MINUTES FOR THE LINCOLN SCHOOL COMMITTEE MEETING OF
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Hartwell multi-purpose room

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).
Absent: Corie Cruise (Hanscom Representative).

  1. Greetings and Call to Order
    Ms. Dobrow called the meeting to order at 7:05 P.M.

  2. Chairperson�s and Members� Reports
    Ms. Dobrow reported that she, Ms. Hessler, Ms. Manos, and Ms. Rogers went to the talk given by Rob Evans. It was attended by about sixty people and was terrific. Ms. Dobrow also said that Judith Glassman has submitted a letter announcing her intention to retire at the end of this academic year. Ms Dobrow took this opportunity to recognize Ms. Glassman�s contributions to the Lincoln School and said that she will be missed.

    Ms. Manos thanked Christina Horner for organizing the Celebrating Boston tour which she and Ms. Rogers were able to attend. Ms. Manos said that she hopes there can be more events like this.

  3. Public Comments
    None.

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Gift from the Lincoln School Class of 1967
      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee accept the consent agenda (accepting a gift in the amount of $1,275 and to establish a Class of 1967 gift account). Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. Lincoln School Improvement Plan
      The leadership team of Donica Hadley, Principal, K-2, Gian Criscitiello, Principal, 3-5, and Judy Glassman, Principal, 6-8, presented the Lincoln School Improvement Plan. Ms. Glassman said that the team has worked hard on the goals which she believes will serve to move the school forward. Mr. Criscitiello said that the plan came out of the work of last year�s advisory council and was continued by this year�s advisory council. Ms. Hadley said that the library initiative is underway, the leadership team is happy with the high quality of new hires to the school, and increased reporting of student progress is planned with a move to report cards on a trimester basis for grades 1 to 4.

      Ms. Glassman presented the goal of introducing �a more systematic process to address the questions and concerns about the middle school program that have emerged from recent surveys.� Ms. Glassman said that in June the District contracted with Interaction Institute for Social Change to facilitate the discussion between parents and faculty about the middle school. The intent is to bring about a conversation that will yield a plan with buy-in from parents and teachers. Interaction Institute for Social Change came to the attention of the leadership team because Mr. Naso was aware of this group and their expertise in facilitating different stakeholders coming together. A Middle School Renewal Initiative Team has been created to design the process and has begun its work. The design team is composed of three teachers, three parents, and two administrators. These individuals have had different experiences as parents and teachers and have varied perspectives. Some members also have involvement in multiple stakeholder groups. Mr. Naso has been designated to be a member of the design team which, according to Mr. Brandmeyer, is an indication of the importance that the District places on this work. This team will determine who all the stakeholders are as well as a design of how to go forward with the process. Stakeholders will include persons with direct interests in the middle school and also persons with expertise in this area, including outside sources. There will be a status report to the School Committee on November 17, and periodic reports to the School Committee throughout the year. The design team work will be completed in December. It is then contemplated that structured discussions with all stakeholders will be held and that an action plan will be developed by March 30, 2006.

      The Committee discussed its desire for this process to yield a clear and specific action plan for the middle school which can be implemented, for the most part, next year. It also discussed whether there might be strengths of the middle school which should be acknowledged and do not need to be part of any renewal process. The Committee also discussed Ms. Glassman�s impending retirement and the need for new leadership to be able to implement the plan. Mr. Naso said that they types of proposals which will be developed with not be dependent on personality.

      Ms. Hessler suggested that those working on Mission/Vision could collaborate and synergize with the middle school effort. Ms. Glassman said that she would welcome this.

      Mr. Criscitiello presented the goal regarding science and technology/engineering. He pointed out that this work fits with the curriculum work the District is doing and with the middle school improvement work. He said that there may be impact on the budget for next year and that initiative proposals are being developed. Curriculum planning will begin in January. Analysis of the transition to the Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School in Science and Technology/Engineering will be undertaken.

      Mr. Picker commented that, while he does not disagree with what is being proposed, he believes that work on core science needs to be done to form the base for technology and engineering learning and fears that the emphasis on technology will displace efforts to further improve core science. Mr. Criscitiello made it clear that the goal is for work in engineering/technology and not computer technology and pointed out that technology/engineering is covered in the MCAS Science exam given to eighth graders. Mr. Naso said that additional time for engineering technology is being considered and work on science is taking place which is not reflected in the School Improvement Plan. Mr. Picker noted that because of the grade four delivery model there is no science curriculum work taking place in fourth grade and asked when we will get to this work. Mr. Criscitiello said that an initiative is being worked on to address that problem.

      Regarding the transition to Lincoln Sudbury, The Committee discussed the need to of the make sure that students who are not being placed in advanced levels are being well served and that analysis of course placements does not necessarily address this.

      The Committee discussed generally the allocation of specialists in various disciplines and their desire to get as much traction as possible with limited resources. The Committee also discussed their desire that the delivery model for science instruction in the elementary grades be considered with attention to the balance of teaching by specialists and classroom teachers.

      Ms. Manos expressed her desire that the plan show how students would benefit from the work contemplated and how this benefit will be assessed. Mr. Naso said that the work plans set projects in place but that the curriculum will show the detail.

      Ms. Hadley presented the goal to improve reading performance of K-3 students. She said that as part of coordination, consolidation and possible expansion of materials for guided instruction a close look will be taken at the book room with an eye to gaps in the collections and to locating resources so that they are accessible to teachers. There may be an initiative for the FY07 budget regarding expansion of the guided reading materials. Reading assessments will be examined to make sure that the assessment tools enable staff to make sure all students in need of help are identified. The plan includes developing a record-keeping system to track student progress. The use of the two reading specialists will be looked at to make sure they are being used in the most effective way.

      The Committee discussed the choice of emphasizing reading rather than math as a separate work goal and work plan. Ms. Manos stated her concern about the 4th grade math performance on the MCAS. Ms. Hadley said that much work is being done in math and that reading was chosen because there is room for improvement. This is an opportunity to lessen inconsistency in assessments and interventions. This will help to identify students who are at risk. Third grade students are tested in reading on the MCAS and this work should help the District to not be taken by surprise by MCAS scores. Ms. Glassman said that, although the Lincoln reading program is a wonderful program, some students are not intuitive learners in reading and some are not reading fluently when they get to middle school. At the middle school level students need to read well to access the curriculum in all areas. Ms. Glassman hopes that greater attention to reading at earlier grade levels will result in fewer students coming to the Middle School level with reading challenges. The Committee discussed how this was really a question of what should be included in School Improvement Plans, to what extent should the school goals align with district goals, how to think about priorities, and how to express multi-year priorities Mr. Picker reminded the Committee that there has been much improvement in the plans since he came onto the School Committee three years ago.

      Mr. Criscitiello presented the goal to increase the frequency and quality of communication. Mr. Criscitiello mentioned periodic student meetings, an after school journalism project with Middle School students taught by Cheryl Lecesse of the Lincoln Journal, a weekly faculty memo, the revised staff handbook, cluster newsletter for parents, the revised parent handbook, the new student handbook for grades K-4, publication of Advisory Council minutes, and plans to communicate about FY07 budget initiatives. Ms. Glassman mentioned the orientation coffee held for new parents.

      Ms. Hessler asked whether the leadership team has considered a school theme like those used at the Hanscom Schools. Mr. Criscitiello said that they have considered this but that it is hard to come up with a theme that works for grades K-8.

      The Committee discussed handbooks and policy. Mr. Brandmeyer said his understanding of the regulations is high school handbooks must be approved by the School Committee, middle school handbooks may need approval by the School Committee, and elementary school handbooks do not need School Committee approval. Parent and faculty handbooks do not need School Committee approval.

      Ms. Manos asked about changes in the composition of the School Council this year. Mr. Criscitiello said that under the new teacher contract there is no longer a stipend for participation in School Council and that it was harder to recruit faculty members this year. As a result there are now three faculty members and three parent members. Ms. Manos said that she is concerned about continuity in parent membership and about attendance. Mr. Criscitiello said that there is some continuity from last year to this year.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee vote to accept the Lincoln School Improvement Plan. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

    2. METCO Program Report: Initiatives for 2005-2006
      Christina Horner presented the METCO initiatives. She described four initiatives relating to curriculum, learning and assessment. To increase academic achievement of Boston students in grades 5-8, extra help hours have been expanded from 1.5 to 5.75 hours per week and tutorial support has been added with money from a supplemental grant from the Massachusetts Department of Education. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he thinks that this funding will continue. To close the achievement gap in 8th grade Algebra and 7th grade Pre-algebra classes, a math tutor has been hired to work with 7th and 8th grade students and perhaps with other students in addition to other measures. Ms. Horner explained that last year they were working with younger children in the math club but that the focus has moved to the older students because the data indicated that this is where effort should be expended. The additional late bus providing transportation back to Boston has allowed the METCO program to work on another goal, increasing Boston students� participation in after-school activities. Ms. Hessler suggested that lists of the Recreation Department programs should be distributed to Boston families with a note from Ms. Horner explaining that there are buses to support participation. To address needs of incoming kindergarten students and first grade students for summer academic and enrichment activities, last summer the district was able to offer scholarship assistance for students to attend the Needham METCO summer program. Ms. Horner and her team would like to do this again this summer, and are thinking about possible ways to expand the program.

      Ms. Horner said that workshops will be held for Boston parents on middle school math, ELL, literacy and other topics to be decided. Regarding community outreach, Ms. Horner said that there will be a joint meeting of representatives of the School Committee, the PTA, and the METCO Coordinating Council in Boston with the goal of explaining to Boston parents what these different organizations do and encouraging Boston parents� participation in them. She said that now that she is full time, she can attend Leadership Team coffees and be available to provide Lincoln parents with information about upcoming Lincoln-METCO activities. She said that a Boston tour for Lincoln and Hanscom families was held last week and another is planned for April 25. In addition, Family Fun Day is planned for April 29.

      Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee accept the METCO program report and work plans. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  6. Superintendent�s Report
    1. General Report
      Mr. Brandmeyer said that he has received a letter from Ms. Glassman stating that she intends to retire at the end of this academic year. He recognized Ms. Glassman�s long tenure, hard work, and impact on the Lincoln School. He said that she has a keen insight into middle school students and that she will be missed.

      Mr. Brandmeyer reported on the incident last week when a bullet was found in the Smith gym. He said that the leadership team handled the incident well and that there was good collaboration with the Lincoln police department who resolved the issue so that school could safely be opened the next day. He noted that this incident has reminded everyone of the importance of safety and the need to pay attention to safety procedures which are in place. He commented that the school could not communicate more specific details to parents because of legal and privacy concerns. He said that additional consideration and attention will be given to school safety in the future.

    2. Enrollment Update: Students Entering/Leaving Lincoln School
      Mr. Brandmeyer presented a report on the number of students entering and leaving the Lincoln School. The report presented data from October 1, 2000 through October 1, 2005. For 2004-2005 Mr. Brandmeyer added two new categories, one showing number of entering students and one showing numbers of new kindergarteners, grade 8 graduates, retained students, and outplacements. The percentage of students leaving in 2004-2005 to go to private schools, 2.7%, was the smallest in the years but Mr. Brandmeyer did not think that this difference is statistically significant. In response to a question from Ms. Rogers, Mr. Brandmeyer said that an exit survey was conducted last year but he did not have details at this time. Ms. Manos said that she would like the Committee to review the results.

      Ms. Borgert asked whether is it worth considering learning the numbers of students at Hanscom who are home-schooled. She said that some students start out at Hanscom and become home-schooled later. Others come to Hanscom and never enter the schools because they are home-schooled. The Committee asked what the law is regarding home-schooled students on the Hanscom base and what the schools responsibilities are regarding home-schooled students on the base.

  7. Curriculum
    Mr. Naso provided a list of Wednesday afternoon curriculum and program meetings currently on the schedule for this academic year. He said that other items may be added later.

  8. Policy
    None.

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. FY06 Budget
      1. Quarterly Report
        Ms. Bottan presented the FY06 First Quarter Financial Report which provides a snapshot of encumbrances to October 14, 2005. Ms. Bottan said that utilities could run over budget. Using an agreed upon methodology for projecting utility costs with the Town, she projects that heating oil could exceed the budgeted sum by $20,000. This is a tentative number which assumes that utilities costs are 25% over actual FY05 expenditures. Ms. Bottan will watch utilities expenditures very closely. If there are insignificant shortfalls, the number would be made up be reallocating resources from other areas. Ms. Dobrow requested that Ms. Bottan update the School Committee on utilities expenses on a monthly basis. Mr. Picker said that the Finance Committee is aware of volatility in utilities costs and that it has reserved funds which could be used to cover these expenses. The Finance Committee will also be kept informed of ongoing utility costs.

        In response to a question about whether there are other budgetary red flags, Ms. Bottan said that she continues to be concerned about facilities repair and maintenance. So far this year, there has been a leak in the Brooks gym roof, a repair for the septic pumps on campus, and problems when the heat was turned on at Hanscom. Ms. Bottan said that she will continue to monitor these expenditures carefully.

    At this time the Committee interrupted their financial discussions because Meg Ramsey had arrived.

    Report from Scholarship Committee Appointee

    Meg Ramsey reported on the 2005 activities of The Lincoln Scholarship Committee. She said that for 2005 there were three times more requests and at least four times as much need as in the past. She said that it was also the first time there had been applications without a family support system to help them. Most of the money given out was from contributions with a small amounts from interest and dividends earned on Scholarship Fund accounts and from monies left over from years when need has been less than donations.

    Ms. Dobrow moved the School Committee accept the report and reappoint Ms. Ramsey to continue to represent the School Committee on the Scholarship Committee. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

    Mr. Picker left at this time.

    1. FY06 Budget discussion continued
      1. Enrollment in Fee-Based Programs
        Ms. Bottan presented a report on FY 2006 Lincoln After School Music Program and Athletics Enrollment and Revenue. Mr. Brandmeyer noted that in Athletics the program started the year with a balance of approximately $5,000 and will end with about the same amount. Instrumental Music began with a balance of roughly $8,000 and is projected to end with a balance of $500. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in effect there is a deficit in instrumental music and that there will need to be a proposal to change this. Ms. Bottan will return with an update.

        Ms. Hessler reported that instrumental music teachers have complained about changes in how they get paid. Ms. Bottan said that she has met with Mr. Worona and another instrumental teacher and a procedure to make the payment process smoother has been put together.

      2. Staffing Update: Proposed vs. Actual
        Ms. Bottan presented a report on the FY06 Proposed versus FY06 Actual Staffing Schedule for Lincoln and Hanscom campuses accompanied by the staffing differential by position. She reported that there is a decrease of 7.8 FTE between the proposed staffing and the actual staffing and that there are some savings as a result of this. She said that the largest difference of -6.3 FTEs is because SPED tutors budgeted for have not been needed yet but they may be needed as the year progresses.

    2. Warrant Approval
      Ms. Manos said that 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 $1,302,423.64. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. All elected members still present voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  10. Old Business
    1. Status of Technology Planning
      Mr. Naso reported that the RFPs for expertise to help articulate a plan for instructional use of technology had been sent to twelve vendors, the district received three proposals, and Mr. Naso and Mr. Brandmeyer have identified two vendors as finalists and have interviewed them. Mr. Brandmeyer said that interviews are continuing with both vendors and from these talks the proposals are being reshaped to be more meaningful. Mr. Brandmeyer hopes to conclude the interviews and select a vendor in the next couple of weeks. Both vendors can do the project within the budget allocated and within the specified timelines.

  11. New Business
    None.

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the minutes of September 29, 2005 and October 6, 2005 be approved as amended. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members still present voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  13. Information Enclosures

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

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary