Brookline School Board
CSDA Media Room
April 13, 2009
Susan Hodgdon, Superintendent of Schools
Dawna Duhamel, Business Administrator (Absent)
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
Members of the press and public.
At 6:05 pm Chairman Partridge declared the meeting open.
Minutes: Beth Lukovits noted the motion for Vice Chair on page one should be corrected to say Wanda Meagher moved to nominate Beth Lukovits as Vice-Chair and on page 12 should be Lori Hestad instead of Laurie. Forrest Milkowski moved to accept the minutes of March 24, 2009 (sent by email) as amended. Marcia Farwell seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0.
Correspondence: RIF Positions Support Staff: Chairman Partridge explained the date to communicate to the support staff any intent to lay off would be May 15, 2009. However, he noted the next scheduled school board meeting is May 23, 2009. Amy Fessenden indicated that date would be okay and indicated a memo would be sent to confirm.
Fire Watch Brookline Schools: Superintendent Hodgdon explained to the board due to the recent change in the law restricting schools with no sprinkler systems to events with over 300 people needing a member of the local fire department present to monitor the event. She reviewed billing received from the Fire Department for monitoring recent events as follows: $168 (sock hop), 4/2 RMMS $231, 4/3 & 4/4 $546. Superintendent Hodgdon stated the letter explained the Fire Department monitoring was needed at each of these events as anyone from outside attending events triggers the restriction.
Discussion ensued relative to the budgetary impact this will cause. Wanda Meagher inquired if there is any funding for sprinkling the buildings. Laurie Wenger provided information relative to her research on the code when CSDA was built 9 years ago. Discussion included the rate being charge $46.00/hr and investigating alternatives. Chairman Partridge agreed to put together a letter to the state strongly objecting to this restriction. Wanda Meagher agreed to look into sprinkler funding possibilities. Chairman Partridge asked Marcia Farwell to inquire with the Board of Selectmen regarding the billed rate and asked the Superintendent not to pay the bills at this time.
Email Fresh Air Friday: Superintendent Hodgdon notified the board she had received an email at the SAU office regarding the Fresh Air Fridays. She explained apparently an email had been sent around from a member of the community via the Yahoo group. In the email Tad Putney explained each Friday children and parents are invited to park at the Brookline ball park and walk the short distance to RMMS. Mr. Putney was congratulating the walkers for achieving 316 miles to date and within a couple weeks will reach the accumulative distance of Brookline to Washington, DC. Superintendent Hodgdon stated a family took exception in the email, not to the Fresh Air Fridays, but that other forms of participation in healthy living equally beneficial to students were not being recognized. The Board took the information under advisement.
Letter of April 6, 2009 Commissioner of Education-Alternative School Calendar: Superintendent Hodgdon read aloud a letter from the NH State Commissioner of Education notifying the Board the waiver request for the alterative calendar of 176 days is approved due to inclement weather.
Letter of Support for Kindergarten Aide Positions: Superintendent Hodgdon read aloud a letter of support submitted by the Kindergarten teachers expressing deep concern relative to cutting the aide positions. The Board took the information under advisement and consideration for budget discussions.
Contact from Nancy Orde: Superintendent Hodgdon informed the Board she had been contacted by Nancy Orde regarding the work on looking at the bus routes for economizing and after running the information through the transponder nothing had been found for Brookline contrary to some success in Hollis.
Principals’ Report (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Principal Wenger noted the first item on the calendar has been cancelled with the approved amended calendar. She noted CSDA did not make AYP for the seconded year in a row and she had recently attended a workshop relative to filing an appeal. Principal Wenger briefly outlined the process of the Intent to file (due 4/17) and the filing of the appeal (will be filed the following week due to school vacation). She noted they would not lose the opportunity to appeal by going through the process. Discussion ensued relative to a school improvement plan and grant funds. Carol Mace explained about Title II redistribution funds which would provide for professional development relative to an improvement plan.
Buildings & Grounds – new fire law implications/billing previously discussed under correspondence.
Kristina Henry reviewed the different lockdown drills which would be reviewed with the students. One would keep the children in the classroom and keep teaching. She explained this is used when a student might need a medical transport and avoids onlookers. Another lockdown keeps the children in the classrooms and in hiding. Ms. Henry explained this would be used in the event of an intruder.
Principal Wenger noted the cancellation of the early release days and the use of professional development days at the end of the school calendar year to support the School Improvement Plan (after students released for year).
Principal Wenger displayed the new picture of George Washington and the teaching binder along with flag flown over Mt. Vernon, all received at no charge. Kristina Henry explained the Smart Board received and how it can be used by classroom teachers as well as students.
Beth Lukovits commented she has been on the Wellness Committee this year and noted Kristina Henry has done a great job getting the Wellness Fair up and running. Ms. Lukovits noted there will be 39+ vendors in attendance (including the Fire Department so they will not charge to attend the event and monitor!) on May 7, 2009. She noted this is a community event.
Assessment (appended to the file copy of the minutes): Carol Mace outlined the Adequate Yearly Progress Reports (AYP). She noted AYP is required by No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and determined by performance on the New Common Assessment Program (NECAP). To make AYP, a school must meet certain performance targets established for both reading and mathematics. She added attendance rate must be at 90%. Ms. Mace noted RMMS made AYP but that CSDA did not based on sub-group for the second year in a row. There was some discussion of elementary school districts being penalized because they do not have a second level and that those districts that do, both schools do not have to make AYP.
Carol Mace mentioned the report Beth Lukovits had forwarded a couple of months ago which speaks to sub-group size. She noted Vermont is 40, Rhode Island 45 and our sub-group size is 11.
Discussion ensued relative to the impact of the sub-group size and AYP. Dave Partridge asked what is the teeth in the law? Bob Kelly answered that the district would first get technical assistance by directive action, then second a stronger directive and finally other sanctions, such as a change in administration.
Special Ed Director: Bob Kelly explained as a follow-up from last month’s meeting where the board had received a request for a change in bus route he had investigated options of mini-bus routes with the transportation company and learned that either bus could go to that residence. He noted Beth Lukovits had asked if the mini-bus presently servicing a student goes to RMMS and it does. Mr. Kelly asked the board to please consider the contingencies of the district providing specialized transportation and if there is a behavior situation or if there is a need to terminate the transportation. He also noted special ed transportation is billed per mile and for the driver’s time. Beth Lukovits asked if we pay the same for regular ed and Mr. Kelly stated he didn’t ask that question. It had been determined both routes service special education students. It was also noted there are other students at the bus stop.
Beth Lukovits stated she was hesitant to make such a change and set a precedent. Wanda Meagher asked at what point is the school responsible and was told when the bus arrives. Dave Partridge stated he understands the concerns. Beth Lukovits stated she is concerned if the board makes this change, more requests will follow. Wanda Meagher asked if the issue with the bigger bus driving down the road was the road width and it was confirmed that it was. Bob Kelly said Nancy Orde had stated it is a very restrictive, limited road. Wanda Meagher stated the safety issue bothers her but there is parental responsibility and the issue of meeting the bus route requirements.
Marcia Farwell moved to deny the request to change the bus stop for the Hood Road family. The motion was seconded by Wanda Meagher and the motion carried 5-0-0. Superintendent Hodgdon agreed to notify the family requesting the change and Bob Kelly agreed to notify the transportation company.
Mr. Kelly informed the Board there had been advertising in the NH Sunday News for the FY2010 personnel anticipated positions. He stated screening committees are being formed. It was noted these positions include the Pre-school Coordinator as well as the Assistant Principal/Special Education Coordinator.
Mr. Kelly also noted a policy update he had sent by email to the board and if they did not recall receiving it, he could re-send it. It is the KED policy 504 section.
Business Administrator: The Superintendent noted Dawna Duhamel is ill this evening and would send her report to the Board in the morning.
Superintendent’s Report: Superintendent Hodgdon noted the earlier discussion of the amended calendar being approved. She also discussed attending a meeting on Friday regarding Stimulus funds and explained the information is in such flux that the PowerPoint presentation she had planned on sharing is already out of date. She noted the power point for the teleconference on the 16th of April will not be sent out until that morning due to the changing information. She explained what she did learn in the Superintendent Session is they are looking at going from quarterly disbursement/reporting to monthly. She noted they have been encouraged to meet with their building administrators to encourage a plan that will not create a problem going forward when the stimulus funds are no longer available. Superintendent Hodgdon stated she will continue to monitor and inform the board with this being the third meeting and still no funds and different information.
Relative to staffing renewal, Superintendent Hodgdon explained there is nothing that needs to be done with the Special Ed Coordinator/Assistant Principal. Superintendent Hodgdon noted the Math Specialist and Reading Specialist job descriptions and copies had been distributed. She outlined changes such as reporting had been clarified, performance responsibilities broken down but did not change and page 3 . Legal and Ethical Responsibilities is new. Chairman Partridge questioned who had the responsibility of bringing a student plan forward from one year to the next. Discussion ensued relative to how this is achieved and resulted in Laurie Wenger pointing out B8 covers this concern. Susan Hodgdon suggested adding the words “student instructional needs” and it was agreed.
Marcia Farwell moved to adopt both job descriptions as amended. Beth Lukovits seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0-0.
Assistant Principal/Special Ed Coordinator: The Board was informed there is not yet a job description but posted as anticipated so the process could be started.
Contract Renewal: Superintendent Hodgdon informed the Board the principals have approved all the professional staff at CSDA and RMMS for contract renewal. She added credit to Carol Mace for her work with the Danielson model and bringing it into the district. Chairman Partridge asked if they are finding the model is helping to work with teachers to improve their skills. Discussion ensued and resulted in yes, that through the self-evaluation they are seeing teachers use data to improve their skills. There was further discussion at this point relative to those under contract that would be crossing over to tenure. Both Beth Lukovits and Wanda Meagher express some concerns and noted they had been approached by parents. There was discussion of need for notice 6 months prior to the April 15th date.
Ernie Pistor expressed concern that the individuals would go on just because of the lead time. Wanda Meagher asked for explanation of tenure which Superintendent Hodgdon gave which gives reasons for dismissal. Mr. Pistor commented he was still concerned that two board members have concerns. Chairman Partridge asked the board members to speak with administrators and ask the parents to go to the administrators.
Marcia Farwell moved to authorized Dave Partridge to sign the contract renewal as recommended by the administrators. Forrest Milkowski seconded the motion. The motion carried 5-0-0.
FY10 Budget: The Board opened discussion left off last meeting. Chairman Partridge informed the Board the School Board Treasurer has volunteered to cut his pay from $1K to $500.
The following is a list of possibilities discussed:
Teacher wages 102,683
Retiring Teacher 71,000
Computer aide 16,000
Kindergarten aides 28,000
Computer equipment 5,000
Teaching supplies 500
Ink & Toner 1,000
Readiness workbooks 600
2nd grade grammar wkbk 2,000
1st grade handwriting wkbk 2,000
School Board Salary 1,750
Beth Lukovits opened discussion of the Kindergarten Aides and the need for the extra body. She explained the car pool arrival and it is not appropriate to send a group of five year olds alone. She noted the teachers are using time to get the class ready and if they have to use the time for car pool instead that will put them behind and there would be a loss of academic time. Ms. Lukovits expressed concern with meeting the contract as far as planning time. She had noted Annabelle was present and Chairs the Volunteer Committee and it is clear the volunteers cannot meet all the needs. Beth Lukovits stated she would like to see a plan before voting to eliminate these aides. It was noted there are 64 students registered for Kindergarten for FY10.
Discussion ensued relative to the amount of funds to be cut and if those cuts would allow the funds for the aides to remain. It was agreed not enough cuts had been reached to allow the aides to remain at this point. In reviewing the list Forrest Milkowski thought there had been 2K in travel cuts identified but Laurie Wenger thought that seemed high. It was agreed that number might be $500.
There was discussion of funds that Dawna Duhamel may be researching. Superintendent Hodgdon suggested in the absence of the Business Administrator, the board could express priorities this evening.
Chairman Partridge stated we will have to see more money in order to reinstate the Kindergarten Aides.
Kristina Henry brought forward a suggestion that the Pelham School District has an Attendance Incentive in order to save money on substitute teachers which could be considered for the next contract negotiation.
Wanda Meagher brought up the issue of support staff has 3% raises and if they went to 2% there would be a significant savings (close to 20K).
Discussion ensued relative to checking the date the budget has to be submitted to the state and the board agreed they would meet before the scheduled May meeting, if required.
As a follow-up on Pre-school Classroom set-up, Dave Partridge asked if any of the equipment could be re-used from a Kindergarten classroom and was told this would be investigated as it had not yet been done. Bob Kelly was asked how many potential Special Ed preschool students and the response was 4.
Survey: Beth Lukovits explained the Board had a June 2008 goal to send out a survey in order to improve communications. She noted she had sent out an email and had received feedback only from Laurie Wenger. Ms. Lukovits stated she had worked with Principal Wenger to develop 6 surveys for professional staff, support staff, and parents at RMMS and CSDA. She stressed this is a first pass and was looking for feedback and suggestions. Beth Lukovits explained she researched online survey companies and was recommending Survey Monkey at 3 months for $59.85. She stated an email will be sent out with a link to the survey. All information will be compiled anonymously. Ms. Lukovits stated it is easy to set up and urged all to pop on and take a look. Discussion ensued relative to how the information would be used and how to structure the survey to make the information useful.
Policy Matrix: Superintendent Hodgdon explained she was looking for the most recent policy matrix and found one from 2007. Discussion ensued relative to some history of updates. It was agreed there have been a few changes since 2007. The Board agreed Doris Lindgren should have all the changes in the “big book” and the 2007 with updates should be the most current. Superintendent Hodgdon agreed to see if any are missing which are required by law and report back to the board.
Next Meeting Date: May 23, 2009
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board go into non-public under RSA 91-A:3II(c) Reputation. 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 9:10 PM. At ____PM, the Board returned to public session.
Adjournment: At ____ pm _______moved to adjourn the meeting. _________seconded and the motion carried 5-0-0
Date __________________________ Signed ________________________