School Committee Minutes

Notes from the interview - Amber Bock

Written by Michael (admin)   
Saturday, 28 June 2014 10:31

the following are questions and answers from the school committee minutes of March 26, 2014, as fetched from this link:

http://westborough.ma.schoolwebpages.com/education/components/docmgr/download.php?sectiondetailid=3327&fileitem=17960&catfilter=592

file titled "School_Committee_Minutes_March_26_2014_Regular_Session.docx", posted 4/30/14

 

AMBER BOCK

Mrs. Bock stated she is excited about the special opportunity of being a candidate for the position of Superintendent in Westborough. During her visit in the district last week she met members of the leadership team, students, and experienced the district from the “other side”. She has been in education 29 years and feels a readiness to assume a superintendent role. She is a member of a dynamic leadership team in the Weston Public Schools, serving as Assistant Superintendent. Her past experience includes schools in Sutton, Newton and Wellesley, with different norms at each. The Westborough district is thriving has strong leadership, and she feels she can contribute to that.

Mr. Doret: What are some specific strategies you have implemented in your school district to foster an inclusive atmosphere that enables all students and staff to feel valued and respected?

Mrs. Bock: You are always an individual on a team. To create a program to be inclusive, you are part of a group. In Weston there are currently students speaking 16 languages. It is also part of the METCO program, with 177 students from Boston. 2300 students have an impact on creating economic and racial diversity. There is a need for a lot of different programs, including summer programs for 5 year olds. Special Education has looked at people and opened up for creative discussions. Westborough has a diversity and Mrs. Bock would look to continue that work here.

Mr. Doret: Please describe your budget philosophy and your experience with the development of school budgets. What is the largest budget that you have developed? How do you sell your budget to ensure passage?

Mrs. Bock: Mrs. Bock stated she has been a full participant in the establishment of a $36 million dollar budget. She attended all finance committee meetings to be sure how the budget fits with the mission of the district. Philosophically, the budget starts with the child in the classroom. Maintenance of service and zero based budget profile. Keep focus on how to achieve leverage/partnerships that meet the needs of the community and students.

School Committee Meeting 6.

March 26, 2014

Mrs. Sullivan: What is your vision of technology in the “ideal” district or classroom, email and at what price? How have you advanced this vision in your current position?

Mrs. Bock: The vision is of ideal technology in the classroom, well used against the core in the classroom. Always make sure conversation still is the center of the learning area. There is a difference of instruction. The current K-12 resources of appropriate amount of technology are balanced with how the teachers use it. Start designing Professional Development for support, a mix of technology for teachers and hands on for students. There are multiple uses of technology. Specific instruction- one-to-one model. High School technology should make its own best decisions for individual technology. It always has to be tied to the financial side as to what you want to do and what you can do.

Mrs. Sullivan: How do you envision the Common Core in MA working?

Mrs. Bock: The Common Core is being assimilated in the Weston classrooms. It is newly innovated learning goals that have been adopted in Massachusetts. Don’t over react. We need to watch the learning and then make a decision based on that. The learning standard is innovative. Massachusetts participates at a high level already. It is not a stretch. It has special shifts that each district has to learn about. Sit down with Department Heads and Assistant Superintendents and make sound educational decisions for your community. It has been adopted at the state level.

Mrs. Levine-Kanji: What do you see as some of the biggest challenges facing schools and students and what would you do to address these challenges?

Mrs. Bock: The schools struggle with the number of directives that are going out. Address the complexity of things and put them into manageable frameworks. At this time there are five major initiatives on the schools for student complexity of life from young learners to high school. Being a young adult is such stress. You cannot separate school from the rest of the stress. Step back from technology. The college courses for the best and brightest are hard. Stay relative. Look at how we maintain relativity. Schools’ strict model is very challenging now. If you poll the kids, we are not doing that well. How do we stay relevant and meaningful to them and use technology to help them learn.

Mrs. Levine-Kanji: As in many districts, Westborough’s student body is comprised of many different types of students. How would you support our school leaders to meet the needs of all our students.

Mrs. Boch: It is important to support the school leaders and make sure time is well spent. The leadership team needs to work collaboratively and has to be cohesive. The role the superintendent plays as the anchor has to be purposeful, outlining how to work together. When the team comes together, it is about teaching and learning. The principal is out in the field. He needs to inform the curriculum leaders and department heads what we want done, and to let them know the focus is on teaching and learning. The superintendent is the gatekeeper.

Mrs. Hensley: In Westborough we are fortunate to have a positive, collaborative relationship among our unions, administration and School Committee. What is your experience with collective bargaining? Describe a union concern you needed to address and how you resolved it.

School Committee Meeting 7.

March 26, 2014

Mrs. Bock: It is important to know the role of mediation and a collaborative relationship with mutual respect. Recently, there was the negotiation of the evaluation model, its implementation and the presentation to the teachers.

Mrs. Hensley: Hiring, supervising, motivating and evaluating principals are critical responsibilities of the superintendent. What distinguishes a “good” principal from a “blue-ribbon” principal? What would a conversation with a “good” principal who you were trying to bring to the next level sound like?

Mrs. Bock: All conversations with a principal sound like collaborative conversations. A great principal is compared to having a building designed for continued improvement. The trick is bringing that forward to the teachers collaboratively. The leadership of the principal makes it a full collaborative.

Mr. Thompson: Special Education makes up a large percentage of any school budget. What specific ideas have you been a part of to keep special education costs down while ensuring that special education students receive a quality education? When formulating and selling a budget, how have you ensured (or how will you ensure) that various constituencies are not pitted against one another, i.e. special education and regular education, athletics and fine arts?

Mrs. Bock: Any professional design has to be seeing students and population at large. Creative support, specifically budget programs at the high school around mental health issues under the regular education area. Develop a bridge so that students can get back into the school sessions. It is cost saving because it is a regular intervention. It is more important on a daily basis for strong learners and for all learners. Have strong teachers teach to diverse learners in regular classroom. Students will be able to learn in a classroom that all are in.

Mr. Thompson: Can you give us an example of a situation where you needed to build consensus to implement something significant that was not initially embraced by a constituency (such as staff, students, parents, community) and describe how you were able to get consensus for that change?

Mrs. Bock: Your basic assumption is you never have a consensus. You have to build a consensus in order to move forward. There are multiple forums to bring people together. Put everything on the table. Mrs. Bock stated she is the type of leader comfortable with discomfort. It takes a lot of understanding. Keeping transparent is a key to gaining information from others. You need to build an honest connected relationship.

Superintendent O’Connor: What advantages, disadvantages are there to living in the community, and how do you keep decisions impartial?

Mrs. Bock: Mrs. Bock feels there are advantages to living in the community and considered the topic before deciding to apply. The school system has strength and consistency is important. We work with people’s children. Every decision is personal.

Dr. Mayer: When you receive a complaint from a parent, what is the procedure you would use to resolve the issue and is this procedure the same for all levels of severity?

School Committee Meeting 8.

March 26, 2014

Mrs. Bock: The district has norms and practices. You have to gather the information and thank them for calling, expressing our goal is to validate the problem. From the validation you find the right process. There is a need to work with the principal or teacher on this. Through the process and practice, you facilitate the participants on what level. The severity of the issue dictates you call the principal right away.

Superintendent O’Connor: Westborough High School is in the process of restructuring sex education in its Health/Wellness curriculum. What is your position on opting out of a class?

Mrs. Bock: Weston has a similar policy of opting out. The district can personalize parts or whole programs for families. There should be a personal connection, and there should be a policy to support it. Meet the families halfway to support student.

Dr. Mayer: What tools would you use to obtain authentic feedback from parents, faculty, administration, support staff, advisors and athletic coaches?

Mrs. Bock: There are multiple practices. Student feedback is required by the state at the high school level. Forums, coffees, written notes and informal talks are all ways to gather information. The superintendent should encourage feedback. The students feel you understand their needs. You have to be careful about the design of communication. Think about whether different cultural groups are comfortable. Whether small groups are better. Communication is a role of the superintendent.

Superintendent O’Connor: What do you believe is a comprehensive education for a Westborough student. Please include your views around non-common core subjects like Fine Arts, PE, Industrial Tech, etc.

Mrs. Bock: You want to graduate a student who is happy, connected in communication and experience, validated in who they are. Offer creative niches where they can find themselves. Try to move them to a subject that they would not think they would be attracted to. Make sure the building schedule is such that as they progress in high school, they can see things branching out, a good array of things.

 

Mrs. Bock stated she had no questions for the Committee and hopes it finds the best person for the district. She thanked the Committee for the comprehensive process and providing the opportunity to get to know the district. It is an immensely talented district with an incredible wealth of individuals and creativity.

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Westborough School Committee Minutes 2013-12-11

Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 25 January 2014 21:38

[The following minutes, posted 01/07/14 on the district site, were copied from this link on 25-Jan-2014, and converted to PDF as a courtesy.  Minor differences in article formatting and occasional odd content occur below (e.g. headers and page numbers are included), so please check against the PDF file, and always access the district site if you desire the original official copy -- webmaster]

WESTBOROUGH SCHOOL COMMITTEE

WESTBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS

MINUTES

Tuesday December 11, 2013

 

The Westborough School Committee meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. by Chairman, Ilyse Levine-Kanji. Committee members present include Mrs. Nicole Sullivan, Mr. Stephen Doret, Mrs. Jody Hensley and Mrs. Karen Henderson. Administrators present were Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Marianne O’Connor; Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Mayer; Director of Finance and Administration, Ms. Irene Oliver; Student Representative, Addie Egan, Director of Technology, Kathy Martin; and Finance Committee members, Kathy Senie, John Arnold and Edward Behn.

 

The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mrs. Levine-Kanji reviewed the Agenda and announced there would be a need for Executive Session under Chapter 30A, Section 21 for the purpose of discussing negotiations and litigation.

 

MINUTES

Upon a motion by Mrs. Henderson and a second by Mrs. Sullivan, the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of approving the regular session minutes of December 4, 2013. Mrs. Henderson made a motion to approve the Executive Session minutes of November 20, 2013, and to hold them because they deal with litigation and negotiation. Mrs. Sullivan seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORTS AND HIGHLIGHTS

Superintendent O’Connor reported all budget information is available on the website.

 

Dr. Mayer reminded the community report cards for grades 1-6 will be issued electronically next week. Some parents have not registered.

 

Dr. Mayer wished to announce that while the School Committee is getting ready to do a superintendent search, he is not a candidate for the position. He prefers to focus on the teaching and learning aspects of education.

 

COMMITTEE REQUESTS AND REPORTS

Addie reported the Winter Sports are opening up with contests this week. The Fine Arts Winter Concerts are about to begin. December 17th the Bands will perform; December 19th, the choirs and orchestras. Ned’s Coffee House will open December 13 in the WHS Lobby. The Concert Choir will be performing at Dana Farber December 13. Progress reports were delivered yesterday for students and today for parents to view. The National Honor Society’s blood drive did very well. Over 75 donors participated. The School Community Council will have its first meeting December 12. Mid term exams will be held January 16-22. The Armstrong School has received 2 grants through the Westborough Cultural Council. Grade 3 received $750 for a trip to Plimoth Plantation and $1500 was received for the International Fair in April. The Council existed in past years and has been re-established. It consists of the principal, junior and senior representatives, community members, teachers. It offers curriculum and social support.

 

Mrs. Henderson reported the Capital Expenditure Committee met last week and ranked the submitted projects. A meeting will be held next week at which time Jim Malloy will announce the projects to be placed on the next warrant. The Westborough Education Foundation will be taking donations in the name of teachers as holiday gifts. The teacher receives notification of the gift.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji wished to inform the community Goods for Guns will take place December 14 at the Worcester Police Station. Any operable weapons may be turned in to receive gift cards. It is the one year anniversary of the Newtown tragedy. Trigger locks will be given out for any weapons at home.

 

MOTION PUBLIC HEARING

Mrs. Henderson made a motion to open the Public Hearing of the Budget at 6:15 p.m. Mrs. Sullivan seconded the motion, and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion by roll call vote.

 

School Committee Meeting 2.

