MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, November 18, 2004
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Dennis Picker, Ashton Peery, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler, Laura Koning (Hanscom Representative).
Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Dave Jack (Business Administrator)
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Mr. Picker called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M.

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  2. Chairperson�s and Members� report
    Mr. Picker noted that there had been two guest opinion articles in the Lincoln Journal concerning the schools recently. Mr. Picker said that this was not the time to respond to them in detail, but he wished to emphasize that the budget for next year had been misrepresented in them. Mr. Picker reminded everyone that no budget has been approved for FY06 and that the School Committee is conducting an open a public process to identify issues, explore tradeoffs, and then approve a FY06 budget. The School Committee intends to vote to approve a base budget on December 16. He encouraged members of the public interested in the budget to participate in the process.

    Mr. Picker said that this week there had been meetings at Hanscom with federal officials regarding planning for major facilities work at the Hanscom schools. Members of the administration attended, as well as Ms. Koning, Ms. Hessler, Mr. Peery and Mr. Picker.

    Mr. Picker, Mr. Peery, and Mr. Brandmeyer had an informal meeting earlier this week with the Finance Committee and expressed their concerns regarding the 0% budget growth guideline. The Finance Committee will be reviewing its numbers and might be in a position to allow some relief from the 0% guideline.

    Mr. Peery, Ms. Picker, and Ms. Hessler participated in a School Committee coffee for the public last week.

  3. Public Comments
    Deborah Dorsey, who has a daughter in the CASE Collaborative, said that she was upset by the comments in a Lincoln Journal opinion column written by Neal Feinberg. She objected to the negative comments made in the article about a member of the special education staff, Diane Trueblood. Ms. Dorsey stated that Ms. Trueblood had worked with her family and advised them regarding their daughter�s placement and that her experience with Diane had been very positive. Mr. Picker said that he appreciated her comments and said that it was unfortunate that a member of the staff was singled out for criticism. Mr. Brandmeyer commented regarding the Lincoln Journal opinion column on the district special education programs. Mr. Brandmeyer said that last spring the School Committee had articulated a desire to assess the special education program and adopted a district goal last June in this area. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that the School Committee had discussed this assessment at two meetings so far this year. He said that the district has retained a private consultant to help in the conduct of the district�s own study of the quality of its special education program and that the Department of Education will be conducting its mid-cycle review this year. The results of these two complementary assessments will be presented at a public School Committee meeting in the spring. Mr. Picker also noted that as part of the mid-year evaluation of progress against goals, the School Committee will check on status of this work. Mr. Brandmeyer also commented about the unfortunate circumstance of having staff members targeted in articles in the press and noted the negative impact it has on the morale of the teachers.

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Process to Evaluate Leadership Team
      Mr. Picker explained that the School Committee had previously asked Mr. Brandmeyer to explain how he would evaluate the leadership team structure for the Lincoln School and make a decision regarding the structure for next school year. Mr. Brandmeyer provided the School Committee with a memorandum describing the process (1) to evaluate the effectiveness of the team model for interim needs for leadership and (2) to determine the administrative structure for 2005-2006. Mr. Brandmeyer commented that it is challenging to find strong leadership for public schools. He said that the role of principal has changed since the passage of the Education Reform Act in Massachusetts and the Federal Law referred to as No Child Left Behind. He also said that Proposition 2 layoffs in the past has resulted in a bimodal distribution of current teachers with many older teachers and many young teachers but fewer in the middle range to draw from as administrators. Mr. Brandmeyer also noted that the Lincoln School K-8 structure is unusual and that many potential administrators do not have K-8 experience.

      Mr. Brandmeyer explained that the task of evaluating the leadership team model is separate from evaluating the performance of the four individuals who comprise the leadership team. In evaluating the leadership team model, Mr. Brandmeyer will look at: (1) the effectiveness of the shared leadership model to make progress on short-term goals and (2) the extent which the team fulfills the leadership qualities originally sought for the principal of the Lincoln School. Mr. Brandmeyer outlined two decision points: whether to keep the leadership team model and what to do if the district does not keep the leadership team model. Mr. Brandmeyer outlined three options: (1) keep the leadership team model, (2)have one principal and one associate principals, (3) have one principal and two associate principals. In order to seek input from stakeholder groups, Mr. Brandmeyer plans two superintendent�s coffees for parents, three cluster meetings with teachers and a meeting with team leaders and department heads. Mr. Brandmeyer will send letters asking for written feedback to teachers and parents. Mr. Brandmeyer plans to bring a recommendation on the leadership structure to the School Committee in mid-January.

      Ms. Dobrow commended Mr. Brandmeyer for the quality of the thought that has gone into this process. Ms. Dobrow noted that the budget side should be considered noting the actual costs and the hidden costs of the current leadership model. Regarding the letters asking for feedback, Ms. Dobrow commented that she has heard that some people are hesitant to place their names on a written response. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he finds that it is hard to follow up on anonymous letters. Mr. Dobrow asked whether it would be possible to guarantee confidentiality. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would not want to make such a guarantee because, under some circumstances, the district might be required to provide access to such material. Ms. Hessler asked whether there was any thought of going back to two principals and two schools, one elementary and one middle. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this is really a different question than evaluating the leadership model. If the District wants to study whether to have two schools, he would recommend keeping the interim model another year and studying this question next year. Mr. Picker suggested that the leadership team model also be evaluated as to its effectiveness in achieving district goals. Mr. Picker also suggested that in the letter to the public the concepts of interim versus long-term should be clarified. Mr. Picker said that he would appreciate a comparison of the cost of the current leadership team with the cost of one principal and one associate for FY05, along with a projection of cost differences for various approaches for FY06.

    2. FY06 Budget Presentation
      1. Lincoln School
        Judith Glassman, Donica Hadley, Gian Criscitiello, Patrese Pierson and Diane Trueblood described the proposed budget for the Lincoln School. The proposal includes a request for additional funding for the school library to update its obsolete collection. In this proposal the team is requesting $20,000 in additional funding for non-fiction and reference materials, as part of a multi-year plan to revitalize the collection. The proposed budget also includes an additional kindergarten section, additional money for professional development, and an administrative assistant for special education. Other aspects of the school program are basically unchanged in this budget from the current year, with some adjustments having been made for differences in special education caseloads.

        Ms. Hessler asked about class sizes and specifically why the budget proposal includes five sections for Kindergarten. Mr. Brandmeyer responded that the projections for Kindergarten are based on older census data which my not be reliable so five sections were included with the knowledge that only four may actually be needed.

        Mr. Peery said that when adding administrative staff it is very important to be able to show that this will free-up professionals to spend more time with students and that it would be helpful to quantify this.

        Ms. Dobrow asked about the increase in consumables. Ms. Glassman said that this includes materials used by the science department and workbooks which haven�t been replaced or replenished regularly. Mr. Picker commented he remembered that last year the staff was given constraints for the budget that resulted in them not asking for what they actually needed.

        Mr. Picker asked if the music funding was consistent continuing the current in-school music program and the current private and public funding split in instructional music. He was told that this is so. Mr. Picker also asked about the $9500 increase for durable goods for physical education. Ms. Hadley replied that a large portion is for adjustable basketball hoops for the Smith gym.

        Mr. Picker asked why the reduction in special tutors. Ms. Trueblood replied that this is based on caseload estimation. She noted that they have out-placed one student who previously had a one to one aid.

        Mr. Picker asked what grades would be included in the co-teaching model which is currently in 5th grade. Ms. Trueblood said that next year the plan is to use it in 5th grade and possibly add it to 6th. She said that there is not an increase in cost for co-teaching.

        Mr. Picker asked about the science department budget, noting that the amount for textbooks seems small compared to the textbook budgets for other subjects. Ms. Glassman replied that the science faculty has been looking at textbooks but hasn�t yet selected one.

        Mr. Peery asked about the proposed $20,000 to update the library collection. Mr. Criscitiello replied that they are targeting non-fiction for K-8 this year and thinking in terms of a five year plan to update the collection at $20,000 per year. Ms. Hessler suggested that Lincoln School Foundation grants could also be sought for library books in the form of requests from various grade cohorts for books for a certain purpose. Ms. Hessler asked about technology for the library. Mr. Criscitiello replied that they are discussing technology for the library as well as how to best coordinate the computer facilities in the lab and the library. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this will be addressed in the technology planning process. Mr. Peery noted that more money is being spent on technology each year than on the library.

        Mr. Picker thanked the Leadership Team and the faculty for their work in putting the proposal together.

      2. Hanscom Primary School
        Randy Davis presented the Hanscom Primary School proposal. Ms. Davis pointed out that for the Hanscom budget the amount of the increase for next year is known. She noted that the proposal reflects five sections for kindergarten but the number of kindergarten students is not yet known. She noted that last year having tutors and assistants come in the day before school starts was eliminated and that this year the proposed budget includes restoring this.

        Ms. Koning asked about the increase in library funds. Ms. Davis said that it was for a new catalogue system to check out books including a new server for the circulation system. Ms. Davis noted that this is a shared item for the Hanscom Primary School and the Hanscom Middle School and reflected in each budget. The Hanscom Primary School past budgets have permitted yearly additions to the library�s collection and this is continued in the current proposal.

        Mr. Picker asked about $12500 in membership dues and fees. Ms. Davis said that it is for professional development conferences or for bringing someone in for training purposes, and is not really membership dues. Mr. Naso said that this is comparable to the plan for Lincoln School professional development.

        Ms. Dobrow asked about the budget for Kindergarten texts. Ms. Davis said they are for increases in level books, teacher resource books for math, and software. Ms. Dobrow asked whether there was any plan to collaborate regarding resources for teachers as a district. Ms. Davis said that math resources are being shared and that videos have been shared. Mr. Naso said that the math and reading specialist have worked through his budget. He noted that last year grant money was used for resources from the National Science Teachers� Association for both schools.

        Ms. Koning commented that at the Hanscom Primary School, unlike other schools her children have gone to, parents are not asked to provide pencils, scissors, and other supplies. She suggested that most parents would be able to provide these allowing the money to be spent elsewhere.

        Mr. Peery asked at what level new teachers who will be replacing retiring teachers are being budgeted. Mr. Jack said they are being budgeted at M6 which is right in the middle.

      3. Hanscom Middle School
        Barry Hopping presented the Hanscom Middle School proposal. The proposed budget exceeds the funding for FY06 and thus reductions are anticipated.

        Ms. Koning asked about the history of the field trip budget. Mr. Hopping said it was significantly reduced about two years ago. This year about $7,000 has been reinstated and he would like to see it increase to $10,000. Mr. Hopping said they are considering whether it is cost efficient to continue the overnight field trips in light of the small number of students in the eighth grade. Per pupil field trip costs are higher when the number of students is smaller.

        Ms. Koning asked whether the proposed budget had full funding for after-school programs and music programs. Mr. Hopping said that the proposed budget continues to assume fees in after-school music. Mr. Picker asked whether the proposed budget allows for an in-school music program which is equivalent to that in Lincoln. Mr. Hopping said that it appears that resources and funding are adequate, and it is really is a matter of resolving scheduling issues.

        Ms. Hessler asked where the proposed Hanscom hardware purchases fit with the District Technology Plan. Mr. Naso said that the technology plan applies to both campuses. The Hanscom budget proposals and the Lincoln technology warrant are both maintain existing technology infrastructure.

        Ms. Hessler asked whether there is district consistency in the choice of textbooks, noting that the Hanscom Middle School has budgeted to purchase science textbooks . Mr. Brandmeyer said that each school chooses their own texts. Mr. Hopping explained that it is important for his curriculum to dovetail with that of Bedford High School.

        Ms. Koning asked about the budget for social studies. Mr. Hopping said that they are revisiting all subject areas and how they are taught because it is not great to have a teacher teach three math classes and 1 social studies class.

    3. December 1st Finance Committee Hearing
      Mr. Picker pointed out that the December 1st Budget Presentation for the Finance Committee will take place prior to the School Committees next meeting on December 2. Mr. Picker also noted that the Finance Committee is aware that School Committee will not have a base budget until December 16. On December 1, School Committee will be able to report about their process, timetable and the initial budget proposals being considered. The School Committee appointed Mr. Picker, Mr. Perry, and Mr. Brandmeyer as an ad hoc subcommittee to prepare the December 1st Budget Presentation to the Finance Committee.

    4. Special Education FY05 Projections vs. Actual
      Mr. Picker noted that this report is part of the School Committees oversight of district operations. Mr. Picker said the report addresses what did we estimate for in this years budget, how is it playing out, and whether there are any budget implications that need to be addressed.

