MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, December 16, 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 7:05 P.M.

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  2. Chairperson�s and Members� report
    Mr. Picker said that a member of the public reported to him that she felt humiliated by his comments during the last meeting. Mr. Picker said that there had been no intention to humiliate and that his comments were intended to correct significant misstatements of facts. He said that the public is entitled to witness the deliberations of the School Committee and that speaking and commenting to the School Committee is a privilege rather than a right. He said that the Committee will not permit members of the public to use School Committee meetings as a place to make significant misstatements or exaggerations of fact.

  3. Public Comments
    None.

  4. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Updates
      1. FY05 Spending
        Mr. Jack reported on FY05 spending. He said that nothing has really changed since his quarterly report in October and he does not see any reason for concern about remaining within this year�s budget. Mr. Jack said the only area of concern is utilities and that he will continue to monitor these costs. He said that when he makes his next quarterly report in January he should be able to predict the heating costs for the rest of the fiscal year.

      2. Enrollment
        Mr. Brandmeyer reported that there has been an increase of two students in Lincoln in the aggregate since October 1 but that this is not a cause for concern and does not require any changes to the proposed number of sections being planned for next year in the Lincoln School. He also explained that a mistake involving two students with the same last name resulted in the district enrolling 92 METCO students rather than the 91 which had been intended. Mr. Brandmeyer further explained that there is no additional cost for the 92nd student, who is in grade three which has an average class size of 18.3, and that there is no additional grant money for the 92nd student. He said that this situation will correct itself through attrition.

      3. FY05 Capital Warrants
        Mr. Jack reported on the expenditures that have been made under the FY05 warrants. He said that $1095 is left in classroom rehab and which will be spent prior to the end of the year. He said that $5,300 left from the technology warrant will be spent for repair of equipment and purchase of supplies. There is $15,000 left for the removal of canopies but more funds will be needed to complete this task. These funds are being requested in a supplemental warrant at this year�s town meeting.. For the HVAC warrant, $9,500 is left which will be spent on work, which still needs to be done. The lighting project has been completed, with all funds expended as planned.

    2. FY06 Budget: Discussion and VOTE
      Mr. Picker said that the School Committee�s task for this evening was to agree on a base budget.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported that Mr. Picker, Mr. Peery, and he met with the Finance Committee last night. Mr. Brandmeyer reported good news regarding the timing of expenditure of Special Education circuit breaker funds. Specifically, the Department of Education has advised that circuit breaker funds received as reimbursement for funds expended in previous years can be maintained in a Special Education Special Revenue Fund and accessed for special education expenditures in subsequent years. This corrects a prior misconception about when the reimbursements could be utilized. Mr. Brandmeyer said that $430,000 for partial reimbursement for special education expenditures made by the district during FY04 and FY05 has already been received by the district for Lincoln. This revenue has not been applied against expenditures yet. He said that last night the School Committee representatives proposed to the Finance Committee that of that $430,000, they apply about $210,000 to FY06 leaving the rest in a special revenue account for use in FY07. Additional reimbursements were made to be applied to the Hanscom schools budgets. The Finance Committee agreed with this approach on the application of these reimbursements.

      Mr. Brandmeyer also reported that the Department of Education audit of the circuit breaker costs took place on Monday, that the auditors are making some adjustments, and that the district should anticipate a 10 to 15% reduction in the reimbursements received.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that the original budget proposal was for $8,601,385, with a $662,150 gap between the original budget proposal and the 0.7% FY06 base budget target. He said that the administration had set forth on December 2 and December 7 possible reductions totaling $663,000 to close this gap. Mr. Brandmeyer then recommended adjustments (no extra Kindergarten section, no acoustical retrofitting of a preschool class, less Kindergarten supplies, less school supplies, FY06 anticipated circuit breaker funds, less funding for Summer Preschool and Summer School, prepaying Special Education out-of-district tuition) eliminating $138,500 from the FY06 proposal.

      Mr. Brandmeyer then recommended that $208,100 from the FY04 and FY05 special revenue fund (circuit breaker reimbursement) be applied to FY06.

      Mr. Picker said that the School Committee: (1) needed to adopt a base budget that meets the 0.7% target and (2) with the $138,500 recommended adjustments and with the $208,100 application of circuit breaker funds, the Committee still needed to decide on cuts equaling $315,550. Mr. Picker said that he anticipated that the School Committee would develop an override request on January 13.

      Mr. Brandmeyer presented a list of items totaling $208,100, which he recommended for restoration to the base budget:

      • Grade 2 Teacher $50,300
      • Classroom Assistant Grade 2 $7,400
      • Curriculum Specialist for Mathematics $30,200
      • Library Assistant $16,000
      • Athletic Funds $20,000
      • Instrumental Music Funds $15,000
      • Fall and Spring Plays and Grade 4 Artist in Residence $23,500
      • Network Assistant (50%) $25,000
      • Maintenance Craftsperson (25%) $10,400
      • Bottled Water $10,000

      These were the administration�s recommendation for use of the funds applied from the circuit breaker account. With these restorations, a gap of $315,500 would remain. Mr. Brandmeyer provided a list of items that the School Committee might want to put on an override.

      The School Committee discussed whether any of the items on the restoration list could be moved to the possible override list, making room for the Committee to fund other items within the base budget.

      The Committee explored with the Leadership Team whether the restoration of the grade-two teacher is necessary in light of class size (17 per class with the additional teacher and two classes of 22 and one of 23 without the additional teacher) and the needs of students in that grade. Mr. Brandmeyer suggested that if the teaching position was eliminated it would still be advisable to keep the classroom assistant to provide support in the remaining classes. The Committee discussed whether town contingency funds could be accessed if several second graders moved in over the summer, causing a problem in maintaining target class sizes with the planned number of sections.. Mr. Brandmeyer said that they could go to the Finance Committee contingency funds but that there are no guarantees. Robert Steinbrook of the Finance Committee said that there is precedent for funding a request of this type. Mr. Peery asked whether a teacher would have to be let go if there were one less second grade slot. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this would result in 36 sections, the same number as in this year, and that no decisions have been made yet regarding teachers, as there is still fluidity surrounding leaves of absence among the staff.

      The Committee discussed the need for bottled water. Mr. Jack is investigating a testing plan to propose to the School Committee at a future date. If testing shows bottled water is not needed, then changes will be made. The original decision to go to bottled water apparently was made because of problems with metals leeching into the water from the plumbing within the schools. It was noted that since no repairs to the plumbing have been made to address this issue, that further testing might not yield any surprises. The history will be investigated further and the budget proposal will continue to allow for the purchase of bottled water. If future events indicate that the bottled water can be safely eliminated, then the funds would be reallocated for educational purposes.

      The Committee discussed the possibility of restoring one but not both of the fall and spring productions. Mr. Brandmeyer provided a very rough estimate of the costs as $10,000 for the spring production, $5,000 for the fall production, $5,000 for the 4th grade artist in residence. Ms. Glassman said that the productions have a positive impact on the students who participate and that for some students this is their varsity sport. She also said that the fall production, which is purely drama, appeals to a slightly different group of students than the spring musical.

      The Committee then considered what items might be brought back into the base budget. The Committee discussed restoring $60,000 for transportation into the base budget. They considered the impact of transporting only students mandated by law: additional traffic congestion, safety concerns, inconvenience to families, increased late arrivals, more pollution, and increased travel time for bus riders, parents dropping students off, and commuters. They considered whether it would be feasible to urge families to carpool.

      The Committee considered the possibility of restoring the special education office assistant ($20,415), the curriculum office assistant ($8,400) and the METCO assistant ($11,500). They discussed the need to free-up staff to interface with faculty and children. Diane Trueblood said that the time that she must devote to time-sensitive paperwork does curtail the time she is able to spend with students and teachers. The Committee discussed the Boston families desire for a METCO assistant and the impact of the temporary vacancy in that position last year.

      The Committee discussed two specific changes to the proposal for the base budget. First, they proposed removing the fifth second grade teacher from both the base and override budget proposals. This would result in a $50,300 saving. Second, they proposed adding the $60,000 transportation item back into the base budget. There was support for these changes within the committee, and it was agreed to ask the administration to revise its base budget proposal to reflect these changes, for approval at the January 13 meeting.

      Mr. Picker asked for public comments regarding the FY06 budget. Laurie Manos asked that an additional second grade section be considered for the override budget. Richard Jewett commented that: the traffic congestion in town has gotten worse, parents have legitimate concerns about children crossing roads, Lincoln lacks public transportation, and carpooling will not work with families� schedules. Cathy Rogers asked whether the district sees a spike in special education needs in second grade. Diane Trueblood said that there is a increase in the sense from there are usually more special education students identified by the time they enter second grade than first but that this does not make the numbers unmanageable. Cathy Rogers also asked whether raising bus fees would help with transportation costs. Mr. Picker said that last year fees were raised to $375 from $350 and that fee-based rider-ship went down and revenues declined slightly. He said that it would take a fee of over $600 to have a rider pay the full cost of a seat on a bus.

      The Committee considered whether there were items that could be cut from the list of items for a possible override prepared by the administration. They concluded that the following items could be cut from the potential override list:

      • Special Education Override Funds $10,000
      • Part time Food Service Director $5,000
      • Basketball Rims for Smith Gym $4,800
      • School Committee Funds $2,500
      • Advertising $5,000

      The Committee agreed that it will wait to consider $80,000 for a third school-based administrator until the January 13 meeting when Mr. Brandmeyer will make his recommendation regarding the leadership model.

      The Committee determined that there was now enough information to finalize the funding numbers for the base budget and that it was not necessary for them to actually vote the base budget until the next meeting. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would communicate status of the base budget to the Finance Committee.

      Ms. Dobrow said that she had been invited to contribute an article on behalf of the School Committee to the METCO newsletter perhaps about the budget process. It was determined that Mr. Brandmeyer would send an article.

    3. Update on District Work Plans
      Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would report on the District Work Plans in February. After reviewing the progress to date, he felt comfortable that the work towards the goals is generally on track.

    4. Draft of Lincoln Facilities Committee Charge
      Mr. Picker said that the School Committee�s task is to agree on a draft charge, to take to various other boards and committees in order to obtain their input and ultimate buy-in. Mr. Picker suggested two areas that are not yet reflected in the draft charge and which need discussion: (1) how are various members of the committee selected, and by whom (2) what skill sets should be represented on the committee. Regarding composition, the School Committee will propose that the committee consist of a School Committee member, a Selectman, a member of the Capital Planning Committee, a member appointed by the School Committee, a committee member appointed by the Selectmen, a liaison that is a member of the administration, and a school building staff member. The School Committee discussed whether the Finance Committee should have a representative or whether their representation was through the Capital Planning Committee. The Committee considered the possibility that the Selectmen or the members of the Capital Planning Committee many not want to serve and decided that this proposal is a starting point.

      Regarding the optimal skill sets of representatives, the Committee determined that they recommend: an architect/engineer or planner and someone with facilities management expertise. The Committee discussed using its appointed slot to fill this expertise, and requesting that the Selectmen�s appointed slot be used to provide non-school community representation. The Committee considered whether someone with fiscal skill was needed and determined that this group would probably have financial expertise and that the committee would also be able to seek other expertise. The Committee determined that one or more representatives of the School Committee would attend a January meeting of the Capital Planning Committee, Finance Committee, and the Selectmen to present our proposal and the draft charge. Mr. Picker will send the members of the School Committee a draft of the language on committee composition and skills for final editing. The committee agreed with the rest of the draft charge.

    5. Review Draft of School Committees Annual Report for Town Annual Report
      Mr. Picker presented a draft of the School Committees report for the town annual report for the Committees comments. The Committee added an additional paragraph about curriculum work and professional development. Other editing changes were made to the draft. Mr. Picker will create another draft incorporating the changes, which he will email to members for their comments.

  5. Superintendents Report
    None.

  6. Curriculum
    None.

  7. Policy
    None.

  8. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee approve warrants in the amount of $919,532.78. Mr. Peery seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Laura Koning concurring.

  9. Old Business
    Mr. Picker said that the date for the joint meeting with the Board of Selectmen for the purpose of appointment a new member of the School Committee has been set for January 10. Mr. Brandmeyer is going to provide the criteria used the last time a School Committee member was appointed to the Committee members for comments.

  10. New Business
    The Committee agreed that, in light of the concerns about the opinion pieces that have appeared in the Lincoln Journal without fact checking, Mr. Brandmeyer and Ms. Dobrow would speak with the management of the newspaper about the importance of checking facts before publication.

  11. Approval of Minutes
    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of the December 2, 2004 as modified. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The Committee approved the motion.

    Mr. Picker moved that the Committee approve the minutes of the December 7, 2004. 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. Dobrow: yes
    Ms. Hessler: yes
    Mr. Peery: yes
    Mr. Picker: yes
    Ms. Koning: concur
    The Committee adjourned to executive Session at 9:50 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary