Ms. Hessler said that she attended the 5th and 6th grade instrumental and choral concert in Lincoln last week and that it was adorable.
Barry Hopping, Scott Craver, Doreen Maloof, Barbara Moynihan, Captain Jonathan Raby, and Katie Borgert of the HMS Advisory Council presented the Hanscom Middle School Improvement Plan. Mr. Hopping updated the Committee on the progress since November 3 when Captain Raby and Ms. Maloof appeared before the School Committee. Mr. Hopping said the Council has had several regularly scheduled meetings as well as additional meetings and worked in subgroups on the Improvement Plan.
Ms. Maloof and Captain Raby presented goal #1, to improve student learning in language arts and mathematics. Ms. Maloof outlined the specific assessment tools being used at various grade levels in language arts and math and explained that professional development is ongoing with 14 out of 37 professional development requests focused on math or language arts. Ms. Maloof described the “Lunch and Learn” activities which took place for parents of 4th and 5th grade students and a workshop for parents on math activities. Mr. Hopping said there have been improvements in the amount of parental involvement and that activities are being planned for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade parents in the spring.
Ms. Borgert thanked the Council for adding modes of assessing a student’s progress and the Hanscom Student Profile. She asked about parent involvement with assessments. Mr. Hopping said to complete the Hanscom Student Profile an immediate dialogue with parents is required. Ms. Borgert suggested that the DRA levels could be reported on the report cards as this type of data is useful when students go to a new school. Mr. Hopping said that the report cards need to be revisited.
Mr. Craver and Ms. Moynihan presented goal #2, to review and assess the recent Hanscom Middle School program changes and to plan for future program developments. Ms. Moynihan said they are looking for a way to provide more foreign language instruction in grades 5 and 6. Mr. Hopping announced that Susan Ashley, a parent on the base, will be working as the drama coach with the first meeting of the drama group taking place on Friday, February 3. A series of one act plays will be presented on May 3. Mr. Craver said Ms. Katie Borgert had polled students about clubs. Ms. Katie Borgert said that students were interested in art, tutoring, inventors, sports, and foreign arts. She said the younger students asked to be tutored by older students and that the older students expressed interest in acting as tutors. Mr. Craver said they are looking to find other resources for these activities and are attempting to tap into other base volunteers such as CGOC, OWC, and First Sergeants. Mr. Craver said there are plans to survey students and parents after activities have taken place.
Mr. Hopping talked about the new applied technology program. He said the teacher trained with a teacher in Ipswich who has developed applied technology curriculum and also trained with an Andover teacher. Mr. Hopping said student surveys on the applied technology curriculum are going to be developed. He said 6th graders have developed visual marketing parcels, worked on high speed rail, and developed a magnetic levitation vehicle. Seventh and eighth graders both did a toothpick bridge unit. Seventh grade is doing visual marketing parcels and the eighth grade is working on mouse trap cars. Mr. Hopping said for this year, because the curriculum is just beginning, there is a bit of duplication the work of different grades but that this will not continue as the program moves forward. Mr. Hopping said MCAS testing will cover applied technology beginning in the 5th grade and that he plans for 5th grade teachers to address technology in the classroom. Mr. Hopping said the applied technology teacher has reported that students are eager to learn and hard working but that retaining knowledge to work on the projects has been a problem because the class only meets once a week.
Ms. Dobrow asked how the effectiveness of Extensions would be assessed and whether there are adequate resources for these assessments. Mr. Hopping said they will have data to make informed assessments, pre and post course testing and assessment data will be used. Mr. Hopping said he is getting the data he needs from staff members. Ms. Hessler asked whether there is alignment in the faculty of criteria that are being used in assessing the courses effectiveness. Mr. Hopping said there has been dialogue on this and that results have been very positive.
Mr. Hopping presented goal #3, to improve student placements at Bedford High School, Shawsheen Vocational Technical School, other public high schools, and D0D schools in the United States and abroad. Mr. Hopping said a four-page student survey has been developed in collaboration with Bedford High School that will assess 24 current Bedford High School freshmen who attended Hanscom to measure how they feel about their preparation. There will also be a forum in which Mr. Hopping and the principal of Bedford High School will talk further with these students. Mr. Hopping said Bedford High School freshman will meet with Hanscom 8th graders. He noted that Hanscom 8th graders are visiting Bedford High School for a basketball game against Lincoln Sudbury on February 10 and that tickets are being obtained for eighth graders to attend “Oklahoma,” which will be produced at Bedford High. Mr. Hopping said a document is being obtained from Bedford High School for each of the 24 freshmen from Hanscom listing the placements recommended, whether the student was placed there, current courses with levels, and grades received in the first quarter. Mr. Hopping said there is also a dialogue with Shawsheen, that there will be an open house and a parent information evening. He said 8th grade parents will be receiving a letter listing all upcoming dates for transition and placement activities. Ms. Rogers asked whether the same survey is being used for students who do not go to Bedford High School. Mr. Hopping said the plan is to develop an email list for these students and to develop a shorter list of 5 questions.
