SC and B&F Meeting 12/6/17

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

We had a Budget & Finance Subcommittee and SC meeting this evening, all items discussed at Budget & Finance were also discussed with the full committee at the SC meeting.

In attendance for Budget & Finance were Supt. – Dr. Laura Chesson, Business & Finance Director – Michael Knight, Subcommittee members Jeff Kubick, Jen McKenzie and Marlena Gilbert.  For the SC meeting, Asst. Supt. – Dr. Katie Novak, SC Members Ryan McLane, Brian LeBlanc and Angela Donahue joined the already present meeting attendees.

  • School Improvement Plans – The principals from the Swallow Union, Flo Ro, MS, and HS presented their building improvement plans, FY19 budget priorities, and data for SC members on the amount of time out students have recess & lunch. Notably, all requests will be considered by the Supt. for possible inclusion in the FY19 budget. All school improvement plans tie back into the Five Year Strategic Plan. The SC and community members will have access to further details earlier on and throughout the school budget process.
  • Groton Plays Recess Initiative – The Groton Plays Recess Initiative Group requested an update on their status for more recess at the Elementary & MS. The SC listened to the compelling reasons as to why more recess is beneficial for our students and how other districts including but not limited to Lexington, Wrentham, Franklin has more recess than GD.  Gilbert explained that we just heard from our Elementary & MS Principals emphasize that we are required by the state to provide a minimum number of instructional hours and we are currently at the minimum requirement at the Elementary School level. There is no disputing the benefits of having more recess. Gilbert went on to express that she too has researched the length of Dart Elementary Schools in which some of the towns mentioned do have more recess but their school day is 30 minutes longer than ours and in many cases have more days in their school year which allows for more flexibility. (Dart Elementary Schools are the schools that the state compares GD, similarity in enrollment and student population). The SC requested info on the Recess & Cafeteria to inquire if we could make changes to allow for more recess. Flo Ro cafe is limited in space so combining grades to share lunchtime is not possible unless we have our students travel to MS South cafe. Supt. Chesson pointed out that having Flo Ro students travel to the MS South Cafe would negate the desire to discontinue having students go between building during school hours. Currently, students traveling between the MS North & South Buildings when changing classes is not in the best interest of safety due to inclement weather and it compromises building security, anyone can enter buildings during class changes. Dr. Novak expressed that there is just not enough time in our school day and we can not unilaterally extend the school day, it has to be contractually agreed upon. Gilbert concluded this discussion by saying that both the SC and the teachers both want what is in the best interest of our students and we will continue to work towards that common goal. We will update them and the rest of the community as we know more.
  • Tully Land – SC accepted the land donated to the District by the Tully family and approved a $1.00 for the transaction.
  • FY19 Budget Update –  Business & Finance Director updated B&F Members that the FY19 Preliminary numbers are almost done and it is looking like a rough 4%-4.5% increase. Gilbert noted that this is prior to State Funding being approved, contract negotiations for the largest portion of employees, current transportation, and custodial costs are still very much up in the air. Notably, It doesn’t take into consideration any cost to outsource should that decision be made to do so and that discussion will be part of the discussion for the SC prior to approving a final budget.
  • Policies – the following policies were reviewed and revised to meet the MASC recommendations and to allow our administration the ability to address current challenges that exist in our schools. Parents should know that there are various ways that our youth are participating in drinking, drugs and tobacco use. Methods can range from vaping, clear spirits in water bottles, edibles (i.e. laced gummy bears, gummies/lollipops), using empty pen holders to carry & ingest drugs, juuling in bathrooms, etc. What’s juuling you ask? –
    • ADC – Smoking on School Premises
    • GBED – Tobacco use on school property by staff members
    • JICH – Alcohol, Tabacco and Drug Use By Student Prohibited.
    • JIH – Interrogations & Searches
    • JK (formerly JIC) – Student Conduct

It is important to note that the updated versions of all these policies will be sent to MASC to upload to the website. In addition, all handbooks are going to be reviewed and updated to coincide with updated policies and best practices. They will then be presented to the SC for approval within the next 1-2 months.

Our Administration and the SC need your help to promote an alcohol-free, drug-free and tobacco-free environment for our students. I ask parents to consider having conversations with their students that encourage them to feel comfortable about going to their principal to report all tobacco, drug or alcohol use as it could save another students life.