APPROVED 9/26/06 Brookline School Board
August 15, 2006
Captain Samuel Douglass Academy
David Partridge, Chairperson
Richard Pike, Superintendent of Schools
Lorraine Wenger, Principal, CSDA
Dr. Anthony Luzzetti, Principal, RMMS
Kevin Stone, Assistant Principal
Mellinee Capasso, Business Administrator
Betsy A. Packard, Recording Secretary
Others present included members of the Public.
Chairperson David Partridge called the hearing to order at 6:50 p.m.
Business Administrator, Mellinee Capasso, distributed a “Summary of Fund Balance for FY2005-2006” sheet, and addressed the Board concerning the over expenditure of funds. She informed the Board that she had written a letter to the Department of Education regarding RSA 32:11- Emergency Expenditure and Over-Expenditure. Ms. Capasso then went through the Fund Balance sheet explaining that on the expenditure side there was a deficit of $100,041.00, and that $212,627.00 of revenues had been collected in excess of forecast. This gives the District an Unreserved Fund Balance as of June 30th, of $21,586 for FY05-06. The Unreserved Fund Balance will be returned to the Town to offset FY2007 budget.
Ms. Capasso reminded the Board that at the previous Board meeting, the Board had made a motion to cover the food service budget. Mr. Dreyer asked if part of the deficit was to cover food service. Ms. Capasso responded that it was. Ms. Lukovits asked if they had enough to cover it. Ms. Capasso responded that they did.
Mike Dreyer moved that the Board close the public hearing. Beth Lukovits seconded. The motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
The public hearing closed at 6:55 p.m.
Chair. Partridge called the meeting to order at 6:55 p.m.
1. OPEN FORUM
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the minutes of May 23, 2006 as written. Tom Solon seconded. Motion carried. 3 – 0 – 2 (Dreyer and Meagher abstained.)
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the minutes of May 30, 2006 as written. Tom Solon seconded. Motion carried. 3 – 0 – 2 (Dreyer and Meagher abstained.)
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the minutes of July 25, 2006 as written. Tom Solon seconded. Motion carried. 4 – 0 – 1. (Meagher abstained.)
3. BUSINESS ADMINISTRATOR’S REPORT
Ms. Capasso advised the Board that the District needed to work towards being compliant with GASB 34 (Governmental Accounting Standards Board). She informed the Board that the recent audit had ended with a finding regarding this issue. Ms. Capasso explained that GASB 34 deals with capitalization and fixed assets. She stated that the fixed assets had not yet taken place. She reported that the auditors recommended that the District go into partial compliance, and that they would take as much information that was currently available and apply it to GASB 34. She went on to explain that to get the District into compliance with GASB 34, the auditors would write a letter stating that the District was moving into compliance. Ms. Capasso estimated that this would cost an additional $1,000 - $2,000 in audit fees. She recommended that they allow the auditors to do this.
Ms. Capasso informed the Board that she had asked the auditors if this work would have to be done anyway, or was the District taking baby steps. Ms. Capasso stated that she had been told that the work would have to be done, one way or another. She again recommended that the District do this so they could move closer to the Department of Education’s requirements. She added that she was receiving quotes on having this work done.
Ms. Meagher asked what this would do to the accounting software, if the information would come out of the new software. Ms. Capasso responded it was more of a “balance sheet” type of presentation, which their reports currently don’t show.
Chair Partridge asked if the District was spending $1,000 - $2,000 for an accountant to put information into the system the way they wanted it. He asked if it was a one-time expense or if it would be a yearly expense. Ms. Capasso responded that it was an issue that they address each year with the Dept. of Education, and it was a decision they would have to make as a District.
Ms. Lukovits stated that a lot of Districts weren’t compliant. Mr. Dreyer asked if the District needed to worry about it. Ms. Lukovits asked what the penalty was. Ms. Capasso responded that the penalty wasn’t significant now, but felt if the District didn’t do this, it would affect their bond rating. She added that it was work that would have to be done down the road. Ms. Capasso stated that part of the work that would be done this year would be helpful in the following years. She felt that the Department of Education would not continue to allow school districts to carry that kind of audit finding.
Ms. Meagher asked if the work was done in 2006, would it carry over to 2007. Ms. Capasso responded that if it is done in 2006, they won’t have to redo it in 2007, and that the information would be in the right form.
Chair Partridge wondered if they were changing the way they collect and store data, would it be useful to do it this year if they are planning on going to a new software package? Mr. Dreyer asked what they would get for the $2,000. Ms. Capasso explained that they currently have a fund accounting format. The criticism with that is that you can’t look at the balance sheet and know the District’s financial strength. The new format would strengthen their financial position. The current school district balance sheet tells you very little. The issue is to reclassify and recode the information.
Chair Partridge asked if the work was done in the present software, would it transfer to the new software package. He wondered if it would be wise to wait until they got the new software package. Ms. Capasso responded that the District has fixed assets, which current reports don’t show. GASB would be huge to the Coop so the two towns could see the value of the assets.
Mr. Dreyer stated that GASB was more valuable to the Coop going through apportionment. Ms. Capasso agreed, and added that for Brookline, it is a matter of becoming compliant.
Mr. Dreyer asked if it was helpful to be partially compliant. Chair Partridge felt if it was a step towards compliance and the work carried forward, then it made sense to do it. Ms. Capasso responded that the work would carry forward.
Chair Partridge pointed out that it was only $2,000, however, the District was $100,000 over budget last year. He added that he didn’t know what will happen with the budget this year. He stated that he knew they will have some legal fees. He then asked how far over the budget they were this summer.
Mr. Solon asked what the cost would be to go into full compliance. Ms. Capasso responded that it was explained to her that in order to go into partial compliance, it would take 3 days work. She added that they would be taking elements of the budget that hadn’t been capitalized, but should be.
Supt. Pike stated that given the history of the District’s past year, perhaps it would be better to hold onto the $2,000, but commit to putting that money into the next budget for the work to be done.
Mr. Solon felt that some of the work that would get done would have to be redone, therefore, it would be more efficient to do it in one fell swoop.
Ms. Meagher pointed out that Ms. Capasso had stated that she was getting quotes and wondered what they were for. Ms. Capasso responded that she was getting quotes for the SAU level.
Ms. Capasso offered to do more research on this issue. Chair Partridge stated that he would rather put money in the next budget for this work.
DOE 25 and MS 25 Forms
Ms. Capasso informed the Board that she had the DOE 25 and the MS 25 forms ready for signatures. She stated that the Board members would be signing off on reports to the Department of Education and the Department of Revenue. She added that she would prefer each board member to come to the SAU office to sign the forms.
Mr. Solon asked if the audit went well. Ms. Capasso responded that it did.
Ms. Meagher asked if there were any recommendations other than GASB. Ms. Capasso responded that there wasn’t. She added that her office does a lot of the audit work up front, and that is given to the auditors. She added that she, as well as another member of her staff, has background in auditing.
Fiscal Year 2007
Ms. Capasso explained to the Board that they usually wait until the first teachers’ paycheck before producing a report. She stated that the Board would receive their first expenditure report at their September meeting.
4. PRINCIPALS’ REPORTS
Ms. Wenger reported that the floors were done, teachers were setting up their rooms and staffing was in progress. She added that a staff luncheon was planned for August 29th.
Ms. Wenger informed the Board that she had been in contact with Wes Whittier of the Greater Nashua Health Network. CSDA is a designated disaster site because they have a generator. She added that she would be receiving a Memo of Understanding regarding the designation. She went on to explain that in the event of a Bird Flu pandemic, residents of the towns of Hollis, Brookline, and Mason would come to the school to receive their vaccinations. She added that CSDA was also a civil defense site. Ms. Wenger stated that she had been meeting with the officials, who don’t feel such a pandemic will take place, but added that a plan needed to be in place.
Mr. Solon asked if there was any federal funding to help. Ms. Wenger responded that there was funding in the Town budget. She explained that the Greater Nashua Health Network would bring everything that they needed.
Dr. Luzzetti reported that they were going to put the Kindergarten Orientation back to June as some people couldn’t make it. He added that it had been a nice presentation.
Dr. Luzzetti informed the Board that they had one Readiness student. Chair Partridge stated that he thought there had been 3 or 4 Readiness students. Dr. Luzzetti explained that some had moved and others opted not to go to Readiness.
Ms. Lukovits asked what the Kindergarten numbers were. Dr. Luzzetti responded that there were about 81 students, explaining that the numbers are still changing.
Mr. Dreyer asked that Dr. Luzzetti give them a heads-up regarding the First Grade Orientation. Dr. Luzzetti responded that it would take place on August 29th at 9:00 a.m. The buses will pick the students up at 8:30 a.m. He added that the letters will go out to parents tomorrow.
Supt. Pike stated that he was excited about the nominations he was presenting. He added that Tim O’Connell’s resignation had been anticipated, and thus, Ms. Wenger had had a game plan. He added that the nominations were “highly qualified” teachers, and he felt that the District will realize a savings in their salaries.
Mr. Solon asked if contracts had already been given to the candidates. Supt. Pike explained that he had the contracts and that they were all ready. He added that the Board had given him the authority to hire in lieu of a board meeting, and that the candidates had been offered contracts. He explained that the principals and the selection team do the screening and interviewing. They then send over their first choice so he may interview them. It is a courtesy interview and more so he can get to know the candidate. He stated that after talking with the candidates, he asks them the following questions:
1. If they are currently looking at other positions
2. If they are offered this position, will they accept
If the candidate says “yes,” then he contacts the building principal and a contract is drawn up. Thus, the candidates have a good faith offer from the Supt. on behalf of the Board, who will then take official action.
Ms. Meagher stated that Lisa Lindsay was working at another district, and wondered if that posed a problem. Supt. Pike responded that he also asks the candidate if they are currently under contract, and if they are, does their supervisor know that they are actively looking for another position. Supt. Pike pointed out that at this time of year, much decorum is used in finding candidates, realizing that they could be under a contract.
Dr. Luzzetti stated that he had interviewed a number of people, and Ms. Gagne impressed him almost immediately. He stated that she was articulate, responsive, and had her masters. Her status as a “highly qualified” teacher was as a regular classroom teacher. He reported that Ms. Gagne had worked in Florida for two years in 3rd grade, and had outstanding references.
Mr. Stone added that Ms. Gagne worked as a Title I teacher in Manchester this past year. Mr. Solon asked if her year of teaching Title I counted towards her experience. Supt. Pike responded that it depended on the contract. If a teacher is paid hourly, such as through a grant, then it doesn’t count, but if they are under a contract, then that year would count towards their experience.
Supt. stated that at the September meeting he would like to talk about salary guidelines. He pointed out that there were no standardizations across the State, yet he wanted to be consistent as to how to apply experience.
Mr. Solon asked if Ms. Gagne met with any of the 3rd grade teachers. Dr. Luzzetti responded that one 3rd grade teacher was on the interviewing committee.
Ms. Lukovits stated that they had been talking about the 3rd grade teachers switching for subjects. She wondered if that was for everyone. Dr. Luzzetti responded that it was just for science and social studies, and all four 3rd grade teachers are involved. He added that letters will be going out the next day to inform parents of Ms. Anderson’s resignation.
Ms. Wenger informed the Board that she had a feeling that Mr. O’Connell was going to move on, so she saved the resumes that came in. She stated that she interviewed for an entire day and decided on Ms. Lindsay. Ms. Wenger stated that Ms. Lindsay had been a long-term sub for math in Milford. She added that Ms. Lindsay will do science and team with Ms. Marshall.
Ms. Wenger stated that Kevin Stone, Andrea Martell, Diane Marshall, Greg Snoke had been on the interview committee, adding that there were two 6th grade teachers on the interview committee.
Chair. Partridge read Mr. O’Connell’s letter of resignation.
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the letter of resignation from Tim O’Connell with regret. Tom Solon seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the recommendation of Supt. Pike to hire Emily Gagne as a grade 3 teacher (replacing Anderson) at M, Step 3, and a salary of $38,824. Mike Dreyer seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board accept the recommendation of Supt. Pike to hire Lisa Lindsay as a grade 6 teacher (replacing O’Connell) at M, Step 1, and a salary of $36,033. Mike Dreyer seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
Mr. Solon asked Ms. Capasso if she had a feel for the total change in salary between the two new teachers and the teachers they were replacing. Ms. Capasso stated that she didn’t have that information with her.
Mr. Dreyer asked that the Principals give some insight as to the process of defining a teacher search committee, some idea of the philosophy of how a candidate is chosen, and what characteristics they look for.
Ms. Wenger responded that her search committee will consist of a classroom teacher, Special Education teacher, and the Assistant Principal. She stated that they try to find people that have a vested interest in education. She stated that the committee members have a variety of questions they ask the candidates. She added that she sometimes ranks the candidates on their answers. She stated it was a process of elimination.
Chair. Partridge felt that they needed to ask themselves if the candidate was a great interviewer, or would they be good for the position. He felt that was the “talk it out” process.
Mr. Dreyer asked if they chose the candidate as a committee or if the principal had the final say. Ms. Wenger responded that it was a collaborative effort. Ms. Wenger stated that she had searched for a male, for she felt they should have male teachers in the building, and they interviewed a couple of males, but they weren’t right. She added that some candidates have great credentials, then one must ask oneself why that person isn’t already under contract somewhere else. Ms. Wenger stated that they look at the quality each person brings to the table.
Mr. Dreyer asked what the response rate was of qualified candidates. Ms. Wenger stated that she was very selective. If a candidate didn’t have credentials for 4th grade and up, then she didn’t consider them.
Mr. Solon asked if recommendations were important. Dr. Luzzetti responded that they were, and that they did follow-up on the recommendations.
Ms. Solon asked about following up on certification paperwork. Ms. Wenger responded that that was the Superintendent’s job to follow-up. Supt. Pike stated that he felt he could recognize a legitimate NH State Certification, but in regards to other certifying agencies, they would have to do the follow-up. He added that when he interviews the candidate, he asks them several questions, such as, how they differentiate between teaching as an art and teaching as a science; their understanding of multiple intelligence; differentiation of learning; why they chose to apply to Hollis / Brookline; their philosophy of education; and their passion.
Mr. Dreyer asked what candidates have to say about the Brookline School District. Dr. Luzzetti responded that the candidates feel the District is very desirable. Ms. Wenger added that they like the new facility.
Ms. Lukovits stated that teachers from other districts have told her that they have had to give a teaching demonstration at the interview. She asked if candidates applying to Brookline School District have ever been asked to do that. Dr. Luzzetti responded that they hadn’t done that yet, but they have asked them to write an essay. Ms. Wenger responded that the interviewer had to be careful about a candidate “wowing” you at the interview, but not working out in the classroom.
Supt. Pike stated that he liked to ask the candidates to show him their portfolio so he could get a sense of their use of language and organizational skills.
Chair Partridge pointed out that the District got burned by someone using falsified papers, thus, he wondered if they contacted the agency issuing the credentials. Supt. Pike stated he could do that, however, he wasn’t concerned with NH, but perhaps contacting other states would be a good idea.
Dr. Luzzetti stated that he still had several positions for paras available, and that was a concern. Chair Partridge stated that he would like to see them certified.
Ms. Lukovits stated that there had been no budget for a kindergarten assistant, and wondered if they had hired one. Dr. Luzzetti responded that they had to hire an assistant. Mr. Stone added that they had checked with Ms. Lindgren and she had given them the go ahead. Mr. Solon felt that when they budgeted for the kindergarten teacher they had factor in the money for an assistant. Ms. Lukovits stated she was pretty sure they didn’t budget for it. Ms. Meagher asked what the implications would be if they hadn’t budgeted for it. Chair Partridge stated that it was a bottom line item, so the money could come from elsewhere.
Chair Partridge asked about student population numbers.
Dr. Luzzetti reported the following:
Grade # of students # of new students
First Grade 72 8
Second Grade 102 7
Third Grade 93 1
Dr. Luzzetti stated that 9 students had moved out of the District. He added that the figures were a “moving target” as students were coming into the District and students were moving out.
Ms. Wenger reported the following:
Grade # of students # of new students
Fourth Grade 88
Fifth Grade 97
Sixth Grade 90
Mr. Dreyer asked if the kindergarten numbers were lower than expected. Dr. Luzzetti responded that they were, as of right now.
6. COMMITTEE UPDATES
SAU Evaluation Committee
Mr. Dreyer reported that he, Betty Hall, and Venu Rao had had their first meeting. Mr. Dreyer stated that they came up with some action items, and they have a framework of a process that’s been distributed. He stated that Ms. Hall was going to send a letter to the all the superintendents provided by Supt. Pike, to get some feed back. He added that September 8th was their next meeting and that they hoped to have an interim report for the SAU by September 28th.
Educational Specification Committee Report
Mr. Solon distributed a report and informed the Board that the Committee had had two meetings. He stated that they had set the following goals:
· Complete an Educational Specification and expansion proposal by December 31, 2006
· Build consensus in an informed and involved Brookline community
· Draft a Warrant Article or Articles for presentation at the 2007 District meeting for a Bond to fund expansion of CSDA
Mr. Solon explained that they may have two articles ready for the warrant so if the first article didn’t pass, they would have a second one ready to present.
Mr. Solon stated that the Committee needed to meet with an architect to get and understanding of the amount of money they were talking about. He added that Al Corzilius of CMK Architects agreed to come in and help, but there is only so much he can do au gratis. Mr. Solon stated that $6,500 had been budgeted for the Ed. Spec. Committee, and that he was not aware that any of the funds had been spent.
Chair Partridge asked that the next steps be explained, if they do the short version. Ms. Wenger stated that they could use portables for the interim. She pointed out that they would need to look when they can have something built and it would be the least disruptive to the students.
Mr. Solon explained that much of the Ed. Spec. could be pulled out of the specifications for the current building. He added that most of the new work is for the specifications of the CSDA project. He added Mr. Corzilius would be coming to the September 5th meeting, and he had background on the original design intent.
Ms. Wenger suggested that regarding public input, they could hold public forums/open houses at CSDA, so parents could see what they were talking about. She added that smaller forums could be held at private homes.
Mr. Solon informed the Board that the Committee was made up of the following members:
Christine St. George
Planning Board Representative – Dick Randlett
Finance Committee Representative – Larry Rodman
School Board Representative – Tom Solon
Mr. Solon added that Mr. Farwell and Mr. Delaney had not been able to attend any of the meetings yet.
Mr. Solon then stated he had the following questions:
1. Policy FEA says that the Superintendent develops the educational specification yet the committee understands that they had been charged with the task. Should the policy be amended?
Chair Partridge read the following sentence from the Policy FEA:
For any new construction or renovation project, the Brookline School Board shall require the Superintendent to develop a set of comprehensive educational specifications for the architect.
Supt. Pike stated that his interpretation of that policy was the same as how the budget is developed, that is, there are many hands that go into process, more than the Business Administrator and/or the Principal. He felt that the intent of the policy was to make sure that ultimately the Superintendent was responsible for making sure that the educational specifications are done.
2. Is there a defined process for selection of an architect? Must we go out for bids?
Mr. Solon stated that he knew there was a bid policy stating that there was a $4,000 threshold. He added that he needed to work with Ms. Capasso.
Supt. Pike questioned if the policy precluded interviewing several architects? He added that often an architect has been part of a number of building projects in the community, so the district will go with them. Mr. Solon responded that CMK Architects fall into that category. Mr. Solon stated that Mr. Corzilius would like to be considered for the work.
Mr. Solon asked if the architects are interviewed by the Board or by the Task Committee. Ms. Meagher wondered if the architects are interviewed first, then they select who they would like to invite to bid. She also wondered if the project was put out to bid if selection would be based purely on money. Chair Partridge responded that it was not like the government, that they would not be required to go with the lowest bidder. Mr. Solon felt that if the Board were agreeable, the Committee could identify one or more candidates to present to the Board.
Mr. Solon also wondered at what point it was it inappropriate to keep using Mr. Corzilius if they don’t hire him. Ms. Wenger felt that it was appropriate to call upon Mr. Corzilius for the conceptual part of the project since he was involved in the original building, then they could ask other architectural firms to come in and see what the conceptual ideas are. Mr. Solon was concerned that Mr. Corzilius might walk down the path so far that they don’t have time to go elsewhere. He then asked if anyone had contact with people who had gone through expansions, if they would ask them whom they used. Ms. Wenger stated that she would contact Tim Mayes at Bedford.
Chair Partridge reported that the Committee was looking for anything $5,000 or more that may be needed within the next few years. He explained that this is good information to have so they can plan an impact fee. He stated that he had talked with Wayne Zold as to what is pending. The following was brought up:
1. Expansion of CSDA. Approximately $200,000.
2. Computer replacement. That has been removed because of budgeting annually for it.
3. Insulation. Spent $15,000 last year. Still have $15,000 left. Not vital, can do in pieces.
4. Paving around CSDA. If they do the expansion, it doesn’t make sense to pave now.
Town of Brookline:
2. Cafeteria for Coop. Approximately $1.2 million. If they add the cafeteria, then it will push out the need for a new classroom wing.
3. Fire truck. $0.5 million.
4. Ambulance. $150,000.
5. Safety Complex expansion. Approximately $1.2 million.
6. Library. Could involve buying land, or it could go on the ball field.
8. Conservation Committee. Approximately $20+ million. 14 acres, pay about 25% of the cost.
Chair Partridge stated that the whole package over the next two years is ugly.
Mr. Solon felt that the District will be in a crunch next year. He felt that there were no short term construction fixes for next year. Ms. Wenger stated that a huge piece of this was the public relations, and getting people to see what is needed. She added that the townspeople have great pride in the school and facility.
Ms. Wenger asked if the town had looked at taking some of the conservation land and building an industrial base. She added that it would be an alternative resource for income. She stated that all she hears about is the taxes. Chair Partridge responded that there are business lots for sale in Brookline, but they are not selling.
7. POLICY REVIEW
Mr. Dreyer informed the Board that they were in a position to do a final adoption of Policy GBEA – Employee Conflict of Interest. He stated that the first reading was on June 27, 2006, and the second reading was on July 25, 2006. He added that they were ready to adopt the policy if there were no additional comments.
Supt. Pike suggested that they change “as to” in 1e to “with.” He added that the extra period in I.E.P. of 1e should be deleted.
Mr. Dreyer asked if the administrators would distribute the policy to the staff. Dr. Luzzetti responded that they would.
Mike Dreyer moved that the Board adopt Policy GBEA Employee Conflict of Interest, with the change “as to” struck from 1e and replaced with “with,” and the removal of the extra period in I.E.P. in 1e. Beth Lukovits seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
Mr. Dreyer stated that he would like to schedule a workshop session (2 hours) to review Policy sections G and H, then they could have the second reading at the September meeting. Mike stated that he would notify members of a workshop time.
8. OTHER BUSINESS
Chair Partridge asked if the Board would like to stay with Tuesday for their on-going School Board meetings, and what time did they want to start. The Board agreed to stay with Tuesday and to start the meetings at 6:30 p.m.
Next meeting is September 26th at 6:30 p.m.
Chair Partridge gave the Board an update on the Department of Education investigation of alleged Special Education violations. He reported that they are pretty well set with what needs to be done. It now needs to go to the Commissioner, so they are now waiting to see if their recommendation is accepted or not.
Beth Lukovits moved that the Board adjourn. Mike Dreyer seconded. Motion carried unanimously. 5 – 0 – 0.
The Board adjourned at 9:20 p.m.