Ms. Dobrow moved to accept the Hanscom Middle School Improvement Plan. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring. Ms. Dobrow thanked Mr. Hopping and the members of the Council.
Mr. Hopping explained that the structure of grades 7 and 8 was reorganized due to decreasing enrollment. He said a concerted effort has been made to for teachers to achieve “highly qualified” status and every teacher in grades 6, 7, and 8 has now attained “highly qualified” status. Mr. Hopping commended the staff for their work in attaining “highly qualified” status. Mr. Hopping said there are still teachers teaching outside of their certified area except for science.
Mr. Hopping said classes are now no less than 50 minutes in length. Eighth grade homeroom was eliminated this year with attendance being taken in students’ first period class. He intends to do this in grades 6 and 7 next year as well.
Mr. Hopping said he had planned a parent forum on January 10 but he decided to survey parents about the Extensions program instead. Mr. Hopping said 150 surveys were mailed out and 48 were returned. He said that 21 of the 48 parents completing the survey said they couldn’t explain the Extensions program, 8 did not know what Extensions program their child was in, and that 7 were not satisfied with the program. Ms. Dobrow cautioned Mr. Hopping that with a response rate of 48 of 150 that he still does not know what 2/3 of parents think. She suggested that if Mr. Hopping is making decisions based on the survey, he could informally call a few parents to see whether their answers are similar to those who completed the survey. Ms. Manos applauded Mr. Hopping’s use of many ways of reaching out to parents.
Regarding Extensions, Mr. Hopping said that if a student not on an IEP is receiving remedial services, their parent could say they want their child to be in another Extensions class rather than remediation. Mr. Hopping said that he is concerned that such a high percentage of students need to participate in either enrichment or remedial activities limiting the ability for students to participate in other Extensions offerings. Mr. Hopping felt the school needs to do a better job explaining Extensions. He said that he wants each child to get into at least one of the five classes for which they sign up . Mr. Hopping said there is concern that the Junior Great Books program does not provide enough writing. Six other middle schools have been contacted about the curricula they use and a change in curriculum may be made if a better one is found.
Mr. Hopping said Hanscom Middle School currently has 150 students and 177 students are projected for next year. This will mean that three sections may be needed for 6th, 7th and 8th grades. This would allow teaching assignments so that each teacher is teaching only in their subject area but teaching two grades. An increase of .2 FTE would be needed.
Mr. Hopping said it has been one of the best years in terms of parental involvement, and teachers’ efforts and cooperation. Ms. Dobrow said that Mr. Hopping had really capitalized on the energy of staff, students and parents.
Lynn Fagan presented a proposal to advertise for children who do not live on the Hanscom Base to enroll in the Integrated Preschool’s afternoon program. She said that the program currently has capacity in its afternoon sessions and that she is seeking typically developing students to provide models for special needs students. She has attempted to fill these openings on the Base and has not yet been able to fill them. She said afternoons are hard to fill because many preschoolers nap during this time. Also transportation is provided for special needs students in the program but not for typically developing students. Ms. Fagan said next year the Integrated Preschool will have 4-hour days and will not have an afternoon program so this would only be for the rest of this year. She said she currently has 6 to 8 slots available and would like to see four of them filled by typically developing students. Ms. Fagan said she wanted to know whether the School Committee was comfortable advertising these slots on the Base but also to Lincoln residents and surrounding communities. The parents of typically developing students would pay tuition on the sliding scale used by the preschool.
Ms. Fagan said the Integrated Preschool is moving to an extended diagnostic piece which involves having students referred by early intervention come to the program for six to eight weeks to determine whether they really need the preschool’s special education services.
Mr. Picker suggested that at some point there could be a conversation about the structure of preschool services in the Lincoln Schools with Hanscom students being served by the Integrated Preschool and Lincoln students being served by Magic Garden and whether this structure best serves the District. Ms. Fagan said that for next year afternoon sections are being combined for Lincoln and Hanscom preschool special education students who need a longer day. Ms. Fagan said that there is a long history of why there are two programs. Ms. Dobrow suggested that if school facilities are eventually expanded at Hanscom the Integrated Preschool might eventually move back to the Base.
Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee endorse the proposal to advertise openings for students for the Integrated Preschool on the Base and in Lincoln and surrounding towns. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Tim Christenfeld, President of the Magic Garden Board of Directors, and Sabra Alden of the Magic Garden Board, were present and expressed their willingness to discuss the structure of preschool services in the Lincoln Schools. They said there are documents and a memorandum of understanding regarding the Lincoln Integrated Preschool, the Hanscom Integrated Preschool, and The Magic Garden. Ms. Dobrow said the School Committee had a full agenda for this evening and that this discussion may take place at another time.
Ms. Manos expressed concern about the greater number of irregularly short weeks in Version C and the possibility that less learning would take place in short weeks. Mr. Brandmeyer said he shares Ms. Manos’ concern about the irregular weeks but that low attendance days are also disruptive. The Committee asked about the schedules of Lincoln Sudbury and Bedford High School so that parents with students in high school and the Lincoln Schools are not inconvenienced. They also asked about the schedules of nearby towns regarding religious holidays. Ms. Hessler said she believes that most neighboring towns have these holidays off and said she believes the District should add these religious holidays. Mr. Brandmeyer said he will work up a recommended calendar, consult with the LTA, and bring it back to the School Committee for two readings.
Gian Criscitiello, Al Schmertzler, Bob Zakarian, Susan Bottan and Julie Dobrow provided an update on the work of the Facilities Subcommittee. Todd Helmus, also a member of the Subcommittee, was unable to attend this meeting. Mr. Schmertzler began the report describing the Subcommittee’s charge and then reporting on its actions to date. He said the Committee has walked through the facilities with Patrick MacMillan, has noted maintenance issues which require immediate attention, some of which have already been addressed, and has identified many maintenance issues which need to be addressed. A list of maintenance issues is being prepared. The Subcommittee has asked the faculty and administration to think about ways in which the educational program might drive space and facilities needs in the future. The Subcommittee has commissioned an enrollment study from NESDEC which will be complete soon. They have also had community groups speak with them about their current and projected use of school facilities.
Mr. Schmertzler detailed the work which the Subcommittee still needs to do. It will compile and assess the data gathered to date. It will also compile a comprehensive list of safety issues identified in the tours. There is work regarding installation of a standby generator. There are also discussions about creating an alternate egress route. They will probably hire professionals to assist in more complex analysis such as a structural engineer to assess water management issues. They will continue to monitor state funding for school buildings. They will also be touring schools in comparable districts that have recently undergone renovation projects. They plan to take into account the consulting work of FreshPond Associates for ways in which technology needs might affect facilities. Mr. Schmertzler said the Subcommittee will have a report by the end of year. He also said the Subcommittee believes that it is absolutely necessary to put in place a predictive maintenance program.
Mr. Criscitiello spoke about program needs. He said there are safety and security needs. The buildings are very open. Emergency access is needed. Traffic patterns are problematic. The school needs flexible space but using flexible space well is a challenge. The lack of a kitchen is a problem and the gym’s competing use as a cafeteria requires custodial time for table and chair removal. Storage space is needed for multiple purposes. The use of computer labs should be examined. Art room spaces lack adequate storage space for ongoing projects. Science rooms are outdated. An outdoor classroom would be a useful addition.
Mr. Zakarian said it is important to take care of the buildings. He said when a building is new or recently renovated at first there is not a lot of maintenance but as time passes more money is needed for maintenance. Mr. Schmertzler said the buildings should be maintained and the longer needed maintenance is postponed the more it costs.
Ms. Dobrow suggested the Subcommittee’s report be amended to say that the LPBA report did not include SBAS data or enrollment projections. Mr. Picker said there are only three School Committee meetings before Town Meeting and suggested the Subcommittee report to them in a timely manner on matters needing discussions at Town Meeting. Mr. Picker suggested the Subcommittee focus between now and Town Meeting on the educational spaces but not on community uses focusing on Brooks, the Link, Smith, and Hartwell but not the PODs. He said a separate committee could be formed to talk about community uses. Mr. Zakarian suggested the Subcommittee consider the PODs as to how they could be better assets for the schools. He said supplies are stored in the back of the Hartwell Complex and that a POD could be converted provide warehouse distribution of supplies. Mr. Picker suggested needed square footage could be described rather than designating that the storage be located in a POD.
Ms. Manos asked about the enrollment data. Ms. Bottan said that it will go five years out and that the report is being finished now. Ms. Manos expressed a concern about safety of the locker rooms. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the facility is not unsafe but that the District could do a better job monitoring certain things. He said that work is currently being done on the locker rooms and that they are looking for ways to lock the buildings after hours and still provide access to the people who need it. Mr. Zakarian said a card system could be developed so that access could be tracked. Mr. Zakarian also suggested that the Subcommittee look at what other schools are doing for security in its tours of other schools.
Mr. Picker said it would be helpful if the Subcommittee could quantify what should be spent on maintenance of assets and compare this to what the District has been spending. Mr. Zakarian said the Subcommittee could look at the expected life span of major systems and provide information on when the District could expect to have to replace them. Ms. Dobrow thanked Mr. Criscitiello, Mr. Schmertzler, and Mr. Zakarian for their work.
Mr. Brandmeyer also reported on the status of the principal search. He said he conducted four focus groups attended by 25 people. The fifth focus group was cancelled because of a power outage on the day it was scheduled . He also conducted an open forum attended by about twenty people. He said there is a lot of support for the two principal model. He said he was surprised that some parents wanted more administrators such as two principals and an assistant principal for each of them. The groups also discussed the importance of support and space for educational leaders to do their work. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he has advertised the two positions and has developed brochures for the recruitment effort. The jobs have also been posted on the Lincoln School’s web site with links to other Lincoln web pages, which would be helpful to someone considering applying. Volunteers will be recruited to serve on screening committees. There will be two search groups: one for a principal for grades K to 4 led by Mr. Naso and one for a principal for grades 5 to 8 led by Mr. Brandmeyer. A letter will be sent to parents and teachers asking for volunteers for the search committees. Mr. Brandmeyer and Mr. Naso will pick the members. Orientation for the search groups will take place in February. Next week Mr. Brandmeyer and Mr. Naso will be meeting with a consultant from EDCO who specializes in hiring to get feedback on the proposed process. Mr. Brandmeyer anticipates making appointments in the beginning of April.
The deletion of the five proposed policies was discussed as a group. Ms. Rogers said that the LTA contract is more recent and more binding than the policies. Mr. Brandmeyer said if there were a legal claim regarding policy, the M.G.L. would be binding and that the LTA contract would take precedence over older policies. Mr. Brandmeyer said the School Committee was on solid ground to make the proposed deletions and there would be a second reading before the vote. Mr. Brandmeyer said there is no need to run these deletions by the LTA.
Richard Jewett suggested the School Committee might revamp to policy book so that it concentrates only on policy and create a separate procedure book with the administration creating procedures which change more rapidly than policies. Ms. Dobrow said for future School Committee meetings there will be an intensive schedule of deletions and modifications to be considered.
Ms. Bottan provided the FY’06 Second Quarter Financial Report. She said the report showed the original budget, adjustments, revised budget, amount spent, encumbered funds, and the balance. She said at this time the Lincoln campus has an unencumbered available balance of 6% of the total budget and Hanscom has an unencumbered available balance of 8%. She said she has met with the principals and gone through the budget line by line and there are plans for spending the remaining funds. In Lincoln the librarians have identified books that they intend to purchase. At Hanscom planning is underway to purchase a cataloging system under the FY06 budget. Ms. Bottan said she does not expect a balance at the end of the year. She said if any funds become available which can be used for maintenance she has a list.
Ms. Bottan presented a report on conservation and controlling utilities costs. She thanked John Snell and Sam Newell, citizens who have been helping the District and the Town to conserve energy and lower costs. She said that during the next month she, Mr. Snell, and Mr. Newell will work on a proposal on conservation and energy usage to share with the School Committee and the Board of Selectmen. Ms. Bottan said a number of practices have been put in place and changes are continuing to be made. She noted that the per pupil costs for energy (electricity and heat) is $600 and compared it with the projected costs of $335 per pupil for supplies. Ms. Bottan said the second and third items in her memorandum under ENERGY MANAGEMENT PLAN A should read: “Per day cost for energy during the school year is $2000 and per day cost for energy during the school year is $300 per hour.” Ms. Bottan said she is looking into an option to cut the District’s phone costs including T1 lines. Mr. Brandmeyer said funds were allocated last year to evaluate the phone system and there would be something in place for next year’s budget. Ms. Bottan said if energy savings were used to clean the school’s boilers every year this would result in more energy savings.
Ms. Bottan noted that Mr. Picker was named to work as School Committee liaison on the bus bid. She said the bid packet is in good shape and she has looked at other communities bid packets. Mr. Picker said the last time the contract was let there was only one bidder and in preparing the documents they have tried to enhance the possibility that there will be more than one bidder. He said they are also being careful to make sure that all the information that the District needs to make the right choice is required on the bid documents.
Ms. Manos said she has examined the warrants and they appear to be in order. Ms. Manos moved that the School Committee vote warrants in the amount of $1,848,231.21. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary