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.