All school committee members were present tonight in addition to Superintendent – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez, Assistant Superintendent – Dr. Katie Novak and Director of Business & Finance – Jared Stanton.

  • We began the meeting with the annual School Committee Reorganization; this process elects a chair, vice chair and secretary of the SC for the next year.  The School Committee unanimously voted the following members to their positions.
    • Jeff Kubick – 2nd year as SC Chair
    • Jennifer McKenzie – new SC Vice Chair
    • Marlena Gilbert – Secretary (more minutes for me)
  • The SC received the annual report from independent accountants/auditor – Melanson Heath. This report is on the basic financial statements of the GDRSD as of and for the year June 2015. Frank Biron of Melanson Heath referenced that the audit showed no weakness or deficiencies in the report and that the District runs a lean budget.
  • School Committee voted on not to offer any additional school choice seats for the upcoming year with the current class sizes being higher than preferred.
  • Jane Allen was reappointed to the SC Representative for the Charter Review Committee – unanimously
  • Superintendent Evaluation – received an overall exemplary rating from the SC evaluation that was just completed last month.
  • FY17 Budget – SC instructed the Superintendent to utilize the guidance set forth at the last two SC meetings to comprise a formal list of needs from the NA for the SC review. The SC will vote on these specific items and finalize the actual budget that would not exceed the assessment difference of the $2.65 million identified in the previous workshop from May 24th.
  • Both Dr. Kristan Rodriguez and Dr. Katie Novak have been volunteering their time in teaching courses to G-D staff. Most recently Dr. Rodriguez has opened a course up to neighboring districts.  The course helps guide school leaders and educators put the UDL framework into practice. So far there are 6 participants from neighboring districts that have signed up for the $500 course and the offer to sign up for the course was just released 2-3 days ago. This is just another way that our Superintendent is going above and beyond for our district in personal efforts to raising revenues and help guide the G-D staff.  G-D teachers are able to take the course towards credits and receive a complimentary copy of the guidebook that was written by Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Novak.  You may purchase a copy of the guidebook at Amazon –
  • The SC discussed scheduling a tentative SC meeting immediately following the Dunstable & Groton TM so they are better prepared should the school budget fail at either TM on June 13th & 14th. This meeting would be to discuss the possibility of calling a district meeting should either town reject the new school budget. The SC is also researching possible locations for a district meeting to avoid any possible last-minute preparations that may be necessary in finalizing the school budget.


The consensus is that the SC prefers not to have a district meeting.

The consensus is that the SC are looking for the strong, verbal support from all other elected officials.

The consensus is that the SC must meet the most crucial needs of our students in FY17. Those needs are the emotional & behavioral needs, students with disabilities & high needs, an open library (certified librarian to teach research/study skills & keep library open) and custodians (to allow students to use clean & functional bathrooms).

Meeting adjourned at roughly 8:30pm –  the sun was actually just setting when we left the building.







All SC (school committee) members were present at the workshop in addition to Superintendent – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez, Director of Business & Finance – Jared Stanton, approx. four members of the BOS, approx. four members of the Fin Com Members and a couple of members of the sustainability committee.

The goal of this meeting was to agree upon an assessment figure and provide it to the BOS so they could then meet on May 25th to set an override question to be put on a June 30th ballot.

There was discussion in regards to setting a figure and then seeing what needs could be incorporated into that figure, however the majority of the SC felt it was best to start from our original budgetary exercise and go from there.  That exercise concentrated on identifying the most crucial needs and then looking at the costs which is what we did.

For another 3-4 hours, seven parents (SC members) deliberated over which needs from the NA (Needs Assessment) are able to be met in FY17 and which will have to wait until next year due to the failed override on May 17th. We did not identify which specific needs would be met but we did provide the BOS an difference in assessment number to work with and that was $2,650,000 verses the $4,025,509 that was approved at Groton Town Meeting.  The SC vote to approve that figure was 7-1.  

All SC members agreed (no formal vote) at our last two meetings that the needs that are not met in FY17 should be a priority in FY18.

There was discussion if the SC has a preference in a joint override or one for the schools and one for municipal.  Based on the fact that the strongest, most visual and verbal support that was received for the last override came only from APEX and the SC, my recommendation was to have two separate overrides. Many expressed that they would like to see unity and having a joint override was best for the town.  I agreed to this sentiment but only if all elected officials – both the Fin Com and the BOS stepped up and stood next to the SC and APEX and provided stronger support for the revised budget.

Peter Cunningham made reference that after seeing the SC go through the budgetary exercise he would feel comfortable in strongly supporting it.  Art Prest of the Fin Com stated that he would “fight like hell” to support it.  Barry Pease also made reference that he would like to see more joint meetings between Fin Com, BOS and SC.  

The SC expects strong visual and verbal support from both Fin Com and the BOS for the revised school & municipal budgets and necessity of an override to fund the town budget.

The SC began to discuss the option to call a district meeting (Super Town Meeting) should Dunstable or Groton vote down the new budget.  According Department of Revenue if the newly certified budget does not pass at Dunstable or Groton TM then it is a second (first one was the failed override) rejection of the budget; the SC is able to call a district meeting at that time.

The SC did acknowledge that a district meeting it is an option that may be required to obtain the most crucial needs for our students in FY17.

The Groton TM is scheduled for June 13th.

The Dunstable TM is scheduled for June 14th.

The Groton ballot question will be on June 30th.

The Dunstable ballot question is TBA.






The budget exercise that the SC performed on May 18th was a 3-4 hour exercise and only an exercise. During this exercise the SC cut approximately one million dollars from their FY17 budget that was approved at TM.
The BOS did not agree to perform the same budgetary exercise for taxpayers to see as they capped their exercise at 500K.  As a voter I want to know what I am losing if I choose not to raise my taxes.  It is a viable transparent exercise that would be helpful for taxpayers. The unwillingness to allow tax payers to see the value of our services does not benefit the taxpayer in the same way that the SC has done.

It would be unwise for the SC budgetary exercise to be seen for anything more than an exercise. The SC is expected to vote on a school budget next week I encourage that all tax payers attend upcoming meeting and to continue to send emails to all elected officials. 







I was sworn in at the clerk’s office today at 5:30pm and sitting around the table discussing which need of our children will not be met in FY17 at 7pm.  All SC members were in attendance as well as Superintendent, Dr. Kristan Rodriguez.

After 3.5 hours of deliberation the SC came up to a consensus… however no vote was taken. The consensus came from hearing from community members, from our district (DESE) report cards and from the NA. There were two items that continually surfaced.   

  1. Our district is not meeting the need of our students with disabilities or high needs students.
  2. Our district does not have the resource to support the emotional and behavioral needs of our students.

Seven (parents) elected officials sat around a table trying to decide which needs of our children would have to be neglected due to the failed override. 

The SC was able to get down to an estimated assessment that would accommodate some of the needs but not all of them. An estimate of approximately 2.7 million dollars including 1.6 million in carry over costs would result in a 942K override for Groton and a 415k override for Dunstable. This estimate could be further reduced should our municipal alter their budgets to free up funds for the schools in efforts to further decrease the tax burden for the community.  

You can see an example of an adjusted cross walk that I drafted for a visual of which staff/service may be included in the revised FY17 budget in addition to the 1.6 million dollar carry over budget.

CLICK HERE:  Gilbert Sample Crosswalk

The BOS and Fin Com are meeting tomorrow. You may contact them through email and share with them your thoughts on our town budget. 


Fin Com: 

Meeting adjourned at 10:40pm



Please click here to read Dr. Kristan Rodriguez’s response to the most recent article published in the Groton Herald titled “School Budget Override Based on Questionable Data”.


“Recently, an article titled, “School Budget Override Based On Questionable Data” was published in the Groton Herald that presented one viewpoint of our data analysis. As a professional educator, I thought it important that I unpack this and clarify a number of inaccuracies.”

What a week….  there has been some statements made by community members and elected officials of the town of Groton.  Some of those statements included that “our schools are thriving” and that the “senior demographic are more important than all others because they were here first”.

I would like to offer you a video that you need to watch as well as an outline of what you will find in that video.

Much Watch Video From Our Superintendent Dr. Kristan Rodriguez:

GDRSD Needs Assessment and FY17 Budget

If you watched that video and read the Superintendent’s Needs Assessment of our district you know that we are failing our children. We are failing to provide them the behavioral and emotional support they need. 

  • 4% of 8th grader (8 est. students) reported attempting suicide in the last 12 months
  • 6% of HS (50 est. students) reported attempting suicide in the last 12 months
  • 18% of our HS (150 est. students) have reported hurting themselves on purpose
  • 15% of 8th grade (37 est. students) have reported hurting themselves on purpose
  • 16% of our district (383 est. students) have reported seriously considering hurting themselves. 
  • We are not meeting the needs of students with disabilities or our high need students and the gap of proficiency is widening at the MS, Florence Roche and Swallow Union.  

Let’s include stats and data since there are some members of our community that are losing sight of our children through numbers.

Our DESE school report cards clearly show that G-D is are NOT “thriving” we are declining. We are not spiraling out of control but it is all schools that are being affected… some more than others.

Click on the individual school/year below to see the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Report Cards for 2013, 2014 and 2015 that are generated from their website – 

2013 Swallow Union      2013 Florence Roche     2013 MS     2013 HS

2014 Swallow Union      2014 Florence Roche     2014 MS     2014 HS

2015 Swallow Union      2015 Florence Roche     2015 MS     2015 HS

The decline articulated in the Superintendent’s detailed needs assessment which coincide with the DESE report cards, the emotional and behavioral needs of our students as well as all the other needs identified by our Superintendent maybe okay with some voters, but it is most definitely not okay with  me.

As a candidate for the Groton-Dunstable School Committee Election in the Groton town election on May 17th, I have been told that I need to “back off” as my support for the override is going to cost me the election.  I cannot and will not in good conscience choose to neglect our children knowing what our children need and if it costs me a seat on the school committee so be it.  If your going to only cast one vote on May 17th make it for the children in our district.    

If you agree with me….

I urge all Dunstable voters to vote YES at your town meeting (May 9th).

I urge all Dunstable voters to vote YES at your ballot (May 16th).

I urge all Groton voters to vote yes at the ballot (May 17th).

It is our children that need to win on election day!

Marlena Gilbert

Groton-Dunstable School Committee Candidate 2016













Due to the confusion caused by the incomplete presentation provided at Groton Town Meeting by the BOS chair there may be questions regarding our school needs assessment budget that was passed at Groton TM on April 25th.  APEX needs your help to share with other community members the opportunity to attend two additional info sessions that have been scheduled. 


May 5th, 7pm @ G-D Middle School PAC
May 10th, 7pm @ G-D Middle School PAC


The Superintendent will be providing accurate information on the state of our district, how we got here and what are the true needs of our children. The School Committee will be presenting the budget. 

Please consider attending this info session if you are looking for additional information and share it with friends. It is incredibly important that all voters can be accurately informed so they can vote “YES” at the Groton Ballot – May 17th and Dunstable Ballot – May 16th.  


Thank You

APEX ~ “Advocates Promoting Educational Excellence”