SC Meeting – September 20, 2017

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

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

  • FY19 Budget Priorities & Guidance to Superintendent – Budget guidance was discussed over the course of several meetings. The SC main objective is to provide an efficient budget that adequately funds our schools.  SC voted and approved guidance that included a focus on the following items.
    1. Maintain and strive to improve services to all students; all opportunities for reallocation, reorganization, and increased efficiency will be explored first, informed by audit findings by Abrahams Group and DMG.
    2. The FY19 Capital & Technology are not to be included in the District Operating Budget
    3. A separate District Capital & Technology Budget should be provided with details on the projects included in the District Capital & Technology Budget. Future District Capital Budgets projections per the plans should also be included in the budget booklet for both towns to forecast future Capital/Technology expenses. A Maintenance schedule with cost projections should be outlined in the maintenance portion of the Operations
    4. Review Athletic Fees to ensure comparability with other districts and provide budget impact for any change in current fees (include the cost of practice and game uniform).
    5. Review school supply budgets to ensure adequately funded.
    6. Provide adequate funding for maintenance staff, services, supplies to support an articulated maintenance plan to support our building and grounds.
    7. Maintain the District class size standards set below with the exceptions of chorus, band and physical Additional exceptions to this standard are allowed if appropriate justification is made to the school committee about the exception’s education efficacy.

      K-4              15 to 22 students



      5-12            15 to 25 students


  • Dunstable Warrant Article – The SC discussed putting forth a warrant article at Dunstable Fall Town Meeting.  The Dunstable Representatives expressed a want to concentrate on establishing a Capital Stabilization Fund versus obtaining approval for FY19 District Capital Expenses as municipal leaders are still trying to determine what revenues they will have for FY19 and if they will need an operational override or a debt exclusion to cover various municipal & school expenses this year and for years to come.  Some Groton members deferred to the Dunstable representatives as they better know their town and who they represent, others felt that it made more sense to package all the FY19 District Capital items together in May due to the limited Free Cash in Dunstable.  After discussions, there was only one motion made with the intent to better prepare for our District Capital expenses and allow Dunstable the ability to determine how they will fund their portion of the wire infrastructure with the remaining items slated in the District Capital Plan for FY19 at Spring Town Meeting. A vote to put forth a warrant article for a District Stabilization Fund, with the want to discuss this further with Dunstable leadership prior to Fall Town Meeting as Dunstable leadership may elect to develop their own municipal fund or utilize an existing fund for District Capital expenses. The approved verbiage from the original warrant article that was approved in Groton will be brought back to Dunstable.
  • GDRSC Support of COA Senior Center Design Warrant Article –  A copy of the warrant article was provided to all SC Members as well as the legal guidance that clarified that the SC would not be in violation of any ethics or campaign law by voting to support the COA Senior Center Design warrant article as this article will not be funded through a ballot question.  After each member expressing support for the warrant article, a vote was taken and the SC voted to support the COA warrant article.
  • Fall Town Meeting Presentation – The SC discussed establishing a brief presentation as to whats happening in our schools, the warrant article for wire infrastructure and a high-level view of what remaining FY19 District Capital expenses will be presented to voters at Spring Town Meeting. Marlena Gilbert, Brian LeBlanc, and Ryan McLane will prepare a draft and for SC approval.
  • School Committee Governance & Protocol Doc Revision – Approximately 1.5 years ago the SC established Governance & Protocol norms.  With new members joining the SC wanted to review the document and make any applicable changes they felt appropriate.  A workshop will be scheduled to review and finalize the document.
  • Union Contract Negotiations Update – SC entered into executive session to discuss contract negotiations. Thus far the following contracts have been approved by the SC and Union Membership.
    • Custodians – finalized
      • one-year contract
      • 1.5% increase
    • SEIU Local 888 Cafeteria & Maintenance –
      • two-year contract
      • 1.5% each year