      Teresa Watts said that the special education service numbers are in line with the projections. She noted that as the school year goes on the numbers of students receiving service often increase. Mr. Watts noted that since this chart was developed there are 3 IEPs in Lincoln and 4 in Hanscom which have been sent out for parents to sign. She said that with the addition of these students the numbers will be a bit higher than anticipated, but she does not see any budget issues at this time.

      Ms. Hessler asked if Ms. Watts has ever looked at the demand for special education services broken out by educators skills versus needs. Ms. Watts said she looks at scheduling and hiring and wants to continually build capacity. Mr. Perry asked whether Ms. Watts had a sense of whether move outs of special educations students are greater or less than of regular students. Ms. Watts said she has never done this calculation. Ms. Watts said she tries to staff conservatively at the beginning of the year. Ms. Watts noted that right now there is a tutor in the budget that they have not hired yet.

  5. Superintendents Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that federal officials had visited the Hanscom facility to look at renovating the building and to evaluate sites for a new building on a more long-term basis.

    Mr. Brandmeyer reported that Debbie Alny, a Hanscom science teacher, was named as teacher of the year by the local, state, and New England from the New England Air Force Association for her weather and aerospace research. A grant which came with this recognition will be used to purchase photographic equipment. Mr. Brandmeyer agreed to write a letter congratulating her on behalf of the School Committee. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the Diary of Anne Frank was being staged by Lincoln students on November 18th and 19th.

  6. Curriculum
    1. Curriculum Accommodation Plan
      Mr. Naso presented an outline for the Curriculum Accommodation Plan (DCAP) which he is developing. The district needs to have this plan completed in advance of the upcoming Massachusetts Department of Education (MDOE) mid-cycle review. Mr. Naso said that the Department of Education will be looking to see that the school is deliberately using its resources so that all students can be successful.

      Mr. Picker asked if this was the first time the district has prepared at DCAP. Mr. Naso said that a success plan had been prepared three or four years ago but that MDOE regulations have changed substantially.

      Mr. Picker asked about the role this plan would play if the MDOE found that the district wasnt making adequate yearly progress as defined in the MCAS testing program. Mr. Naso explained various levels of actions that would ensure.

      Ms. Dobrow commented that it would be helpful for budget purposes to know what the percent of Mr. Nasos time devoted to compliance issues, such as preparing this plan.

  7. Policy
    None.

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee approve warrants in the amount of $1,246,378.27. Mr. Peery seconded and all voted in favor.

  9. Old Business
    1. Evaluation of Legal RFP responses
      Ms. Dobrow reported that the subcommittee created a rubric for evaluating the responses to our RFP for legal services, and applied it to the firms. The committee discussed some modifications to the rubric. Ms. Dobrow reported that the subcommittee has ruled out one firm, deferred one, and have chosen four firms to interview. She reported that the subcommittee is checking some references prior to the interview and will check some after. Ms. Dobrow said the interviews will be conducted the third week of December and that the subcommittee will come to the School Committee with a recommendation and ranking.

    2. Capital Committee
      Mr. Picker reported that the Capital Committee voted to approve all four capital requests, specifically $50,000 for classroom rehabilitation, $50,000 for technology, $20,000 for purchasing a van, and $25,000 for additional funds to remove the failed canopies at the Pods. The next step is for the Board of Selectmen to vote to accept the warrants for inclusion in the printed financial warrant sent out prior to town meeting.

    3. Preparation for Policy Review
      Mr. Peery is putting together policies that the School Committee may want to review.

  10. New Business
    1. School Committee Vacancy
      Mr. Picker discussed a proposal for filling the School Committee vacancy left by Jan Nyquists resignation. It was decided that persons interested in the position would be asked to submit their statement of interest by January 5 and that on January 13, or another date to be determined, the candidates will appear before the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen who will vote on the appointment. Mr. Picker will create an announcement that he will place on the web and will provide to the Communications Subcommittee for publicizing.

    2. Notice on Budget Process
      Ms. Hessler asked the Committee to agree to post a notice asking for public participation on the proposed budget on the bulletin boards. The committee agreed to this, after making some minor modifications.

  11. Approval of Minutes
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of the October 28, 2004 as modified. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee approved the motion.

    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of the November 4, 2004 as modified. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee approved the motion.

  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
    Ms. Koning concur
    The Committee adjourned to executive Session at 10:10 p.m.

Respectfully submitted by Sara Rolley, School Committee Secretary