BROOKLINE SCHOOL BOARD

 

 JUNE 23, 2009

 

MEETING MINUTES

 

A regular meeting of the Brookline School Board was held on Tuesday, June 23, 2009 at 6:17 p.m. at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.

 

Chairman Dave Partridge presided:

 

Members of the Board Present:         Beth Lukovits, Vice-Chair

Marcia Farwell, Secretary

Wanda Meagher

Forrest Milkowski

 

Members of the Board Absent:            

                                   

Also in Attendance:                             Susan Hodgdon, SAU41 Superintendent

Dawna Duhamel, Business Administrator

Carol Mace, Director of Curriculum

Lorraine Wenger, Principal, Captain Samuel Douglass Academy

Lidia Desrochers, Principal, Richard Maghakian Memorial School

Kristina Henry Assistant Principal

 

 

 

 

AGENDA ADJUSTMENTS

 

Superintendent Hodgdon informed the board the Director of Special Education was unable to attend. 

 

PUBLIC INPUT


Ms. Lukovits mentioned the NEWA reports that came out on the last day of school and asked who parents could contact with questions.  Principal Wenger responded parents could contact either of the school principals to go over results.

 

Ms. Meagher stated she was having difficulty in signing the manifest and hoped another member of the board could take over that responsibility.  Mr. Milkowski agreed to take on that responsibility.

 

MEMBER LUKOVITS NOMINATED MEMBER MILKOWSKI TO SIGN THE MANIFESTS

NOMINATION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

MOTION CARRIED

4/0

 

An unidentified member of the audience questioned when the CSDA teacher assignment would be publicized, and was told after August 1st.

 

APPROVAL OF SCHOOL BOARD MINUTES

                        

Brookline School Board . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 26, 2009

TABLED

 


Brookline School Board – Non-Public . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 26, 2009

 

The following amendments were noted:

-           Ms. Lukovits’ name is misspelled

-                      Public portion of minutes needs to reflect motions made regarding non-public session

 

MOTION BY MEMBER LUKOVITS TO APPROVE AS AMENDED

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI

MOTION CARRIED

4/0

Member Meagher Abstained

 

STRINGS PROGRAM AT CSDA

 

Ms. Farwell was contacted by a member of the New Hampshire Strings Association who would like to teach string instruments at the school(s) in the morning hours before the start of school. 

 

Chairman Partridge cited the need to ensure insurance is in place.  As the focus is with the upper elementary school, Mr. Milkowski recommended focusing on one school, getting the program started, and then next year consider integrating the program into both schools.

 

Principal Wenger commented the school had a strings program in place 8-9 years ago, which did not draw the numbers.  However, at that time the school was 5th and 6th grades only.  She felt it prudent to determine the level of interest.  Ms. Farwell has been in contact with the association and will arrange for Principal Wenger to be contacted. 

 

An introduction of the program will be placed on the agenda for the next meeting.

 

ADMINISTRATOR REPORTS

 

PRINCIPALS

 

Personnel  

 

Principal Wenger remarked, due to budget constraints, two paraprofessionals were let go from RMMS and CSDA and two paraprofessionals did not return.  She remarked it was a difficult challenge to do.

 

Transition

 

Principal Desrochers touched on step-up day and Kindergarten screening stating both events went very well and a great deal of positive feedback was received.    Between information night, step–up, and Kindergarten screening one comment received was that it was nice to have progression in terms of orientation.  Children were oriented in more than one way. 

 

Also invited to participate were the out-of-district students who are not yet with us as well as all students currently out of district.  Again, feedback was very positive.

 

The current number of Kindergarten students is 66 and expected to climb to the low 70s.  The number of Readiness students is around 13 (accepted).  The ballpark figure for class size in the 1st grade is 21 (104 students).  That class size will have to be adjusted for as the class progresses through the school.

 

All classrooms at RMMS will be located on the first floor.  The Reading Specialists and Math Specialists will be located downstairs (three staff located in one room and two in the other).  The area is needed as a quiet area for testing as well as group sessions. 

 

Ms. Cheryl Paquin questioned whether non-special education students would benefit from the reading and math specialists and how the students were introduced to the resources.  Principal Desrochers remarked most early intervention would take place in the classroom, but if a student needs to be assessed or a cluster of students need work on a specific skill, that work could be done in the rooms located downstairs. 

 

Ms. Paquin questioned if teachers would be identifying the need for additional assistance.    Principal Desrochers responded yes and that it might be simply a matter of a specific skill that needs boosting or a question of working with a child for 4-5 weeks until he/she masters the particular skill(s).  Response to Intervention (RTI) has been more formalized this year.  Staff has been in place and done RTI, but the process is more formal this year.

 

Chairman Partridge remarked there is no internal handicap access on the first floor.  When asked, Principal Desrochers responded there is no known handicap issue for the coming year.

 

Principal Wenger stated, as part of transition, 3rd graders visited CSDA.  She touched on how pleasant the 6th grade graduation was, and that new student orientation at both schools will take place in August.

 

Other Events

 

Principal Wenger commented on the terrific press from the Hollis/Brookline Journal regarding the mural dedication to the students at CSDA as well as the volunteer appreciation tea at CSDA.  Principal Desrochers touched on the need for additional preparation time to properly conduct the mural dedication at RMMS.  As a result the dedication will take place in the fall with the 3rd graders welcomed back to participate.

 

Grants

 

Principal Wenger informed the board she spoke with Patricia Mason of Xilinx.  They have asked for the number of partners to be fine-tuned.  Although a few will be dropped, the remaining will be strengthened.  Most of the focus is on science, technology, and the arts, which allow for support of artists in residence.  Planned are trips to the Planetarium and Sea Science Center, etc.

 

Part of the grant funding is going to Mariposa Museum & World Culture Center in Peterborough, which makes arrangements with different cultural groups whether it be performances or artists.  For the artists in residence next year is the collaboration with Plymouth state and the green theme.  Dr. Trish Lindberg from Plymouth Sate worked with the specialists from Brookline and Hollis on integrating across the curriculum.  They have written a new Green Tiger Play, which will have its national premiere here on October 18th.  Students did the writing for the play.

 

Assistant Principal Henry informed the board the 07/08 Title IV money purchased life-threatening allergy education materials, which school nurses will be utilizing at the beginning of next year.  Part of that money was transferred to Title V for the purchase of a SmartBoard.  Plans are to take the 08/09 Title IV money and transfer it to Title V for the purchase of a SmartBoard for RMMS.  Would like to transfer Title II a funding to Title V for the purchase of hardwired FM systems (1 @ each grade level).  The FM system has speakers hardwired in the classroom and provides the teacher with a microphone.  The intent is to amplify the teacher’s voice so that it can be heard at the same volume no matter where the student is seated in the room.

 


Facilities

 

Principal Desrochers informed the board of a leak in the roof over one of the emergency doors leading into RMMS.  The guesstimate for repair is approximately $3,000.  Quotes are being sought.  Leak has been there for quite some time and nothing the custodians have done has been able to address it. 

 

Mr. Milkowski questioned the progress of repairing the rot in the front of the building at CSDA, and was informed the word order has gone through for repair.

 

Principal Desrochers asked whether Mr. Milkowski remains interested in participating in the Search Panel for the Assistant Principal/Special Education Coordinator.  Mr. Milkowski responded he is.

 

Ms. Meagher questioned whether a public meeting was conducted with regard to the roof repairs.  Ms. Duhamel stated the proposal was to take the funds out of the general budget, which would not require a public hearing.  She felt it would be prudent to encumber the funding for the larger roof repair given its magnitude/cost.

 

Professional Development

 

As part of the professional development days Mahesh Sharma from Massachusetts conducted a math workshop.  It is hoped he will be able to return and perform additional workshops in the coming year.  A  Response to Intervention workshop was conducted by Susan Sturock of SDE.  SmartBoard training is scheduled for June 24th.

 

Dibels introduction will be performed at RMMS.  Principal Desrochers remarked Dibels is the first step in assessing where youngsters are at and being able to respond as far as instruction is concerned (affects entire population).  Ms. Madge Smith questioned whether parents would receive the results of the Dibels assessment.  Principal Desrochers remarked the assessments are utilized in-house to ensure children are mastering skills at benchmarks and to allow for adjustments in instruction if necessary.  The results could be discussed with parents.  If a parent is interested they should contact the classroom teacher.

 

Principal Desrochers informed the board the consultant, Bill Cumming, will be in house on June 24th.

 

A brief discussion ensued with regard to the number of students enrolled in pre-school.  Chairman Partridge suggested if we are heading into the year with six 4-year-old regular education students and one identified student we should be able to safely add two regular education students from the wait list.  That would leave two open slots.  The cost of tuition is $240/month.

 

DIRECTOR OF CURRICULUM

 

Professional Growth Model

 

Director Mace commented the SAU 41 Professional Growth Model (PGM) was successfully implemented during the 08-09 school year, with substantial training and support for administration and faculty.

 

As outlined in the PGM, each year members of the Professional Growth Committee collect feedback from various stakeholder groups and then meet in May to review the plan and provide feedback on what worked well and what can be improved upon.  The feedback was very positive.  Some suggestions were very minor and easily fixed. 

 


The three primary areas identified were:

 

1.   Adjust goal setting timelines to more closely align with building and board goal setting, ensure consistency throughout model, include an easier to follow summary flow-chart, and eliminate unnecessary pages.

 

-                      The plan has been revised to reflect the committee input and posted to the SAU website.

 

2.      Provide additional professional development;

 

     -     Quite a bit of training and support for administrators and teachers was provided this year and will continue in the coming year. 

      -     Overview of PGM and Danielson model has been scheduled for August for new staff and current staff who desire a refresher.

      -     Overview of process and procedures by Doris Lindgren will take place at faculty meetings in the fall

      -     SMART goals district workshop – date TBD

 

3.   Streamline paperwork – possibly electronic format?

 

-     Director Mace will be working with Dawna Duhamel to set up an in-house electronic system.

 

SAU 41 Curriculum Guides

 

Director Mace spoke of the multi-year initiative by the Curriculum Task Forces to develop a common format that includes guiding questions, essential skills, content, and assessment practices.   She remarked, the work was acknowledged by NEASC Deputy Director Janet Allison in a March 2009 letter to Tim Kelley.

 

Work has been completed in a number of areas:

 

-           Language Arts (9-12)

-           Mathematics (K-8)

-           Physical Education (K-12)

-           Technology (9-12)

-           Completed this year and in editing phase: Visual Arts (K-8)

 

Director Mace stated each committee has a Co-Chair, Administrator and Teacher as well as a Department Head from the High School who provides content oversight.  She thanked Principal Wenger for her work with World Languages and Principal Desrochers for completing the Visual Arts program.

 

SAU Mathematics

 

An area of particular focus this year was updating the curriculum checklist to match the recommendations of the National Math Advisory Panel Report.

 

Next Steps

 

During the 09/10 school year, the SAU 41 Mathematics Task Force will meet and address areas of vertical acceleration protocol, instructional technology needs, identification/development of additional local formative assessments, and professional development opportunities.  Director Mace acknowledged the work of Karin Pillion who has been instrumental in this endeavor.

 


Common Core Curriculum Standards

 

On June 1st, it was announced by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers that 46 states (including New Hampshire) and the District of Columbia have agreed to develop a set of “internationally competitive” benchmarks in English language arts and mathematics for students from kindergarten through high school.  The standards, which will be voluntary, will be developed by a range of education representatives and validated by national and international experts.  Grade-by-grade standards are anticipated to be completed by December 2009.  Once the standards are established, it will be up to each individual state to adopt them.

 

The second part of this initiative is to develop assessments to go along with the standards.

 

6th GRADE ENVIRONMENTAL CAMP

 

Ms. Pat Cambray stated she had been aware the Nature’s Classroom program had been cut from the budget, and had been disappointed.  However, after attending the camp and seeing firsthand the benefits to both children and adults, she would like to find a way for the program to continue.  Asked the board for the opportunity for parents to raise the funds necessary to reinstate the Nature’s Classroom program into the 6th grade curriculum.

 

Ms. Cambray provided the board with a sample schedule for the camp (copy attached) depicting the curriculum offered and a PowerPoint presentation (copy attached), which touched on aspects of the program such as the unique benefits of overnight camp; research has found that overnight camp experience promotes and enhances a child’s self-esteem, self-confidence, and social skills.  Another benefit is the opportunity to interact with classmates that they wouldn’t normally socialize with. 

 

 

 

The proposal presented to the board was that of fundraising.  Ms. Cambray asked the board to provide a deadline for parents to raise the funds needed.  Suggested a PTO position be created; perhaps a 7th grade parent/chaperone familiar with the camp, who could assist a 6th grade parent/chaperone in acclimating to the program.  Cited parental involvement as a way of reducing the workload. 

 

Several students addressed the board and provided their personal experiences of bonding with classmates, learning survival skills, and having their first experience away from home.

 

Ms. Tammy Maxwell spoke of the support of local businesses who have said they would be happy to help raise the needed funds.  Another possibility is selling t-shirts with the school name on them.  She touched on fundraising that has occurred in the past and the lack of interest in the items being offered.  She also mentioned she has spoken with a lot of parents who have said they would be willing to help with the fundraising effort if given the opportunity. 

 

Ms. Cambray conducted a survey related to fundraising as a community and received 30-40 responses all of which were positive. 

 

Mr. Scott Grzyb remarked he had two children go through the program, and both have expressed disappointment in the program being discontinued.  He touched on the melding of individuals that occurs during camp, the self-confidence gained by being away from the family for the first time, and what a positive experience it was for his children.  Commented camp is timed properly; it is a good time for kids to start breaking out of their shells, go to the next school, but realize they can go there with confidence.

 

Mr. J.W. Brookes stated his desire to understand the issues surrounding the decision not to continue with the program.  The response he was given was budgetary constraints, issues of medical or special needs, i.e. 30% of the class that participated this year had medical or special needs, and the costs associated with special need aides, nurses, teacher stipends, and transportation.

 

 

Chairman Partridge also touched on this being the district’s second year as a school in need of improvement.  This type of program is not included in measuring whether the district is meeting its goals.  The loss of five days of instruction, especially during a year like this past, is also a concern.

 

Principal Wenger remarked the budget process began last August.  All items deemed as critical and important to the students’ education were included.  With the difficult budget season a lot was cut from the budget.  Nature’s Classroom was one of last things removed.

 

She touched on the medical issues of students as being of great significance as well as the designation of a school in need of improvement.  She stated they have increased the math time by fifteen (15) minutes, had reduction in range trying to get target instruction, and instruction lost due to ice days and five days at the end of the school year.  The 6th graders will be assessed in October and those assessments will reflect on the school’s report card.  She commented the Hollis School District did not make AYP last year, and as a result, made the decision to cancel their program at the beginning of the year.

 

Speaking to the financial constraints of the budget, she remarked at the conclusion of the March District meeting, the school district was left with less operating funds than the prior year.  They were faced with no funding for Foreign Language or Environmental Education, and the public was acceptable to that.  It was through the efforts of teachers and support staff foregoing contracted raises for the coming year that they were able to fund these programs.  She also mentioned some support staff had to be let go dues to budget constraints.

 

She commented, no one is denying Nature’s Classroom is a wonderful experience, but in going forward they tried to plan in January to be proactive so the kids wouldn’t lose that environmental education.  She has talked with Beaver Brook about snow shoeing and maple sugaring.  If the children are out with their classmates they will be placed in groups and will have different opportunities.  They would also like to pull it back into our own Nature’s Classroom in our own backyard; perhaps have a 6th grade family barbecue and let the kids take their parents out and show them what they know about our own Nature’s Classroom.  There are wonderful trails that the students have built and maintained over the past several years. 

 

They have followed what the town told them to do, and are very excited with the prospect of building in an environmental program that won’t take 5 days straight out of instruction, but will be tacked onto a Friday so that they can have a week of instruction and celebrate on a Friday, in all four seasons.  Funding for that program will be through the Xilinx grant. 

 

Up until 4 years ago Brookline and Hollis coordinated the program together.  No camps were able to accommodate the size of the group.  Brookline separated from Hollis this year.  Principal Wenger remarked had she been aware of the financial requirement and the downturn in the economy they would have considered canceling the program as well. 

 

With regard to fundraising efforts, she commented she has received complaints for the past several years that people simply don’t have the financial ability to participate.  The PTO is cutting back programming because it is not supported.

 

Ms. Nicole Tiffany stated her understanding of financial constraints.  However, felt the issue of being designated a school in need of improvement cannot be associated with 6th graders that are attending an environmental camp one week before school lets out.  She remarked Nature’s Classroom is a non-profit similar to Beaver Brook.  Ms. Cambray suggested the Canobie Lake trip is one that could be dropped to eliminate the number of instruction days missed. 

 

Ms. Meagher remarked the point is that there are many other areas deemed more important that funding is needed for.

 

Mr. Brooks addressed the points raised surrounding the decision to cut the program:

 

-                      If the money were raised that issue would go away.

-                      With regard to medical and special needs, he challenged the board to consider where the line is between parent and community as to who is responsible for special needs.

 

Chairman Beauregard remarked Federal Law places the responsibility on the school district.

 

-                      Challenged the issue of lost days stating the students are learning while in the program.

-                      With regard to class size, Nature’s Classroom can accommodate.

 

Principal Wenger remarked the issue of size existed when the two districts were combined.  That is no longer the case.

 

Ms. Mary McCarthy stated she attended the meeting to hear both sides of the issue.  She believes you can mimic most of what takes place at Nature’s Classroom in the classroom or at Beaver Brook with the exception of the experience of the climbing Mt. Monadnock alongside your teacher.  Chairman Partridge commented that is a trip the school could do.  Ms. Meagher suggested such a climb could replace the Canobie Lake trip.

 

Mr. Milkowski remarked he is in favor of the multi-seasonal approach suggested by Principal Wenger, and is struggling with the value of overnight trips.  He questioned what the choice of Principal Wenger would be if she were given the opportunity of keeping the existing program in place or instituting a new program.  He questioned whether the proposed program is a better idea or a way of getting around the existing situation.

 

Principal Wenger’s response was that change is difficult.  When faced with financial constraints you have to look outside the box and then you think of other things that can present opportunities. 

 

Chairman Partridge remarked the financial burden is not simply that of the district.  The Beaver Brook program would be at no cost to parents.  He also mentioned the limited amount of scholarship funds available for those who cannot afford to participate in programs.  Ms. Meagher questioned the number of students who did not participate this year and was told 5.

 

Ms. Cambray remarked she believes this program is invaluable and that the district will not be able to provide the same program and curriculum that can be provided with an overnight camp.

 

Mr. Brooks remarked it appears the decision was made without input from parents.  Chairman Partridge responded that is not true.  The process was long and public.  At the conclusion of town meeting, environmental education was cut from the budget.  He reiterated it was through an act of kindness by the teachers and support staff that the program was saved. 

 

Ms. Jennifer Brooks questioned whether the subject could be looked at further given the community interest.  Suggested other camps may not be as expensive.  Perhaps Beaver Brook could provide overnight camps. 

 

Chairman Partridge stated the program was cut from the budget.  Whether it can come back as a new issue is something that needs to be discussed.

 

Ms. Brooks applauded the board for all they do especially in light of the financial constraints.  Questioned whether the Xilinx grant could be designated elsewhere or if that decision has already been made.  Principal Wenger responded the grant application has already been submitted and required the identification of use.

 

Chairman Partridge commented another benefit to partnering with Beaver Brook is fostering a relationship that already provides huge benefit to Hollis and Brookline.

 

Mr. Ron Christy remarked his children have gone to the camp and he has had the opportunity to spend ten (10) days there.  He was in a cabin with special need students and witnessed a lot of stretching by those students as they really wanted to be part of everything that was going on.  He also touched on witnessing students who may have been considered problem children leave that behavior behind.  Stated he is setting up an organic farm on his property. And is willing to help however he can on programs that deal with the environment.

 

Ms. Brenda Mackelaugh remarked the Beaver Brook alternative sounds great.  What she believes to be key for her child and what he would miss out on is the opportunity for personal and social development gained by the opportunity to attend Nature’s Classroom.  Stated the timing is at that developmental point in a child’s life where you are looking for ways to build self-confidence.  She would like to see an opportunity for team building activities or exercises.  Principal Wenger remarked team building is one of the benefits sought through the program at Beaver Brook.

 

Mr. Milkowski stated the issue warrants additional discussion.  The two items that continue to be raised are those of the financial burden and what is believed to be the missing piece of what is proposed with the Beaver Brook program for social and personal development.   Asked the group to consider the issue in greater detail and come back with additional information for consideration.

 

Ms. Cambray requested a dollar amount that would be required.  Mr. Brooks requested the board put together a list of requirements that have to be met for this to stay in the curriculum and what the costs are with regard to special needs issues.

 

Ms. Meagher remarked the financial aspect the board is aware of is the amount reduced from the budget.  Other items to be considered are the unknown costs for special needs for the coming year and what might be available in scholarship money especially considering the likelihood more kids would find this program financially out of reach in the current economy.

 

Mr. Andrew Silvy, Hollis Brookline Journal, questioned how many members of the public in attendance attended the town meeting.  Most of those present acknowledged they had.  He questioned the school board if they had seen a group of this size wanting to raise funds for other items cut from the budget.  Chairman Partridge commented residents did not need to work towards saving the Environmental Education or Foreign Language programs because the teachers and support staff provided the solution.  He went on to state that financial support was a one time benefit and that the same programs remaining in the budget next year would represent an increase in the budget.

 

Superintendent Hodgdon commented she has been observing a trend in education.  She had a conversation a week ago with the Principal at the High School, Tim Kelly, and we are trending away from concentrated end-of-year activities to promote social growth and education in students because we are missing the boat by placing those activities at the end of the year.  The students have those bonding experiences, which disintegrate somewhat over the summer, and we could have had that all year long. 

 

She added Mr. Kelly has funding and is starting an activity with leadership kids in the beginning of the senior year, which will carry over the school year with designated activities.  That is the direction we need to consider here too.  Suggested looking at Principal Wenger’s proposal to see if we could capture some of education and momentum this experience builds for kids and build it over the course of year. 

 

She remarked we really do need to pay close attention to being a school in need of improvement because as you work your way up the ladder of no child left behind the punitive measures are more costly.

 

Mr. Ron Christy commented he liked the whole idea of doing something at the beginning of the year.  Ms. Cambray agreed the idea of fostering those relationships early on is a good one. 

 

Superintendent Hodgdon commented some of the items mentioned could be brought to the school site such as organizing a day hike, climbing wall, etc.  We do need to think out of the box and not lose the benefits you are seeing in the kids as a result of these experiences but find way to do it that does not impact instructional time.

 

Mr. Christy asked if time could be structured that flows beyond regular school hours.  Principal Wenger responded she is aware Beaver Brook has extended hours, but there is a cost to that.

 

Mr. Brooks encouraged the board to think long term as the economy will not stay this way forever.  Remarked clearly parents want to be involved.  Again asked for criteria from the board as to what the success level is of this type of program and does the program being put forth meet that or not. 

 

Ms. Mackelaugh remarked the grant is approved and earmarked for Beaver Brook so it appears as though the program is in place for this year.  Principal Wenger responded Beaver Brook does have the funding to provide the programming. 

 

Ms. McCarthy questioned if the relationship with Hollis could be re-established.  Principal Wenger remarked Beaver Brook could not accommodate that group size.  She has spoken with Candice Fowler, the Principal at HUES.   Other than move-up day no other joint opportunities have been put in place.  There was discussion of joining next year, but the size would be at about 210 students.

 

Ms. Kara White suggested a great example of team building would be to get the students involved in the fundraising effort; get them team building trying to figure this out for themselves. 

 

Ms. Susan Santoski asked if the board would support the idea if it were determined to be feasible.  Chairman Partridge responded there is input needed from Principal Wenger, which will have to take place in non-public session as it involves HIPA.  If the fundraising effort is successful, consideration also needs to be given to logistics, planning, commitment dates, what the affect would be on PTO fundraising for other programs, etc.

 

Ms. Meagher commented on the need to consider the benefits of Nature’s Classroom versus those of Beaver Brook, and how we could make those more equal.

 

Ms. Cambray stated once this program is gone it’s gone.  She asked for a plan of action.  Mr. Milkowski explained the motivation is coming from the direction of the parents, and it is the parents who will have to come back again with something a bit more substantial.  As there is a budget issue they would have to convince the board to do something other than what has been proposed and budgeted for.

 

Ms. Cambray asked for a target amount to reach with fundraising.  Mr. Milkowski suggesting taking what each child paid this year and multiplying it by the number of children and adding approximately $2,500 for staff.  Ms. Farwell remarked it would be in the neighborhood of $35,000.  She questioned the amount that was cut from the budget.  Ms. Meagher responded the budget was cut by at least $5,000 in that area, which represented teacher stipends, aides for special needs students, nursing staff, and transportation.  Also needed to be considered is scholarship money, which was not included in the $5,000 figure.

 

Ms. Cambray asked if the group raised the $5,000 would the program be placed back in the curriculum.  Ms. Meagher responded the need still exists to determine which program provides more benefit.  Ms. Farwell commented if you raise the $5,000, we will consider an action plan.

 

Chairman Partridge remarked the issue is not that of doing nothing rather than the Nature’s Classroom program, the issue is whether the as an alternative to what is being proposed, it is worth $300 per student for parents. 

 

Ms. Cambray mentioned her concern for the timetable associated with placing a deposit on the Nature’s Classroom program. 

 

Ms. Santoski questioned what would happen with the funds if they were raised and insufficient to support the Nature’s Classroom program.  Chairman Partridge responded he did not know. 

 

Business Administrator (Café Services, FY09 End of Year)

 

Café Services

 

Ms. Duhamel remarked the remaining decisions are; do we invite Café Services back and regardless of the management company, what we do with staffing levels.  If we are intend on reducing the subsidy that is one of the huge stumbling blocks to getting there. 

 

When asked if she agrees with the staffing level recommendations of Café Services, Ms. Duhamel responded they estimate 10.5 people hours a day to cook, prepare, and serve meals (manager not included).  We use 16 and 18 hours a day in our schools.  She remarked Café Services performs this service for colleges, universities, and other school districts.  They have their system down.  She has no doubt if they use their systems they can do that. 

 

Ms. Meagher questioned are we going to let Café Services terminate all cafeteria employees and let them hire back who they want to hire back.  Ms. Duhamel stated you obviously want to retain district staff; they love the community, they love being there, and you want to retain them at all costs, but on the other hand she sees significant difficulties.  Given our current staff configuration she believes staff may have a great deal of difficulty adapting to the very different tasks they would have going from 16 to 10.5 hours a day.  There may be a lot of transitional issues with that.  However, that is not to say they can’t do it.

 

Ms. Lukovits stated another difference is we pay for 190 days vs. the 183 days Café Services proposes.  Ms. Duhamel felt there could be fewer days in the contract.

 

Chairman Partridge questioned whether we could get the individual who manages the Hollis and the COOP (who work as a single unit) to offer management services to Brookline if we choose not to go with Cafe Services.  Ms. Duhamel responded those are two programs that are doing well and she would not want the sharing of that individual’s time to be detrimental to the other programs.  She stated one of the big things you would lose without Café Services is their buying power.

 

Chairman Partridge stated what we don’t know yet is if our staffing levels are higher than Hollis and the COOP?  Stated we have better buying power so we must be losing money because we are paying for more staffing hours?  Ms. Duhamel commented the COOP district makes money, however elementary schools have different issues such as a support contract with higher wages. 

 

Chairman Partridge questioned whether Hollis is getting by with less staff hours?  Ms. Duhamel responded Brookline has different staff dynamics than Hollis.

 

When asked for her opinion, Ms. Duhamel responded, understanding the directive to be to reduce the subsidy and get the program to the point of being self-sufficient, she would go with Café Services and their staff.  She commented they have done everything they have said they would and expect to be self-sufficient over time.

 

Mr. Milkowski commented an alternative could be that they hire existing staff.  Ms. Duhamel felt there would be the potential to hire some of the existing staff.  Ms. Lukovits was concerned the board would lose their place in that decision process.  Ms. Meagher suggested adding to the language of a motion for approval that existing staff be offered the opportunity of employment.  Ms. Farwell remarked the rates would not be as attractive.

 

Chairman Partridge asked, based on your recommendation, you would say Café Services has met projections, limited as they were by certain issues?  Ms. Duhamel’s response was yes.  She went on to state, as a matter of fact, they have done everything they said they would do.  Initial projects were based on serving breakfast at RMMS and we didn’t start that program until April.  When the program started we made revenue projects in the first month.  When we had problems with nutritional content those issues were resolved.  The estimated loss for this year is approximately $28,000 compared to last year’s figure of $38,000.

 

Principal Wenger commented on their offering of bag lunches for field trips, which has been very successful.

 

Ms. Meagan King questioned how much Hollis lost with their program, and was told approximately $11,000.  Ms. Kristina Angeluca commented on difficulties she had with incorrect charging by Café Services.

 

Ms. Farwell questioned the level of participation.  Ms. Duhamel responded participation has improved, at RMMS, the beginning months were rocky, however, by the end of the year it was very positive.  CSDA has had about a 16% improvement rate.  Ms. Meagher remarked she is unclear whether the increase had to do with the fact that Café Services came in or because did not want to send in lunch as a result of the peanut policy. 

 

Ms. Meagher stated her support of the Business Administrator’s recommendation to go with Café Services and allow them to hire their employees.

 

Ms. Farwell questioned what would happen to current staff.  Ms. Duhamel responded they would be reduced, their contract ends.  Ms. Lukovits remarked although there are two categories of employees, the employees don’t consider themselves to be in a different category from those who gave up raises to avoid losing positions. 

 

Mr. Milkowski stated the board has to address a significant cut in the budget, and eventually that will hit staff.  Janice Tremblay questioned the amount of employees affected and was told it would be 7.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI TO RETAIN CAFÉ SERVICES FOR THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

MOTION CARRIED

4/1

 

Chairman Partridge remarked when we hired Café Services in the first place we told them to retain our entire staff.  They told us if we did that we wouldn’t meet revenue projections, and that is what has happened.  Now they have provided two proposals; retain our staff and lose $25,000 or go entirely with their staff and lose $9,000.  He questioned whether the district could go with Cafe Services’ staffing levels but ask/require that they use district staff.  Ms. Duhamel stated Café Services may not be willing to hire all employees.  Ms. Meagher offered another option where district employees could be retained at Café Service’s recommended number of hours or somewhere in between. 

 

Ms. Meagher recommended the district get out of the equation and let Café Services do their job.  Mr. Milkowski agreed and stated he believes the district needs to start figuring out ways to save money, reduce expenses, and if possible make money.  Remarked he does not like the idea of letting people go, but the board has a fiduciary responsibility to do the best they can for the taxpayers.  Suggested Café Services be put in charge, allow them to bring in the staff they need, and get the program in place.  Ms. Farwell remarked she has a hard time letting go of employees who have been with the district for a long time.

 

Ms. Smith questioned where any potential savings would go.  Ms. Meagher commented the board budgeted some money to come out of general fund to subsidize the food service. 


 

MOTION BY MEMBER LUKOVITS THAT THE BOARD GO INTO NON-PUBLIC SESSION PURSUANT TO RSA 91-A:3 II (c) TO DISCUSS A MATTER, WHICH IF DISCUSSED IN PUBLIC, WOULD LIKELY AFFECT ADVERSELY THE REPUTATION OF A PERSON, OTHER THAN A MEMBER OF THE  BODY OR AGENCY ITSELF

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

 

A Viva Voce Roll Call was conducted, which resulted as follows:

 

Yea:     Beth Lukovits, Marcia Farwell, Wanda Meagher, Forrest Milkowski, Dave Partridge

                                                                                                            5

Nay:                                                                                                     0         

MOTION CARRIED

 

The Board went into non-public session at 9:22 p.m.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MEAGHER TO COME OUT OF NON-PUBLIC SESSION AND RETURN TO THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE BROOKLINE SCHOOL BOARD

 

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

The Board came out of non-public session at 9:43 p.m.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MEAGHER THAT THE BOARD, BY ROLL CALL, SEAL THE MINUTES OF THE NON-PUBLIC SESSION UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE MAJORITY OF THE BOARD VOTES THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE CONFIDENTIALITY WOULD NO LONGER BE SERVED

 

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

 

Yea:     Beth Lukovits, Wanda Meagher, Dave Partridge

                                                                                    3

Nay:     Forrest Milkowski, Marcia Farwell                  

                                                                                    2         

MOTION CARRIED

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MEAGHER THAT CAFÉ FOOD SERVICES PROVIDE THE STAFFING FOR FOOD SERVICES AND DIRECT THAT THEY POST THE OPENINGS SO THAT CURRENT DISTRICT EMPLOYEES HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO APPLY

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

Ms. Duhamel will arrange for a rundown of the program in August.  Chairman Partridge remarked he would like to see reports on what worked well last year, etc.

 

Principal Wenger questioned who would inform the employees.  It was determined Ms. Duhamel and the Principals would ask the individuals to come into the school to be notified.

 


Budget

 

Ms. Duhamel remarked the bottom of the first page of the handout indicates an actual budget balance after the application of IDA.  Chairman Partridge asked if the IDA funds were in hand.  Ms. Duhamel remarked it is accounting appropriate to post this.  As there are too many unknowns during the year she has been working with Mr. Kelly to prepare so that they can apply IDA grants on a monthly basis.  The inability to apply grant funding on a monthly basis puts pressure on regular education when the concern for overages exists.  When that occurs discretionary spending stops until the real picture is known.   Page 5, lines 119 and 120 show the application of the IDA grants.  When the district receives the IDA Grants, the revenue and expenditures are pulled out of the general fund entirely. 

 

Chairman Partridge remarked the sum total of the IDA is $103,000 and the budget balance is $254,000.  Without the IDA funding the balance would be at approximately $150,000.  The $150,000 came from the lack of spending due to the concern with overages.  Ms. Duhamel remarked she has been working with the Principals to address the purchases and building maintenance items that were deferred.  Those purchase orders are being prepared.

 

Mr. Milkowski remarked federal grant money goes into a fund account, then line items to which that grant money can be utilized for in the budget are moved out of the budget and basically balanced against that grant revenue.  For him the effect of that is in a sense saying you can spend more than you have as long as grant money comes in to cover it.  Mr. Milkowski remarked he does not view that as a good accounting practice as it allows expenses to be overblown.  Ms. Duhamel agreed with him in that it makes the picture look distorted, however, state law and audit recommendations are for federal funds to be segregated even though it makes our financial performance look odd.

 

Chairman Partridge added the IDA grant funds of $103,000 are sitting in the bank and will be returned to the taxpayer.  The district is not spending an extra $103,000, but ending up with false surplus that is given back to taxpayer.

 

Mr. Milkowski questioned if we would use surplus lines on other lines items or give it back.  Ms. Duhamel responded you don’t really have it budgeted, you give it back.  Mr. Milkowski questioned the roof issues and the leak at RMMS.  Ms. Duhamel stated she may recommend using some funding for the roof and stated the only time she would recommend that for an item not included in the budget would be if it were also not included in the expendable trust and is a legitimate need that if not addressed in a timely manner would be detrimental.

 

Chairman Partridge stated he is not comfortable spending IDA money, but would be comfortable spending money resulting from lack of expenditures at end of year.

 

Ms. Duhamel commented the roof is a concern.  She recommended encumbering $10,000 - $15,000 to adequately address the need.

 

Ms. Meagher felt the funds should be taken from the expendable trust.  Ms. Duhamel remarked there are other items needed to be addressed through that fund such as the rot and roof at RMMS.  Ms. Meagher stated the board added to the expendable trust because of the need to address those issues.  Ms. Duhamel stated there are more issues that may not be in the forefront that would need to come out of the expendable trust.

 

Ms. Meagher stated she would have to look at the presentation that was made to the Town to see the dollar amounts proposed to come out of the expendable trust fund.  Ms. Duhamel commented the entire thing will be used.  Rot repairs are estimated at $3,500, and approximately the same figure for the work at RMMS.

 

Chairman Partridge suggested with a balance of $27,000, reducing it by $7,000 for those expenses would leave $20,000.  Ms. Duhamel stated she does not have a good estimate for the roof repair and would feel more comfortable if $25,000 were put aside.

 

Chairman Partridge stated it is already known $7,000 will be expended from the expendable trust fund, which leaves approximately $20,000.  With a possible cost of $25,000 for the roof, the board should consider encumbering $10,000 as a stop gap.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI TO ENCUMBER THE SUM OF FIFTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS ($15,000) FROM THE GENERAL FUND FOR THE PURPOSE OF ROOF AND ROT REPAIR AT THE CAPTAIN SAMUEL DOUGLASS ACADEMY

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

Chairman Partridge questioned whether Ms. Duhamel was comfortable with the amount of repair calls.  Ms. Duhamel responded next year the district will be looking at cooperative purchasing as a way to reduce the cost of service calls.

 

Superintendent

 

Staffing

 

Superintendent Hodgdon remarked the recommendation for the Pre-School Coordinator is not ready for presentation to the board.  A meeting with a very viable candidate resulted in questions of how the contract would be broken down with regard to salary as it is a part-time coordinator position coupled with a teacher position.

 

Ms. Meagher stated the position as Masters +5.  She did not believe the coordinator position to be administrative.  Principal Desrochers stated the position does not have a supervisory role; it is that of coordination of children in and out of district and special education services.

 

Chairman Partridge believed the position should fall under the teachers’ contract.  Superintendent Hodgdon stated part of the discussion was around whether a lead teacher would have a stipend.  When asked for the number of contract days of the position, Superintendent Hodgdon stated that as another question that arose.  She was unclear whether the coordinator would be involved in an extended school year.  Ms. Meagher remarked extended school year typically comes with a stipend.

 

Superintendent Hodgdon stated Mr. Kelly had not been available to discuss the position with, and without answers to the posed questions, she did not have a candidate to bring forward at this time.  Ms. Meagher agreed with the approach of discussing the position with Mr. Kelly and Principal Desrochers with regard to what the roles of the position would be.  

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI TO PROVIDE THE SUPERINTENDENT WITH THE AUTHORITY TO PROCEED AND TO MOVE FORWARD WITH GETTING THE INDIVIDUAL TO CONTRACT LEVEL

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER FARWELL

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

Resignations

 

Superintendent Hodgdon informed the board of a letter received from Patricia Montague, the Special Education Coordinator in the district, stating she would be resigning as of June 30th.  With regard to an opportunity to interview for the newly created position in Brookline, Ms. Montague stated, at the present time, it is not a position she is interested in pursuing. 

 

Mr. Milkowski commented he has been approached by individuals who had very positive things to say about her.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER FARWELL TO ACCEPT, WITH REGRET, THE RESIGNATION OF MS. MONTAGUE

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

The Superintendent is planning to conduct an exit interview.

 

Superintendent Hodgdon informed the board of a letter received from Sally O’Hearn, Senior Secretary at RMMS, stating she will be resigning as of June 30th to pursue new adventures.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER FARWELL TO ACCEPT, WITH REGRET, THE RESIGNATION OF MS. O’HEARN         

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

Superintendent Hodgdon informed the board of a letter received from Brittany Brown, Speech Therapist, stating she will be resigning as of June 19th.  The letter states appreciation for the opportunities she has been given within the district.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER LUKOVITS TO ACCEPT, WITH REGRET, THE RESIGNATION OF MS. BROWN             

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MILKOWSKI

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

Other

 

Chairman Partridge informed the board of a communication received from Daniel Bentall, a Boy Scout working towards his Eagle Scout.  The letter states his desire for his Eagle Scout project to be building a kiosk message center at the foot of the Nature Trail, which would contain flyers, trail maps, etc.  He proposes laying pea stone at the beginning of the trail head (in muddy wet area), building a bridge across the stream at the beginning of the trail for handicap accessibility, installing wooden houses for self-guided trail navigation, and erecting posts at ground level to identify low laying plant life.

 

Principal Wenger remarked she has spoken with him and found him to be a very responsible young man.   

 

MOTION BY MEMBER LUKOVITS TO ACCEPT DANIEL BENTALL’S PROPOSAL FOR THE NATURE TRAIL

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

The interview committee for administrative hires consists of Mr. Milkowski, Principal Desrochers and possible another administrators, a special education teacher, a general education teacher, a paraprofessional, and a citizen representative.  Faculty and staff have been questioned about their interest in serving or sharing of ideas.

 

Superintendent Hodgdon informed the board she has requests from two administrators for days beyond the usual ten (10) in the administrative contracts to be carried over and used in the summer months (expended by August 31st).  Principal Wenger has requested a total of 12 days based on unsettled weather impact on the school calendar and Assistant Principal Henry has requested a total of 13 days.  Assistant Principal Henry cites the request is due to pressing meetings around issues of RTI, 504s and IEP. The Superintendent stated her support of both requests.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER FARWELL TO APPROVE THE REQUESTS AS STATED

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

      NON-PUBLIC SESSION

 

MOTION BY MEMBER LUKOVITS THAT THE BOARD GO INTO NON-PUBLIC SESSION PURSUANT TO RSA 91-A:3 II (a) THE DISMISSAL, PROMOTION OR COMPENSATION OF ANY PUBLIC EMPLOYEE OR THE DISCIPLINING OF SUCH EMPLOYEE, OR THE INVESTIGATION OF ANY CHARGES AGAINST HIM, UNLESS THE EMPLOYEE AFFECTED REQUESTS AN OPEN MEETING, AND PURSUANT TO RSA 91-A:3 II (c) TO DISCUSS A MATTER, WHICH IF DISCUSSED IN PUBLIC, WOULD LIKELY AFFECT ADVERSELY THE REPUTATION OF A PERSON, OTHER THAN A MEMBER OF THE  BODY OR AGENCY ITSELF

 

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER MEAGHER

 

A Viva Voce Roll Call was conducted, which resulted as follows:

 

Yea:     Beth Lukovits, Marcia Farwell, Wanda Meagher, Forrest Milkowski, Dave Partridge

                                                                                                            5

Nay:                                                                                                     0         

MOTION CARRIED

 

The Board went into non-public session at 10:11 p.m.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER FARWELL TO COME OUT OF NON-PUBLIC SESSION AND RETURN TO THE REGULAR MEETING OF THE        BROOKLINE SCHOOL BOARD

 

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

MOTION CARRIED

5/0

 

The Board came out of non-public session at 11:34 p.m.

 

MOTION BY MEMBER MEAGHER THAT THE BOARD, BY ROLL CALL, SEAL THE MINUTES OF THE NON-PUBLIC SESSION UNTIL SUCH TIME AS THE MAJORITY OF THE BOARD VOTES THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE CONFIDENTIALITY WOULD NO LONGER BE SERVED

 

MOTION SECONDED BY MEMBER LUKOVITS

 

Yea:     Beth Lukovits, Marcia Farwell, Wanda Meagher, Forrest Milkowski, Dave Partridge

                                                                                                            5

Nay:                                                                                                     0         

MOTION CARRIED

 


ADJOURNMENT

 

MOTION BY MEMBER FARWELL TO ADJOURN
MOTION CARRIED
 
The Brookline School Board meeting of June 23, 2009 was adjourned at 11:36 p.m.
 
 
 

Date __________________________      Signed       ________________________


ACTION ITEMS

 

Ms. Duhamel

 

Arrange for a rundown of the Café Services Food Program in August to include reports on what did and did not work well in the previous year. (6-23-09)