Brookline School Board
CSDA Media Room
November 25, 2008
Dave Partridge, Chair
Jim Murphy @6:08 pm
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 6:07 pm the Chairman declared the meeting open.
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board go into non-public under RSA 91A:3II (e) Litigation. Wanda Meagher seconded the motion. The motion carried by unanimous roll call vote 5 yes, 0 no, and the Board entered non-public session at 6:07 PM. At __6:35__PM, the Board returned to public session continue the meeting.
Members of the press and public.
Minutes: Marcia Farwell moved to approve the minutes of October 28, 2008 (sent by email). Wanda Meagher seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0.
Comments from the Floor: There were no comments.
Superintendent’s Report (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Superintendent Hodgdon outlined her report to board. The Superintendent noted the Hollis Facilities Needs study had been released since the last board meeting and suggested this be an agenda topic for the December meeting.
Discussion ensued relative to the NESDEC Enrollment Projections and the statistics versus reality. Chairman Partridge suggested at the SAU level look at the statistics versus the reality and see how good the numbers are one year out.
Principals’ Report (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Laurie Wenger reviewed highlights of her report. She noted Kristina Henry is looking into grant funding for the educational materials needed for the LTA procedures. Principal Wenger commented that the Fresh Air Fridays program is going well with good participation overall.
Kristina Henry reported the Wellness Committee met in November and noted Beth Lukovits was kind enough to join. Ms. Henry explained there will be a survey going out to the staff to identify gaps in order to maintain compliance to wellness reported to the State.
Laurie Wenger stated the Artist in Residence Program is in progress. She explained they are in discussions with Plymouth State College regarding a partnership where the school would write a play to be performed later in the year and the school would get the credit for the writing. The college would hold writing workshops at the school with the children. Principal Wenger noted this is a very exciting opportunity and the funding is possible due to Xilinx support. She also pointed out the tiger on display which was gifted to the school from the Tiger Theatre.
It was noted at this point that CSDA has received from Hockmeyer Studios $1,400 and RMMS received $1,500. These funds are used for financial support for student activities at RMMS and CSDA.
Lastly, Principal Wenger stated 8 CSDA students attended the Lego League Robotics (first time) and received the Rookie of the Year Award. She also congratulated Brookline students Patrick McDaniel and Dylan King for their achievement at the HBHS Granite State Challenge.
Other Reports: Superintendent Hodgdon informed the Board of the resignation of Trevor Bosquet effective 11/14/08 and also of the retirement of Judi Sortino effective at the year end.
Pre-School Proposal (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Two Representatives, Maureen Chorma and Francine Hirsch, of the Preschool Committee Proposal presented highlights of the report to the board. Maureen Chorma explained the proposal would be for 3 and 4 years olds. There would be 12 children in a class for a 4 day week with the 3 year olds in the morning and 4 year olds in the afternoon. There would be an extended day as needed.
The program would also identify special needs by holding screenings once a month, working closely with families providing suggestions and/or services. One benefit to the proposal would be to allow Brookline to monitor the children. Staff members would conduct the screenings on their off day along with developing IEP’s for those identified for placement in the least restrictive environment.
The program would be tuition based @ $240.00 month, screening for eligibility on a first come, first serve basis. Beth Lukovits questioned why first come, first serve and not a lottery. Maureen Chorma responded this was a good question and up for debate as this was a proposal. Chairman Partridge asked about the preference to siblings and was told this was typical. Wanda Meagher agreed this is a typical preschool policy. There was discussion of allowing children of those working in the district and not living in the district to attend, should the need allow.
The proposal shows Room B indentified as the classroom for safety and location to services and bathrooms.
Proposal staffing would be for 1 FT teacher, 1 FT Para educator, 1 pt Preschool Coordinator and 1 PT Speech Language Pathologist.
Review of the program day along with the schedule of program development was included. Maureen and Fran Hirsch noted marketing of the program has begun. Discussion ensued relative to January being routinely the timeline for enrollment. Wanda Meagher explained she had been on the board at Little Laurel Preschool for 4 years and the 4 year old program is always wait-listed. She also noted that although enrollment begins in January, it is ongoing.
A member of the public noted at the Hollis Preschool, people pay a $50 deposit to hold a slot with the balance due in May.
Beth Lukovits pointed out there is one pre-school in town and several out of town.
Maureen Chorma noted the added bonus would be an easy transition for pre-schoolers.
Fincom Chair Ben Cargill questioned the tuition and noted the tuition would not cover the budget. He asked where the rest of the funding would be coming from and was told this was on the next slide of the presentation.
Chairman Partridge questioned what happens with the special education needs and balancing. Maureen Chorma answered the Department of Education mandates that all those with special needs be educated and the ratio (identified special needs versus regular education) is 50/50 or better. She explained you can have more than 12 children in the class as long as the 50/50 or better ratio is met.
Maureen Chorma reviewed the projected budget prepared by Wanda Meagher with the bottom line showing a $33,974.77 savings. The savings is realized due to the ability to keep the students in district versus paying to place students out of district and the costs associated with those placements.
Discussion ensued relative to the cost of any play equipment and what is required. The Board was informed there are not mandates that come with pre-school and that generally, donations come from the community to help defray any costs in this area.
Marcia Farwell asked about the $67K for an extra classroom. It was explained this was researched by Lidia Desrochers to answer Marcia’s earlier question about space needs and any future needs. Lidia Desrochers explained Kobb Hill Construction Company conducted an investigation estimate and answered any question she had along the way. The storage room down stairs was identified as a “switch room” that could be converted to a classroom at the cost of $67K. Beth Lukovits questioned if this would add to the elevator issue and Marcia pointed out this would bring up the sprinkler system issue.
Marcia Farwell also questioned the reduction in cost of overhead/billing. Maureen Chorma and Bob Kelly both answered this is achieved by the services being performed in house by employees versus now being paid out of district. It was also noted in this discussion that there would be improved supervision of the program/services as we hire the staff and supervise the staff.
In summary, Wanda Meagher publicly thanked everyone on the committee for their time and effort. She stated there had been a lot of work accomplished in a short period of time.
Beth Lukovits asked about the place holder in the budget for the Special Ed Teacher as a BA+30 versus MA, Step 5 and it was agreed to be MA, Step 5.
Wanda Meagher commented that she personally sees many reasons to support the proposal for the costing savings even with lower projected number plus the earlier opportunity to build relationships with parents.
Bob Kelly agreed with Wanda Meagher’s points and added he will follow-up on the question regarding once the Department of Education approves a program, can that program be terminated or eliminated.
Beth Lukovits stated she would support the proposal and she would support putting forth the proposal for the Town to decide.
Chairman Partridge suggested the board take some time to review the proposal and a vote be taken at the December meeting.
Beth Lukovits suggested a spread sheet be prepared with floating numbers relative to number of special education students to show the savings of students not going out of district.
Maureen Chorma added that the part-time RN would allow for a back-up for the full-time nurse and that is why they budgeted an RN versus an LPN or CNA.
Jim Murphy asked if full-time positions were needed with a four day work week and was reminded of the screenings, IEP’ and evaluations that would be done on the 5th day. Upon further discussion, it was agreed the Aide position could be part-time versus full-time.
The same member of the public commented she has a report which she held up and she explained there are only 7 states in the U.S. that do not have pre-school.
FY10Budget: Dawna Duhamel distributed copies of a draft budget and noted there are two large budget drivers 1. Heath Insurance with a 10.1 increase budgeted place holder and 2. Special Education budget. Ms. Duhamel noted the Health insurance will actually be known in May and that rate goes by claims experience.
Discussion ensued relative to different cost saving ideas such as pre-buying oil with price protection insurance, energy rate increases and looking at going to the open market. Discussion included looking at Health insurance plans and possible changes to propose with the union contract.
Marcia Farwell questioned page 16 Special Ed, if this was an additional position and was told yes, to meet IEP issues. Bob Kelly explained this area of the budget shows any items added after budgets were set last January.
At this point there was lengthy discussion with Fincom Representative Ben Cargill regarding the format of the budget presentation and his perception that it does not reflect overall increases due to the separation of School A & B from District reporting. Jim Murphy explained this format allows the school board to see the very specific contractual items such as salaries, health care, retirement, etc., which are not Principal spending decisions. Chairman Partridge agreed he could understand Ben Cargill’s concern but reiterated Mr. Murphy’s explanation that this reporting groups the contractual cost separate from non-contractual costs.
The board also discussed a general energy contingency expendable trust to help contend with the wild card issues of late concerning expenditures such as heating oil. Dawna Duhamel stated this would be a good vehicle to address this issue.
Discussion ensued again relative to Ben Cargill’s concerns relative to the budget being up an estimated $842K from last year but that the two schools appear to be up only $140K. This was a lengthy discussion in which the Board explained the breakout of the budget line items showing the contractual costs separate from those not dictated by contracts. Jim Murphy reminded Mr. Cargill that this was the Board’s first look at the budget and the numbers may not look this way in March.
Wanda Meagher questioned Page 9, Maintenance Account, 2600-43-49 noting items such as Fire Alarm would not be carried over. It was agreed these would be reviewed for the next discussion.
Wanda Meagher also questioned Page 25 & 26 2142, 2143 Speech, out of district and asked if we are sending the students out for services. Bob Kelly stated we almost never send students out for services. He stated these costs are for speech services at Sunrise.
Beth Lukovits noted $21K for Physical Therapy is close to a .5. Bob Kelly noted Physical Therapy in the market is different. He stated if it stays the same we could get the numbers to see what the market bears. Wanda Meagher suggested checking into what Hollis needs are and maybe there could be shared services.
Jim Murphy requested Bob Kelly prepare a report for non-public regarding cost of placement and he agreed.
Marcia Farwell suggested taking the budget home for further review and moving on with the agenda. The board members concurred. Chairman Partridge suggested filtering questions through him between Ben Cargill and the board members.
Business Administrator: Dawna Duhamel distributed a report on food services through October. Chairman Partridge asked for a report showing where we are based on Café Services projections.
Beth Lukovits commented that at the Wellness meeting Kristi Raymond spoke about having a lunch with your child day/week and they could do this without charging the parents. Beth Lukovits stated she felt this would not help as parents should be going through the line with their child and explaining the options thereby helping the child understand the choices. Ms. Lukovits stated she felt if there were a special pasta dish at no charge for the parent, this opportunity would be missed. Beth Lukovits stated she felt parents would attend and pay for their meal.
Beth Lukovits also asked Dawna Duhamel about the 4.7% fee and was told it was in the welcome letter. Ms. Lukovits noted the welcome letter went home before the service was available and many ended up discarded. She suggested the letter go home again. Beth Lukovits stated she had recently received notification her child’s account as $22 in the hole and has been unable to get a call returned. She expressed concern that the amount was so high prior to a note coming home. Dawna Duhamel encouraged anyone to contact her should something like this occur.
Second Reading of Policy - Use of School Facilities Policy (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Marcia Farwell moved to table the second reading of the Use of School Facilities Policy. Wanda Meagher seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.
December 16, 2008 Regular Meeting
January 6, 2009, 6 pm Budget workshop meeting
January 27, 2009 Regular Meeting
March 3, 2009, District Meeting
Agreeing Memorandum of Understanding: Tabled.
Adjournment: At 9:55 pm Marcia Farwell moved to adjourn the meeting. Jim Murphy seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0
Date __________________________ Signed ________________________