MINUTES OF THE
LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Present: Julie Dobrow (Chair), Sandy Hessler (Vice-Chair), Sharon Antia, Laurie Manos, Al Schmertzler, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative), Leta Allen (Boston Representative). Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Susan Bottan (Administrator for Business and Finance)
Absent: Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).
I. Greetings and Call to Order
Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:07 P.M.
I.A. Board Election and Reorganization
Ms. Dobrow congratulated and welcomed Sharon Antia and Al Schmertzler, the newly elected School Committee members. Ms. Manos nominated Ms. Dobrow as Chair for the next year. Ms. Hessler seconded the nomination. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring. Ms. Dobrow appointed Ms. Hessler as Vice-Chair.
The Committee then reviewed the Subcommittees and made the following Subcommittee appointments for the next year:
Mission/Vision – Sandy Hessler, Laurie Manos
Facilities – Julie Dobrow, Al Schmertzler
Hanscom – Dennis Picker and Pam Borgert will continue for the rest of this academic year. Al Schmertzler will move into this Subcommittee.
Finance – Laurie Manos, Al Schmertzler
Capital Planning – Sandy Hessler
The Committee determined that they will consider whether the Communications Subcommittee should continue next year after results from the planned communications survey are received and analyzed. Ms. Manos will be taking over the School Committee News. The Committee will consider the continuation of and appointment to the Policy Subcommittee after goals are set for next year.
Prior to agreeing to serve on the Finance Committee, Mr. Schmertzler asked about its duties. Ms. Bottan said that the Subcommittee works with Ms. Bottan in reviewing invoices that come in for payment and that they review the quarterly financial reports. Mr. Schmertzler noted that the work of Capital Planning and Facilities are related and suggested that he and Ms. Hessler will need to stay in contact.
II. Chairperson’s and Members’ Reports
Ms. Manos said the second School Committee roundtable discussion took place with an excellent discussion of the school lunch program. Ms. Manos said Ms. Bottan did an excellent job in the discussion with a small group of parents and students. Ms. Dobrow, Ms. Allen and Mr. Naso were present. Positive and creative ideas were generated. Ms. Manos and Ms. Bottan will write a summary of the issues. Lunch room facility needs were mentioned. Students, when asked about facilities needs, also asked for better lighting in the middle school.
Ms. Dobrow said that she has received positive comments about the School Committee’s presentation at Town Meeting. She thanked Ms. Manos, Ms. Hessler, Mr. Picker and others who helped in developing the presentation.
III. Public Comments
IV. Consent Agenda
A. Accept Gifts
a) Friends of the Lincoln Library
Document: Letter from Friends of the Lincoln Library to Superintendent, March 13, 2006
The School Committee was asked to accept the donation of $960.11 from the March books sale to be used to purchase material for the Lincoln School library.
b) Millipore Foundation
Document: Memorandum from Barry Hopping to Michael Brandmeyer, March 22, 2006
The School Committee was asked to accept the donation of $500.00 from the Millipore Foundation to be used to provide prize incentives and resource materials to students presenting projects at the Hanscom Middle School 2006 Science Fair.
c) The Cottage Press
Document: Letter from The Cottage Press to Assistant Superintendent, February 15, 2006
The School Committee was asked to accept the donation from The Cottage Press of 90 copies of Heroine of Battle Road: Mary Flint Hartwell by Lincoln resident Palmer Faran.
Ms. Dobrow explained that any member could request that a consent agenda item be pulled out for discussion. No consent agenda items were singled out for discussion. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee accept the consent agenda. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would write letters acknowledging the gifts.
V. Time Scheduled Appointments
Due to availability of individuals appearing before the School Committee, the time scheduled appointments were discussed in the following order: D. Presentation and Vote on Transportation Bid; E. School Choice Hearing and Vote; F. School Committee Meeting Dates for 2006-07; B. Communications Subcommittee; A. Lincoln Middle School Initiative; and C. Analysis of Enrollment Data for Lincoln Students at LSRHS. For consistentcy, the original order of the items in the agenda is maintained in the minutes.
A. Lincoln School Middle School Initiative Status Report
Document: Memorandum, Middle School Renewal Initiative—Update, from Judith Glassman to Lincoln School Committee, March 27, 2006
Judith Glassman, Pam DiBiase, and Holly Kania, members of the Middle School Initiative Design Team, presented the Middle School Initiative Status Report. Ms. Glassman said that with facilitation from Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC), the Design Team composed of parents, faculty and administrators has met multiple times to design the process. A Core Team with additional parents and faculty has been formed. Ms. Glassman said the first priority is open dialogue about three topics: balanced program for the Lincoln Middle School, optimal engagement for Lincoln Middle School students, and constructive interaction among families, educators and the broader community. Ms. Glassman said that the Design Team has revised and expanded these guiding questions with the goal of developing recommendations which are grounded in understanding of the needs of the students. A kickoff event is being planned for the afternoon of May 31. This event will be an afternoon workshop for parents and teachers with speakers and breakout sessions. In order to reach a broader group than the attendees the plan is to videotape the event and post it and other information on the school web site. Feedback would be sought from participants in the May 31 program and from others in the community. Ms. Glassman anticipates that the program will yield recommendations which will be communicated to the new principal. Ms. Glassman said that the May 31 event is targeted for parents and teachers but that students are also stakeholders and their views should be considered.
Ms. Glassman said that a subgroup of teachers is looking at other small middle school programs in the area. Ms. Hessler suggested that looking at models other than schools similar to Lincoln could help generate new ideas.
Ms. Kania said that most of the current work is centered on the event planned for May 31. The next steps would be going through data with the Core Team and sharing essential threads of data in the fall. Mr. Naso said that the objective is to generate recommendations for the new principal about what needs to happen to create a balanced program, to have optimal student engagement, and to foster positive communication with families. Members discussed the effort to foster an exchange aimed toward supporting academics and creating a positive environment. It was noted that middle school students need a positive environment to be open to learning.
Ms. Borgert said that these efforts are tremendous and that she hopes this work will be shared with Hanscom. Ms. Dobrow thanked all those involved in the Lincoln Middle School Initiative for this work.
B. Communications Subcommittee: Update and Survey
Document: Memorandum from Communications Subcommittee to School Committee, March 20, 2006 and Draft School Committee Communications Survey
Ms. Manos introduced the Communications Subcommittee. Subcommittee members present at the meeting were Laurie Manos, Barbara Low, Richard Jewett, Beth Taylor, and Joannie Shaffner. Also present was Marty Fahey who was videotaping the meeting for cable broadcast. Peter Miano and Gertrude Webb are members of the Subcommittee who were unable to attend.
Ms. Manos reported that this year the Subcommittee has focused on improving two-way communication with the community. She said the School Committee coffees have been changed to roundtable discussions with topics. She noted that this does not appear to have changed the turnout but that she believes it has improved the value of information received.
Ms. Manos said the Subcommittee is proposing to survey the Lincoln and Hanscom parent communities and a random broader sample of the Lincoln community to assess the effectiveness of the School Committee communication strategies. She said the Subcommittee considered building a broader survey but determined to stay with communications. She noted that the Subcommittee received input on the proposed survey from Mr. Brandmeyer. Ms. Low said she believes that a survey is the best way to get input from the broader community and that asking what people think is in itself a way of negating any perception that the School Committee does not care what parents and citizens are thinking.
The Committee discussed the value of the asking for 1-5 rankings versus asking respondents to rank the three most important communication methods and the three least effective. The Committee also discussed the format which asks respondents to circle 0 if they have no experience or exposure to an item. It was felt that many people will not have experience with items. The Committee also discussed whether the survey should ask which communications methods are “effective” or ask which communications methods are “important” or both as well as ascertain which methods people use. Ms. Dobrow said that the survey should seek to ascertain two pieces of information: (1) What are the most important types of outreach? (2) Have people availed themselves of these opportunities? Ms. Hessler suggested asking specifically for other ideas or new ideas for communication.
Ms. Dobrow raised concerns about a section asking respondents to rank the importance of School Committee duties, noting that five of the six items stated are School Committee responsibilities regardless of whether respondents deem them to be important or not. Ms. Manos said that other School Committee responsibilities were included to permit benchmarking of responses on the importance of School Committee communication. Ms. Low said that asking about these School Committee responsibilities could aid the School Committee in setting priorities with more time devoted to items which the respondents deemed important.
Ms. Dobrow asked the Subcommittee to do one more revision of the survey and bring it back to the School Committee for approval.
C. Analysis of Enrollment Data for Lincoln Students at LSRHS
Document: L-SRHS Enrollment Data
Patty Mostue, LSRHS School Committee member, presented a report on the enrollment patterns and assessments of achievement of Lincoln students in selected Lincoln-Sudbury courses. Ms. Mostue obtained data from administrators at LSRHS. She presented information on the percent of current students enrolled at various levels for grades 9 through 12 for courses which are leveled at LSRHS. She also presented information on last year’s student grades. This information was provided without identifying students. Her report also contained information on AP tests taken by current juniors and seniors as well as information on colleges attended by the students in the classes of 2004 and 2005. Ms. Mostue was a member of the Lincoln School Committee for six years. Ms. Mostue said she developed this report because parents of Lincoln students have expressed concern about what happens to students when they go to the high school and she was pleased to present some hard data. Ms. Mostue said Lincoln students enroll in the courses at the highest levels at LSRHS and perform very well.
Ms. Mostue noted that the schedule at LSRHS revolves around math so that a student can switch to a course which is at a higher or lower level without changing their other classes. Ms. Mostue said history and social studies courses are not officially leveled. She said in 10th grade students can enroll in AP history. She also said many courses at LSRHS are not labeled as AP courses but students who take them often take the AP exams. She said for certain courses teachers meet for extra sessions with students who plan to take the AP test. Twenty-five current juniors and seniors have taken a total of 47 AP tests and have scored well. Mr. Brandmeyer pointed out that for 12th grade math there appears to be a mistake which understates the number of students taking advanced math courses.
D. Presentation and Vote on Transportation Bid
Document: Memorandum from Administrator for Business and Finance to Lincoln School Committee re Transportation Contract, March 27, 2006
Ms. Bottan said on Wednesday, March 22, bids for school bus transportation for FY’07 and FY’08 were opened. She said that Doherty’s Garage was the lowest and most responsive bidder. The amount of the bid totals $453,620 per contract year, a 6.2% increase over FY’06 bus costs. Ms. Bottan said that the contract does not contain an escalation clause for fuel. She said that the FY’07 budget is adequate for the increase in the new contract.
Ms. Bottan said twelve companies requested copies of the bid packets, six companies were represented at the mandatory bid conference, and two companies submitted actual bids. Four companies were present at the bid opening.
Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to award the contract for school bus transportation for the period August 1, 2006 through June 30, 2008 to Doherty’s Garage, Inc. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring.
E. School Choice Hearing and Vote
Mr. Brandmeyer said that, under Massachusetts School Choice Law, if the District does not want to participate in the School Choice program in September 2006, the School Committee must vote its nonparticipation by voting a resolution to withdraw from the program by June 1, 2006. Mr. Brandmeyer said he recommends that the District not participate in the Massachusetts School Choice program for the 2006-2007 school year for the following reasons: (a) potential financial loss because of the significant discrepancy between the reimbursement figure and the actual per pupil cost in Lincoln; (b) potential special education costs to the district; (c) commitment to maintain small class size; and (d) classroom space constraints. Mr. Brandmeyer said the District’s withdrawal from the program would not prevent students residing in Lincoln from opting to participate in the School Choice. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to withdraw from the Massachusetts School Choice program for the 2006-2007 school year for the reasons stated by Mr. Brandmeyer. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring.
F. School Committee Meeting Dates for 2006-07: First Discussion
Document: Lincoln Public Schools 2006-2007 Calendar with proposed School Committee meeting dates marked with yellow highlighter
Mr. Brandmeyer presented a calendar of proposed School Committee meeting dates for next year. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the open houses for Lincoln grades K-4 and Hanscom grades K-3 scheduled for September 21 will be rescheduled because they conflict with the School Committee meeting scheduled for the same evening. The Committee determined to add an additional meeting on January 11 to focus on the budget. If the meeting is not needed, it can be cancelled. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee establish the proposed calendar as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring.
VI. Superintendent’s Report
Mr. Brandmeyer reported that the two principal positions have been filled. Steven McKenna, who currently works in the Dedham schools, will be the principal for grades K-4 and Sharon Hobbs, who currently works in the Wellesley schools will be the principal for grades 5-8. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the search process was extensive. He thanked the teachers and parents who participated in the search. He thanked Mr. Naso who ran the K-4 search and coordinated the orientation for search team members. Ms. Hessler commented that students at all levels participated in interviewing principal candidates. She said that this gave students leadership experience, a growth opportunity, and the feeling that they are a valued part of the community. Mr. Brandmeyer said that it gave him the opportunity to observe how the candidates interacted with students. Mr. Naso said that candidates started their interview day with students and that set the tone for the rest of the day indicating that the Lincoln program is centered on students.
Mr. Brandmeyer said he attended the first grade concert at Hanscom last night and he congratulated Pam Anazaldi, the music teacher. He reminded everyone that the Lincoln Middle School production of Bugsy Malone, Jr. will be presented on April 6 and 7.
Mr. Naso said eighth grade social studies teacher Steve Cullen has been selected to participate in a competitive project at the University of Virginia. Mr. Naso also said Barry Hopping and the Bedford High School principal met with the eighteen freshmen at Bedford High who are Hanscom graduates to discuss the transition to the high school. Mr. Naso also said the process of planning for summer curriculum work has begun. He also noted that students are in the first phase of MCAS testing.
IX. Budget and Financial
A. Warrant Approval
Ms. Manos said that she has reviewed the warrants and that they appear to be in order. She moved that the School Committee vote warrants in the amount of $692,150.38. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring.
X. Old Business
A. 2005-06 School Calendar
Mr. Brandmeyer said that the District has used two snow days and that the 180th day of school is now scheduled for June 21, which will now be the last day of school for Grades 1-8. The last day for kindergarten students will be Friday, June 16. The kindergarten screening days will be June 19, 20 and 21. Graduation will be on Monday, June 19 at 6 P.M. for Hanscom and 7:30 P.M. for Lincoln. June 21 will be a half day of school. School Committee members attend graduation if they are available. Ms. Manos asked for information on the end of year award ceremonies which are held on the Lincoln and Hanscom campuses.
Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee accept the reports and establish the dates recommended. Mr. Schmertzler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Allen concurring. Ms. Brandmeyer will send a letter to parents with these dates.
XI. New Business
Ms. Manos will update the bulletin boards on the new School Committee members. The web site has already been done. Cynthia Barthold will provide the new members with the policy book and other materials. The new members will need to sign up for eight hours of training provided by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. Members are required to complete this training within six months.
XII. Approval of Minutes
Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve the March 15, 2006 minutes as amended. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. Ms. Dobrow and Ms. Manos voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring. Ms. Antia and Mr. Schmertzler were not sitting members of the School Committee on March 15 and the other members were not present on March 15.
Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee adjourn to executive session not to return to open session for the purpose of discussing contract negotiations. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. The motion was approved by the following roll call:
Ms. Dobrow – yes
Ms. Hessler – yes
Ms. Antia – yes
Ms. Manos – yes
Mr. Schmertzler – yes
Ms. Allen – concur
Ms. Borgert – concur
The Committee adjourned to executive session at 9:33 P.M.
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary