Mr. Brandmeyer thanked the School Committee for the vote of confidence. He said he looks forward to many years of good work in Lincoln.
Mr. Naso introduced Karena Hansen, the World Language Content Specialist, who works with the world language teachers at both Lincoln and Hanscom. Mr. Naso highlighted the key points in the report. He said that the District has been attempting to add instructional time for foreign language and that there are plans to increase time next year. He said the report provides a picture of the current program, instructional time, organization, and direction. He said there is data about the transition to Lincoln Sudbury and that data about the transition to Bedford High School will be forthcoming. Mr. Naso said that the report talks about recommendations made in 1996, the last analysis of the program, and looks at where the District now is regarding these recommendations. Some future considerations are also set forth.
Ms. Hansen said that she has been devoting her time to redeveloping curriculum content maps and to work on world language reading skills. She has aligned the curriculum maps for Lincoln and Hanscom and made them easier to understand. She has also begun to focus more on reading skills with a foreign language. Readers have been piloted and expectations for skills at each level are being established. The high school world language programs delve into authentic literature and work on reading will help students be prepared for the high school courses. Ms. Hansen said that all the world language teachers have attended workshops this year and that summer curriculum work is contemplated.
Ms. Hansen said that in her four years in the District there has been positive feedback about the program from Lincoln Sudbury, students have had good scores on testing, and that community support is great. Ms. Hansen said she particularly appreciates that world language is considered a core academic subject in the District. She noted that the international banquet will be held on March 22.
Ms. Borgert thanked Mr. Naso and Ms. Hansen for their good report. She noted that there are 2.0 FTEs for world language at Hanscom and 2.6 FTEs in Lincoln. She said she thinks this should be closer to the same staffing at the two schools. She noted that at Hanscom fifth graders have a world language for one day per week during one trimester. She said more language instruction is needed for Hanscom students to come to Bedford High School at the same level as their Bedford counterparts. Mr. Brandmeyer said that next year Hanscom fifth graders will have a world language two days a week all year.
Mr. Picker said that this report was the clearest and most concise of all the subject area reports he has seen. Mr. Picker asked how students on IEPs in world language classes can best be supported. He observed that it is harder for regular special education teachers or tutors to give support and suggested that tutors or special education teachers with knowledge of the target language may be needed. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is proud that Lincoln has the philosophy and belief to include students with disabilities in the world language program. Mr. Brandmeyer said that unless a student has a significant language learning disability he or she would be enrolled in the world language program. He noted that college admission officers like to see foreign language learning in transcripts of special education students.
Mr. Picker expressed some thoughts on choice of language. He said that it would be a dead end if the District were to offer a language not offered in the high schools and said that the District should let the high schools take the lead in adding languages. He also suggested that as a small district it could make sense to consider offering only Spanish, using savings from not offering French to create a truly outstanding Spanish program which begins in the lower grades.
Ms. Hessler asked whether a language lab would be helpful for students to learn how to speak a foreign language. Ms. Hansen said that a language lab would be a dream come true and that it would support the work in the classroom. Ms. Dobrow said that the interest in a language lab has implications for technology and for facilities planning. She said she would like to learn more about what would be involved in creating a lab, and what the cost implications might be
Ms. Manos asked about priorities. Ms. Hansen said that her first priority is to establish learning expectations for world language and that her second priority is the work on reading skills. She wants to learn more about high school expectations for foreign language reading at the ninth and tenth grade level. She is looking for eighth graders to be able to skim a paragraph and find the topic sentence or main idea. She is looking for assessments to use with particular readings.
Ms. Manos also commented that the specialists in world language, science and math have all expressed a desire for additional time in the schedule. She said that it may be time to look at the time allocations for various subjects.
Ms. Dobrow complemented Mr. Naso and Ms. Hansen on the work and suggested they think about ways to let the community know about what is happening. Ms. Hessler wondered whether there are ways to bring world language into other parts of the school day such as making morning announcements in Spanish or French, as well as English.
Mr. Brandmeyer presented the proposed school calendar for a second reading and a vote. The calendar has students in grades 1-8 begin on September 5. Preschool and kindergarten begin on September 6. Teachers report back 2 or 3 days before the students. These days are to be scheduled in collaboration with the Lincoln Teachers Association (LTA). School will not be held on days of low attendance for faculty and students (Yom Kippur and Good Friday). Mr. Brandmeyer said that the LTA voted to approve teachers returning to work prior to Labor Day. The Institute Day would be held on Friday, November 10 which is a federal holiday for Veteran’s Day. This covers the required number of school days, and lets school out a day earlier than in this calendar year with no snow days.
