Tuesday, December 7, 2004
7:00 Open Session
Hartwell Multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Members present: Dennis Picker, Julie Dobrow, Sandy Hessler, Laura Koning
Absent: Ashton Peery
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 7:05 P.M.


  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ report
    Mr. Picker reported that Ms. Hessler, Mr. Brandmeyer and he attended the Lincoln PTA meeting earlier that day to explain the status of the FY06 school budget.

    Mr. Picker also noted that a grade 2/3 music concert would be held the next day at Hanscom Primary School.

  3. Public Comments
    There were no comments from the public.

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Field Trip Proposal: Lincoln School to Washington D.C.
      Judy Glassman from the Lincoln School Leadership Team and grade 8 teacher Susan Totten were present to introduce the proposal. Ms. Glassman explained that this is essentially the same format since 1998 when grade 8 began to take this trip. The trip is occurring earlier this year because last year’s June schedule did not allow sufficient time for the curriculum follow-up back at the school. The trip is scheduled this year for the beginning of May. Ms. Totten explained the focus group component of the field trip. In addition to the overall educational purposes, small groups are organized around certain topics (e.g. architecture; first ladies) and these groups meet for three sessions prior to trip to get ready for their specific investigations.

      Julie Dobrow asked about the trip costs compared to previous years. Ms. Glassman explained that there is a slight increase. Ms. Dobrow also asked about scholarship funds. Ms. Glassman responded that the main source of scholarship funding would be the student activities fund and that she was confident that adequate funds were available to meet the needs.

      Mr. Picker inquired about the scope of the trip insurance that is offered to parents in the event they need to cancel the child’s participation. He asked Ms. Glassman to find out if the coverage applies if the school cancels the trip.

      Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the proposal. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

    2. Historical Enrollment Report
      As requested by the Committee, Mr. Brandmeyer presented enrollment data about student withdrawals over the past 4 years. He reported that \ the data shows no evidence of a spike in recent years of student withdrawing to attend private schools.

      The Committee discussed collecting more data and the possibility of comparing our results with other school districts. Ater discussion, the Committee agreed that the Administration would continue to track the number and percentage of students withdrawing due to enrolling in a private school and the students withdrawing due to moving out of the district. An updated report will be available next year after the October 1 enrollment data are obtained.

    3. FY06 Budget: Continued Discussion of Potential Reductions
      1. Lincoln
        The Leadership Team and Diane Trueblood were present for this discussion. Mr. Brandmeyer explained the process used by the Administrative Team to arrive at the next level of reductions. The additional potential reductions identified tonight, along with those presented at the 12/7 meeting total approximately $665,000, which is the size of the gap that exists between the 0.7% increase base budget target and the proposed needs-based budget. He then proceeded through each item.

        Mr. Picker observed that with these possible cuts there is significant progress at closing the gap between the requested budget and the base budget as indicated by the Finance Committee guideline. The proposed reductions include $138,500 of line items which the administration said can be taken without real impact on the program. This results from further examination of the need for an extra kindgarten section and for acoustic treatment of a classroom, and from finding legitimate ways to fund some other items through grants or revolving accounts with no actual reduction in the service. This means that the gap between target and recommended budget is now approximately $525,000.

        The Committee discussed the impact of the various additional reductions presented tonight. Discussion then shifted to providing feedback to the administration regarding proposed reductions that would be priorities for restoring to the budget, somehow.

        The Committee discussed a proposal to eliminate the expense of providing bottled drinking water, at $10,000 per year. It requested that Mr. Jack prepare a plan with a cost estimate and schedule for testing the drinking water throughout the school to see if it meets safe standards. The testing plan would rely on the fact that the Town Water Department tests to insure that water it delivers meets all health standards. The school testing would focus on contamination that might be introduced by the plumbing within the schools- namely presence of metals leaching from pipes. The Committee wants to review the costs of the testing plan before proceeding with a testing program. If tests are then conducted, the results would be reviewed to see if the bottled water can be eliminated without introducing health issues. If so, the Committee agreed that at that time, the $10,000 would be reallocated to be spent on items with direct educational impact. The Committee did not want to take the bottled water expense out of the budget at this time prior to seeing test results.

        Ms. Hessler urged that funds for fall and spring productions be a priority to be returned to the budget. Mr. Picker cited the productions along with the athletics funding and the instrumental music funding and explained the difficulty he sees in choosing one over the others. Mr. Brandmeyer pointed out that each is in the budget for an approximate amount of $20,000 to $25,000.

        Mr. Picker gave a rationale for restoring three other reductions if possible: the mathematics curriculum specialist; the assistant network director; and the .25 maintenance position.

        Ms. Dobrow urged that cuts to the library are her priorities for what should be returned if possible.

        Mr. Brandmeyer thanked the Committee for the feedback. He said that the Administration would consider their views and return next week with the Administration’s proposal for a base budget. He reminded the Committee that in order to meet the targets, if a proposed reduction is included in the budget, another reduction of comparable size must be taken from somewhere else.

        Ms. Dobrow offered her appreciation to the Leadership Team and asked them to send appreciation to the faculty for their participation in this very difficult process.

        Members of the audience were given the opportunity to comment on the possible budget reductions. Laurie Manos and Cindy Sweetser inquired about some of the reductions that had been proposed previously by Ms. Sweetser. Robert Steinbrook also remarked that various cuts in basic student supplies may be items that would be an expense that parents would easily accept.

      2. Hanscom
        Randy Davis, Barry Hopping and Karen Kanter joined this discussion. Mr. Brandmeyer explained that the circumstances were different for this budget. To reach the appropriate budget level a few modest adjustments are needed in the Hanscom Primary School supplies budget and some reorganization is being proposed at the Hanscom Middle School. The size of the budget gap is smaller than at the Lincoln School, primarily due to the automatic 4% increase granted in the funding contract from the federal government.

        There was brief discussion about the Hanscom Primary School reductions. Mr. Hopping then explained that the reductions at Hanscom Middle School would occur because of cuts in personnel made possible by some reorganization of teaching assignments. Because the enrollment numbers are low in grades 7 and 8, it is possible to move to a 7/8 team configuration. With this configuration, no teachers at these grades would have to teach outside their core areas, an improvement over the current practice. It also makes it possible for teachers to have familiarity with students two years in a row and therefore have consistency in expectations over a two-year span. In addition, this model makes it more likely to fit instrumental music into the school day and more able to provide health instruction by a certified health teacher. The savings resulting from a reduction of full time equivalencies is an approximate amount of $120,000.

        Laura Koning cautioned that if the circumstances are not right there may be drawbacks of having the same teacher for two years in a row. She also noted the importance of using existing resources to offset negatives (e.g. special assignments for a math specialist or a reading specialist).

        There was brief discussion about the impact this change would have on teacher workload. Ms. Koning said that she is pleased with the model and believes it indicates good work toward achieving re-organization.

        Mr. Picker observed that he sensed that the Committee is in agreement with the proposals regarding the Hanscom budget reductions. Mr. Hopping requested that an actual decision to approve the budget be deferred to a future meeting.

    4. Proposal to Establish Lincoln Facilities Study Committee
      Mr. Picker introduced a draft proposal to establish a charge for the Lincoln Campus Facilities Study Committee. The Committee briefly discussed the nature of the work of this committee, including the process for collaborating with the Board of Selectmen, the Finance and the Capital Planning Committees. This item will be on the agenda again for further discussion on 12/16.

  5. Superintendent’s Report
    There was no report from the Superintendent.

  6. Curriculum
    Mr. Naso provided a brief update on the status of the education portion of the Technology Work Plan. The work is on track, and the plan will be presented as originally scheduled, at a meeting in June.

  7. Policy

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve a warrant in the amount of $586,331.54, which consists of 2 payrolls. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee unanimously approved the motion.

  9. Old Business
    There were no items for the Committee.

  10. New Business
    There were no matters for the Committee.

  11. Approval of Minutes
    There were no minutes for the Committee’s approval.

  12. Information Enclosures

  13. Adjournment
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee adjourn for the purposes of entering Executive Session. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion.
    Mr. Peery – yes
    Vote: Ms. Hessler: aye
    Ms. Dobrow: aye
    Mr. Picker: aye
    Ms. Koning: concur
    The Committee adjourned to executive Session at 9:38 P.M.