Brookline School Board

CSDA Media Room

January 27, 2009


Dave Partridge, Chair

Marcia Farwell

Beth Lukovits

Wanda Meagher

Jim Murphy

Susan Hodgdon, Superintendent of Schools

Dawna Duhamel, Business Administrator

Carol Mace, Director of Curriculum and Instruction

Robert Kelly, Director of Special Education

Lorraine Wenger, Principal, CSDA

Lidia Desrochers, Principal, RMMS

Kristina Henry, Assistant Principal




At 6:08 pm the Chairman declared the meeting open.


Members of the press and public.


Minutes:  Beth Lukovits moved to approve the minutes of November 25, 2008 (sent by email).  Marcia Farwell seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0.


Comments from the Floor:  Amy Fessenden stated it had been agreed at a previous meeting that Dawna Duhamel would meet regularly with the cafeteria staff and according to the RMMS staff this has not happened and the staff has concerns.  She stated she had obtained a copy of the minutes to verify this had been the agreement and it was.   Dawna Duhamel responded the budget is now up to date and she would have time to meet with the staff and would be happy to do so.  Ms. Duhamel added that if there are concerns, she would encourage the staff to reach out to her at any time. Ms. Fessenden thanked Ms. Duhamel and said it would be appreciated.


Superintendent’s Report):  Superintendent Hodgdon gave a verbal report to the board which consisted of two staffing decisions. She read aloud a letter from Sarah Griffith dated 1/13/09 requesting 6 weeks of maternity leave with her expectant dates of absence beginning 4/8/09 and returning in June 2009.  Marcia Farwell moved to approve the request for 6 weeks maternity leave as requested by Sarah Griffith.  Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.


The other staffing decision was a letter from Lisa Lindsay which Superintendent Hodgdon read aloud asking for a salary track change for the 09-10 school year recognizing the request was past the 1/10 due date.  Superintendent Hodgdon noted this was a contractual issue and therefore, she was bringing to the board for their vote.  Discussion ensued relative to when the request was submitted (1/13/09) and when it was due by (1/10/09).  The board reviewed the budget impact (under $1,800 for next FY).  After some discussion the board agreed that due to the recent ice storm and subsequent extended power outage they would be supportive to the request.  Beth Lukovits moved to accept Lisa Lindsay’s request for salary track change for the 09/10 school year.  Wanda Meagher seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.


Lastly, Superintendent Hodgdon reported she had been in contact with Nancy Orde, Hollis Transportation regarding the Life Threatening Allergies Policy.  According to Ms. Orde, the bus company recognizes and supports the policy.  The drivers have received training from both the school nurses and from the fire department.  They currently carry epi-pen kits if the parents provide them.  Regarding the no eating policy, the bus company is in support but sometimes this gets set aside when it is beyond their control.  Superintendent Hodgdon explain circumstances when there is a field trip or an away game where students are travelling a distance and would need to eat and therefore, the no eating policy has to be put aside.  The manager would like to see the training from the school nurses as an annual event.  Ms. Hodgdon explained she (manager) acknowledged some drivers are better at monitoring than others and that this would get better with training over time.


Principals’ Report (appended to the file copy of the minutes):  Laurie Wenger reviewed highlights of her report.  LTA Procedures have been shared with the teachers and school board and waiting for information from bus company and insurance carriers.  She added kudos to the nurses for their efforts!  Laurie Wenger noted the Danielson evaluation model Leadership training was January 22nd and they are busy with evaluations.  Lastly, Ms. Wenger noted the problems with ice dams at CSDA and that Chris has been shoveling the portables as needed.  She stated the heating problems would be repaired during February vacation due to the problem of stop valves not being in place and a large area will have to have the heat shut down in order to make the repair.


Chairman Partridge asked if there was a quote for the roof work and was told $4,500-8K.  Principal Wenger stated the roof work for the vandal repairs had been completed and she is still waiting on a quote for the “rot” work.


Superintendent Hodgdon noted that in the current climate even those roofs that have been shoveled are not any less prone to ice dams.


Laurie Wenger also distributed copies of grade enrollment as had been requested by Marcia Farwell.  Discussion ensued relative to the projected Kindergarten number of 73 and it was agreed it should be higher.


Director of Curriculum and Math Preliminary Report NECAP Results (appended to file copy of the minutes): Carol Mace reported on NECAP results being misprinted in the Nashua Telegraph.  She stated she had a lengthy conversation with the reporter and he agreed he had made an error in the reading results and would print a correction on Wednesday on page 2 or 3.


Carol Mace explained her report outlines background information regarding the NECAP testing and a summary of the results.  She stated Brookline students scored above state average in all areas, with a couple of exceptions.  Ms. Mace explained the 6th grade dropped which is a red flag for her but this is a different group and she will have to look at how they performed as 4th graders.    Carol Mace also noted the Math scores went from 59% this year down from 67%, last year.   


Ms. Mace discussed the Mean Scaled Scores and stated it is hard to compare writing as there are different cohorts from year to year.  Beth Lukovits asked if the NWA will help looking to see if they are going down and was told yes, that will be an aid.


2008-2008 Calendar:  Superintendent Hodgdon explained the original calendar projected the last day of school as 6/19/09 and considered 5 snow days.  She stated thus far there have been 7 snow days bringing the last day to 6/23/09 and potentially another tomorrow which would bring the last day to 6/24/09.  She reminded the Board there is still quite a bit of winter left.  Wanda Meagher suggested considering make up days for February school vacation.  Superintendent Hodgdon reminded the Board there are family and staff planning to consider.  Wanda Meagher stated she is more concerned with staff planning. Superintendent Hodgdon stated this would be the only district in the SAU to opt for February break make up days. Wanda Meagher then suggested looking at April school vacation.


Chairman Partridge asked what the requirement is and was told 180 days.  He noted that the Governor had indicated during the outage waivers would be considered.


Discussion ensued relative to number of days to make up 2 or three and it was noted there is a holiday to be observed that week.  The principals were directed to do an informal survey of the staff to number that may have conflict (already booked vacation) and what would be better beginning week or end of the week.  The Board was in agreement that covering a curriculum was a top priority but that going late into June may not achieve that goal.


Dave Partridge stated he would think seriously about a waiver request and was reminded the answer would not be back until April time frame.


There was also discussion of 945 hours of instructional time and that would equal 172 days of their school days.  Chairman Partridge stated that would be important information to be noted in a waiver request.


Superintendent Hodgdon also noted that if she has to call two hour delay on an early release day (four are scheduled) then she would like to cancel the early release.  She explained if they get the information out to parents now, that this would be the case, people would know and plan accordingly if the forecast called for snow.  Chairman Partridge asked to take this up as the 10 day forecast predicted snow on the projected early release days.


FY10 Budget:  Business Administrator Dawna Duhamel distributed copies of the FY10 Draft Budget for review.  Fincom Member Ben Cargill questioned pg 3, 11 69 614 as he thought the $500 was agreed opposite at the last meeting and would be subtracted out.  After review Jim Murphy and Dave Partridge concurred that the document was correct.  Ben Cargill also pointed out the $116,000 voted as a warrant article last year was not part of the budget and should be noted at town meeting.  Wanda Meagher clarified that once adopted, the amount becomes part of the budget but agreed it should be pointed out.


Wanda Meagher asked if the Board wanted to entertain a warrant article to fund a student automated phone notification system.  The amount would be $1,800 and the purpose would be to make students/families aware of information as needed.  Superintendent Hodgdon noted the Hollis system was used during the ice storm to get word out.  Wanda Meagher moved to prepare a warrant article for a Student Automated Phone Notification System in the amount of $1,800.  Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.


Wanda Meagher raised the issue of funding a Building Education Spec Committee.  She explained concerns had been brought to her that if two years in a row there were not enough classrooms perhaps that issue should be visited.  Dave Partridge reminded the Board that a Building Education Spec Committee had been formed and the Portables were the result.  Wanda Meagher agreed.


Dave Partridge asked if the Stimulus package might include anything toward school building and if so, we should take advantage.  Superintendent Hodgdon stated Ed Murdough had stated at the Superintendent’s meeting that the anticipated bail out funds this year would be 2 million for the entire state including building and transportation.


Wanda Meagher asked about including additional funds for the Maintenance Capital Fund which has 18K left.  Discussion then turned to heating oil and a Capital Reserve Fund.  The Board agreed to put a warrant article first to fund $29,000 and then reduce the budget by that amount, if the article is successful. Ben Cargill felt the Fincom would be support of such an article as the funds, if not used would be there for the next year’s budget.


The Board returned discussion the Building Maintenance and with the repairs scheduled for the roof and the floor to be done, the account will be depleted by year end.  Beth Lukovits stated she would like to try to get 10-15K back in the fund as this would be the only way to pay for unforeseen repairs.  Marcia Farwell suggested that the voters will say you still have money in the fund.  She also wanted to see the roof quote and was still not clear with the repairs needed.  Chairman Partridge reiterated the ice damming issue as one problem and another issue is the improper venting of the roof which causes a“cooking” issue creating cracking and thereby reducing the life of the roof.  Chairman Partridge welcomed Marcia Farwell to solicit more quotes for the roof. 


Dave Partridge agreed with Beth Lukovits that this account is the only way to fund unexpected large repairs as it is the only funding source.  Wanda Meagher asked Ben Cargill if he thought Fincom would support such an article and he was not sure.  Ben Cargill stated Fincom would probably support it if the other repairs were done but not at this point with the current balance in the account.


Beth Lukovits moved to create an article to raise and appropriate $10,000 for Maintenance Capital Fund.  Wanda Meagher seconded and the motion carried 5-1-0 with Marcia Farwell in opposition stating she felt there were other monies in the budget in smaller maintenance accounts.  Upon further examination, it was understood these funds were allocated for other specific expenditures.


The Board discussed the potential reductions and Wanda Meagher raised the issue of adding the Preschool Coordinator to the list. She stated if the preschool article passes then the position could be eliminated and if not, then we could come back and ask for this.  Special Ed Director Bob Kelly noted this was a recommendation and a placeholder.  Dave Partridge added he would be fully in favor of removing this line item.


Beth Lukovits moved to support removing the Preschool Coordinator position.  Wanda Meagher seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0. 


Wanda Meagher asked for additional information as follows:

·        Major initiatives in the past year (principals and Superintendent to provide)

·        Fincom members – correct list

·        Cost per student data

·        Special Education Data (enrollment/state data, separate out of district costs, etc.)

·        Benefits slide

·        Potential cuts

1.      Single year text books                                                   16,699

2.      2 FT Aide Salaries (Kindergarten)

3.      2 Aide Salaries (Computers)                                         11,813

4.      Preschool Coordinator position (if preschool passes) 25,917


Marcia Farwell asked if there was a warrant article for the preschool and was told no, but it was agreed there should be one.  The Board agreed such an article would follow the fuel reserve article and if it were to pass, that amount would be reduced from the budget.  Wanda Meagher moved to create a warrant article to support a preschool funded at $181,915 and reduce the main budget by that amount.  Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.


Special Ed Direct Bob Kelly reminded the Board one of the cost saving advantages of the preschool to the district is it allows the addition of up to 6 students in each classroom to be absorbed where as if those students were entering the system that would add a cost to the budget as you cannot absorb with out-of-district placement.


Discussion ensued relative to the cost of incoming non-special education student tuition being $240 month and how that compared to those preschools in the area.  The results were calculated as an average hourly rate as the proposed Brookline preschool at $20/hr and the area preschools at approximately $31.20 hour, varying.  Parents in the audience were queried as to their thoughts and positive feedback was received.  Generally, it was agreed it helps students and parents get comfortable with the school and build relationships earlier.


Jim Murphy raised the question to Special Ed Direction Bob Kelly as to how difficult it would be to terminate the program.  Mr. Kelly stated there is no obligation to utilize the program.  However, he explained, the difficulty is for the families participating at that time as it won’t be easy to drop.


Marcia asked where the classroom would be located and was told Room B.


District Clerk:  Chairman Partridge asked the Superintendent if there has been any interest in the District Clerk position and was informed there had been none. 


The Board discussed health plan options and Dawna Duhamel offered to prepare a report with the savings per month for the three plans.


Mary Kay MacFarlane asked when parents can expect to see NWA scores.  Laurie Wenger explained they have until Friday to close and that barring any unforeseen delays, results should go home on 2/13/09.


Non-Public Session


Beth Lukovits moved that the Board go into non-public under RSA 91A:II (c) Reputation.  Jim Murphy seconded the motion.  The motion carried by unanimous roll call vote 5 yes, 0 no, and the Board entered non-public session at 8:56 PM Special Education Director Bob Kelly to be included. At  ____PM, the Board returned to public session to adjourn the meeting.  


Adjournment:  At ____ pm _______moved to adjourn the meeting.  _________seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0




Date     __________________________        Signed  ________________________