Ms. Manos said that she attended a literacy event at the Lincoln School with Principal Hadley reading books aloud to parents and students by an author who will be visiting the school. Mr. Criscitiello also read to older students.
Ms. Dobrow said that she attended the concert by members of grades 7 and 8 at the Lincoln School and she congratulated the students who participated and their teachers.
Ms. Dobrow read from an article entitled “Officials Discover the Joy of Blogging” about blogs by public officials. She said that she was not suggesting that the School Committee blog but that the Committee continues to look to ways in which technology might help them do their job in communicating with the public.
Ms. Dobrow thanked everyone for their comments, especially the students whom she commended for their active citizenship. Al Schmertzler asked whether there is an athletics fee at the school and was told that the fee is $150 per student per sport. Ms. Hessler noted that the contemplated cuts would not take place in this academic year and that there will be tennis this spring.
Ms. Page said that she and Ms. Silagyi prepared a packet for the School Committee about the DeCordova’s educational activities. Ms. Page said that the packet provides an overview of the programs that DeCordova offers all schools, public and private. Over the last year DeCordova has conducted 750 school tours with 13 of these from Lincoln involving 180 Lincoln students. She noted that the tour fee is waived for Lincoln students and that Lincoln teachers also have free admission to the museum. Ms. Page said that Ms. Silagyi spoke at the Hanscom Schools and at the Lincoln School. She mentioned two exhibits coming the fall as having potential for tie-ins to school curriculum: (1) how contemporary artists depict animals in art and (2) narrative in art. She said that DeCordova holds Evenings for Educators discussing upcoming programs and demonstrating activities. She said that 60 educators came to these evenings over the last year with 23 of them from Lincoln. Ms. Page said that another program is Gallery on the Go which is a rental bringing the museum to the classroom. There were 11 rentals in the last year but none were from Lincoln.
Ms. Page also described the Kinetic Sculpture Institute, a summer program for educators funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which connected art to math and science. She said that no Lincoln teachers attended this but that if the DeCordova receives funding the Institute may be held again this summer. She said that Ms. Silagyi is also working with EDCO to develop workshops. Ms. Page said that two Lincoln teachers purchased the Artworks for School Curriculum. She said that Sculpture Tours are going on this winter that tie sculpture to curriculum for various grade levels. She said that 12 Hanscom students attended day camp at the DeCordova last year. Robotech is a new offering for upper elementary and middle school students in which students
Ms. Silagyi said that she wants to be mindful of existing curriculum and of teachers’ time. She asks teachers about their needs and tries to find ways that the resources of the museum can help teachers to cover curriculum. She said that the skills that artists need to produce outdoor sculpture are tied to math and science. She is interested in classes having multiple visits to the DeCordova. Ms. Page said that she wants to make sure that the Lincoln Schools are using the DeCordova. She said that in the past the Codman Trust brought every Lincoln student to the DeCordova each year.
Ms. Dobrow thanked Ms. Page and Ms. Silagyi for the great report and said that she is pleased that people are in place who are willing and able to find ways to collaborate. Mr. Naso said that he was present at one of the Evenings for Educators and that Lincoln teachers who attended were excited about possibilities to make learning richer. He said that because of that night two projects are underway for the spring, a geometry unit and a science unit.
Mr. Ramsdell said that when it comes to instructional strategies, a teacher can know about a technology and how to use it but that the challenge is to determine when it is appropriate to use the technology. He said that FreshPond has been doing this work for over ten years and that they are very interested in using technology to have impact on student learning. He said that Fresh Pond wants to make sure to support development of a plan which reflects the District’s goals for curriculum, instruction, and assessment. They want to develop a plan which serves as a roadmap to guide future investments in instructional technology. They also want to craft a strategy for professional development that will provide growth opportunities for the staff and ensure that future investments have educational impact.
Mr. Ramsdell said that a steering committee composed of educators and administrators is being established which will seek to identify places in the curriculum where technology can enhance student learning. This committee will be established in the next week or two and will convene the first week in February. A strategic plan for learning and technology will be drafted and will hopefully be complete in the spring. Pilot/demonstration classrooms and focus institutes over the summer are being considered.
