Approved as Amended: March 24, 2009
Brookline School Board
CSDA Media Room
February 17, 2009
Dave Partridge, Chair
Jim Murphy @ 6:15 pm
Susan Hodgdon, Superintendent of Schools
Dawna Duhamel, Business Administrator
Carol Mace, Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Robert Kelly, Director of Special Education
Patti Montague, Coordinator, Special Education
Lorraine Wenger, Principal, CSDA
Lidia Desrochers, Principal, RMMS
Kristina Henry, Assistant Principal
At 6:08 pm the Chairman declared the meeting open. The Chairman suggested moving the NECAPs presentation forward on the agenda and the other members concurred.
Members of the press and public.
NECAPs Presentation (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Language Arts Coordinator Betsy Black and Math Curriculum Coordinator Karin Pillion reviewed a PowerPoint presentation of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP). Betsy Black gave an overview of NECAP including guiding principles, when and how administered, and grade level expectations or GLE’s. Ms. Black explained the purpose of the NECAP was intended to evaluate how well students and schools are achieving learning targets contained in the GLE’s noting we now have 4 years of data. She touched on Testing Year and Teaching Year Reports as well as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) which targets increase each year (all students must reach proficiency by 2013-2014).
Karin Pillion reviewed test format along with depth-of-knowledge. She explained the achievement levels 1 through 4 with Student proficiency defined as “proficient or above” (Levels 3 and 4) and Levels 1 and 2 indicate additional instruction/practice is needed. Karin Pillion and Betsy Black reviewed different ways students are prepared for the NECAPS. Ms. Black explained the challenge in the writing prompt as this has changed every year with the outcome being to prepare students for a broad spectrum of writing.
Cheryl Pacquin asked what types of things are in place such as extra math help, enrichment, etc. Karen Pillion explained, yes, there are such programs in place that are ongoing. Students struggling are identified by classroom teachers. Enrichment programs are offered as well.
Jim Murphy noted the percent below proficient and asked what has been learned from this grade level. Laurie Wenger offered this is not a standardized test and that it is a different cohort of students. She noted from an educational stand point, this is a flaw of the NECAP.
A question was asked as to when we will find out the AYP this year and what if a school fails to make AYP. Carol Mace stated a school would make a plan and file it with the state.
Jim Murphy questioned finding a balance and defining the line in “teaching to the test”. Discussion ensued relative to the curriculum/GLE and teaching that which is within the NECAP. Karen Pillion added in math you want to teach the students to apply the concepts and give practices to become more critical thinkers.
Mary McCarthy asked if the data is “crunched” and are we doing higher level thinking? She would love to see numbers relative to that.
There was a question relative to the misprint in the newspaper regarding the test results and Carol Mace reiterated her call to the Nashua Telegraph and that there had been a reprint the following week, though it was hard to find. Carol Mace added she wanted to commend Hattie Bernstein for her excellent job setting the record straight in the Hollis Brookline Journal.
Ernie Pistor questioned the issue of “teaching to the test” and what that means. Karen Pillion explained in math there is a little more function of Algebra taught. Betsy Black stated reading is similar as well and the GLE’s are written in the form of what the students will do. Ernie Pistor then asked if anyone has gone back and assessed student grades to see if there is any trend. Betsy Black responded that generally, there is a correlation and there are also different factors such as how a student is feeling on testing day, how they test, etc.
Mary Kay MacFarlane questioned the use of the Sunshine Math and was told yes, it is offered K-6 and she then asked if those students perform better. Karen Pillion replied they do not have data for that.
District Clerk. Beth Lukovits moved to appoint Annabelle Harris as Clerk for the upcoming meeting. Wanda Meagher seconded the motion. Beth added Annabelle has taken minutes and noted her volunteerism. The motion carried 5-0-0.
Minutes: Marcia Farwell moved to approve the minutes of January 27, 2009 (sent by email). Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0.
Marcia Farwell moved to approve the minutes of February 5, 2009 (sent by email), as amended. Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0.