Ms. Hessler suggested that if the recommended calendar were voted it could be for only the upcoming year and not necessarily become a precedent for future calendars. The School Committee could later look at whether this calendar was better. Mr. Picker pointed out that the School Committee always votes a school calendar one year at a time.
Ms. Manos reviewed the data previously presented by Mr. Brandmeyer on student and teacher absences on the two days of low attendance. She noted that there was no increase in Lincoln or Hanscom students taking these days off. She expressed her concern that with two low attendance days off there will be too many short weeks and disruption in learning. Ms. Manos said that the current calendar has only days off which are federal or state holidays, except for Institute Day. She said that as a public institution the school should not acknowledge certain religious holidays over other ones. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is trying to protect instructional time. He said on low attendance days instruction is disrupted. He said the proposed days off are days of low attendance, which happen to fall on holidays, and that this was the impetus for his suggestion.
Ms. Borgert said, as a former teacher and a substitute teacher, she knows that on the two days of low attendance, the substitute pool will be tapped out with this many teachers absent, the District would be left with substitutes who are not of the highest quality, and students would not be getting optimal academic learning.
Ms. Manos asked whether childcare on these days would be an issue for Hanscom parents. Ms. Borgert said that there are resources at Hanscom for childcare. She also pointed out that because next year the Institute Day will be held on the federal Veteran’s Day holiday, next year’s calendar will only have one more day for which most Hanscom parents need to find child care.
Mr. Brandmeyer said that LEAP will also be closed on the two days of low attendance because it also has trouble staffing those days. Ms. Allen said Boston parents would prefer not to have two days of low attendance off because of difficulty obtaining childcare but with notice they could find care. Ms. Dobrow said that part of the reason the School Committee has calendar discussions months in advance of the next academic year is so that parents can have as much notice as possible about the when vacations and days off will fall. Ms. Allen said that Boston parents do not want there to be fewer instructional days. Mr. Picker pointed out that if the School Committee adopts the proposed calendar the number of educational days is the same as this year but there will be more educational impact because students will not have as many substitutes.
The Committee explored whether there was a way to secure more and better substitutes for these days. Mr. Naso said this would not work as the supply of substitutes is highly unpredictable. He said that the nature of substitute work as interim work precludes hiring substitutes far in advance, and also that many teachers in the substitute pool are looking to get long-term subbing assignments or to be hired as full time teachers.
The Committee discussed that they set the calendar each year, one year at a time, and that they are not adopting a policy about the school calendar.
Ms. Glassman said that having so many teachers absent on these days changes the climate of the school, that there are more behavior infractions, and that the overall environment is disrupted. She said it is not possible for the District to get from 15 to 20 substitutes on a given day and that from an educational standpoint it is best not to have school.
Maria Hylton said that she was disappointed in the direction the School Committee appeared to be going and in the quality of the discussion. She said the proposed days off are religious holidays of two groups in town out of many and that the school should not send the signal that the religious observances of these two groups are important and the religious observances of other groups are not. She said she understands the pragmatic issues of low attendance but she believes that the principle of neutrality regarding religion is more important.
Ms. Dobrow said that there is another principle involved in this decision, the education of the students. She said this decision is not about religious holidays but about education.
Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to adopt the 2006-2007 calendar as presented. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. The motion passed four to one, with Ms. Allen and Ms. Borgert concurring.
Ms. Dobrow asked that Mr. Brandmeyer draft a letter to parents informing them of next year’s calendar. Mr. Picker asked for the School Committee’s permission to post the calendar on the web site and this permission was granted.
Mr. Naso presented the mid-year review of the status of the District work plans. Regarding technology Mr. Naso said that the School Committee has had technology updates and a presentation from FreshPond. He said that many tasks are complete; there are many new events which will be included in the year end report. Currently the best opportunities for pilot projects for technology use are being sought. Pilot projects will be at representative grades levels. The projects will be grounded in the curriculum and will probably be in areas where learning expectations are already articulated. The infrastructure assessment has been completed and this information will be shared with the School Committee. Mr. Naso also reported on progress on the compliance and operations goal.
Ms. Manos asked whether there will be a new schedule for School Improvement Plans. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the School Councils are being asked to reflect on goals for the new school year when they do their reports. Ms. Manos also asked about the school handbooks. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the K-4 handbook is going to be distributed and that the middle school handbook is being worked on for distribution next fall.
Ms. Manos asked about the vision statement which is to be used in the District-wide technology project. Mr. Naso said that language will be crafted about what the District is trying to achieve with technology. The Steering Committee composed of teachers, administrators, special educators and the technology integration specialist will advise on the vision statement.
Ms. Hessler asked about the school and district report card mentioned in the compliance and operations goal. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this is a requirement of the “no school left behind” law. It is currently done by feeding data to the Massachusetts Department of Education which creates a profile on their web site. Mr. Brandmeyer suggested that there could be opportunities to work on these report cards and use them as opportunities for communication. Ms. Hessler agreed. Ms. Manos asked that Mr. Brandmeyer provide the School Committee with a copy of this report.
Ms. Dobrow read a summary of Mr. Brandmeyer’s performance evaluation. She said that overall the School Committee is highly satisfied with his performance. He has been able to assess situations and make adjustments. The district runs smoothly and progress has been made in curriculum alignment and teacher evaluations. He has excellent financial and analytical skills which serve the District well. He has the respect of the Finance Committee and the Board of Selectmen. He has been able to attract excellent people to the District as part of his administrative team. He works hard, often putting in long days and weekends. He is well organized and delegates effectively. He is calm in the face of unforeseen challenges. The School Committee identified three areas for increased attention: communications, strategic planning, and middle school improvement. Ms. Dobrow said that some progress had been made in these three areas but that more is needed. Ms. Dobrow said that the School Committee believes that Mr. Brandmeyer is up to all the challenges.
Mr. Brandmeyer thanked the School Committee for their evaluation. He said that he will consider their feedback very carefully. He said that the District’s accomplishments are the result of the efforts of many and said that he appreciated the support and help of the administration, faculty, staff, School Committee, the community, and the support for Hanscom operations. He said he is committed to moving forward in all the areas identified.
Mr. Brandmeyer said today he submitted the contract proposal to the government to continue to operate the Hanscom schools. He said that Ms. Borgert and Mr. Picker have worked on the proposal and that it has been reviewed by the two law firms that are helping the District with this process. A response from the government is expected by early April.
Mr. Naso said James Garbarino will be speaking to faculty at the Institute Day on Friday, March 17 and to parents and the public on Thursday, March 16. Notices of the evening program are going to be sent out next week and other communities are also being invited.
Mr. Naso said the District is very proud that, at the regional Math Counts competition, Lincoln was fifth out of twenty-six schools. The team will go to the state championships. Ms. Dobrow said that this regional competition had more teams than ever competing so placing fifth was a very strong accomplishment. She commended the students and Susan Totten for her work as coach.
Mr. Naso said that yesterday the annual Lincoln Sudbury and Lincoln meeting was held. The intent of the day was to go beyond just talking about students and to consider how to think about curriculum. In the math group, teachers took on the role of students in solving math problems. Primary Source offered two workshops which were held after the regular meeting time, one on immigration and one on Islamic Art.
Mr. Brandmeyer said the he had checked with counsel on the questions that School Committee members had about the proposed revisions. He said that in response to a Mr. Picker’s suggestion computers are being added to a line in the Discipline Code. He said that for the third paragraph of Non-Discrimination, the phrase “genetic information” is required by statute to be included. Additions were made to the list of legal references for Non-discrimination.
Ms. Hessler moved that the School Committee vote to approve the revised policies for Discipline Code and Non-Discrimination. Ms. Rogers seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Allen and Ms. Borgert concurring.
Mr. Picker said that the School Committee’s web guidelines call for posting of policies and that he will post the revised policies.
Ms. Manos and Ms. Hessler presented a draft slide presentation for town meeting for the School Committee’s comments. Ms. Dobrow said that the presentation would need to be only ten minutes long. The Facilities Subcommittee would also have ten to fifteen minutes to report at some point in the town meeting agenda. Committee members said that less time should be spent framing the issues and reviewing how the School Committee came to the budget. The overall theme should be that this year’s budget is okay but that we have a facilities problem. Ms. Manos and Mr. Picker will collaborate in revising the presentation creating a new draft for discussion at the next meeting. Ms. Hessler will take pictures for the slides.
Ms. Dobrow said that she has not heard word of any meetings for town organizations to present their budgets. There seems to be less need for a coordinated effort since an override is not being sought. Ms. Manos and Ms. Rogers will attend the PTA meeting. They may simply answer questions or may make a presentation.
Mr. Brandmeyer will e-mail School Committee members a draft of the letter for parents about the budget. Mr. Brandmeyer will send it to parents prior to the next School Committee meeting and Mr. Picker will post it on the web site.
Ms. Dobrow and Mr. Schmertzler presented a draft report of the Facilities Subcommittee for Town Meeting for the School Committee’s comments. Members suggested that a historical slide be added which talks about the age of the buildings and that in the last renovation project in the mid-nineties work on Hartwell and the PODs was deferred. Members suggested that a total price tag for the work not be mentioned because at this time it is not known and because if a tentative number were mentioned too much attention would be focused on it. The Committee discussed how to provide a fund for maintaining its buildings and discussed recommending that a multi-board committee be formed to define the maintenance funding issue in time for next year’s budget.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary