Thursday, December 15, 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).
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. Rogers said that she, Ms. Manos and Ms. Cruise attended the Falcon Tour at the Hanscom Middle School. She said that they toured the facility and talked with Barry Hopping. Unfortunately no parents attended the event. Ms. Borgert said that she attended the Winter Concert last night at the Hanscom Middle School and she noted that this year there are 19 students participating in the orchestra compared with only five last year. Ms. Manos said that she went to the Sunday trip to the Urban Nutcrackers, 40 people from the Lincoln Schools attended, and the event was a great success.

  3. Public Comments

  4. Consent Agenda
    1. Accept Gift
      The School Committee voted to accept a gift of $50 from Lueders Environment, Inc.

  5. Time Scheduled Appointments
    1. FY�07 Budget Discussion and Vote
      Document: FY�07 Budget Recommendations, December 13, 2005, Central Office

      Mr. Brandmeyer introduced the discussion stating that there were three objectives for tonight�s discussion: (1) review the base budget, (2) begin the discussion on the preferred budget and override initiative, and (3) discuss offsetting Circuit Breaker funds. Mr. Brandmeyer reviewed the School Committee budget discussions noting that on November 3rd the administration presented its preliminary budget and that the School Committee has had three meetings discussing the FY�07 budget and potential reductions to meet the Finance Committee�s guideline allowing a 2% increase over FY�o6 and that tonight he will ask for a vote on the base budget.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that for the base budget of $8,218,788 he is recommending all the proposed program reductions discussed at previous School Committee meetings with three restorations: (1) restoring the reduction to the transportation budget $47,000, (2) adding funds for the grade 4 science program new initiative $8,000, and (3) restororting partial funds for the fall production $6,6000.

      Mr. Picker asked about the $16,000 for ADA accessible doors and ramps for five exterior Smith School doors which Mr. Brandmeyer is recommending to be included in the preferred budget. Specifically Mr. Picker asked whether these repairs should be in the base budget or whether they should stay in the preferred budget. Mr. Brandmeyer said that some of the ramps are in disrepair and others are non-existent so that someone in a wheelchair could not go out these exits in an emergency but that there are other exits. Mr. Brandmeyer said that in a recent inspection the Fire Chief cited these exits as needing repairs. Mr. Brandmeyer said that he will discuss the citation with the Fire Chief for guidance on the timetable for these repairs. Mr. Picker suggested leaving the $16,000 in the preferred budget for now but making adjustments later if necessary.

      Ms. Dobrow mentioned that the Facilities Committee is compiling a list of safety issues that they noticed in their tours of the school facilities. Ms. Dobrow said she believes that some of these issues were not noted in last year�s architectural report on the buildings. The Facilities Committee was planning to compile this list by January 10 but School Committee members urged that it be communicated as soon as possible. Mr. Picker observed that this information will be coming at a time which is out of the budget planning cycle. Ms. Hessler said that if there are safety concerns which need to be addressed they can be brought to the Capital Planning Committee. Robert Steinbrook said that if the School Committee determines that there is an maintenance or ADA issue which for FY�06, there is money that the School Committee can ask for if immediate action is needed.

      Ms. Manos proposed restoring tutor time in the base budget and placing restoring money for the fall production in the preferred budget. Ms. Hessler asked whether the administration believes that students� needs can still be met with the cuts in tutor time. Ms. Trueblood said that 53 to 57 students currently receive remedial services. Ms. Trueblood said that remedial reading services are currently delivered in small groups of two to three students three to four times per week. Ms. Hadley said that currently it is difficult to hold small group sessions three to four times per week because of scheduling. Mr. Brandmeyer said that within the base budget all core services will be provided and the school will be able to address students� needs. He said that non-IEP students who need remedial services will get them but that there will be larger support groups and the delivery of services is being reorganized with different providers delivering services.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that the preferred budget recommends 40 hours of tutor support for remediation for $32,000. He said that these funds will restore 64% of the tutoring for remedial programs which was reduced from the special education budget to close the gap and these funds will be allocated through the regular education program across the K-8 grades to address specific remedial needs of students in literacy and mathematics. Mr. Naso said that this preferred budget proposal creates remedial supports in places where there currently are none such as math and in the upper grades. Ms. Glassman said that this year when a need arose the school was able to provide services because there happened to be some time in a teacher�s schedule. She said that next year, there will be built in time in the schedule to do remedial work.