Ms. Chandonnet provided an overview of recent work. She said that she and an associate, Henry Olds, spent the couple of days at the Hanscom campus and talked with teachers in every grade and subject area. They will also be talking with Lincoln teachers. They are also deploying a survey for all teachers and will assemble a report from the focus groups and the survey.
Ms. Hessler asked whether there is risk that the speed of change in technology makes it possible that the plan will begin to become obsolete soon after it is complete. Mr. Ramsdell said that because Fresh Pond’s emphasis is on curriculum and student learning there is not as much change as one might anticipate. Ms. Hessler also asked whether Fresh Pond would be aware of what new software will be important in education. Mr. Ramsdell said that they see providing this information as part of their responsibility.
Ms. Dobrow asked how are they defining technology—is it limited to computer hardware and software or does it also include video and other technology? Ms. Ramsdell said that Fresh Pond’s focus is computer technology. He said that if ideas are generated which are not oriented toward Fresh Pond’s expertise they would put that to Mr. Brandmeyer and Mr. Naso. Ms. Dobrow also asked whether the assessment of infrastructure would address implications for facilities. Mr. Ramsdell indicated that the focus is more on educational directions for technology planning.
Ms. Manos asked about what the District’s vision for students who graduate from the eighth grade should be—whether the District should be aiming for students to meet base requirements or something more. Mr. Ramsdell said that his sense is that the district is interested in state of the art learning for all students rather than state of the art application of technology. The direction is not to use technology to create graduates who are all database programmers but rather to use it to support curriculum. Curriculum is the driver for the discussions and the goal is to allow students to master the curriculum.
Mr. Naso said that the technology project will include at least one informational evening for parents. Ms. Manos asked whether there would be any value in having a community representative on the steering committee. Mr. Picker said that the Committee discussed this in September and that they concluded that this was not necessary. Ms. Dobrow thanked Mr. Ramsdell and Ms. Chandonnet for coming and for their ongoing work for the district.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that tonight’s discussion was the end of many discussions about priorities. He said that tonight’s discussion should focus on three things: (1) a revote of the base budget with a different number, (2) a vote of the preferred budget, and (3) consideration of the public comments about the tennis program.
Regarding the revote of the base budget, Mr. Brandmeyer said that this was necessary because the base budget needs to include the $35,000 in Chapter 70 funds. Chapter 70 funds were discussed as part of how to close the gap but must be specifically included in the base budget in order to get this funding from the state. Therefore Mr. Brandmeyer proposed adding $35,000 to the $8,218,788 formerly voted as the base budget bringing the new and correct base budget amount to $8,253,788. This includes the $35,000 Chapter 70 funding and does not add or subtract anything from the base budget previously voted. Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote a base budget in the amount of $8,253,788. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that the preferred budget would add five items totaling $100,000: (1) tutoring service for the general education program - $32,000, (2) funds for preventative maintenance/facilities repairs - $16,000, (3) science program improvement- $25,000, (4) instructional materials for guided reading - $12,000, and (5) professional development funding for technology integration - $15,000.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that in the base budget 62 hours of tutoring had been removed from special education. This proposal is to add 40 hours back under the general education program making the tutors available for the principals to assign. The tutors would work with regular education students mostly in language arts and math. Ms. Glassman said that the tutors would work with middle school students who had failed to internalize basic skills as well provide interventions in lower grades. Mr. Naso said that the tutors would help students to meet MCAS proficiency expectations and also respond promptly with help for those who do not meet these expectations. This would be a partial restoration of the 62 hours cut but as regular education rather than special education providing for a slightly different allocation and reporting system.
Ms. Bottan addressed the $16,000 for preventative maintenance/facilities repairs. She said that these funds would be used to address high priority facility needs. Exactly what repairs these funds would pay for would depend on what can be addressed in FY’06. The types of repairs could be replacing asbestos tiling in the girl’s dressing room or preventative maintenance such as replacing the grates at the Smith Building or for installation of a sewage ejection pit pump. The administration had originally contemplated using these funds for ADA accessible doors and ramps for five exterior Smith School doors but it has learned that the way the structure is currently configured does meet code.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that there are more maintenance and repair projects than money available. Ms. Hessler said that the town needs to talk about the distinction between maintenance and capital planning and develop more consistency in its approach. Mr. Steinbrook asked whether the District can reasonably determine within the next week or two what maintenance needs to be done in FY’07 and put this in the preferred budget. He said that maintenance/repair requests should be based on what is foreseeable. He said that if unforeseen repairs are needed, the reserve fund can help with this. He said he is concerned that $16,000 is small in light of the needs. Mr. Picker said because of fiscal realities the school has been under-funding preventative maintenance and capital planning for some time and that it is trying to start chipping away at the backlog. He said that some things may break in FY’07 and that he cannot say that this is a complete list but that a complete list would be too long and would have too high a price tag. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the school is trying to provide funding to reduce the risk of not having money for maintenance and repairs.
Ms. Dobrow said that at the next meeting there will be an update from the Facilities Subcommittee. She said that the Facilities Subcommittee is compiling a comprehensive list of pressing needs and that there will be things on this list which need to be done. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the schedule does not align with the budget timetable and that he does not want to pick a number out of the air for needs that might be found by the Facilities Subcommittee. He said that a conscientious effort is being made to minimize the risk and that he is hesitant to advocate for more money for unspecified repairs.
Ms. Hessler reminded everyone that the Capital Planning Committee has approved $90,000 of the $100,000 requested by the District. A question was raised as to whether this money could be used for other uses if urgent repair needs arose but the Committee concluded that is must be used for the purpose specified.
Mr. Naso explained that the science proposal had been reframed as a result of School Committee feedback and the changes in the administration’s own thinking. In the revised science initiative the administration is seeking funding for: (1) specific technical engineering instruction in grade 6 which will address standards that are not currently being addressed adequately, (2) accelerating work on revision of the science curriculum by permitting more time for science specialist work, and (3) addressing the issue of science instruction in grades one to four and considering whether science instruction should take place in the classroom or within a science specialist’s classroom.
Ms. Manos remembered discussions that for sixth grade engineering technology instruction there was also a concern about finding time in the day for this instruction. Mr. Naso said that he believes that this instruction can be fit into the schedule. Ms. Manos also remembered that under the base budget a fourth grade science unit is being moved to the classroom and she asked which unit it is. Mr. Naso said that two units are being considered, a unit on bats and one on sound, and that the decision on which to move to the classroom has not yet been made. Ms. Manos also asked whether fourth grade students would have more hours of science instruction as a result of this change. Mr. Criscitiello said that this is possible. He also said that there will be more coordination between the science specialist and the classroom teachers.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that the initiative for instructional materials for guided reading is unchanged from the previous proposal. The School Committee members did not have any questions about it.
Regarding professional development funding for technology integration, Mr. Naso said that the funds would be spent for hardware and for professional development for the pilot projects or demonstration classrooms. Ms. Rogers asked whether the Capital Committee’s reduction of the requested money for technology by $10,000 will affect this initiative. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the money sought through the capital planning process was for existing infrastructure and the reduction should not prohibit going forward with this project.
Mr. Picker suggested that in discussing funds needed for technology planning, the School Committee should be careful to make clear that this money is not simply to buy new equipment and to make clear that the money is for professional development and technological initiatives that will improve student learning.
Ms. Dobrow turned the discussion to the elimination of the tennis team, noting that the Committee had received comments and e-mails about this in addition to tonight’s public comments and petition. Mr. Picker commented that the Committee should be mindful that the base budget assumes that the District will receive $14,000 from the Recreation Department for heat but that to Mr. Picker’s knowledge the Recreation Department has not yet revised its budget to include this expense. The question of whether this increase would be funded from the town budget or from Recreation Department fees was considered. Mr. Steinbrook said that to the extent that this affects the town budget it should be resolved before the budget goes forward. Mr. Brandmeyer said that Ms. Bottan has been discussing this with Dan Pereira, Director of Recreation. Ms. Hessler suggested that there may need to be discussion at the board to board level.
Ms. Dobrow commented that there were other cuts in the base budget in addition to the tennis team such as social worker time and additional tutor time, asking the extent to which the Committee might want to reconsider.
Ms. Manos suggested that $3,500 be added to the preferred budget to restore the tennis team. Ms. Hessler said that she wished there had been interest from the public before the Committee voted on any budget. She said that tennis is important to a lot of students. Ms. Manos said that she is concerned that there be a variety of activities for middle school students and that she thought that restoration made educational sense. The Committee discussed the possibility of privately funding the tennis team or of the Recreation Department offering a tennis team.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that he was not making a recommendation of whether to restore the tennis program but he reminded the Committee that cuts made to develop the budget which will result in people being laid off as well as a reduction of professional development. He said that a loud voice at the eleventh hour does not help him justify the other reductions.
Mr. Picker said that the proposed elimination of the tennis team was on the table in three meetings in December and that public comments prior to the vote on the base budget would have been timely in terms of the School Committee’s process. Ms. Manos suggested that for next year the Committee might revisit how the budget meetings evolve an easier way for people to respond to the budget.
The Committee considered whether there was a creative way to allow the tennis program to continue. They discussed a variety of options such as raising fees, having a extra fees for the tennis program, and cutting back to one dramatic production to allow funding of tennis.
Mr. Brandmeyer proposed using a balance in a revolving fund for athletics, which the administration intended to use for new uniforms to restore the tennis program to the FY’07 budget without changing the preferred budget. The Committee discussed this proposal and concluded that this should be done to maintain the tennis team without increasing the amount of the preferred budget.
Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to accept the preferred budget as proposed by the administration. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is asking the School Committee whether they would support a proposal developed by the Acton and Acton-Boxborough School Committee to establish a base-line Chapter 70 allocation of $2,000 per student, indexed to inflation. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the packet included a letter from Acton explaining the reasons for their proposal and Appendix A (FY06 Chapter 70 Sorted by CH70 Aid Per Student High to Low). Mr. Brandmeyer also provided the School Committee members with a chart of Chapter 70 trends, FY93 though FY04. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the Chapter 70 state aid to cities and towns is determined by a complex formula which takes into account variables such as per capita income, foundation funding formula, net school spending, the ability of a community to support education, and local economic growth from year to year. The legislature is considering adjusting this formula and conducted a series of listening tours in which they asked for specific proposals for reform. The Acton proposal was developed as a concrete proposal for change that supports suburban communities and holds harmless communities that currently receive more aid. More state funding would be necessary under this proposal. The CASE Superintendents discussed the proposal and agreed to seek support for it from their local School Committees. A Legislative Forum will be held in Acton on January 30 at 7 PM. Mr. Brandmeyer said that Lincoln receives the fifth lowest allocation in the state ($713 per pupil) under Chapter 70.
The Committee discussed the proposal. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to endorse the Chapter 70 Minimum Funding Proposal and to participate in the political action campaign seeking legislative support. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring. Mr. Brandmeyer said that there would be a scheduled time to discuss this proposal as the Finance Committee meeting. He also said that the proposal should be make known to the Selectmen. Mr. Brandmeyer asked School Committee members to attend the January 30 forum. Ms. Dobrow said that she would attend.
Mr. Picker said that there is a new state smart growth zoning law, Chapter 40S. Under this statute, if zoning complies with smart growth principles, the town can receive extra funds from the state to help defray educational expenses. Mr. Picker said that the town may be having projects which could meet the smart growth criteria and suggested that the School Committee should coordinate with other town committees involved to see if the proposed projects can meet the smart growth requirements. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would make inquiries to start this conversation.
Ms. Rogers said that the Subcommittee has reviewed each policy of Section G and has made proposals on whether each policy in this section should be discussed, reaffirmed, or deleted. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he has some policy drafts from counsel and that one of these drafts is in this group. Ms. Dobrow thanked Ms. Rogers and Richard Jewett for their work. She asked whether there is any way to prioritize the list so that they School Committee could consider policies with the highest priority first. Mr. Jewett suggested that the Subcommittee meet and discuss this and report back to the School Committee. Ms. Rogers suggested that the School Committee and the administration also consider which policies should have priority. Mr. Brandmeyer recommended that there be two School Committee discussions on policies considered for deletion. Ms. Dobrow said that the Committee can begin to schedule discussions of proposed policy deletions. Mr. Picker said that for policies which the School Committee should modify there should be discussion at three meetings, one to discuss which modifications they might make, and two to discuss the proposed modifications.
Ms. Manos noted that the MASC has sample policies on its web site and suggested that if the School Committee is discussing or proposing deleting a policy that a check be made with MASC. She also said that there is a DOE web site with a detailed description of policies impacted by the education reform act. One of the polices recommended for deletion was policy GCD-R, search for administrative positions, which the Subcommittee said should be deleted because the Education Reform Act made the hiring of a principal the superintendent’s responsibility. Ms. Manos said that she did not think policy GCD-R should be deleted. She said that she spoke with Mike Gilbert of the MASC and learned that the School Committee has the authority to define a process for the hiring of Administrative Personnel even though the Superintendent does the actual hiring and that a process that specifies the formation of a search committee does not conflict with the MGL 71:59B. Ms. Manos said that in the DOE website section titled “Advisory on School Governance” which explains the DOE’s interpretation of the 1993 Education Reform Act specifically recommends formation of search committees as best practice. The Committee agreed to change the policy designation for GCD-R from delete to discuss. Ms. Rogers said that the next steps would be to discuss the prioritization of the list and to continue going through the policy book in this way.
Ms. Bottan submitted an overview and timeline for the transportation contract bidding. She asked that the School Committee designate a liaison to work with her on this. Mr. Picker volunteered to do this. Mr. Picker asked if Sudbury and Lincoln-Sudbury could be included in the comparable communities’ transportation survey, which Ms. Bottan is conducting. Ms. Bottan said that this would be no problem.
Ms. Hessler said the Subcommittee learned that a more comprehensive effort and buy-in is necessary for a statement to be useful. She said that the Administrative Council said that there are too many pressing items right now such as the leadership structure and principal searches to work on this now. Ms. Hessler said that the Subcommittee is continuing to talk with teachers who have been with the District for ten to fifteen years about historical perspective and how to gain buy-in. She proposed that the Subcommittee come back in April with a proposal regarding mission/vision.
Ms. Hessler commended Ms. Manos for the work she has done in getting information about School mission/vision statement across the state. Ms. Manos said that she has found communities that have mission/vision statements and core values that are linked to their planning. Ms. Manos and the Communications Subcommittee considered the possibility of going to the community this spring to see how they feel about the current mission/vision statement but that she believes this would be too much with the input that Mr. Brandmeyer is getting from the community on leadership.
Mr. Picker said that he supports the next steps proposed by the Subcommittee and that he believes they should get feedback from teachers on whether the current mission statement is useful and gather specific instances of where it has. Ms. Hessler noted that each school has taken parts of the mission/vision statement and used them at the school level.
Ms. Hessler reported that the town Capital Committee has approved a budget for capital planning which is larger than usual. Ms. Hessler noted that the only place that the school requests were cut back was $10,000 in technology. She said meetings are scheduled with the Selectmen to consider the larger questions of what is capital spending, what is a repair, and what should go in the capital budget. Ms. Hessler said that idea of having a town building supervisor or facilities manager was raised and this is being taken to the Selectmen.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that the school has already added the following conditions: (1) adjusting procedures on contacting families, (2) review and central office approval of letter to parents, (3) parents review of IM content, (4) scheduling of sessions outside of school time, (5) that the researcher help the administration explain to boys why they are not part of the study, (6) that the researcher provide information on how she will explain to participating students why the research subject is of interest. Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee approve the research subject to the conditions discussed. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. Ms. Dobrow abstained from the vote because she is one of the researcher’s advisors. Ms. Hessler, Ms. Manos, Mr. Picker and Ms. Hessler voted in favor, with Mr. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.