classroom. Mr. Naso said this would be an attempt to record, track, and keep in one place the information that teachers need. Mr. Naso noted that this information will aid in informed discussions about students.

      Mr. Naso said that curriculum revision would include: (1) ongoing work to define learning expectations for the subject areas and grade levels, (2) updates and replacements for units of study, (3) purchase of instructional and assessment materials, and (4) teachers on assignment stipends which are funded at the district level.

      Mr. Naso explained that professional development includes: (1) membership in collaboratives, (2) registration fees, and (3) fees for in-district presentations and programs. Mr. Peery asked whether any monies for support for teachers go for master�s degrees. Mr. Naso said that the school sometimes reimburses for attendance at a program which could also result in credits toward a degree. Ms. Dobrow asked whether there is use of the EMI collaborative this year. Mr. Naso said that there are three people enrolled in EMI II, five to six enrolled in EMI I, and a waiting list for the spring.

      Ms. Watts presented the special education budget proposal. Ms. Watts described the system�s pupil service strengths of: (1) collaboration between general and special educators, (2) programs for individual student needs, and (3) least restrictive environment. She then described pupil service concerns: (1) difficulty retaining special educators and (2) increased documentation requirements. Ms. Watts expressed concern over the compromise of the documentation system. She said that secretarial support at the Lincoln School was eliminated and that this budget seeks to reinstate it.

      Mr. Picker asked about the impact of the missing secretary. Ms. Watts explained that there are gaps in records due to the lack of secretarial support and due to inconsistent support in the central office in FY01 and FY02. She said that the current system means that secretarial tasks must be done by special educators and the coordinator, taking them away from other tasks. Mr. Brandmeyer said the paperwork requirements include getting IEPs to parents, notifications, documentation, and recording with stringent timelines.

      Ms. Watts explained that the FY06 budget maintains level services and restores a secretary for Lincoln School. Ms. Watts described four initiatives supported by the proposed budget: (1) creating a language based classroom so that some students can be taught in a separate setting for 2 1/2 to 3 hours a day; (2) continuing the co-teaching model being used in the 5th grade this year; (3) support to allow one or more teacher to become at Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA); and (4) creating a classroom designed for students with hearing impairments and specialized staffing.

      A member of the audience asked what if a BCBA certified teacher leaves and whether a three-year commitment to stay is required. Ms. Watts said that the people who have expressed interest in certification seem committed to the system, that there are times when it is not in the school�s interest to hold an employee who does not wish to stay. Mr. Peery asked about creating a classroom for students with hearing impairments. Ms. Watts said that there would be $5,000 incremental cost for staff, $12,000 in improvements to ventilation system, and $4,400 in sound-proofing. Ms. Watts noted the school recently had to pay for an out of district placement due to lack of such capabilities. Out-placement costs for this student are $33,000 in tuition and around $10,000 in transportation. Mr. Picker asked why only a preschool classroom would require these changes. Ms. Watts said that if a hearing impaired student were in the system, they would have costs from grades K-8 as the student moved through the system. Ms. Watts said that classrooms that would require less work could be chosen and that some measures can be moved from one classroom to another to follow the student with the need.

      Ms. Watts compared proposed Special Education staffing levels for the FY06 budget with those of FY96 noting that they are basically the same with 0.3 less Early Education Coordinator even though the severity of level of need of students is increased and the rules and regulations regarding special education are more extensive. Ms. Watts directed the School Committee�s attention to comparison of Lincoln special education costs with those of other towns.

      Mr. Jack then presented on budget analysis and school operations. He described the district budget break down per school, per spending category. Overall costs are 84% staffing and benefits and 16% non-salary. For Hanscom benefits come out of the budget but for Lincoln benefits are paid by the town. Lincoln and Hanscom staffing breakdowns were presented. Accounting adjustments have been made to properly allocate costs back to the various schools that had previously been carried in the central office budget. Transportation costs in Lincoln increase by $24,300 as a result of a contracted rate increase and a required run to the Carroll School. Revenue from bus fees is projected at $30,000. Hanscom transportation costs increase $1,800 because of a rate increase. For Lincoln, there is an increase of $80,000 for gas for heat and electricity. For Hanscom, there is an increase of $53,000 with an accounting adjustment for salary for the maintenance staff and an increase for snow removal. For Hanscom, utilities are purchased from the government. Mr. Jack noted that there have been lighting retrofits at the Lincoln School and at the Hanscom Middle School which reduce electricity consumption.

      Mr. Peery asked whether the district is paying to transport Lincoln residents to the Carroll School. Mr. Jack said yes, this is mandated by state law.

      Mr. Picker commented that it looks like it will be very difficult to find a way to make cuts in the central office budgets that are proportionate to the overall cuts needed in order to reach a 0% increase budget for Lincoln. He said that the School Committee will need to show that central spending is as small as possible. Mr. Brandmeyer said that last year significant cuts were taken from district operations to support school programs.

    3. Review of Program Delivery
      Mr. Picker said that this report has been provided so that the Committee can determine that the programs planned in last year�s budget were implemented. The Committee agreed that the report showed that there were no issues that needed to be addressed in this area.

  5. Superintendent�s Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the process for evaluating the Lincoln School leadership model and provided an update on the special education review. Mr. Brandmeyer said the task is to evaluate the leadership model not the individuals. He outlined plans for obtaining input from parents and faculty via meetings and written comments. He plans to summarize the findings by early to mid-January and to then provide recommendation regarding the leadership structure for next year. He feels that this timing works for conducting a search for a principal, if that path is chosen. The Committee agreed to discuss this process in more detail at a future meeting. The Committee agreed to adjust the long term agenda to reflect the extension of the discussion of the leadership model into January.

    Regarding special education evaluations, Mr. Brandmeyer said that it makes sense to conduct the District�s planned independent review, as it complements the Department of Education review being held this year. A consultant has been hired for the internal review who can work within our schedule and financial parameters to conduct the review. She will survey the parents and she will meet with parents, the administrative team, the service providers, regular education teachers, and the School Committee members. The central office will publicize this process.

  6. Curriculum
    1. Curriculum Accommodation Plan
      The Committee agreed to move this topic to the next meeting, as there is a firm time at which the meeting room must be vacated

  7. Policy
    None.

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      Mr. Peery moved that the School Committee approve warrants in the amount of $761,156.15. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All voted in favor.

  9. Old Business
    1. Communications Subcommittee Update
      Ms. Dobrow said that the School Committee is making an effort toward greater community outreach, holding coffees once a month, posting information on bulletin boards, and creating opt-in email lists. Bill Craft offered to post information at METCO Inc. The decision was made to send information home in the weekly METCO newsletter. Ms. Dobrow reported that the Lincoln library is willing to keep minutes and other approved documents in a folder in the library and that the subcommittee is pursuing this.

  10. New Business
    None.

  11. Approval of Minutes
    None.

  12. Information Enclosures

  13. Adjournment
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee adjourn to Executive Session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The motion was approved by the following roll call:
    Ms. Hessler yes
    Mr. Peery yes
    Ms. Dobrow- yes
    Mr. Picker- yes
    The Committee adjourned to Executive Session at 9:25 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Sara Rolley, School Committee Secretary