      Mr. Picker summarized the discussion about tutors stating that the base budget makes services available to all students who need them and the preferred budget would increase the scope and availability of remedial services beyond which is currently provided. Ms. Dobrow said that the administrative team has thought through the issues, scheduling and impact and that she is comfortable with the proposal that the administration has presented.

      Mr. Picker moved that the School Committee vote to adopt the FY�07 Base Budget in the amount of $8,218,788 to be spent as recommended in the memorandum submitted by the administration. Ms. Dobrow seconded the motion. . Ms. Manos said she agreed with how most of the dollars in the base budget were being allocated, but would rather see tutor time than the fall production in the base budget. Ms. Dobrow, Ms. Hessler, Mr. Picker, and Ms. Rogers voted in favor. Ms. Borgert concurred. Ms. Manos voted against the motion.

      For the preferred budget, Mr. Brandmeyer recommended restoring 40 hours of tutor support for remedial intervention for $32,000 and restoring $16,000 for maintenance (repair of five exterior exits). Mr. Brandmeyer also recommended three new initiatives for the preferred budget: (1) a redesigned science and technology engineering project for $25,000, (2) $12,000 for instructional material for guided reading, and (3) $15,000 for professional development for technology integration.

      Ms. Dobrow asked whether there are other initiatives from the initial list of initiatives submitted by the administration which should be on the preferred budget. Mr. Brandmeyer said that this covers all the new initiatives except for expansion of professional development. He said that a way was found to expand seventh grade foreign language, one of the new initiatives originally proposed, without new money.

      Ms. Hessler asked whether $15,000 for professional development for technology integration would be enough to accomplish what the administration wants to do next year. Mr. Naso said that this would be funding for some professional development time in the summer and funding for some starter technology sets which would allow the work to begin. There would be a larger warrant request at a later date.r.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that the town is currently budgeting FY�07 energy and utilities at 15% over FY�06 budgeted amount and that school is currently budgeting FY�07 energy and utilities at 20% over FY�06 budgeted amount. If the amount the school has budgeted for FY�07 energy is adjusted downward, Mr. Brandmeyer proposes using them to offset Circuit Breaker funds. Mr. Brandmeyer said that the District has previously agreed with the Finance Committee to allocate Circuit Breaker funds so as to equalize the impact on the budget over several years. As the plan was originally structured the same amount would have been applied in FY�07 as in previous years but the FY�07 base budget currently includes $256,000 from the Circuit Breaker/special revenue account, an increase of $35,000 over FY�06. He said that the special revenue fund is projected to have a balance of $110,000 entering FY�08 and if the District were to apply $256,000 in FY�07 they would enter FY�08 with a gap of $146,000. Ms. Manos said that if there are savings from a change in the projections for energy and utilities, she would like to see the savings applied to restoring tutor time rather than used to offset the Circuit Breaker funds. Ms. Brandmeyer said that if there is a change in the projected energy and utility costs, he will come back to the School Committee for a decision on how the savings should be applied.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said, as a result of the reconsideration of transportation costs which took place in developing the FY�07 budget proposals, he had one additional proposal. He would like to District to consider moving again to a full day kindergarten from there current program which is currently 85% full day. He said that the additional bus runs on the kindergarten half days add cost. He also said that more kindergarten students are going to the LEAP program in the afternoons than have in the past and that more parents appear to want a full-time kindergarten program. He proposed drafting a letter to be sent to parents of kindergarten students for next year and the year after. This communication would set forth the history of the kindergarten program from FY�03 to date, the educational benefits of full day kindergarten, the financial implications of the current model, and would ask for input from parents. If the District were to adopt a full day kindergarten, there would be $26,000 in savings. If this step is taken, Mr. Brandmeyer would recommend that the savings be used to offset Circuit Breaker funds.

      Ms. Dobrow asked whether there is data about other districts moving to full day kindergarten. She also asked what supports the kindergarten team would need to make this change. Becky Eston said that she appreciated that the question of what supports the team needs is being asked. She also said that revisiting this issue could be emotionally charged for the kindergarten team and for parents. She said that increasing kindergarten time could help students to meet learning expectations and noted that adding to the curriculum is not contemplated. She also said that kindergarten is slated to go from four to three sections next year. Ms. Hadley said that the change to a full day kindergarten could have a positive impact on children and could allow more in depth coverage of the curriculum.

      Mr. Brandmeyer said that there has been a full day kindergarten at Hanscom for seven years and that many schools are moving to full day kindergarten. He noted that some schools conduct one kindergarten class in the morning and a second in the afternoon and that many of these schools lack the space needed for a full day program. He said he will look for data from the Massachusetts Department of Education on districts moving to full day kindergarten.

      Ms. Hessler asked about efforts to communicate the budget to the community. Ms. Dobrow will provide an update in January for the PTA. Ms. Dobrow said that in January the School Committee will plan to participate in a coordinated community budget communications effort.

      Ms. Dobrow thanked Mr. Brandmeyer, Mr. Naso, and the administrative team for the amazing effort that went into the budget.

    2. Request from Lincoln-Sudbury School Committee to Update Lincoln School Committee on FY�07 Budget Status
      Patty Mostue, a member of the Lincoln-Sudbury Regional School Committee, provided an update on the Regional School Committee�s FY�07 budget situation. Ms. Mostue said that the Regional School Committee has asked their superintendent not to propose at 1.5 % increase budget because it would not provide adequate resources. At a 1.5% increase , 42% of classes would be over 26 students. The Regional School Committee is recommending a budget which would bring classes back to 2003-2004 sizes and there will be an override request. Next year Lincoln-Sudbury is projected to have 42 more students than this year. Next year is projected to be a peak year for student population. Ms. Dobrow thanked Ms. Mostue for the report.

    3. Science and Mathematics Update
      Document: Status Report on Curriculum Work in Mathematics and Science, December 10, 2005, Central Office

      Mr. Naso presented a status report on curriculum work in mathematics and science. Kathy O�Connell, the Mathematics Content Specialist, and Dave Joseph, Science Content Specialist, were present for this discussion. Mr. Naso said that work has been done in mathematics and science to articulate learning expectations. He said that this work will help to communicate the curriculum to parents and the community at large but that it also is related to giving direction and focus to teachers and teams. The aim is to post on the web and distribute this work to parents. To that end, the first pieces on the math curriculum are now available on the web site. Mr. Naso demonstrated how this information can be accessed from the curriculum page and said that is can also be accessed from the math content overview. Mr. Naso said that the science curriculum is split by campus and that the science curriculum overview has two columns�one for Lincoln and one for Hanscom. Units will be listed and there will be links showing what the units cover. Currently 25 to 30% of the descriptions of what units cover have been completed.

      Mr. Naso said that these documents are not the end-product, they are tools for focusing teaching, and how teachers bring these documents to life is important. Mr. Naso shared a prototype teacher�s guide on fifth grade science and pointed out the summary planning guide which states what the student should know and what the student should know how to do. He said that this document is a way to guide teachers� thinking.

      Kathy O�Connell said learning expectations have been completed in mathematics for grades K-8 with the exception of one strand for grade 3. She said that some enduring understandings need to be added. She expects that the document will be complete by late winter. Ms. O�Connell said that she has had many rich and powerful discussions with teachers in creating the learning expectations.

      Ms. O�Connell said that work on assessments is an important priority for her. She described work on summative assessments to confirm that key outcomes have been attained. She said that kindergarten has done an assessment for each outcome which has been administered on each campus and that in the spring the kindergarten teachers will come together to check on outcome statements. Ms. OConnell will begin to work on this with two additional grades.

      Ms. OConnell said that teachers in grades K-3 are using materials from the Assessing Mathematics Concepts program to assess students understanding of number sense/operations. She said that three teachers were trained in this last summer. The use of these materials helps teachers to identify students who need remediation and students who need enrichment. She said that these materials were used to see whether third grade students at Hanscom had gaps in their knowledge and provided guidance for intervention with 8 to 10 students. The program can also be used to give class profiles and this has been done with the Lincoln second grade and with one section of the first grade at Hanscom Primary School. The special education teachers are also able to use this material for informal assessments. They cannot use it for formal assessments because there is no normed [normative/ not sure what she said here] data.

      Ms. OConnell said that she is looking at the MCAS results, that there were two subcategories that the district did not make progress on. She said that these areas had been identified for attention before the MCAS results were received.

      Ms. OConnell said that she, Claire Groden (Math Specialist Hanscom Primary School) and Carolyn Shannon (Math Specialist Hanscom Middle School) applied for and received two Lincoln School Foundation grants, one on measurement and one on patterns/algebra. Ms. OConnell said that she would like to see primary teachers spending one hour per day on math but that they currently are able to spend 47 minutes on it.

      Ms. OConnell said that she continues to have discussions with the Lincoln-Sudbury (LS) math department head. She reported that LS math teachers cannot determine a difference in preparation between Sudbury and Lincoln students. She said there are occasional gaps in knowledge for Lincoln students and occasional gaps for Sudbury students. Ms. OConnell has received copies of the first two units used for Geometry 1 & 2 at LS complete with content and tests. This will enable her to make sure that students are prepared for the first units. She has attempted to determine whether there is a way to better prepare students for Intensive Geometry. For this honors course, the high school teachers expect a leap in students thinking for which there is no adequate way to prepare. for. She counsels trusting that the LS teachers will help students make this leap.

      Regarding the Bedford High School transition, Ms. Connell said that Hanscom Middle School math and English teachers are meeting with their counterparts at Bedford High School. This year John Glenn Middle School and Hanscom Middle School will administer the same Algebra I final. Ms. OConnell said that Bedford High School has a three year Algebra/Geometry course which many former Hanscom students cannot take because they cannot make a three year commitment.

      Dave Joseph said that the science curriculum content overview was begun by having teachers write down what science units they teach and what learning standards these pertain to. Dave Joseph has gone through the standards for K-8 and listed grade by grade what teachers reported they were teaching. He said that it is important that the curriculum work be useful and teacher friendly. He noted that the prototype teachers guide does not tell teachers how to teach because this is up to them. Mr. Josephs said his ultimate goal is to have a pamphlet for teachers as a teaching guide but that this year his goal is to have a unit completed for each grade level.

      Mr. Joseph has done professional development work with the kindergarten teachers to develop a unit on wind and with the Lincoln third grade team developing a science unit. He has been working with teams on both campuses since September. He has scheduled work with kindergarten and grades 2, 3, and 5 on Wednesday afternoons and is looking to fit in some additional times. His work with the primary grades is more on unit design and going through the frameworks and standards to see what is being covered. His work with the middle school teachers who are science teachers is focused on assessments and evidence of learning. There has been work with an outside consultant to look at assessment, standards, and alternative assessments practices. Mr. Joseph said that a conference he recently attended the speaker made a passionate case for more science in the early grades because certain misconceptions are developed early on and can be difficult to change later.

      Mr. Joseph said that the District has been working with Teachers21 on assessments and with Tufts University on the Lego Program. He said that they are also interested in developing a partnership with a university or agency to bring additional opportunities into the science program.

      Ms. Dobrow thanked Mr. Naso, Ms. OConnell, and Mr. Joseph for their report. Ms. Hessler asked that efforts be made to communicate to parents about what they can do to help their children become excited about and proficient in math and science. She said that in the Lincoln School there are very specific expectations of parents for reading activities and that she would like to see similar expectations for math and science. Ms. OConnell said that she has identified websites that support the math program which parents can link into. She said that she hopes to do a parent breakfast to communicate about opportunities for parent support.

      Ms. Hessler also asked about helping students who are able to move faster. Claire Groden said she has been looking at enrichment in the third grade at Hanscom and is weaving enrichment activities throughout the program. She is doing enrichment in the classroom. She is trying to have a little pullout and more whole class differentiated instruction.

      Ms. Rogers asked about the timeline for completing the learning expectations. Mr. Naso said that a lot of the work has been done in math and that more work will be done on common assessments and screening assessments. He said that there may be ways to accelerate progress in science now that initial work has been done. He said that in science the needs are different at different grade levels. For the middle school, where teachers have science backgrounds, the focus is more on how to make the learning engaging and exciting. In the primary grades, the focus is more on how to help teachers who do not have science backgrounds do this work.

      Ms. Rogers asked whether there is a model for a curriculum specialist for each subject that the District can afford. She asked about sustainability of current positions, continuous renewal of curriculum, and about accountability. Mr. Naso said that all this work is part of accountability and sustainability. He said there is no simple answer for a small district. He said that he has several different models of curriculum specialists going on at the same time. He said the District will need a specialist in social studies in a few years. He said that loss of a curriculum specialist can result in loss of focus but that leadership among teachers is also important. Mr. Brandmeyer said that curriculum work has not yet been done for literacy. He said that this is continuous work and that there is no time when it will be complete noting that professional development is necessary as the faculty turns over. He said that having part-time curriculum specialists like Mr. Joseph who also have teaching responsibilities is new for the District. He asked what the impact would be if the District had two people doing what Mr. Joseph is doing or if Ms. OConnell could spend more time working with the other math specialists.

      Mr. Picker congratulated Mr. Joseph for the progress he has made in a short time, working part-time, noting that more resources and more time have gone into the math curriculum work to date, and commented that the science curriculum still lacks coherence. Mr. Naso said that work has been done to find places to cover material in unified units but that there is more to be done. He said it is not enough to check whether the standards are addressed and that the District must also ascertain whether it has the right package and whether units are being taught in the right order.

      Mr. Picker asked whether there is an effort to focus on the skills of thinking about science which transcend the specific subject matter rather just facts. Mr. Joseph said that he had this in mind in developing the prototype teachers guide section about inquiry. He said that separate scientific inquiry skills will be identified in conjunction with the units.

      Mr. Picker asked whether there are attempts to assess students excitement and engagement as opposed to knowledge. Mr. Joseph said that he believes that knowledgeable and grounded teachers can engage students. He said that inspirational teachers are teachers who love their subject. Mr. Naso said that when observing classrooms you can tell a lot about whether students are engaged by observing their body language and their desire to talk about what they are learning. Ms. Eston said that how students feel as learners is important. Mr. Joseph said that the invention convention in the 5th grade is a great success. He said there is talk of holding public exhibitions for students in grades 6-8. He said the school formerly held science week. Ms. Groden said that you can tell how engaged a child is by the level of risk that they are willing to take such as whether they will try to solve a hard problem and by the level of interest in extra activities such as family math night, after-school math, and the Continental math league.

      Mr. Naso said that with focus the District may be able to accelerate the curriculum work and that the specialists are able to refine what teachers tell them. Ms. Eston said that this model with Ms. OConnell and Mr. Joseph in their positions works. She said that they are her resources as a classroom teacher and that movement is possible because she can trust that they are in the lead. She said that work on the units will speed up with as more experience working on units is gained. She said she believes that the District has never had such a good model and people in place.

      Mr. Naso said that the curriculum work will need to be modified as it moves into other subject areas because of differences in the subject areas and how they are taught. It is necessary to think about what is particular to each subject. Mr. Joseph commented that in this work the staff is developing habits of mind amongst themselves and translating them to the students.

    4. Review and Approval of School Committee Submission for Annual Town Report
      Ms. Dobrow submitted a draft of the School Committees report for inclusion in the Annual Town Report. Ms. Manos developed a list of Notable Events and Successes. The School Committee made editorial changes to the draft submitted by Ms. Dobrow and to the list submitted by Ms. Manos. These edits will be made and the report will then be submitted to the town report and placed on the School Committees web site.

  6. Superintendents Report
    Mr. Brandmeyer thanked Cheryl Lecesse for her work with Lincoln students in the after-school newspaper club. He congratulated Ryan Chaffin, Alex Kusik, Will Bursaw, Theo Geotmann, and Karina Rios Diaz on the publication of the School Bell, the students page in the Lincoln Journal.

  7. Curriculum
    1. Science and Mathematics Update
      (Covered under V. C. above)

  8. Policy

  9. Budget and Financial
    1. Warrant Approval
      Ms. Manos said that she has reviewed the warrants with Ms. Bottan and that they appear to be in order. Ms. Manos moved that the School Committee vote warrants in the amount of $790,978.28. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  10. Old Business
    1. Update: Status of Capital Planning
      Ms. Hessler reported on the status of capital planning. Ms. Dobrow said that Capital Planning is determining which projects may be eligible for CPA funding. She asked Mr. Brandmeyer to report to her on the priority of getting appropriate exit hardware on all doors. Ms. Hessler noted that the School Committee could go back to Capital Planning about the five exit ramps in light of new information.

  11. New Business

  12. Approval of Minutes
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the minutes of December 8, 2005 be accepted as amended. Mr. Picker seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

  13. Information Enclosures
  14. Adjournment
    Ms. Dobrow moved that the School Committee adjourn the meeting. Ms. Hessler seconded the motion. All elected members voted in favor, with Ms. Borgert concurring.

Respectfully submitted,
Sara Rolley, School Committee Recording Secretary