Thursday, October 6, 2005
Hanscom Primary School

Present: Julie Dobrow (Chair), Sandy Hessler (Vice-Chair), Laurie Manos, Dennis Picker, Cathy Rogers, Pam Borgert (Hanscom Representative), Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative). Also present: Mickey Brandmeyer (Superintendent), Paul Naso (Assistant Superintendent), Susan Bottan (Administrator for Business and Finance).
  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:02 P.M.

  2. Chairperson’s and Members’ Reports
    Ms. Dobrow said that tonight’s School Committee meeting was being held at Hanscom as part of the School Committee’s ongoing effort to communicate with its constituent groups. She said that the School Committee will also be having a Round Table Discussion (formerly know as “Coffee”) at Hanscom as well as at the Lincoln campus.

    Ms. Manos reported that she attended a new parent coffee held at the Lincoln campus and that it was a great event with all three principals attending as well as representatives from the PTA, the Lincoln library, and other groups. Ms. Manos represented the School Committee and handed out the document explaining the organization of the Lincoln School District. The event, organized by two parents, was attended by ten new families. There are plans for this event to be held again next year and to invite all kindergarten parents as well as all parents new to Lincoln.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Field Trip Proposal: Lincoln School to Washington, D.C.
      Ms. Rogers commented that she hopes, in the rare instances when it is determined that that a child should not go on the field trip, this decision is handled sensitively. Judith Glassman explained that this is a thoughtful process, that usually when it is determined that a child should not go this is in partnership with the parents, that the process provides for due process and communication. Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve the proposal for an overnight field trip to Washington, D.C. and Gettysburg, Pa. for the Lincoln School grade 8 students. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Hanscom Primary School Improvement Plan
      Randy Davis, the Hanscom Primary School Principal, presented the Hanscom Primary School Improvement Plan. Ms. Davis explained that much of the work on the plan was done last spring by the old Advisory Council and was taken over this fall by the new Advisory Council. The following members of the Advisory Council were present at this meeting: Nancy Rote, teacher, Beth Yurkewecz, teacher, and Sophie Cleghorn, parent.

      Ms. Davis said that there is a lot of change in the enrollment at the Primary School and that this year they have already had a number of students leave and new students arrive. A new Kindergarten section has been added to accommodate the increase in numbers. She said that the school is preparing for the addition of a math portion to the MCAS administered at grade 3. She also said that she expects that this year, in addition to working on the school Improvement Plan, time will go to responding to the RFP for the operation of the Hanscom Schools.

      Ms. Davis explained that the first goal, differentiation of instruction to improve student learning, had two parts. For Part I the staff will begin to form a common definition of differentiation, will focus on student work, and will focus on developing a repertoire of ways to differentiate instruction. The work began last year, continued over the summer with teachers reading How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms by arol Ann Tomlinson, and will continue this year. Ms. Davis pointed out that the work on differentiation of instruction ties in with the District’s new teacher evaluation tool.

      Committee members queried Ms. Davis about what changes she would expect to see looking forward as a result of this work. Ms. Davis said that the will expect to see a higher level of comfort with using student work and normative assessment. She will expect to see more differentiated teaching in her walkthroughs and teacher observations. Ms. Dobrow asked about the relationship of differentiation of instruction to classroom management issues especially for new teachers. Ms. Davis said that teachers will be using “tried and true” classroom management strategies such as having students move from station to station but that differentiation may result in changes in the stations and in some stations that not all students go to.

      Part II of the differentiation of instruction goal relates to improving mathematics instruction through differentiation. Ms. Davis said that Claire Groden, the math specialist who co-authored this work plan, was not able to attend this meeting. Ms. Davis said that this work ties in with the work that the District is doing on curriculum under Mr. Naso’s guidance. She discussed the use of pre-unit assessment tools in third grade to determine which students will need remediation or enrichment and said that these determinations are made on a unit by unit basis. The Committee encouraged Ms. Davis to communicate to parents how differentiation of instruction works and that the groupings for enrichment and remediation are not long-term. The Committee also asked that Ms. Davis think about how to measure success in this endeavor.

      Ms. Davis discussed the second goal of using the school theme, "Get Up and Go", to improve learning through a focus on the connection between healthy bodies and healthy minds. Ms. Davis explained that a walking club has been started which takes place during the first recess and that students get recognition, including earning little plastic feet, when their participation reaches certain thresholds. The school is getting a traverse wall and an in-service course will be held on its use. Ms. Davis is said that the faculty has been successful in finding ways to use the theme in various areas of the curriculum.

      When queried about why communication was not an explicit goal this year, Ms. Davis said that communication continues to be important even though it is not a separate school goal this year. Ms. Davis said that the reduced number of school goals this year is because attention will also be required to implement the new teacher evaluation system and for the RFP to run the Hanscom Schools.

      Ms. Dobrow emphasized the importance of aligning school goals and district goals. The Committee discussed the need to align the planning calendar of the schools and the School Councils with the District’s planning calendar. The problem is that new School Councils are begun each fall and they must quickly approve the school improvement plans. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he would like to see the outgoing School Councils do more work in creating the school plans and that he would like to move to this model as the District moves its’ planning to the spring. The Committee also discussed whether in the future the front page of the school improvement plans could highlight certain categories which need ongoing attention such as communication and high level achievement.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee accept the Hanscom Primary School Improvement Plan. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    2. Hanscom Middle School Improvement Plan – Preliminary Report
      Barry Hopping, Hanscom Middle School Principal, presented a preliminary report on the Hanscom Middle School Improvement Plan. Mr. Hopping said that the Hanscom Middle School’s theme for the year is “Go the Distance” and involves honoring students’ willingness to see things through to completion. He said that the school is working more collaboratively and not pitting grades against each other this year. Mr. Hopping said that the students have raised over $700 for a Katrina relief fund. Mr. Hopping noted that the school’s enrollment is 270 students and that there are 2 students who were evacuated from New Orleans. Mr. Hopping also said that the Hanscom Middle School has had the greatest teacher turnover this year of any year since he came to the school.

      Mr. Hopping said that the School Advisory Council will be elected next week and that he is planning for them to come back with a School Improvement Plan for final approval on November 3. The three goals in the preliminary plan are: (1) to develop a stronger partnership with Bedford High School in order to improve transitions and student placement, (2) to review and evaluate the success of recent Hanscom Middle School program changes and to plan for future development, and (3) to enhance student learning at the Hanscom Middle School through the use of assessment data, professional development, and teacher evaluation.

      The Committee discussed how the timing for the School Council is out of alignment with the District’s planning calendar and the desirability of moving school goals planning to the spring.

      Regarding the partnership with Bedford High School, Mr. Hopping said that he has met with the principal of the Bedford High School and that the Hanscom Middle School eighth grade English and math teachers will be meeting with Bedford High School staff. They are also attempting to find a better way to get Hanscom students’ MCAS scores to Bedford. There will also be a close look at the curriculum of the John Glenn Middle School in Bedford to make sure that the Hanscom curriculum is not too far apart. It is contemplated that some Hanscom teachers may attend department meetings at the John Glenn Middle School. To ease the transition, parent forums co-sponsored by Bedford High School and Hanscom Middle School will be held and the “leveling” used at Bedford will be discussed to make sure that parents understand the placement issues. More dialogue with parents about placement recommendations being sent to Bedford High is contemplated. Creating a genuine orientation process for students is also a part of this goal.

      Ms. Dobrow said that it is very important to come up with specific dates well in advance for parent events and to come up with strategies to ensure that they are well attended. Ms. Borgert expressed the desire that students be well prepared in math to participate in the Bedford High School curriculum which teaches Physics in the ninth grade. The Committee considered how this work regarding the transition to Bedford fits with the curriculum work with is going on the District. Ms. Rogers mentioned work done by the Lincoln math specialist on quantifying how the Lincoln students’ placements at Lincoln Sudbury measure against the Sudbury students’ placements. She suggested that this type of data could be developed for the Bedford High transition. The Committee discussed where the knowledge of the John Glenn curriculum fits. Mr. Naso said that it is more important that we learn what expectation Bedford High School has about what students know coming into the high school than it is for Hanscom to mirror the John Glenn curriculum. The Committee discussed the need for the plan to articulate key results that the Committee can expect to see this year.

      Regarding Middle School program changes, Ms. Dobrow said that there is a lot included in this goal and asked Mr. Hopping what his priorities are within this goal. Mr. Hopping placed them in this order: (1) 7th and 8th grade reorganization, (2) foreign language learning, (3) applied technology, (4) Extensions, and (5) after-school programs. Ms. Dobrow said that a timetable for evaluation needs to be spelled out in the next draft and that it should detail how and when evaluation will take place. Ms. Hessler said whenever evaluation is mentioned she wants to know what criteria are being used.

      The Committee suggested prioritizing the goals with student learning as goal number 1. They also expressed their desire for a plan which sets forth what the school can actually expect to accomplish in a year with specific benchmarks and outcomes which articulate how the school should be held accountable for what is accomplished. Ms. Dobrow said that she is pleased to see the emphasis on professional development and emphasized the importance of alignment with District goals. The Committee discussed assessment suggesting that MCAS should not be the only assessment mentioned and there should be attention to other ways of seeing student progress. Ms. Borgert noted that, because of the frequent moves in the military, it is hard to track performance at Hanscom from year to year in a meaningful way. Ms. Borgert asked whether school climate should be a goal.

    3. District Project Plans
      Mr. Brandmeyer said that six project plans were presented at the September 29 School Committee meeting and the remaining five were being presented tonight.
      1. Technology Plan
        Mr. Brandmeyer began the presentation on the plan to develop a district-wide educational technology plan. He said that the District began work on technology last year and that he came to the School Committee in late June with the concept of putting out an RFP which would be funded primarily from sources outside the school budget seeking consulting expertise to help with technology. The RFP has been put out and the District has received proposals from ten to twelve vendors. Some proposals may be joint proposals from two organizations. The period for receiving responses has just closed and the responses will be evaluated next. The RFP was put out with three components and vendors could bid on one or more components. Mr. Naso said that some preliminary work has been done on learning expectations but that they will not be finalized until the District has knowledge of best practice which will be gained from the work with the consultants. The curriculum envisioned is partly stand alone instruction in technology but mainly technology embedded in other aspects of the curriculum. Ms. Hessler asked aboutkeyboarding instruction. Mr. Naso said that this would be a pocket of stand alone instruction. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the dates will be filled in for many benchmark events when the district has retained a consultant.

        In June, the School Committee had discussed having the RFP include two levels for planning: for a baseline program and program that could be obtained at a higher level of funding. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the RFP concentrates more on what is needed for a basic program.

        Ms. Manos asked why the section on assessment criteria had been dropped from the work plans. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in this case the assessment criteria were just a restatement of the benchmark events and so they were deleted so as not to be redundant.

      2. Professional Development
        Mr. Naso presented the project plan for teacher excellence and professional development. He said that there is overlap between this plan and curriculum renewal. He said that much of the professional development work is possible because of the increased funding for professional development.

        The Committee discussed whether it can be demonstrated that money spent for professional development is well spent, whether there are measurable outcomes that could be put into place to show this, and whether it can be demonstrated that this contributes to student learning. Ms. Manos suggested that it would be useful to include some assessment criteria such as improvement in student performance, improved teacher retention rates, greater percentages of highly qualified teachers, or greater teacher satisfaction. Mr. Naso said that he would not want to have to show a causal relationship in these areas. He said that many ingredients create good conditions for teacher learning, student learning, and a learning community. Mr. Brandmeyer pointed out that the new teacher evaluation tool asks specifically about planning for student learning and evidence of student learning.

        Ms. Dobrow suggested that, while it may be difficult to provide the School Committee with measurable data on the effect of professional development, there may be information about which programs seem to be more effective than others which might respond to the School Committee’s need for information about the efficacy of monies spent on professional development. Mr. Naso said that last year the administration shared results of a survey on professional development and teacher feedback on professional development. Mr. Naso said that teachers taking part in professional development are being asked to report back. For example, the teachers attending the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics were asked: what sessions they would attend together and why, how they would debrief while at the conference, and what they will bring back to the District and why. The four teachers who studied math assessment this summer have been conducting follow-up on both campuses.

      3. Hanscom Contract
        Mr. Picker and Mr. Brandmeyer collaborated on the project plan to respond to the RFP issued by the federal government for the operation of the schools at Hanscom Air Force Base. The project plan is structured so that the subcommittee of the School Committee and the school district’s Contract Team can do their work and check-in with the School Committee on certain items and move forward on other items without the need to report back to the School Committee. There will be a report at town meeting in March which may be a status report or report of the contract award depending on timing.

        Ms. Dobrow suggested that, in addition to studying per pupil expenditure data for the Hanscom School, comparable expenditure data from other DOD schools should be studied. The Committee discussed need to balance the public’s need for information with participation in a competitive bidding process. The Committee discussed the parallel nature of the contract renewal process and the Hanscom facilities project.

      4. Lincoln Facilities
        Ms. Bottan said that this project plan includes both reviewing the report on the Lincoln facilities and continuing to work with the DOE-DDESS regarding Hanscom facilities. Ms. Bottan reported that the Lincoln Facilities Task Force met for the first time on September 21 and will meet twice in October. The Committee determined that the goal should be broadened to include assessing Lincoln facilities needs and making recommendations. The list of organizations to be invited to give input was enlarged to include the Friends of the Lincoln Library, the Lincoln Family Association and proponents of a teen center for Lincoln.

        The Committee discussed the benchmark event stated as assess whether we plan for the “classroom of the future” or minimum baseline and amended the wording to read “assess what program needs are anticipated to be and how that affects classroom needs”. Mr. Naso suggested that the requirements of the program might include square footage needs, resources needed in classrooms, and special service delivery space needs. Ms. Dobrow said that the subcommittee plans to make phased recommendations.

        The Committee also discussed how the plan addresses two questions: (1) what are our needs and (2) what does the community want. They considered whether conducting the needs analysis might be enough work to complete in this year. They considered that the people who determine the needs may not be the same people best placed to determine what the community wants. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in many communities there is a facilities committee which makes recommendations and that when this work is complete it is turned over to a building committee which makes the decisions. The Committee determined to leave the scope of the work as it is with the ability for the subcommittee to come back to the School Committee to scale down its mission if this is needed.

      5. Compliance and Operations
        Mr. Naso presented the project plan for compliance and operations. He said that this is a long list, it is ongoing, and all administrative. Mr. Naso said that the challenge is to do everything to be in compliance and yet not to let compliance consume the District. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the addition of a half time administrative assistant last year is helping but that it is still not enough.

        Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to approve the project plans as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  6. Superintendent’s Report

  7. Curriculum

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. FY07 Capital Planning: Discussion and Vote
      Ms. Bottan presented Capital Planning Initiatives totaling $213,100. Thirteen thousand dollars was moved from the capital planning initiatives to the operating budget because capital projects are generally $25,000 or more. The Committee discussed the fact that the capital needs are higher than they have been in the past and that this is necessary. Ms. Hessler said that the District has had $144,000 in unanticipated building costs over the last few years. Ms. Bottan said that testing of asbestos is being done in the next six weeks, and that, if the testing indicates that work must be done, an additional $204,000 in capital initiatives will be needed. Ms. Bottan and Ms. Hessler will be meeting with the Capital Planning Committee on October 27.

      Mr. Brandmeyer presented technology needs totaling $50,000. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the annual technical warrant is usually from $40,000 to $50,000. He set forth needs in three categories: (1) replacement of special education computers $10,000, (2) administrative software for student record keeping and DOE reporting $21,000, and (3) network maintenance $19,000.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to approve the FY07 Capital Planning initiatives totaling $263,100. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    2. Warrant Approval

  10. Old Business
    1. Review Draft Budget Letter
      Ms. Dobrow presented the draft of a letter to the Lincoln community regarding the budget process. The Committee made changes to the letter. The Committee also discussed the Roundtable Discussion planned on October 28 about the budget and whether scheduling this topic on this date was premature given that the preliminary budget would not be presented to the School Committee until November 3. The Committee decided to go forward with the October 28th date with the caveat that not much about the budget other than the priorities and process that had already been discussed at School Committee meetings could be presented.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee approve the letter as amended, publish it in the Lincoln Journal, place it on the web site, and place it on School Committee bulletin boards. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

    2. Posting of District Goals on the Web Site
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to approve placing this year’s district goals on the web site. Ms. Manos seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  11. New Business
    1. Discussion of State of the Town Report
      Ms. Dobrow presented a draft of the School Committee’s submission to the State of the Town Report. The Committee made changes to the report. Mr. Picker moved that the document be approved as amended and that it be posted on the web site. Ms. Rogers seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring.

  12. Approval of Minutes

  13. Information Enclosures

  14. Adjournment
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the Committee adjourn. Ms. Rogers seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert and Ms. Cruise concurring. The meeting was adjourned at 10:35 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary