In attendance is Alison Manugian, Jon Sjoberg, Peter Cronin, Jeff Kubick and Director of Business & Finance – Jared Stanton and Superintendent – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez.

  • Discussions pertaining to the SC taking a leadership role in the school budgetary process took place tonight. To clarify the SC instructed the Superintendent to draft a budget that would be able to fund the current schools needs that were identified in the needs assessment.  The superintendent will be producing the actual monetary numbers in this budget, however the SC would like to play a role in the narrative. I think this is a great idea and incredibly important that all taxpayers should have clarity of what we are being asked to spend, why it is needed and how will it accommodate the needs identified in the needs assessment. This same philosophy should be utilized for every tax dollar spent in Groton & Dunstable. 
  • SC will be looking to meet with BOS & Fin Com (roughly first week of January) to check in with the boards to see if the schools have the support of the boards. Many BOS members during election and while holding office had stated they support our schools and many Fin Com members have publicly stated they support our schools.
    • We have not had a formal needs assessment for our schools within the last 10 years (if ever).
    • We have not had an override within the last 5 years to help fund municipal services & school needs.
    • The state does not provide adequate funding for public schools which in return puts the cost to properly fund our schools in the hands of the taxpayers.
    • What kind of school district do we want for our towns?
  • SC discussed school budget anticipated timeline
    • Second week of February – Superintendent Budget Hearing
    • Last week of February – Public input hearing
    • Second week of March – SC vote on budget and is provided to town
    • April (Groton) & May (Dunstable) school budget provided to taxpayers at town meeting.

Meeting adjourned for the SC meeting to begin. In attendance for the regular SC meeting are Alison Manugian, Jon Sjoberg, Peter Cronin, Jeff Kubick, Stephanie Cronin, Asst. Superintendent – Dr. Katie Novak, Director of Business & Finance – Jared Stanton and Superintendent – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez.

  • School Improvement Plan Presentation 2014/2015 – This presentation was nice to hear as it summarized the goals that were set and what was accomplished by our individual schools.
  • Current Goals For Each School by June 2016
    • Boutwell – Focus on improving family knowledge of their child’s social development & focus on student social skills through June 2016
    • Swallow Union – Effectively implemented readers workshop model for instruction. Second goal grade level teams will reflect on our new math models to change, enhance or modify lessons to allow proper-tiered instruction. Third goal is to increase communication methods.
    • Flo Ro – Collaborate in grade level teams to select text-based writing opportunities and make specific preparations for the implementation of Writers’s Workshop during 2016-2017. Unpack and reflect on Eureka math modules in order to support implementation of the program and make lesson adjustments as needed, as meeting artifacts and grade level lesson outlines. Improve and streamline communications at the classroom/grade level to caretakers level by regular providing two-way communication with families about student’s performance and learning. Develop an elementary technology integration action plan based on technology needs in the classroom.
    • MS – Create a school-wide intervention plan including the development of comprehensive Tier 1 approach to the instruction and support math & literacy. Collect feedback from the parent community on current communication tools and create a plan to increase the effectiveness. Engage the GDRMS community to identify key areas of improvement. This information will lead to a plan for the staff to use professional learning communities to research and address pertinent issues.
    • HS – Scheduling committee will report on the effectiveness of the block schedule and examine alternatives as evidenced by the completion of a comparative analysis document. Align the curriculum in all grades to the MA Frameworks to ensure a strong structure of ELA instruction, as measured by a completed ELA9-12 scope and sequence. In partnership with Middlesex Community College & U Mass Lowell faculty and staff, we will create a concurrent dual enrollment program at GDRHS as measures by dual enrollment, concurrent course offering in the spring 2016 semester. Successfully develop, organize and execute a comprehensive overhaul of our Advisory Program that is consistent, meaningful and successful as measured by student staff pre and post survey results.
  • Dr. Novak has performed a survey with teachers and completed the research regarding homework assignments. Next step is going to be surveying parents & students. After the surveys data is collected and analyzed, Dr. Novak will provide her recommendations to the SC in February 2016. Expect a survey link via email (January 2016) if you want to provide feedback on how much homework your child is doing each night on a regular basis.  Hopefully it will come to parents in a separate email verses embedded in the Superintendent’s blog so it is easy to find and participate
  • Substitute teachers at GDRSD will receive $75 per day moving forward which is average for surrounding town and based on a 6.5 hour day is about $11.54/per hour.  This increase is to allow GDRSD the ability to obtain substitute staff and it is the same amount that our substitute teachers current receive after 30 days.
  • Charter Review Update – Overall the SC was open to having some verbiage about the schools in the charter that would outline the unique relationship between the town and the schools and how they work together.

Meeting adjourned 8:45pm

 

 

In attendance tonight is Superintendent – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez, Jeff Kubick, Leslie Lathrop, Alison Manugian, Stephanie Cronin, Jennifer McKenzie, Peter Cronin and Jon Sjoberg.

COMMUNICATION PLANNING TO SHARE THE NEEDS ASSESSMENT

  • Circulate the needs assessment to the entire community beyond the GDRSD website in various channels.
  • Confirm what the SC is allowed to do and not do in advocating for our children’s needs – check with MARS (Massachusetts Association Regional School District).
    • Prioritizing needs assessment so the community is able to see first hand the items of their concerns are being addressed in the 2017 budget.
    • Distribute needs assessment information to all community group leaders to share with their groups and “circles” within the communities such as PTA, APEX, GDEF, BOS, etc.
    • TAG – Talk About Groton
    • Groton Herald
    • Groton Channel
    • A three-minute informative video for distribution – If there is anyone out there that happens to work in the video industry that would like to donate some of your time to help out our district please contact pcronin@gdrsd.org and please offer your services. 
    • Enter small revisions to the summary document that offers an easier read verses the 90+ page document that will be also available for the community.
    • Providing the same information in various design to allow it to be digested by the community in a relatable manner for the various groups in the community.

OVERVIEW

  • The document is an overview of the Needs assessment of the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District.
  • The overview and the Needs Assessment are based on data current as of November 2015.
  • The Needs Assessment does not provide information about associated costs and recommendations will follow.
  • Technology & capital needs are not addressed in the assessment, the report will come out in the Spring 2016.
  • BIC (Best in Class Districts) is referenced in many areas as they represent MA public school systems that are used as a comparison due to their high performance districts.

NEEDS FOCUS ON FIVE KEY FINDINGS

  1. We need to reverse declining student performance caused by the loss of essential staffing and resources.
  2. We need to restore and improve programs to meet the needs of students in the areas of the arts, library, STEM (Science Technology, Engineering & Math), and foreign language based on previous staff reductions.
  3. We need to provide comprehensive social and emotional support to our students.
  4. We need to meet the needs of students with disabilities while meeting the needs of all learners. 
  5. We need to restore essential support services including kindergarten assistants, technology support staff, school, nursing staff, maintenance staff, business office staff and administrative assistants. 

A follow-up document will provide a summary of these key findings, supporting data, verified root causes, and recommended solutions.

 

In attendance tonight is Jeff Kubick, Peter Cronin, Leslie Lathrop, Alison Manugian, Director of Business & Finance – Jared Stanton and Superintendent – Kristan Rodriguez.

Check up on Warrant Review

  • The processing of signing off on warrants have been running smoothly with nothing beyond normal inquiries and costs have been as expected.

FY16 Review of Expenditures to Date

  • Revenue is reported as the same which was more than what was budgeted due to the unexpected increase of Chapter 71 & 70 State funds this year.  Keep in mind these state funds will fluctuate greatly and can not be relied upon each year.  
  • There is a request of the SC to obtain a more in-depth update periodically to try to track the spending that would show what money is currently in contingency funds, what expenses have been paid and what expenses are expected to be paid in the near future to have a better idea on how much money we have in the contingency funds periodically. As a small business owner I can appreciate the need to forecast year-end expenses; I know first hand that snow removal, utilities and other variable expenses can be estimated and as a result the current contingency funds will also change throughout the year.  Fluctuating contingency funds throughout the year would represent responsible budgeting and should be expected. This type of a periodical budget summary would be a valuable tool for the SC to make sure we are staying on target for the year end contingency fund and more importantly it would increase transparency and trust within our district. The explanation of the variable numbers throughout the year can be explained in a brief summary for the SC and the community. 

OPEB (Other Post-Employee Benefits) 

  • Retiree costs will increase which will result in less money within the school budget for librarians, teachers, snow removal…. any other expenses that you would find in any of our school budgets. We have a very experienced senior staff and setting up a trust to protect our district form this inevitable  expense is being fiscally responsible. In simple terms this is much like planning for your future while you have to pay for your current living expenses. If you fail to prepare for the future you will have a hard time finding a way to afford food on your table, a roof over your head and clothes on your back when your no longer in the work force.  If we don’t establish a trust account to help off set this future expense it will affect our district in the not so distant future. I am all for this trust account but after our children have what they need in 2017, hopefully the community will welcome the idea in the near future. 

FY17 Budget

Alison Manugian drafted a rough calendar to try to lay out the time frame for the 2017 budget calendar to try to have an overview. The summary below does not include the many SC Standard Meetings & SC Budget and Finance meetings that will take place throughout the year during the entire budgeting process.

  • December
    • Preliminary Assessments Provided to Towns
    • Groton Town Manager Budget Due
  • January
    • Draft Budgeting Workshops
  • February
    • Draft Budget Release to SC
    • Superintendent Budget Hearing
    • Public Input & SC Meeting
  • March
    • SC Meeting to Vote budget
    • Assessments Due to Towns (45 Days Prior to Town Meeting)
  • April
    • Groton Town Meeting
  • May
    • Dunstable Town Meeting
    • Dunstable Ballot Vote
    • Groton Ballot Vote

Meeting adjourned at 7:15pm and the SC Workshop immediately followed.

Jeff Kubick, Alison Manugian, Leslie Lathrop, Stephanie Cronin, Jennifer McKenzie, Peter Cronin and Superintendent – Kristan Rodriquez is in attendance for the SC Workshop.

  • The SC voted to approve the sale of the bond as discussed at the last SC meeting in order to save the towns some money by acquiring a lower interest rate. They were able to lock in an even lower rate at 1.71% and the savings that will go back to the tax payers will be a total savings of over $280,000 over the course of the loan.  We have the administration to thank for returning this savings to the tax payers, they did a great job in researching and taking advantage if this great rate before they increase. 
  • SC discussed finalizing FY15 & FY16 goals. Goals are being met within the confines of the approved budgets and in some circumstances at great expense. An example is the lack of integration specialists that resulted in the lack of specialized training on new equipment for staff results in minimal or no training . The lack of staff is addressed in the GDRSD needs assessment as well as other needs in our district. The SC set various goals that allows them to advocate for our schools and the community vision but it is the community that votes to provide them with the tools and resources needed to fulfill those goals. A FY 2017 budget will be presented for community input in February and will be voted on in April (Groton) and May (Dunstable) town meetings.  It is at that time the community can provide input and vote on that budget. The vote will decide if the community supports accommodating the needs of our children. 

Among the discussed FY 2015/2016 goals discussed:

  • Increasing  SC visibility, community engagement and communication which would include establishing a more formal plan & calendar from the PCCE suggestions.
  • Homework Policy – currently being researched further as the homework policy is set by the administrators at the school level. Additional feedback from students & parents in way of a survey was discussed as well as the input from teachers to help determine the benefit & drawbacks of homework and its ultimate purpose.
  • Vision, Mission & Values March 2016
  • Regional Agreement – Implementation of revised agreement FY 2018
  • Develop relocation options for administration offices.
  • Review Football Club presentation, Athletic/Activity Fees and Mascot

Communicating Information To Community on FY17

  • Discussions on how to summarize the needs assessment in an easily digestible format that will be reviewed next week at the next SC Workshop on December 9th.

Meeting adjourned at 9:12pm