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

In attendance was Supt. Dr. Laura Chesson and School Committee Members – Marlena Gilbert, Angela Donahue, Peter Cronin, Jennifer McKenzie, Ryan McLane and Brian LeBlanc.

  • Subcommittees
    • The following policies were approved at their 2nd reading and will be sent to MASC to be uploaded to our website
      • KHA – Advertising & Public Solicitation In The Schools
      • EFCD – Meal Charge Policy
  • Liaison Reports
    • SC Liaison met with the Groton COA this week.  The Groton COA was equally excited about the new found partnership with our District.  The Groton COA is currently meeting with the HS & MS Principals to establish various offerings for students and seniors to support each other and enjoy the many assets that each generation can offer each other.  The PTA President has also met with Groton COA and they are planning to have the Groton COA van at the Trunk or Treat Event to give out candy to the kids as well as participate in the craft fair and participate as pen pals.
    • Superintendent has reached out to the Dunstable COA to offer the same partnership and we look forward to bridging the gap between our seniors and students in both towns.
    • Marlena Gilbert as the Groton COA Liaison asked the SC to consider supporting the Groton COA’s warrant article for the design of renovation/rebuild of the senior center at Fall Town Meeting. Expressed that it was in the best interest of our seniors as well as our youth that could possibly be participating at events at the senior center through our new found partnership. The committee seemed responsive and will formally discuss this on an upcoming agenda.
  • School Committee Goals FY17-18 – SC approved our goals for the upcoming school year.
  • FY19 Budget Priorities & Guidance to Superintendent – More discussions took place on what the Budget priority guidance should be this year.  The SC will continue to discuss this through September and plans on approving the guidance by September 20, 2017.
  • GDRSD Warrant Articles Fall Town Meeting
    • Groton Fall Town Meeting – The SC voted to present one warrant article at Groton Fall Town Meeting. It is for the replacement of the District Wide Phone System & Internet Infrastructure. The network is used for almost all assignments and testing. Many of the software requirements include taking MCAS via computer are mandated by the state. Currently the bandwidth is the most significant impediment (i.e. bottleneck); there are times when the performance is impacted and not steady. In addition to being an academic necessity there are safety concerns as our District does not have caller ID.  Without caller ID our District remains in a vulnerable position of not being able to determine where or what type of call is coming into the district making prosecution difficult in the event of a threat. This vulnerability was identified when our District received a Robo Call bomb threat a couple of years ago. Caller ID could prove to be critical for investigative purposes. Replacing the network infrastructure is a necessity as it is both an educational and safety concern for our district.
    • Dunstable Fall Town Meeting – Although there was general consensus to also present the warrant article at Dunstable Fall Town Meeting there was limited time to finish our discussions. Since the Dunstable warrant does not close until after September the SC will discuss this at our upcoming meeting and are expected to vote at that time.
  • Executive Session – SC entered into executive session upon voting to adjourn regular session to discuss strategy with respect to collective bargaining.

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

The Budget & Finance Subcommittee met at 5:30 pm and the entire SC met at 7 pm.  The same items were discussed therefore I am combining the meeting to condense the notes for my readers.

In attendance at the Budget & Finance meeting was Direct of Business & Finance, Michael Knight, Supt. Dr. Laura Chesson, SC Members Marlena Gilbert, Jennifer McKenzie and Jeff Kubick, notably Ryan Mclane and Brian LeBlanc arrived early and joined the Budget & Finance meeting as well. In attendance for the SC was all of the above as well as the Groton Fin Com.

  • Capital & Technology Funding Strategy Discussions (Joint Meeting Groton Fin Com & SC) – Discussions continued in regards to how to fund the District Capital & Technology Plan.
    • Establishing a District Capital Stabilization Fund was discussed. Now that our E&D is at a healthy level we could contribute into this fund annually similar to the way Groton Municipal tends to fund their Capital Fund through Free Cash and then pays for the Capital expenses through the Capital Fund.
    • Presenting FY19 District Capital/Technology Items on a Fall Town Warrant article was also discussed. SC Member suggested this would allow taxpayers to vote to use Free Cash towards these expenses and know about them before the Spring.  It was mentioned by a Groton Fin Com Member that Fall Town Meeting was not for monetary articles unless they were for an unforeseen expense and Spring Town Meeting would be a better time for the warrant and Fall Town Meeting would be better for informing taxpayers what is coming. SC Member agreed if that was the case but that is not what has been transpiring each year and there will be monetary articles this year as well. Unless we as a town commit to not allowing monetary warrant articles at Fall Town Meeting starting this year it has been historically been done and is anticipated to continue this year.  I have gone through the minutes of town meeting and collected what has been spent out of the budget.  
    • Gilbert expressed that if any monetary articles are allowed at Fall Town Meeting then the District should have the same opportunity.  Gilbert sent out an independent request for input from taxpayers on the topic of Fall Town Warrant Articles and will share the results of that to all elected officials.  The feedback will play a strong role in how I vote on the subject of warrant articles at Fall Town Meeting as I value community input as it allows me to better serve my constituents.  You can continue to provide feedback at these two links, there are separate links for each town.
  • Policy – SC had the following policies for review.
    • EFCD – Meal Change Policy (2nd review), this was the second reading and no changes were requested, however voting to approve changes will be done with KHA and KHB at a future meeting.
    • KHA – Public Solicitations in Schools & KHB – Advertising in the Schools (1st SC review), there was an effort to combine the two policies, there were also requests for changes, Policy subcommittee will go back and take a second look at it taking into consideration the committees feed back and come back to the SC at a future meeting.
  • Cross Country Field Trip/Martha’s Vineyard – approved by SC
  • Enrollment Info – This will be one of the many updates provided to the SC by the Supt. on enrollment. Some of our lower grades (2nd grade Swallow Union) already have 25 students in each class so a new teacher will be required in addition a Kindergarten class also has a higher number of students but not enough to require an additional teacher so a teaching aid will be provided for that class.
  • Capital & Technology Project Update – A report of summer projects were provided to the committee.  Note: the ones marked CI are items from the Capital Plan, others are regularly scheduled items or things that came up that needed resolution. 
  • FY17 Financial Close Out – The district has been working diligently to rebuild our E & D (Excess & Deficiency – aka emergency funds) over the last 4 years.  A healthy level for our district is a bottom low at 3.5% and a high of 5%, lower than 3.5% is not advised by MASC or MASBO and anything more than 5% you have to give it back.  We are currently estimated to be certified in the Fall at 1.6 million with 1.9 million being 5% of our current budget, that is roughly where we need to be.  Now that we approaching a healthy level the District can utilize a portion of the money slated to replenish E&D towards Capital & Technology each year, however, community members should know that FY18 budget is not expected to yield such savings as much of the contingency was already utilized already and it is only August.
  • Purchasing Cards – The SC voted to approve acquiring a purchasing card for the Supt. as well as Central Office.  Both cards combined will have a monthly limit of $5000 and all receipts and credit card bill will accompany all warrants that are approved by the Budget & Finance Subcommittee.
  • SC Goals FY17-18 – Were further discussed and will continue to be discussed at our next meeting, the expectation of being approved at first September meeting.
  • SC Budget Priorities & Guidance To Supt. – Further discussions took place and will continue through the next 2 upcoming meetings, the expectation of being approved at our last September meeting.
  • Custodian Contract – SC voted to approve the Custodian contract as negotiated, the term will be 1 year with a 1.5% increase.

 

 

The School Committee is meeting throughout the summer both independently and in joint sessions with the Fin Com/Advisory & BoS of each town in an effort to strategize on how to fund the District Capital & Technology expenses projected over the next five years.  I am trying to collect feedback to help me better make budgetary decisions. The results will be shared with school committee members, peer boards at an open meeting and with the community.

If you would like to share your thoughts please click here: 
The Technology & Capital Plans can be found on the GDRSD website and are a couple years in the making. The cost of itemized for each town can be found in the spread sheet attached.  I encourage those that have not read the actual plans as of yet to please do so as it does answer many questions such as what are the ages or life expectancy of items being repaired or replaced, do they function now, etc.  You can find them on this district web page:  http://gdrsd.org/departments/business/

Once again Troop 1 W. Groton will hold a HUGE yard sale on Labor Day, September 4th from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at H&V Field, Townsend Rd (between 225 & 119), W. Groton as part of the Firemen’s Muster.

Donation Drop Off: Wednesday, August 30th from 6 PM to 8 PM at H&V Field and Sunday, September 3rd from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m (preferred) at H&V field.  No early birds, please.

If you need a pick-up at your home please contact Troop at yardsale-owner@westgrotonscouting.org.

PLEASE, no gas powered equipment, text books, mattresses or electronics of any kind (including computers, printers, TVs, etc.).