December 11, 2013

 

Superintendent O’Connor gave the following 2014-15 budget presentation.


GUIDING PRINCIPLES

  • Identify district and School Committee goals and design a budget so all elements support these goals

 

  • Evaluate finite resources and prioritize to meet the needs of the organization and the community

 

  • Maintain facilities & incorporate the use of technology to more efficiently and effectively deliver instruction and improve productivity

 

  • Develop a long range plan that will address future student needs and shift resources accordingly to avoid future spending

 

ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Boston Magazine ranked WHS one of best high schools in MA

  • Dramatic increase in MCAS math scores for two consecutive years

  • WHS Graduation Rate: 99.2% of all students

  • Class of 2013: 96% attending college

  • Class of 2013: 81% of SPED students attending college

  • Gibbons & WHS performing better than 93% of other schools in the state according to DESE

  • Grade 10 MCAS: Math: 77% students scored advanced (highest in last 5 years)

  • vs. 45% across the state

  • ELA: 74 % students scored advanced vs. 55% across the state

  • Science: 59% students scored advanced vs. 26% across the state

  • District-wide -Student Growth percentile higher than neighboring communities

  • Advance Placement Scores: 321 tests taken, 94% of the exams taken received score of 3 or better

  • 44% of tests taken scored 5 (highest possible score)

  • 26 National Merit Commendations in 2013 up from 13 in 2012

 

FINE ARTS ACHIEVEMENTS

Recognized as “Best Community for Music Education” 7 times in past 12 years

Gold Medals at MICCA- GMS Wind Ensemble, GMS Orchestra, WHS Wind Ensemble, WHS Orchestra, WHS Chamber Singers, WHS Concert Choir

Silver Medal at MICCA-WHS Symphonic Band, WHS Women’s Choir

MAJE Gold Medals- GMS Jazz Ensemble, WHS Festival Jazz

WHS student Benjamin Li- received a silver medal at National Scholastic Art Exhibit in Washington, D.C.

39 GMS students accepted into CDMMEA District Festival

5 students and 3 teachers received recognition for accomplishments from Education Theater Guide for acting, sound design, and musical direction

5 students participated in NAfME National Honors Ensembles in Nashville, TN.

33 students received MMEA All-State Recommendations

58 students accepted into CDMMEA Senior Districts (most number of students in Central MA

 

ATHLETIC ACHIEVEMENTS

  • Student Mia Natale was elected to chair the MIAA Student Advisory Committee- the highest leadership opportunity for a student in Massachusetts

  • 3 student athletes were invited to participate in the New England Leadership Conference

  • Over the past 3 seasons 10 League Championships have been won

  • 2 District Championships won

  • 4 teams advanced to the District Finals

  • Girls Soccer advanced to the Division 1 State Semi-Finals

  • Girls Volleyball advanced to the Division 2 Finals

School Committee Meeting 3.

December 11, 2013

 

  • 3 teams have earned Mid Wach Sportsmanship Awards

  • Many of our athletes have garnered Mid Wach All-Star honors, T & G All-Star honors, and All-State awards

  • Many of our coaches have been honored by the state and local coaching associations for their outstanding work

 

TECHNOLOGY MILESTONES

  • Introduced Google Aps for Education at WHS/GMS

  • Deployed 60 Chromebooks at GMS

  • Completed the installation of interactive whiteboards in all K-6 classrooms and some classrooms at WHS and Gibbons

  • Installed Document cameras in all K-3 classrooms

  • Flat screen monitors installed in conference rooms to improve the IEP process

  • Deployed over 100 iPads to administrators for evaluation process, speech/language pathologists and other specialists for the use with students to enhance communication skills

  • Moved QuickBooks product from a server based platform to a cloud platform

  • Utilized Casper Suite to manage mobile devices

  • Consolidated malware, antivirus and client management tools

  • Expanded data available to parents using iParent at GMS and WHS

  • Provided iParent access to parents K-6 to view report cards online

  • Assessed current resources for upcoming PARCC assessment

  • Introduced online evaluation tool Baseline Edge for teachers and administrators

  • Established a Google support and resource website for users to locate tips, instructions, sample lessons, and video tutorials

 

Percent by School for Selected Populations

 

FirstLanguage Not English

Limited

English Proficient

Special Education

Low-Income

Fales

9.1

4.3

18.4

3.5

Hastings

27.6

18.4

20.6

16.2

Armstrong

34.2

23.5

14.4

7.6

Mill Pond

20.2

6.0

14.7

10

Gibbons

14.2

2.1

14.9

8.8

WHS

11.8

1.9

8.9

9.3

Average

18.3

7.4

14.8

9.6

 

Mrs. O’Connor noted the longer the district works with these students, the lower the numbers

 

CHALLENGES & UNFUNDED DEMANDS

School Committee Meeting 4.

December 11, 2013

 

  • State and Federal Grant Funding Reductions (35% from Fy09-Fy13)

  • Common Core: New instructional standards that require curriculum alignment, revisions, and purchasing of required materials

  • Supervision/Evaluation System: Year 2 of new state initiative with 100% of faculty being measured under new standards. This requires additional professional development for all staff and the implementation of a new technology software management system. 100% Data reporting on every teacher annually

  • Sheltered English Immersion mandates for teachers/administrators relicensure (45 hours of training) unfunded and additional cost to the district (no compensation)

  • Changing student demographics- increase in % of ELL/ Sped students with more intense needs requiring additional personnel with specialized skills and licenses.

  • Funding Homeless Transportation- Originally billed as 100% funding resulting in only 55% reimbursement returned to the town one year later

  • Online reporting system- data reports on students 3 times/yr. and staff 2 times/yr. (now 3 times) increase in manpower hours (52 data fields per student & 30 data fields per teacher) This year additional data on every student schedule and every student grade received.

  • New Testing (PARCC) requiring students to be assessed using computers

  • Contract Negotiations

  • Federal Nutrition Regulation Changes- loss in school lunch revenue

  • Chapter 70 and special education continue to be underfunded

 

FY BUDGET BY CATEGORY

 

FY14 FY15 % OF BUD % INCR DIFF

TUITIONS 2,403,917 2,130,603 4.89% 11.0% (263,314)

TRANSPORTATION 2,231,103 2,379,652 5.44% 6.7% 148.549

SALARY 33,852,709 34,986,419 79.98% 3.3% 1,133,710

CONTRACTED SERVICES 1,508,915 1,444,188 3.30% -4.3% (64,727)

TECHNOLOGY 599,525 587,025 1.34% -2.1% (12,500)

EQUIPMENT 108,750 108,620 0.25% -0.1% (130)

SUPPLIES 765,231 779,228 1.78% 1.8% 13,997

TEXTBOOKS 235,433 314,317 0.72% 33.5% 78,884

UTILITIES 988,625 1,003,001 2.29% 1.5% 14,376

TOTAL 42,694.208 43,743,054 100% 2.46% 1,048,845

 

 

SIX YEAR BUDGET AVERAGE

LOCAL CONTRIBUTION FY09 TO FY15 AVERAGE PERCENT CHANGE 2.49%

STATE AND FEDERAL CONTRIBUTION FY09 TO FY15 -3.89%

TOTAL PERCENT CHANGE 2.12%

 

GRANTS OVER SIX YEARS

FY09 2,463,667 FY10 2,157,397 FY11 2,024,397 FY12 1,890,859 FY13 1,613,147 FY14 1,966,317

35% REDUCTION FROM FY09

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

School Committee Meeting 5.

December 11, 2013

 

COST SAVINGS MEASURES

  • All supplies and material expenses have been reduced or maintained for seven years

  • Installation of LED lighting across the district to conserve energy

  • Fewer trash removal pick-ups and increase in green initiatives reducing costs & providing efficient custodial services

  • Transportation contract negotiated to remain frozen at FY13 rate for FY14

  • Change in copiers throughout the district using less toner and more energy efficient

  • Developing in district special education programs to bring back students placed out of district

  • Reduction in sped consultant fees using in-house sped expertise as consultants

  • Lower contracted rate for grounds maintenance

  • Online advertising, electronic report cards, progress reports to reduce paper and postage education

  • Salaries of new hires were kept at a set entrance level regardless of prior experience

 

COMMUNITY SERVICE CONTRIBUTIONS

  • Westborough Girls Basketball Tournament raised $900 for Kay Yow Cancer Fund

  • Volleyball “Dig Pink” raised over $3000 for breast cancer

  • 175 Fall student athletes volunteered in the Rangers Give Back day of community service

  • XC and Track athletes volunteered at the Rec Department Halloween Party

  • Boys Lacrosse Team participated in the Wounded Warrior Project fundraiser

  • Student Max Silverman organized the “Touchdown for America” -veterans

  • Rangers football team raised $1000 for Leukemia/Lymphoma Society

  • Grade 4 “Come Together Supper” and food collection for the Westborough Food Pantry at each of the schools

  • Toys for Tots” and clothing drives for local families

  • Local students participate in the annual town-wide Cultural Arts Fair, Rotary Tree Lighting, Civic Club projects, WEF Trivia Bee and other town events

  •  

CONTRIBUTION TO THE COMMUNITY

  • A quality school district that is highly regarded throughout the Commonwealth

  • Operate and maintain 6 buildings and 1 level of Forbes (748,000 sq. ft.)

  • Employ over 500 people, 40% of whom reside in our town

School Committee Meeting 6.

December 11, 2013

 

  • Provide daily use of our facilities twelve months/yr. for community groups and events

  • Volunteer opportunities for senior citizens to work in the schools to reduce taxes

  • Free or reduced admission for seniors to all school fine arts and athletic events

  • Volunteer efforts and donations made to the Westborough Food Bank and other local agencies in need throughout the year

  • Financial and volunteer contributions provided through fund raising efforts and service to supplement the school budget providing between $10,000-$20,000 to each school.

 

SUMMARY

  • The proposed budget will reinforce the continued pride the community has in our dedicated professionals, our well maintained facilities, and the outstanding academic achievements of our students.

 

  • It will also move the district forward in a proactive and responsible manner while continuing to focus on the increased needs of our changing student population.

 

A member of the public asked whether the cost per pupil at each school is available for this year and next. Next year’s cost can be approximated, but cannot be projected until the number of students are counted in the fall. He was assured he would receive the information. Mr. Doret cautioned the number of special needs children differ from one school to the next and the population is also different.

 

Mr. Behn commended the administration and Committee for preparing actuals to the budget and in much more detail. It includes offsets that are already allocated. He noted last year the Finance Committee looked at the total costs, including insurance. Insurance costs are going down this year. The total cost year over year is going to be less. Also, there is a large investment in school properties.

 

Mr. Doret noted the Board of Selectmen carry those costs and negotiate those costs. Bringing them back as part of the picture of what the school committee is doing is not fair. It is not how the town is set up., The school committee does not have any responsibility to those benefits. Mr. Doret sees no purpose of adding them to the schools. With the number of students projected for the next 2,3,4 years, it is possible the town may have to build another school. The indebtedness of the town includes the school department. There is nothing we can do here except what the Commonwealth requires the school committee to do.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji thanked the Finance Committee and appreciated the feedback from the members. Ms. Oliver was commended for the work she has performed.

 

MOTION

At 7:15p.m. upon a motion by Mrs. Hensley and a second by Mrs. Henderson, the Committee voted 5-0 by roll call vote to close the Public Hearing.

 

A vote on the Budget will be taken at the next meeting. Mr. Doret requested a draft of what will be delivered to town meeting. Mrs. Hensley added she is not looking to make further reductions to the Budget that is 2.46% increase.

 

The Committee reviewed the personnel changes which include a reduction in a guidance counselor, a -.2 Latin teacher and -.4 out of district coordinator. The total staff increase is 5.15. The website lists the personnel positions. The guidance position is being reduced due to a restructuring of the department. More emphasis will be placed on course selection and conflicts.

 

Mrs. Hensley noted the student ratio to guidance counselor will be different. Mr. Doret added, it is within the ratio set up for guidance counselors. Mrs. Henderson stated many of the students entering school have limited English proficiency, resulting in the need for ELL tutors. Three positions are being added in the Special Education

 

School Committee Meeting 7.

December 11, 2013

 

department due to bringing students back into the district. It is in the student’s best interest as well as being a positive financial move.

 

Superintendent O’Connor pointed out students receiving services at the Fales School has gone from 8 to 21. The same at Mill Pond. The district is adding tutors, not teachers. Also, students 14-16 years of age entering school are arriving with limited English. They will be assigned to a special class that will increase their English proficiency so that they will be able to move on to content area.

 

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH SURVEY

The Committee reviewed a document to be used as a confidential survey of staff, parents, town officials, residents and students to determine the critical needs of the district and the qualifications of a new superintendent. It will be placed on the district’s website and sent to all staff and families through Connect Ed. Because the Committee is aware of the fact 40 superintendent searches are ongoing, it felt it is better to move forward quickly. It will request the deadline for submitting applications be January 20, 2014; semi finalists will be interviewed February 10 and site visits of finalists will occur March 3. Finalists will be interviewed in Westborough March 17 with a vote to approve on March 26. A brochure will be printed at the high school and distributed by MASC by December 18. The only charge will be for postage ($400 for just Massachusetts). SchoolSpring is one of the best online instruments for job postings. An advertisement in Education Weekly cost $395 for 30 days.

 

Mr. Doret felt whatever outlet that will produce a candidate should be used. A call will be made to chairs of districts that have screened candidates themselves, not using an outside agency. The Committee reviewed the language for the brochure and made minor changes. It was determined the salary range would be $160,000-$180,000 or comparable compensation package.

 

MOTION

At 8:10 p.m. Mr. Doret made a motion to enter Executive Session under Chapter 30A, Section 21. Mrs. Hensley seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor by roll call vote.

 

At 9:35 p.m. the Committee returned to Open Session.

 

MOTION

Mrs. Henderson made a motion to open negotiations with the Custodial union. Mrs. Sullivan seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

At 9:40 p.m. Mrs. Henderson made a motion to adjourn. Mrs. Sullivan seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Stephen Doret, Secretary

 

 

Documents presented to the Committee:

Minutes December 4, 2013

2014-15 Budget Recommendations

Superintendent Search materials

 

These minutes are as recorded by the secretary to the school committee and do not become an official part of the record until so noted in a subsequent record.

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Westborough School Committee Minutes 2013-12-04

Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 25 January 2014 21:31

[The following minutes, posted 01/07/14 on the district site, were copied from this link on 25-Jan-2014, and converted to PDF as a courtesy.  Minor differences in article formatting and occasional odd content occur below (e.g. headers and page numbers are included), so please check against the PDF file, and always access the district site if you desire the original official copy -- webmaster]

WESTBOROUGH SCHOOL COMMITTEE

WESTBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS

MINUTES

Tuesday December 4, 2013

 

The Westborough School Committee meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. by Chairman, Ilyse Levine-Kanji. Committee members present included Mrs. Nicole Sullivan, and Mrs. Karen Henderson. Administrators present were Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Marianne O’Connor; Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Mayer; Director of Finance and Administration, Ms. Irene Oliver; Student Representative, Addie Egan; Principals, Maryann Stannard, Suzanne Kenny, Jack Foley, Brian Callaghan, Director of Technology, Kathy Martin; Director of Fine Arts, David Jost; and Finance Committee members, Kathy Senie, John Arnold and Edward Behn.

 

The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mrs. Levine-Kanji reviewed the Agenda.

 

MINUTES

Upon a motion by Mrs. Henderson and a second by Mrs. Sullivan, the Committee voted 3-0 in favor of approving the regular session minutes of November 26, 2013, as amended. The Committee will place the approval of the November 20, executive session minutes on the next Agenda.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORTS AND HIGHLIGHTS

Superintendent O’Connor announced the Strategic Planning Committee for Technology met yesterday. Guest speakers led a discussion about the strength of the program in place in Westborough, and where to go in the future. On-site visits will occur in the future.

 

Mrs. O’Connor was in receipt of a letter from the Secretary of Education, Matt Malone, thanking everyone who participated in his visit to the Mill Pond School and commended the impressive curriculum in place. Students will have a half day on December 6; faculty will participate in Professional Development. The Supervision/Evaluation Committee met today. It is looking at rubrics for nurses and specialists.

 

Superintendent O’Connor stated she sent a letter to the staff today announcing that after 30 years in public and private education, she was announcing her retirement at the end of this school year. She needs to spend time with her family, grandchildren, and mother. It has been an amazing career from substitute, classroom teacher, team leader, principal, director of curriculum and instruction, assistant superintendent and superintendent. She added it has been a privilege to have worked in Westborough with dedicated and talented professional people, her leadership team, outstanding community support, school committees of the past and present, and especially the children. They have given her strength. Mrs. O’Connor stated she has confidence they will keep the district going in the right direction. She will be here to support the next leader of the district. She will not miss the 4:30 a.m. calls to make the decision on whether to delay or cancel school.

 

Mrs. Henderson noted the fact Mrs. O’Connor’s leadership team is in attendance at the meeting is a testimony to the kind of leader she is. It will be difficult to replace Mrs. O’Connor who has been an excellent superintendent with a thirty plus year career in education. The district is in top notch shape which indicates a top leadership team, great faculty and staff, and support of the community. Mrs. O’Connor’s accomplishments will be celebrated in the coming months.

 

Mrs. Sullivan thanked the Superintendent for helping her in her “rookie” year as a school committee member, and noted Mrs. O’Connor has such respect in the schools and community which benefits the children.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji added Mrs. O’Connor is leaving the district in a great spot, and has always focused on what benefits the district. The Superintendent is on the job from early morning to late at night, has taken very little vacation or sick time.

 

Dr. Mayer stated it has been a privilege to have worked with Mrs. O’Connor for over ten years, working on regional committees, and is greatly indebted to her for her association.

School Committee Meeting 2.

December 4, 2013

 

Ms. Oliver added when she interviewed for her position, she had a great sense of Mrs. O’Connor as a leader, and she has not been disappointed. It has been great working on the Superintendent’s team, and she hopes the next leader has the same qualities and integrity.

 

Dr. Mayer announced the state reported the International Student Assessment results, measuring the top performing systems worldwide. Massachusetts comes out on top year after year. Westborough’s ranking in the top 10% of the state, which is ranked #1 in the country, is a tribute to the teachers and students.

 

Ms. Oliver reported she and the Director of Building and Grounds met with the Capital Expenditure Committee and reported on the problems with the acoustic tiles at the high school and boiler at the Gibbons School. The presentation was well received.

 

Mrs. Henderson added a very thorough description was presented to the Capital committee, and felt it had a good understanding of the urgency of the matter. It would mean looking at a $75,000 expense for both. The Committee will meet with the town manager December 19 to see how the ratings come out. All departments’ needs are considered. A five year outlook was also presented on items that will be coming up.

 

COMMITTEE REQUESTS AND REPORTS

Addie stated from a student’s perspective, Mrs. O’Connor’s hard work has shown through. She is a role model to the students. Mrs. O’Connor always brings back childhood memories to the students, how far they have come, and how much they have grown.

 

Addie announced Westborough won the Thanksgiving football game against Algonquin 31-7. Winter sports are underway. All winter athletes will meet December 9 with a parent or guardian. The a capella concert was held December 3, and the Winter Concert will be held December 17. There is an Anatomy and Physiology Club pizza fundraiser going on this evening. The Winter semi formal will be held December 6 in the WHS lobby. The national Honor Society will conduct a blood drive December 11, and the polar plunge is December 8.

At the Fales School a food drive for the Food Pantry is underway until December 13. It is related to a state organization, Project 351. Freshman, Connor Schoen has put in a great deal of effort into this project. The Book of the Month for December is How to Heal a Broken Wing by Bob Graham.

 

The Fifth Anniversary of the Fales School will be celebrated December 6. Parent, Dave Crandall has put together a video, and Kate Flanagan has taken photos. Thanks to both of them. At the Armstrong School a “Holiday Shoppe Event” will take place December 12.

 

Mrs. Sullivan announced she and Kathy Martin met last night with a non profit group of sponsors for a Technology Board of Directors and fundraisers.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji commended Addie on a recent article in the Community Advocate relating to the National Honor Society. Mrs. Levine-Kanji wished to draw attention to the number of homeless families in the district. Mrs. O’Connor noted 100 units of a motel in Shrewsbury are shelters and the food pantries are struggling.

 

BUDGET PRESENTATION

The Superintendent presented a summary and recommendations for the FY15 Budget. The Salary budget accounts for approximately 80% of the total budget of $43,743,054. The Tuition account is down 11% due to rolling over some funding and bringing back two students into the district, and one is aging out in September and one in January. Transportation indicates a slight increase due to the anticipated need of adding a bus. The rate has been frozen for one more year at the rate we received this year. The Salary Budget increases 3.3% moving everyone up a step and lane and no cola. Contracted Services are reduced -4.3%; Technology -2.1%; Equipment -0.1%; Supplies 1.8%. For the seventh year, the district has not invested in supplies and materials. The 1.8% increase in supplies is to add equipment for a new classroom, most likely at Fales. Textbooks increase 33.5% for math texts to align to the common core. Utilities are up slightly, 1.5%.

School Committee Meeting 3.

December 4, 2013

 

Over the past six years, Grants have decreased from $2,463,667 to $1,966,317. The Chapter 70 monies depend upon the type of student and the delivery, but that money goes back to the town. There has been a 20% decrease in Grants since 2009.

 

The six-year budget average indicates the local contribution average of 2.49%; the state and federal contributions, down 3.89%; the total percentage of change, 2.13%.

 

The Superintendent presented the new position requests/reductions and reasons for them. The Fales School needs a grade 2 teacher, a .3 ELL tutor both due to enrollment; Hastings, one grade 2 teacher (enrollment figures); Mill Pond, a .5 ELL tutor (increase in numbers from grade 4) and a .5 Reading teacher (no service for these students in grade 6). The High School needs a .2 Spanish teacher (Gibbons students moving up); a .2 Computer Science teacher (STEM 21st century learning goals); .2 Drama teacher (enrollment oversubscribed); .05 secretary (11 months to 12 months due to business in the office during the summer). The high school will be reducing a .2 Latin teacher due to program phase out. All students in the program will be served. A guidance counselor will be reduced due to the reorganization of that department. The SPED department will be reducing the Out-of-District coordinator’s position by .4 due to reorganization of resources. A BCBA teacher is needed in intensive SPED population; 1.0 licensed social/psychologist for assessment/emotional needs; and a 1.0 Wilson teacher for specialized reading services. Districtwide, a kindergarten teacher is being added due to anticipated enrollment; 1 ELL teacher for students 14-16 new to the district that are at a grade 4 level. English is not their primary language. These students will remain in this classroom until they can be immersed into the regular education programs. A reinstatement of a 1.5 technology curriculum teacher is needed.

 

Superintendent O’Connor stated the personnel requests are must haves, and are not the full complement of requests. The total increase request is 6.75 FTE; reductions, 1.6 FTE; total increase 5.15 FTE.

 

In response to a question by Mrs. Sullivan, the Superintendent acknowledged that if some of the personnel requests are not met, outside consultants will have to be hired. Out-of-district placements can be up to $200,000 plus transportation.

 

The total Salary Budget is $34,986,419; Operations $8,756,635; Proposed FY15 Budget $43,743,054. Percentage increase over last year, 2.46%. This does not include pending salary negotiations. It does include the proposed personnel increase/decreases.

 

The Public Hearing on the Budget will be held December 11.

 

In regards to the hiring of the social worker/psychologist, the Superintendent noted the need is for outreach to families with children with emotional and social disabilities, which is hard on families. Parent training is needed and equipment to help parents do what the school is doing. There are families experiencing serious troubles, not just with younger students, some of it due to the erosion of the nuclear family. Schools are asked to do more and more. There is one adjustment counselor at the high school and a .5 one at Gibbons. They need help.

Mrs. Levine-Kanji noted it is cost avoidance, eliminating the need to put the student in residential placement. Mrs. Henderson added it makes financial sense to keep the students in the district. Superintendent O’Connor stated the cost reduction of one residential placement, can get 5 teachers for the district. The decision to place a student on an IEP is a result of a team decision. If the district cannot provide a service, the student has to go out of district.

 

Mrs. O’Connor reported 20 units of the 120 Toll development project have been sold and resulted in 28 students added to the district. That is from only one of the two developments underway.

 

MASC Representative

Mike Gilbert of MASC gave an overview of his credentials to assist with a superintendent search. He has been a field director of MASC for 18 years, served 20 years as a school committee member. There are 40 superintendent

searches underway at this time. Usually a district will receive between 30-40 applications. Mr. Gilbert encouraged

School Committee Meeting 4.

December 4, 2013

 

the Committee to look for an interim replacement until they are ready to move forward. A number of retired superintendents do this kind of work. He suggested the Committee draw up the qualities and skills of the next superintendent and then look at internal candidates first, then do the outside search. There is the need to think about budget and a timeframe. It usually takes 3-4 months if looking at an outside candidate, with an estimated budget of $15,000-20,000. Cost of a consultant would be approximately $10,000 plus $2,000 in expenses. Advertisement will cost about $2500-3500. Travel costs will depend upon where a candidate is coming from. Involve the community and use its input as a gauge as to what they want to see. Set salary range up front.

 

Mr. Gilbert added at the mid step in the process, a search committee of 9-15 should be established with representatives from the community, staff from each level, parent from each level, a high school student, support staff and administration. Keep odd number of people. The search committee will narrow the candidates down to 3-5, screen papers. The real focus of search committee should be on questions. The school committee decides on the best fit for the community at this time.

 

The search committee is subject to open meeting laws. An exemption allows for the interview of candidates before the number is cut to the finalists. Once the finalist’s names are presented to the school committee, the names become public.

 

Mr. Gilbert stated the process could be completed by the end of May if started now. If time is a problem, then consider looking for an interim person. A survey could go out to the community in January, advertise early in February.

 

If the district does its own search, MASC will provide technical assistance. It will help with the process, design questions, provide a timeline, help with outreach brochure and application process. It will help with advertising in Education Week, not the Globe. MASC will provide content for a brochure and printing costs and provide a mailing list.

 

In response to a question by Mrs. Henderson, Mr. Gilbert noted the search committee should not have a school committee member on it. It can taint the process. Let it do the work for you. If doing the search yourself, have one member of the school committee on the search committee. Let the teachers cho0se the teacher; the parents cho0se the parent. Put school committee member names in a hat. It shows the process is not rigged. Criteria should be discussed in open meetings. School committee members can go to focus groups and bring back information to the table. An online survey should be conducted by MASC or the school committee.

 

Dr. Mayer inquired whether there are more candidates in the summer months than in January/February. Mr. Gilbert responded candidates will pay attention all the time. It does not make a difference. Candidates look at Massachusetts as a leader in education and some have ties to the area.

 

People working for MASC are primarily former school committee members and come from that perspective. Competitors come from non-profits and former administrators. There is also for profit competition.

 

It was suggested the School Committee look at the questions on an earlier survey and make any updates necessary. While the survey is going on, the Committee could establish a focus group. In response to Mrs. Sullivan’s question regarding the number of focus groups, Mr. Gilbert responded, there should be one with staff in each building, central office staff, possibly 2 parent/community groups on different days. The finalist should be expected to put in a 12-16 hour interview day, whereby the candidate starts in the central office, ends the day with a meet and greet community and then does a 90 minute interview.

 

For the advertisement, Mr. Gilbert would need specific qualifications, what level of degree, certified or certifiable in Massachusetts, (requiring an advanced degree reduces the pool), salary range and specific experience, such as building projects, technology, etc. The search committee does not need information too early. They will have nothing to do until March.

 

 

School Committee Meeting 5.

December 4, 2013

 

Mr. Gilbert will send a mock up of an advertisement to the Committee, a copy of a survey, what search committee should consider. He will put together a timeline for the Committee.

 

The Committee will discuss the ad and survey at the next meeting and what route the Committee wishes to take in terms of the search itself.

 

MASC would do a preliminary background search, but would not do CORI. MASC charges a base fee of $7500, except printing and travel up to $2500. Mrs. Levine-Kanji asked for a cost estimate for a brochure. There is a need for time to train a search committee and the school committee has to do its work. Three months is about the shortest amount of time for a turnaround.

 

MOTION

At 7:50 p.m. Mrs. Sullivan made a motion to adjourn. Mrs. Henderson seconded the motion and the Committee voted 3-0 in favor of the motion.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Stephen Doret, Secretary

Documents presented to the Committee:

Minutes November 26, 2013

2014-15 Budget Recommendations

 

These minutes are as recorded by the secretary to the school committee and do not become an official part of the record until so noted in a subsequent record.


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Westborough School Committee Minutes 2013-12-18

Written by Webmaster   
Saturday, 25 January 2014 14:23

[The following minutes, posted 01/10/14 on the district site, were copied from this link on 24-Jan-2014, and converted to PDF as a courtesy.  Minor differences in article formatting and occasional odd content occur below (e.g. headers and page numbers are included), so please check against the PDF file, and always access the district site if you desire the original official copy -- webmaster]

WESTBOROUGH SCHOOL COMMITTEE

WESTBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS

MINUTES

Tuesday December 18, 2013

 

The Westborough School Committee meeting was called to order at 6:05 p.m. by Chairman, Ilyse Levine-Kanji. Committee members present include Mrs. Nicole Sullivan, Mr. Stephen Doret, Mrs. Jody Hensley and Mrs. Karen Henderson. Administrators present were Superintendent of Schools, Mrs. Marianne O’Connor; Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Daniel Mayer; Director of Finance and Administration, Ms. Irene Oliver; Student Representative, Addie Egan, and Finance Committee members, Kathy Senie and Edward Behn.

 

The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Mrs. Levine-Kanji reviewed the Agenda and announced there would be a need for Executive Session under Chapter 30A, Section 21 for the purpose of discussing negotiations and litigation.

 

MINUTES

Upon a motion by Mrs. Hensley and a second by Mr. Doret, the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of approving the regular session minutes of December 11, 2013. Mrs. Hensley made a motion to approve the Executive Session minutes of December 11, 2013, and to hold them because they deal with litigation and negotiation. Mr. Doret seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORTS AND HIGHLIGHTS

Superintendent O’Connor announced the WHS Debate team placed first in its first time entry in the Boston International Economic Summit, December 4, at Gillette Stadium.

 

At 1:45 p.m. today, Mrs. O’Connor was informed of a threatening note found in the high school lobby. The Westborough police were called, a sweep of the building was conducted, and nothing has been found. The building’s interior and exterior will have overnight security, as well as police presence on campus tomorrow. All teachers and staff have been notified, as well as parents. The Superintendent wishes to assure everyone the building is safe. Contrary to rumors, there was no evacuation and no lockdown. The investigation continues.

 

Dr. Mayer reported the grades 1-6 report cards were issued electronically. The grade 4-6 report cards have 62 categories of information on student performance. There may be some scaling back on the number.

 

Ms. Oliver expressed relief the budget preparation has come to an end. Interviews of candidates for the position of Director of Building and Grounds will begin the first week of January.

 

COMMITTEE REQUESTS AND REPORTS

Addie informed the Committee WHS peer mediators will present to freshmen and sophomore classes at assembly programs. Winter sports are underway. The Winter Concerts continue this week. The postponed band performance will take place January 9. Ned’s Coffee House was a success. Rehearsals of Fiddler on the Roof, the spring musical, are underway. The Fales School has issued report cards and the December School Meeting will be held December 20. The Hastings students read 125,694 minutes last month, and earned “Gifts of the Heart” by Patricia Polacco, for the library. The India celebration has ended, and in January, China will be celebrated. Odds Bodkin, a musician and story teller presented an enrichment program. Central Community Grange members donated personalized dictionaries to each third grade student.

 

Mrs. Henderson encouraged administrators to over-communicate early dismissal notices. The Superintendent noted the DPW did a great job clearing snow so that the schools could open today.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji commended the high school students for collecting 1800 lbs of food for the Food Pantry. She noted there has been some confusion regarding the penalty phase of the Chemical Health Policy. For athletes the MIAA policy is they miss 25% of their contests for a first violation. All students miss 6 weeks of extra-curricular

 

School Committee Meeting 2.

December 18, 2013

 

activities. Athletes can participate in contests after the 25% has been served; they still miss the 6 weeks of extracurricular activities.

 

Mrs. Sullivan agreed language was added to defer to MIAA regulations, whichever is greater, MIAA or Westborough. If MIAA changes penalties, Westborough has to be in compliance.

 

Mrs. Henderson stated the penalties should not change, but the language should be cleared up. Mr. Doret asked that the text be reviewed, and changes made to accomplish the goal.

 

FY14-15 BUDGET

MOTION

Mrs. Doret made a motion to approve the Superintendent’s Budget as presented. Mrs. Henderson seconded the motion. The total FY14-15 Budget is $43,743,054. The Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

The Budget must be received by the town manager December 20. The Finance Committee will invite the School Committee to give a presentation at a later date. Mrs. Hensley felt the Budget was much more streamlined and focused this year. Mrs. O’Connor and Ms. Oliver spent a great deal of time over the summer aligning it with the FinCom requests.

 

SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH

A survey has been prepared and emailed to school staff and parents; it will appear in the Patch and in the Globe. There have been 100-200 responses already. Thanks were extended to all those involved in the printing and distribution of a superintendent search brochure. It will be posted on SchoolSpring, on the MASC website, and in Education Week for a month. Six resumes have already been received. A review of the survey responses will be placed on the January 8 Agenda.

 

Mrs. Levine-Kanji polled other districts inquiring whether searches were done by themselves or outside firms. Either way, they received excellent candidates. The Committee needs to decide whether to hire MASC or an outside firm to conduct the search; decide what tasks they can help with for a fee or no fee; provide help in screening candidates. Appointments need to be set up, resumes screened, interview questions developed; references checked. Eight to ten applicants should be chosen the first round, decreasing to 3-5 the second round. Resumes, due January 20, may be screened in Executive Session as well as the first round of interviews. The second round must be in Open Session.

 

Mrs. Sullivan felt the School Committee should review the resumes. Mr. Doret suggested the January 22 meeting be set aside for that purpose.

 

It was suggested decisions be made at the January 8 meeting on the timeline and how to proceed with the process. A search committee and its make up should be discussed as well as ranking of questions.

 

Mr. Doret questioned how two school committee members serving on a search committee benefit the rest of the members. He also felt all school committee members should review resumes. He suggested video taping candidate’s responses.

 

Questions should be prepared by all stakeholders. Some will be working with the person on a daily basis. All five members should decide on the final questions to be asked.

 

Dr. Mayer cautioned that some candidates do not wish to go public with their application during the first round. Video taping may make some candidates uncomfortable.

 

The Committee discussed search and focus committee participants, the general public’s participation, and the role they will play. Also considered was hiring a facilitator and training of the focus groups.

 

 

School Committee Meeting 3.

December 18, 2013

 

Mr. Doret suggested the drive should be the results of the survey. People also have the opportunity during final interviews to give input and ask questions. If the search timeline is not working, it can be adjusted. The Committee discussed the makeup of the search and screening committees.

 

The January 8 meeting will schedule time to look at a sample of questions, rating sheets, categories of participants, whether to hire MASC to check credentials and perform background checks. The School Committee must do reference checks.

 

MOTION

At 7:25 p.m. Mrs. Sullivan made a motion to enter Executive Session under Chapter 30A, Section 21. Mr. Doret seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor by roll call vote.

 

At 8:25 p.m. the Committee returned to Open Session. Bills were signed.

 

MOTION

At 8:26 p.m. Mrs. Henderson made a motion to adjourn. Mrs. Sullivan seconded the motion and the Committee voted 5-0 in favor of the motion.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Stephen Doret, Secretary

Documents presented to the Committee:

Minutes December 11, 2013

Student enrollment figures

 

These minutes are as recorded by the secretary to the school committee and do not become an official part of the record until so noted in a subsequent record.

 

 

 

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