School Committee 12/20/17

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

In attendance at our last meeting for 2017 is Supt. – Dr. Laura Chesson, Director Business & Finance – Michael Knight, Asst. Supt. – Dr. Katie Novak and SC Members – Marlena Gilbert, Jeff Kubick, Angela Donahue, Peter Cronin, Jennifer McKenzie, Brian LeBlanc and Ryan McLane.

  • Florence Roche News – The Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) Board voted unanimously on December 13th to move Florence Roche Elementary School forward in the school building grant program process. This past year, there were over 130 applicants to the MSBA grant program of which Groton-Dunstable was among the 15 districts selected to partner with MSBA to address building deficiencies in one of their district schools. This vote is the first step with another formal vote to come at a subsequent MSBA Board meeting.  A separate tab will be added to the District website that will house all the information on this grant program within a couple of days. Below are some documents that you will find on the website.  It is important to note the MSBA required Feasibility Study would indicate if Flo Ro needs to be rebuilt or renovated.  Regardless of renovation or rebuilt, all Groton students would attend elementary school at Flo Ro whereas the new or renovations Flo Ro would include space for all Groton students.  Once Groton students come back into the new or renovated building, Dunstable would then be 100% responsible for all capital expenses for the Swallow Union. The project would take approximately 5-6 years to be complete. Should Dunstable taxpayers preferred to close the Swallow Union and accompany Groton in building a new regional elementary school they would be financially responsible for 22.98% of the cost to build a new Flo Ro.  The project estimations provided by the MSBA for an elementary school for our size of a District was in the 50,000,000 range with a minimum of 31% reimbursement.  Discussions will continue in the new year with Dunstable & Groton leadership as we begin the process outlined in the docs below.  For a bit of perspective 31% reimbursement for a 50,000,000 project would equate to MSBA funding of $15,500,000, the North Middlesex just built a new HS with a project cost of $89,000,000 with the help of the MSBA and you can read more at this link: – 
  • Field Trips Approved – Unanimously approved by SC
    • Nashua NH – Spanish 3 and Spanish 2 will preview a movie about Spain; Spanish Civil War, Ferdinand represents the victims of Civil War
    • Manchester NH – Students in advanced art classes will have the opportunity to explore the Currier Art Museum collection in order to view and study works of art first hand as it relates to their individual coursework.
  • Financial Policies – Gilbert presented a draft of a financial policy for Excess & Deficiency Funds and the newly approved District Capital Stabilization Fund. SC members provided feedback, Kubick will come back with revisions that captured the changes suggested by various SC Members.

This last portion of my cliff notes did not get discussed at the meeting as I forgot to share it with the community so I am sharing it on my blog. 

  • Special Ed. & Gen Ed. Programmatic Review Update – Please note this was not The staffing, curriculum, and scheduling final report will be presented to the community and School Committee at our last meeting in January.  The consultant was granted more time to allow for the final draft to cover all portions outlined in the RFP which includes everything from examining staffing levels, best practices and any possible opportunities to increase efficiency. The SC voted to hire the consultants to conduct the District Programmatic Review (Audit) in an effort to find some efficiencies within our budget to reallocate towards our District needs.  Throughout the audit process, the SC stayed true to the mindset that no matter how well an organization is run there must be some level of efficiencies that can be found. Both consultants are being held to that task, any cost savings realized will be reallocated back to our Students.  Stay tuned for more in the new year. 

I would like to wish everyone a Happy & Healthy New Year!