This blog post is my personal interpretation and summary of discussions from meetings that I attend and are not official minutes.

In attendance was Supt. Dr. Kristan Rodriguez, Asst. Supt. Dr. Katie Novack, Director Business & Finance – Frank Antonelli and School Committee Members – Marlena Gilbert, Angela Donahue, Jeff Kubick, Jennifer McKenzie, Stephanie Cronin, Alison Manugian and Peter Cronin.

  • Interim Superintendent Search – The SC unanimously voted to hire Mr. William (Bill) Ryan, longtime former Superintendent of Acton-Boxborough as our new Interim Superintendent.  Among being a stakeholder in our district with grand children in all of our schools, he is a very personable, easily approachable, collaborative guy that has a successful track record in school management as well as a keen sense of budgeting within a regional school district. He will be a great benefit for our district while we search for a Permanent Superintendent. He made it clear that he understood how important it is for our district to find a Superintendent that fits our district well and is willing to structure his contract with the district to allow for an extension should the district not find the perfect fit by July 1, 2017.
  • Permanent Superintendent Search – The SC unanimously voted to hire NESDEC as our consultant to assist the SC for a Permanent Superintendent search.  However the SC will be negotiating the final contract costs to include community forums in which SC members would take part in.
  • FY18 Budgeting Guidance – The SC is scheduled to meet with the Groton Fin Com & Dunstable Finance Advisory Committee on November 7th. This meeting was scheduled after the Budget & Finance Subcommittee met to discuss the fact that our schools can not obtain level service with the anticipated 2.4% budget increase guidance that was provided to the Groton Town Manager. The meeting on November 7th is to discuss both municipal and district budgetary restrictions and needs. The District FY18 Budgetary Guidance is as follows. 
    • Level Service Budget: 3-3.5% increase over FY17 Operating Budget ($33,308,614)
      • Inclusion of staff added in FY17
      • Inclusion of Professional Development funded by staff donations
      • Provide an explanation for sections outside the Supt. recommended range of 15-25 students.
      • Successful negotiation of fair employment contracts (5).
    • Anticipated additional FY18 Technology Costs as articulated in the Technology Plan – $55,000
    • District strategy is to address the needs outlined in the Needs Assessment ($2,500,000) over the course of five years.  Please articulate the Needs Assessment priorities for FY18 with a maximum cost of $500,000.
  • District Improvement Plan – Was approved unanimously and can be seen by clicking here:  2016-2017-DIP
  • Florence Roche School Boiler – The SC received two bids to replace the boiler. After checking references and comparing boilers the SC awarded the job to Plumbing & Heating, Medway MA for the amount of $52,428.
  • MASC Resolutions – The SC voted to provide Marlena Gilbert guidance on how to vote as the GDRSD delegate at the MASC conference coming up in November.
    • Resolution 1/Foundation Budget – SC against
    • Resolution 2/Tax Reform Ballot Question – SC against
    • Resolution 3/Charter School Reform – SC support
    • Resolution 4/Social and Emotional Well-Being of Students – SC support

Meeting adjourned 10pm


Among many important agenda items is the interview of the Interim Supt. Finalist – Mr. William (Bill) Ryan who is the former longtime Acton-Boxborough Superintendent and former Billerica Interim Superintendent. 
Also on the agenda is the School Committee Budget Guidance for the Superintendent’s recommended FY18 Budget. 
Full Agenda:
Hope to see many Groton and Dunstable community members there! 

Tonight at Groton Fall Town Meeting, taxpayers will discuss and vote on how we spend $1.2 million in free cash.

Of the Free Cash available, $400,000 is on a warrant to go back to taxpayers. I personally appreciate the opportunity to vote on whether or not I would like this money return back to me as a taxpayer.

What taxpayers need to know is that once this money is return to us it is not able to be utilized for one time expenses. Some of these upcoming expenses are requested and some are mandatory. Which means that although we may vote to accept this money being returned to us today we should do so expecting that an assessment in the Spring for items such as design plans for a potential new senior center,  a new fire truck or the mandatory cost of the additional well that is a MASSDEP required solution to provide safe drinking water at the high school. Let’s not forget about the cost for a District External Operational Review or the cost to hire a consultant to find a quality permanent Superintendent knowing that we currently have an insufficient District emergency fund (E&D) balance.

Food for thought… I hope to see over 500 people present tonight.

Every vote counts.

This blog post is my personal interpretation and summary of discussions from meetings that I attend and are not official minutes.

In attendance were SC Members Alison Manugian, Jeff Kubick, Angela Donahue, Stephanie Cronin, Marlena Gilbert and Peter Cronin. Business & Finance Director – Frank Antonelli, Asst. Supt. – Dr. Katie Novak and Supt. – Dr. Kristan Rodriguez.

  • External Operational Review – The RFP Review Committee recommended that the SC vote to reject all the bids because none of the consultant firms had the expertise for the entire scope of the job. A new RFP will be posted for the same scope of work but will allow consultants to bid the entire job as well as sections of the job.  The SC expects to receive a better return for the investment by allowing the consultants with the most experience in each area to bid on their focus as well as allow the taxpayers to understand the expense of the audit so they can decide if it is a cost they prefer to have spread out or have funded all at once.  The hiring of consultant(s) are expected to be done by the end of November and should not delay the outcome of the results which was slated for April 2016, should taxpayers want the entire review complete versus sections of it.
  • Subcommittees Report
    • Business & Finance – Robertson/Groton Fin Com and Christine Muir/Dunstable Advisory attended the most recent B&F meeting.  Discussions regarding the concern that the SC was not invited to the Fin Com meeting when the Groton Town Manager was provided with guidance to set a growth of 2.4% for the town and perceptually also sets a place marker for the District.  Bud Robertson explained where the 2.4% guidance came from, however was advised by Marlena Gilbert that by providing that number it sets the District up for failure because it is not reachable without cuts and will now allow the District a level service budget. Bud Robertson also explained that the Groton Town Manager was to also provide two less detailed municipal budgets showing a 0% and 1.7% spending growth.  Christine Muir, Bud Robertson and members of B&F believed that both towns would benefit from join meetings during budgetary season. Starting in November the Groton Fin Com, Dunstable Advisory and the SC will meet monthly. The first meeting will allow a brief presentation from Dunstable Advisory, Fin Com and the District explaining their financial needs and capabilities.
    • Policy – MASC has some suggested changes as well as some tweaking of current policy which will be brought forth to the entire SC in December for review and approval.
    • Personel & Negotiations – Will be meeting on October 21st to continue planning for the contract negotiations GDEA.
  • District Improvement Plan – was presented and will return for a vote at our next SC meeting. Once approved it will be posted on the website.
  • FY2018 Budget Priorities – Priorities were discussed with a focus of having a level service budget that would include the tier two services and essential staff added last year as well as additional funds for PD to eliminate the one time funding that has been generated by the volunteer work of Dr. Katie Novak.  Marlena Gilbert made note that although Dr. Novak’s efforts are more than commendable they are not a sustainable way to fund PD and it needs to be incorporated in our budget. A final draft of these priorities will be provided at our next SC meeting for a vote.
  • Interim Superintendent Search – We had over 20 total applicants, 8 of them had proper licensing and the minimum qualifications.  The core screening committee moved 5 of the applicants forward to the entire screening committee for further screening. All applicants that are put forward by the entire screening committee will be interviewed by the entire screening committee on October 19th. The finalist(s) will be interviewed by the SC on October 25th with intention on voting to hire an Interim Superintendent.
  • Permanent Superintendent Search – The SC will hire a consultant to assist in this search. HR will solicit consultants to offer a bid for the project and P&N will review the bids on October 21st. A consultation recommendation to the entire SC from P&N is expected to be presented to the SC for a vote at the November 8th meeting.
  • School Committee Goals 2016-2017 – The SC goals were discussed and approved. The final draft after amendments of dates will be up on the website shortly.

Meeting adjourned roughly 10pm.