MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, September 29, 2005
Hartwell multi-purpose room, Lincoln

Present: Julie Dobrow (Chair), Sandy Hessler (Vice Chair), Laurie Manos, Dennis Picker, Cathy Rogers, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative). Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Susan Bottan (Administrator for Business and Finance), Teresa Watts (Administrator for Support Services and Special Education).
Absent: Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative)
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:03 P.M.

  2. Chairperson�s and Members� Report
    Ms. Dobrow reported that she and Mr. Brandmeyer attended a party given by the selectmen in the HATS communities for people who had worked to keep the base open. Ms. Hessler said that there were two great back to school nights in Lincoln. Ms. Borgert reported that the Hanscom back to school nights were excellent and well attended.

  3. Public Comments
    None.

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. MCAS Date Change
      Ms. Picker moved the consent agenda (changing March 29 to a full day and April 14 to an early dismissal day). Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Report from Scholarship Committee Appointee
      This agenda item was skipped because Meg Ramsey, the School Committee�s Appointee to the Scholarship Committee, was unable to attend the meeting.

    2. Discussion of District Project Plans for 2005-2006 Goals
      Mr. Brandmeyer provided background for the discussion. In June 2005 the School Committee approved the administration�s district goals for the 2005-2006 school year. From the four district goals, eleven specific project plans have been developed. The School Committee will consider four of these plans tonight and the remaining five at the next meeting.

      Mr. Naso presented the project plan on the development of learning expectations and common assessments. There is continued emphasis on the math and science curriculum which will soon move into the next phases while other subject areas are still at the beginning. The plan attempts to incorporate long range thinking projected out over this school year and the next two years. Mr. Naso noted that this plan includes continued monitoring of MCAS proficiency performance levels and continued refinement.

      The Committee discussed the need to include science under the anticipated activities in 2006-2007 and 2007-2008. The Committee discussed its desire to work for continuous improvement, high achievement, and excellence for all students including those who are already working at high levels. Mr. Naso developed language to add to the goal stating the District�s intent to pursue this goal in way that is consistent with the district�s longstanding commitment to foster a culture of high achievement. The Committee discussed the importance of having the staff go forward with curriculum work. They also talked about how after the learning expectations and common assessments are developed for a subject, there will be continuous refinement but that this will be much less arduous after the foundations have been established. Coordination with Bedford High School and Lincoln Sudbury will be addressed in the school plans rather than in this project plan. The Committee asked why certain grades and not others were targeted for work this school year in English language arts and in science and technology. The Committee also expressed its concern regarding the extent of overlap and repetition in the current social studies curriculum for the first four grades and the need to be mindful of the new state frameworks for social studies. Mr. Naso said that in 2006-2007 and 2007- 2008 development of social studies learning expectations will receive more attention. In addition, Mr. Naso said that the art teachers will be producing an I-movie to depict standards and expectations in art and will present an update at a future School Committee meeting.

      Mr. Brandmeyer presented the project plan regarding leadership and governance. Mr. Brandmeyer discussed the multi-year planning documents which will be developed this year. He said that communications continue to be an important goal.

      The Committee considered whether it might be feasible, practical, or desirable for the District to plan over a longer horizon than three years and the relationship of this kind of planning to the mission/vision work which the Committee is contemplating. The Committee talked about the leadership structure for the Lincoln School and about the timing of this work. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he is thinking about leadership structure over the short term and about developing recommendations for longer term leadership models. He said that the change in the Lincoln School from separate schools to one K-8 school took place over one summer and that further contemplation of the most appropriate structuring of the school should take place over a longer time period. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the budget for year 1 is for three school based administrators, for year 2 a plan could be identified, and in year 3 the structure could be implemented. Ms. Manos urged that the administration move forward on the leadership structure with a sense of urgency. Ms. Manos suggested an addition to the section on the three year action plan regarding mission/vision. It was determined to hold this suggestion until more work has been done on the mission/vision statement.

      Ms. Watts reported on the special education plan. She said that it was basically a reframing of the Special Education Action Plan. The three areas of focus are improved communication, compliance with evolving laws and regulations, and the integrated model of general/special education.

      In response to a question about how much time is spent on compliance, Ms. Watts explained that this is hard the measure because many things on which she and her staff spend time are related to compliance and only compliance ,while others are both compliance and good practice. For example, having a written IEP is compliance and also good practice. Similarly, supervision and evaluation of staff is compliance and something that we would choose to do anyhow. With this caveat, Ms. Watts provided an estimate of the time various staff members spend on compliance. The jobs of the special education secretaries are primarily working on compliance issues. For building secretaries, their jobs are 80% compliance. For the central office administrative assistant, the job is 90% compliance. Administrator�s jobs are about 50% compliance. Ms. Watts said that her job is from 50 to 80% compliance. Fifty percent is strictly compliance and 80% is combined compliance and best practice. Ms. Watts said that when the Lincoln School did not have a secretary last year , teachers spent about 40% of their time on compliance issues, but that with a secretary teachers now spend only 20% of their time on compliance. She felt that there are efficiencies in having one person doing compliance work rather than spreading it among the entire teaching staff. Ms. Hessler commended Ms. Watts for the clarity of the special education project plan.

      Ms. Bottan reported on the project plan to develop a district budget that aligns resources to district and school improvement goals, makes resources available for curriculum and instruction and supports new initiatives. She said that the budget will be approached on three levels: (1) baseline, (2) enrollment, and (3) cost of continuing initiatives. The FY07 preliminary budget will be presented on November 3.

      The Committee discussed Ms. Bottan�s proposal to begin planning FY08 in the spring of 2006. Ms. Bottan said that this spring planning will allow focus in the summer on where to align resources for the next year. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the District�s budget timetable is very short and that he wants to start the planning earlier so that some budget work can be done over the summer. The Committee also discussed using enrollment projections and the fact that projections become less reliable the further out you try to project.

      Ms. Bottan presented a work plan on negotiating the 2007-2009 secretarial contract, letting the transportation contract, executing plans for the canopy deconstruction, classroom rehabilitation, defining the phone system, and implementing site-based adoption of MUNIS. Funding for the recommended phone system will be sought in Fall 2006/Spring 2007. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the report on the phone system will come to the School Committee in mid-winter with recommendations.

      Ms. Bottan presented a work plan to assess the school lunch operations. She believes that the District can provide a more healthy and nutritional food that students will want to eat. She will be looking at current practice, standards and best practice from grades K-8. Ms. Bottan said that revenue from the school lunch program can be used only for the purpose of delivering the program but that this can include capital expenditures for the food program. Ms. Manos suggested that parents may be interested in volunteering to help revamp the lunch program.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to approve the project plans presented. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

    3. Discussion of School Committee Work Plans
      Ms. Dobrow said that the intent in this planning is to make sure that the School Committee work is in alignment with the administration�s work.
      1. Oversight of District Operations
        The Committee discussed whether a recommendation regarding the leadership structure of the Lincoln School should be part of this plan and determined that it should be the subject of a district work plan and not be elevated above other work plans. The Committee made some changes to the document.

        Ms. Borgert noted that the Hanscom school improvement plans are on the agenda for the next School Committee meeting but that the School Advisory Committee has not even met yet. Mr. Brandmeyer suggested that the current thinking as to the improvement plans could be presented and the School Committee could delay its vote on the improvement plans until after the School Advisory Committee has met.

      2. Oversight of Programs
        The Committee determined to add a curriculum report on art to be given at the end of May or in early June and to have another �big picture presentation� on curriculum development. The Committee considered the possibility of hearing a report on the Investigations curriculum in math and chose to table the discussion at this time. The Committee will be updated on the faculty�s professional status under the District�s work plan.

        Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to approve the work plans for Oversight of District Operations and Oversight of Programs. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  6. Superintendent�s Report
    Ms. Brandmeyer reported that Rob Evans will be speaking on �Raising Healthy Children in Challenging Times� at 7 P.M. on October 11. Notice of this event has been sent to every parent at Hanscom and Lincoln and the event is being publicized through print media. Providing transportation for Boston parents is being explored. Also, on October 20 two researchers from Wellesley will be speaking on �Fostering Self-Esteem in Middle School Girls.� Space will be limited for this event.

  7. Curriculum
    1. Update of Teacher Mentoring Program
      Mr. Naso and Loretta D�Alessandro, Mentor Program Teacher on Assignment, presented a report on the design and procedures of the Lincoln Public Schools Mentoring Program. Mr. Naso explained that the Massachusetts Department of Education requires a mentoring program. He also said that over the last two year the District has changed the emphasis of its mentoring program to be less about acclimatizing to the Lincoln culture and more about communicating expectations and standards for learning with more focused and directed work and with more collaborative work. He also said that there is more careful selection of mentors who match the needs of the new teachers.

      Ms. D�Alessandro described the first mentoring meeting on September 14, discussed the new teacher orientation day on August 30, and discussed the emphasis around focus and goals for this year. She said that the focal point of the September 14 meeting was the question: how are we mobilizing students to get them ready for excellence. Peer observation involving watching a lesson with a specific goal and giving feedback on it has taken place. At orientation mentors and mentees were given books and mentors and mentees worked together on collaborative projects. She said that the number of meetings have been increased from three last year to up to five meetings this year.

      The Committee discussed the existence of parallels between this program and the teacher evaluation program. Mr. Naso said that the same language is being used in both of these programs. The Committee also discussed benefits in recruiting from the existence of a strong mentorship program.

      Ms. Dobrow asked whether any attention is being given to the question of the best ways of responding to students about their work. Mr. Naso said that this is connected to many aspects of the work being done and that there are parallels between the ways teachers are talking and the ways that they give feedback to students.

  8. Policy
    None.

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. FY07 Capital Planning Initiatives: Second Discussion
      Ms. Bottan presented a second draft of the FY 2007 Capital Planning Initiatives for School Committee review and discussion. Since its first presentation, it has been re-prioritized to include the most critical items based on health and safety. The capital needs on the list totaling $261,000 are divided into: (1) building needs, (2) mechanical system, and (3) classroom rehabilitation. Ms. Bottan brought photos to show the conditions of the buildings. Ms. Bottan said she will present a final list at the next meeting for the School Committee to approve. She intends to prepare for a request by the Capital Expenditure Committee for a prioritized, phased-in list. Ms. Dobrow noted that Ms. Bottan has attempted to remove items which would be super-ceded by the facilities plan from this list.

      The Committee discussed a footnote in Ms. Bottan�s report regarding the decision not to seek the removal and replacement of asbestos floor and ceiling tile. Ms. Bottan said that she will be having a qualified firm test the condition of these materials to make sure that none of it needs to be removed and that when this is done the AHERA plan will be updated.

      The Committee discussed the fact that capital planning forms the basis for the expenditures authorized in warrants. The warrants voted do not impact the Lincoln School�s operating budget in a direct way but the Finance Committee looks at the warrant first when determining the amount of money available for the entire town�s base budget. The town does not want the school department to put capital improvement in the operating budget. This allows there to be a clear line between capital planning and operations. Other than money for the canopy project which is still being completed and the money for the building committee which is going to the Facilities Committee, there are no outstanding warrants from the FY05 budget.

      The Committee discussed the large size of the capital planning initiatives relative to what has been requested in the recent past, the need for these repairs, the potential consequences of inaction, and the importance of making a strong case to the Capital Expenditure Committee.

    2. FY07 Budget
      1. Discussion of School Committee Work Plan
        Ms. Dobrow presented the first draft of a work plan for the FY07 budget. The School Committee commented on the draft and made additions and revisions. Mr. Picker moved to approve the report as amended and to place it on the web site. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

      2. Discussion of Budget Guidelines
        Mr. Brandmeyer introduced the discussion presenting a memorandum to the School Committee from Mr. Brandmeyer and Ms. Bottan describing the administration thoughts on how to build the FY07 budget and suggesting budget guidelines. The memorandum also suggested in the future beginning the budget process in the spring when teachers can better assess student and program needs. Adjustments in how funding is allocated to the sites were also suggested.

        Ms. Bottan said that site-based allocating is a way to for the District to find greater value for the existing money. Ms. Bottan proposed developing a baseline budget based on the spending history. Data from teachers and team leaders would play a large role in this. The baseline budget would essentially be this years level service budget with next years costs. Included in it would be curriculum and instruction, operational needs, and school-wide priorities such as improving the Lincoln library collection. Ms. Bottan would also look to enrollment driven expenditures. Then the process would look at the need for support for new initiatives and continued initiatives.

        The Committee discussed whether it might be practical to institute some form of three year budget plans consistent with the districts three year goals. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the decision to fund the Lincoln library acquisitions at $20,000 per year until the $100,000 initiative is completed is an example of the District beginning to move to somewhat longer term budgetary planning. He said that this year there will be other proposals for new initiatives which would be for next year and beyond.

        The Committee also discussed how a mission/vision statement could help in determining priorities in funding and whether one was necessary for the School Committee to make good decisions in aligning expenditures with priorities. The Committee also discussed whether it might be possible to plan to make incremental improvements on a multi-year basis. Mr. Brandmeyer pointed out two constraints for this planning: (1) new programs cost new money and (2) time because when something is added to the curriculum it takes time from something else.

        The Committee then considered the following specific guidelines for FY07 budget planning. (1) Include core-program costs in the preliminary base budget. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the he not yet know whether the preliminary budget would recommend maintaining the status quo for music and athletics. (2) Maintain the School Committees desire to fund curriculum development activities. (3) Maintain the commitment to provide resources for high-quality professional development. (4) Adhere to the School Committees Policy on Class Size, with a focus on meeting target class size but not exceeding maximum class size. (5) Maintain level services and use comparability between the Lincoln and Hanscom budgets to address student and program needs. Ms. Dobrow pointed out that when she, Ms. Borgert and Mr. Steinbrook of the Finance Committee went to a Selectemens meeting over the summer, that Mr. Steinbrook had presented a memo that outlined the very significant impact on the Lincoln budget that would occur if there were not a contract to continue running the schools at Hanscom. The Committee discussed the impact that a non-renewal of the contract to run the Hanscom Schools and how and when planning for the worst case scenario of a non-renewal should take place. Mr. Brandmeyer said that it is premature to talk about the impact of a non-renewal but agreed that it should be considered soon. In addition, he said the District needs to reasonable in its assumptions in constructing the Hanscom budget for FY 07 as last time the contract was renewed it was renewed at the same level as the prior year, with percentage increases in subsequent years. (6) Apply Special Education Circuit Breaker funds as agreed to previously. (7) Project level funds for Chapter 70 and entitlement grant programs (kindergarten grant, METCO grant, federal special education entitlement, early childhood education grant). Mr. Brandmeyer said that Chapter 70 funding may change significantly. Ms. Dobrow suggested that two scenarios be developed for this. (8) Apply revolving account funds (transportation fees, revenue from rentals, athletic fees, tuition, etc.) at the FY 2006 level. The Committee discussed the impact that the rising gasoline costs will have on the transportation contract which is being re-bid this year. It was suggested that the budget should have a flat number for transportation given the uncertainties of fuel prices. Ms. Dobrow, Mr. Picker, and Mr. Brandmeyer will be meeting with the Finance Committee and will discuss budget assumptions and their implications with them. (9) Discuss projected cost increases for energy, utilities and employee benefits with the Town Finance Department and use methodology to forecast these budget amounts that is comparable to other Town departments. (10) Use a bottom-up approach to develop the preliminary budget for facilities and maintenance costs that are part of the districts annual operating budget. (11) Ensure that costs associated with new initiatives are established in the multi-year planning and goal setting process.

    3. Warrant Approval
      Ms. Manos said she reviewed the warrants with Ms. Bottan and they are in order. Ms. Manos moved that the School Committee vote to approve warrants in the amount of $638,160.81. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  10. Old Business
    1. Mission And Vision Subcommittee: Review and Discuss Charge
      The Committee discussed the proposed charge for the Mission and Vision Subcommittee. There was discussion about the possible impact on administrative time that such work might entail and what other work it might displace. They determined to begin by having Ms. Hessler and Ms. Manos work on gaining understanding of how the current mission came to be and how its various iterations are currently being used. The subcommittee will not be convened at this time. Ms. Hessler and Ms. Manos will report back to the School Committee on January 12. In reaching this decision the Committee discussed the estimated time the mission and vision subcommittee would take, the use of focus groups and other means to gain community input, the impact that time devoted to mission and vision would have on Mr. Brandmeyer in this year given other pressing priorities such as the negotiation of the contract to run the Hanscom schools. Ms. Borgert agreed to work with Ms. Hessler and Ms. Manos in researching mission/vision statements in use at Hanscom.

    2. Communications Subcommittee
      Ms. Manos presented a proposal by the Communications Subcommittee for activities to be undertaken this year for the School Committees feedback. The Coffees are to be renamed Round Table Discussions. The Committee revised the proposed Schedule for School Committee and Community Discussions.

    3. Second Reading and Vote of the School Committees Long-Term Agenda
      The Committee made revisions to the long-term agenda. Mr. Picker moved to approve the long-term agenda as amended and post it on the web-site and bulletin boards. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  11. New Business
    1. Establish Hanscom Contract Subcommittee and Review Charge
      Mr. Brandmeyer asked that the School Committee establish a subcommittee to prepare a response to the RFP to operate the schools at Hanscom Air Force Base and to appoint the subcommittee members. The School Committee voted to establish a subcommittee and appointed Mr. Picker and Ms. Borgert to serve on the subcommittee along with Mr. Brandmeyer, Ms. Bottan, a Lincoln School Representative, and a Hanscom School Representative.

    2. School Committee Representation at New Parent Coffee
      Ms. Manos said that on the morning of October 6 there will be a coffee for parents new to the Lincoln School and there was a request for a School Committee representation at the meeting. Ms. Manos volunteered to attend on the School Committees behalf.

    3. School Committee Write-Up Seeking Volunteers for Videotaping
      Ms. Manos provided a write-up seeking volunteers to videotape School Committee meetings. Mr. Picker moved to place the write-up on the School Committees web site. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Ms. Dobrow moved to approve the minutes of September 15, 2005 as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. Ms. Dobrow, Ms. Manos, Mr. Picker, and Ms. Rogers voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring. Ms. Hessler abstained because she did not attend the September 15 meeting.

  13. Information Enclosures
  14. Adjournment
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the Committee adjourn. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring. The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary