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

In attendance tonight was SC Members – Marlena Gilbert, Angela Donahue, Jennifer McKenzie, Ryan McLane, Brian LeBlanc and Peter Cronin, Supt. – Dr. Laura Chesson and Director of Business & Finance – Michael Knight.

  • Financial Impact of Audit Recommendations – At the communities request, an outside consultant was contracted to review all District operations in the search for efficiencies. Any cost savings realized through changes will be strategically reallocated back into our District to areas that will Directly impact our students learning.  Some of these changes are listed below and are further outlined in the presentation provided to the SC by the Superintendent. There will be a public forum on November 8, 2017, at the GDRHS Library at 7 PM to allow for community members and leaders to discuss the impacts of these changes with the SC and the Superintendent. 
    • Final Financial Impact of External Operational Review Actionable Items
      • Outsourcing Custodial Services
      • Outsourcing Food Service
      • Combining Bus Routes/Bus Stops
      • Changing HS start time to share bus routes with MS
      • Charge bus fees for students that live within 1.5 miles from school ($200/per student with a family cap TBD) It is important to note that the State does not reimburse for transportation for any student that resides within 1.5 miles of their school and it costs the District roughly $500/per student The majority of SC members voiced concern about charging parents fees in addition to sports fees and club fees that are already being charged. The administration will be researching the ability to establish a scholarship fund that could be available for community members to donate funds to be used for students that would be eligible for financial assistance with bus fees.   
      • Moving Central Office to the MS
  • Science Curriculum Adoption – The Stemscope Curriculum was adopted by the SC which is an online platform. The curriculum matches the MA State Common Core Standards 6-8 Science and is in line with STE Framework and STEM research.  As technology is integrated into our curriculum upgrading our internet infrastructure becomes increasingly more important for our schools. Details on how it was rated by the Curriculum  Committee can be seen here:   RUBRIC – Stemscopes – Google Docs
  • New Generation MCAS – Superintendent presented information on the New Generation MCAS test and explained that this is a baseline year as it can not be compared to prior tests.  A letter was sent home to parents to elaborate further and a more in-depth presentation on our District’s performance will be scheduled in December. Parents will receive an email with an update as to when they will receive their child’s scores.
  • District Capital Stabilization Fund Resolution – The SC discussed and voted to approve a resolution that outlines the commitment and the importance of financial planning required to maintain taxpayers investments they have made in our District buildings and grounds.

SC entered into executive session to discuss contract negotiation at 9:30 PM.

Dear Groton Voters

As the Chair of the School Committee I am pleased to announce that on September 20, 2017, the Groton-Dunstable School Committee voted to officially support Article 7 Senior Center Design for the Groton Fall Town Meeting.

During this discussion, each School Committee Member individually expressed a variety of reasons why they support our seniors and how valuable they are to our community.  Please allow me to express why I brought this discussion forth to the School Committee for consideration.

We live in a world with an increasing number of families now living in multigenerational households and with grandparents younger than ever. There are many benefits that can be found in bridging the gap between seniors and students.

Our seniors are a direct connection to our town history and family heritage. They have the ability to bring our country’s rich history back to life through stories and experiences. The evidence can be found in the face of a wide-eyed student as they listen to senior share stories about historic moments such as World War II, The Holocaust or the death of John F. Kennedy; there is no book on this earth that can compare with the interactive educational experience our students receive from our seniors. Our students have the ability to energize seniors through the teaching of new digital skills, providing new experiences that promote a sense of new purpose that can reduce the isolation of demographics.

Both our students and seniors need your support; our community need not be divided. I urge Groton voters to come together on October 23, 2017, and support both our seniors and students as it is in the best interest of our town as a whole.  Join me in voting YES on Article 7, 8 and 9.


Marlena Gilbert

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

The Budget & Finance meeting was prior to the SC meeting so this post will include both. In attendance for Budget & Finance was Supt. – Dr. Laura Chesson, Business & Finance Director – Michael Knight, SC Members – Marlena Gilbert, Jeff Kubick, Jennifer McKenzie.  Prior to the SC meeting, Ryan McLane and Brian LeBlanc joined the full SC meeting.

  • HS Educational Field Trips – Mr. Woodlock presented several trips to the SC in which four required a SC vote.  SC voted and approved the Annual Band Competition Trip, Give Kids the World Trip/Kissimmee FL, Camp Sunshine/Casco ME and the Germany Exchange trips.  All other trips were approved by the Superintendent. I encourage community members to check out the trips on our GDRSD website or click on the link below, these trips will be providing our students with life-changing experiences and I am proud to be a part of what brings them to our students. 
  • Superintendent Entry Plan – A Superintendent is responsible for developing an entry plan when they are hired by a district. Superintendent brought forth her entry plan to the SC for the second time and it was approved by the SC.
  • Subcommittee/Liaison Reports 
    • Groton COA Liaison – Gilbert updated the SC that the COA will be reviewing the two warrant articles that will be benefiting our students at their next meeting #8 & #9 to consider voting to formally support these warrant articles to show their support for our students.

  • Groton BOS Liaison – Gilbert update the SC that the Groton BoS have provided budget guidance to the Town Manager and it does not include a set percentage increase for the schools.  It provided the Town Manager with guidance to create a level service municipal budget and to work with the Administration to provide funding for what they need for the schools.
  • Dunstable Advisory/Dunstable BOS – McKenzie updated the SC that she attended the Dunstable BOS meeting with fellow SC Members McLane and Gilbert and provided updates on the Abrahams audit and discussed the warrant article to establish a District Capital Stabilization Fund that will be voted on at Dunstable Fall Town Meeting. The Dunstable BOS voted unanimously to move the article forward to town meeting. McKenzie & Gilbert also attended the Dunstable Advisory Board meeting and presented the same information. The Dunstable Advisory had several questions, however, seemed to be open to the idea and was going to obtain legal counsel input on the warrant article, they did not take any position at the last meeting but will be meeting again to take positions on warrant articles later in the month.  Dunstable Legal Counsel suggests the following verbiage for the warrant article.  If approved this will allow the District to establish a District Capital Stabilization fund and create a savings account that can only be used for Capital Expenses.
    • GDRSD Capital Stabilization:  To see if the Town will vote to authorize the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District Committee to establish a Stabilization Fund for the Groton-Dunstable Regional School District, pursuant to Section 16G½ of Chapter 71 of the Massachusetts General Laws, said Stabilization Fund to be invested and to retain its own interest earnings as provided by law, and to authorize an operational line item in the FY 2018 Groton-Dunstable Regional School District budget for the transfer of available monies into said Stabilization Fund, or take any other action relative thereto.
  • Budget & Finance – Kubick updated the SC, shared that subcommittee reviewed the same materials that the full SC at this meeting.
  • Policy Subcommittee – McLane updated the SC, we should expect 4-8 policies to review at our next meeting.
  • Enrollment – The Supt. reported on the monthly enrollment numbers.  It was noted that summer office support at the MS & EL building level is needed to increase the efficiency of the scheduling process which ultimately affects class sizes. Having office hours during the summer to manage the new registrations and drops would increase efficiency in scheduling. This will be an area that will be looked at in the FY19 budget as we currently do not have funds allocated for summer secretary hours like we had years ago. In the interim, the MS did request a transfer from their office supply line item from the SC to fund some hours for this Summer, which was approved by the SC.
  • Quarterly Financial Reports – Discussed, vetted and our on the GDRSD website under on the Business & Finance page – Notably GDFFCC (former Football Club) members raised $20,000 to support the football program, as they had planned when we approved having the football team become part of our regular athletic program and budget.  This money is not included in the athletics report for the first quarter but will be accounted for in the second quarter report.
  • District Capital Stabilization Fund – The SC discussed establishing a resolution that guides the SC in how they would assess each town if Dunstable was to approve the creation of a District Capital Stabilization Fund. The resolution would include legal requirements and the commitment to relate assessments to the Capital Plan. Groton approved several years ago but without Dunstable’s successful vote at Town Meeting it was not able to be created. Verbiage for this resolution will be worked on by Kubick & McLane and brought to the entire SC on October 25th for consideration and vote.