Principals’ Report (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Laurie Wenger noted Hollis Transportation has submitted their procedures relative to the Life Threatening Allergy Procedures and the document is almost complete. She reported the roof repair quotes have been turned into Dawna Duhamel. Dawna Duhamel will review them and see which will be the best way to go for price and then a hearing will be scheduled. Marcia Farwell stated it sounded like there were differing opinions from the contractors relative to the roof repairs. Dawna Duhamel agreed and added she has the same issue at the SAU which is why she is reviewing further.
Superintendent’s Report: Superintendent Hodgdon reported she had a conversation with Nancy Orde of Hollis Transportation regarding the possibility of decreasing the bus route here in Brookline and the related bus route at the Coop to be reduced. She also noted there was mention at the recent the NH Superintendents’ meeting of the Stimulus money and they are all waiting to see the actual dollars.
IDEA Funding: Chairman Dave Partridge explained there has been a recent push to get nationwide support to restore IDEA funding to the 40% level it is suppose to be instead of the 17% it has been currently funded. He provided a statement which Jim Murphy read aloud (appended to the file copy of the minutes). Jim Murphy moved to the Board vote in support of the statement just read. Marcia Farwell seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0.
FY10 Budget: Chairman Partridge explained he met with Business Administrator Dawna Duhamel to look at various options to get to a 0% increase budget. He stated he would review the list as follows:
Not replacing CSDA teacher 60K
Not hire SPED Case Mgr 70,133K
Reduce SPED 1/1 Para to group (5) 150K
Computer Aide 32K
Reduce a CSDA teacher 60K
Reduce Custodial time 17K
At this point the Chair invited each of the Board members to express their personal views on the proposed cuts.
Beth Lukovits stated she would be in favor of not hiring the SPED Case Manager but not in favor of those cut which impact to class size. The fuel is fine as this is savings with the contract. Ms. Lukovits stated she felt if the Town wants the cuts then they can vote them out. She stated she felt these cuts would cannibalize the budget and that we would not be adding 25% next year to restore the cuts. Beth Lukovits stated she would not be in favor of eliminating Readiness as the Town was in support of this program.
Dave Partridge stated he was in agreement with Beth noting the Town had voted for the portable classrooms in support of class size last year. Principal Wenger was queried for her thoughts and she stated class size would be a priority and they would do what they would have to do to maintain. Discussion ensued relative to possible impact of janitorial cut backs along with computer aides. Beth Lukovits reminded everyone of the outbreaks of strep and staph and janitorial services have impacts as well.
Wanda Meagher stated she was on the fence relative to the teacher non-replacement due to class size as every grade level is on the cusp of needing another classroom. Ms. Meagher asked how the computer lab is staffed on a daily basis and was told RMMS has a teacher during class and an aide FT and CSDA has both FT. Discussion ensued relative to the needs of the labs of each school.
Wanda Meagher was concerned with making SPED Ed more efficient and supported the Foreign Language and Environmental Ed. She stated she would like to see a more effective program than .5 hr/week and suggested a change rather than cut. Ms. Meagher suggested Environmental Ed could be incorporated into the Science program but perhaps put it before the Town. Wanda Meagher stated she cannot support cutting readiness but did support the fuel cut.
Jim Murphy stated he supported not replacing the retiring teacher @ CSDA and that he echoed Dave Partridge’s sentiments relative to the Special Ed Case Manger. He also supported the SPED Para cuts (150K). Mr. Murphy stated he supported cutting the computer aides but not the Foreign Language and Environmental Ed as he was not sure the impact to the curriculum. He stated he is not a fan of readiness and felt this conversation should occur again. Mr. Murphy asked what would not go on if 17K was cut in janitorial services. Laurie Wenger explained this would remove all flexibility. Mr. Murphy stated he did not support cutting the second teacher.
Marcia Farwell summed up her comments by saying she supported the list of cuts with the exception of the Foreign Language.
Mary McCarthy asked what other districts have Readiness and Chairman Partridge said he was not sure. The Chairman explained this program was looked at regularly and there had been lengthy debate as recently as two years ago. He added some districts have reintroduced the program recently.
Forrest Milkowski asked if the Coop bus route was eliminated what would that number be and he was told that number is not known for sure at this time.
Ben Cargill commented that voters cannot eliminate a specific item such as Foreign Language for example, as they are voting on a number. He noted a warrant article would be needed for that type of reduction. Chairman Partridge explained the warrant has already been formed so it would be too late to do so. However, he noted the Board can reduce the number and with direction from the Town, the school board will hear what they want to proceed with.
Chairman Partridge proposed the Board vote on a package of cuts.
Computer Aide: Lengthy discussion over the needs of the aide and it was agreed to move on and revisit this item.
Readiness: Beth Lukovits no, Marcia Farwell yes, Wanda Meagher no or only if age limit changed, Dave Partridge not with Town Vote, Jim Murphy no, not high on list
Not replace CSDA Teacher Jim Murphy yes, Marcia Farwell yes, Wanda Meagher no, Beth Lukovits, no, Dave Partridge agree if Town Votes.
At this point Jim Murphy expressed concern with “if the Town Votes” mentality. He stated it was his belief if the Board brings in a flat line budget and % within then it will be voted. Chairman Partridge stated he would take the budget down to where it makes an educational impact/increases class size and then bring it to the voters and that he disagreed with the analysis.
The Board was in agreement to take the reduction of the second teacher off the list.
Beth Lukovits stated she felt there are those voters that feel they will still be paying the same high taxes but with the cuts will now have “crappy” schools as these cuts will be impacting the quality of education.
Forrest Milkowski commented the budget is at a 9% increase with the warrant articles and the portables and that is a huge amount. Wanda Meagher and Dawna Duhamel noted the amount is 8.49%.
Marcia Farwell reminded everyone with the fuel contract, warrant article 4, 40K will be taken out.
Custodial Services: Beth Lukovits not yet, Marcia Farwell yes, Wanda Meagher not sure, Dave Partridge yes.
A question was asked if groups using the school would pay more and was told right now they are not paying for the time as the staff is covering during their normal hours. However, with this cut, they would have to be billed to pay for coverage.
At this point the Board revisited the Computer Aide and agreed 1 @ 16K. With a list of 226K agreed upon, Marcia Farwell moved to reduce the overall budget by $226K. Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0. Wanda Meagher moved to reduce 2K for library books. Beth Lukovits seconded and the motion carried 5:0:0. It was noted the new budget amount would be $8,791,685.
Forrest Milkowski questioned the benefits line item amount and asked if this was an estimate. Chairman Partridge explained this was an actual and was reflective of health benefits as well as the increase in retirement contribution which is a statutory requirement.
A question was asked if there had been discussion of teachers foregoing raises this year. Chairman Partridge explained this has been discussed and there are contract issues involved. He noted that when things were better the teachers took half the raise in exchange for a five year contract.
Marcia Farwell asked about the Health Care changes and do the teachers vote. She was told yes. Dawna Duhamel noted they have voted yes to be offered and though we cannot enforce movement there should be substantial savings.
Discussion ensued relative how to approach possible additional cuts. Chairman Partridge will have a list of mostly likely things if the situation went to 0% increase budget. It was agreed they would need the number of the bus route and the fuel on hand.
Forrest Milkowski noted with the projected cuts we are now at a 3.9% increase and thanked the Board for their hard work.
2008-2008 Calendar: The Board was updated that the possibility of making up snow days during April vacation would not be possible. Discussion ensued relative to extending the school day/hours so as to meet the instructional hours requirement. The Superintendent will be getting further information regarding this issue the following week.
Marcia Farwell 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 8:45 PM Special Education Director Bob Kelly and Lorraine Wenger and Lidia Desrochers 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 ________________________