m April 4, 2011

Minutes - Wayland School Committee
Regular Session  April 4, 2011  

A Regular Session of the Wayland School Committee was held on Monday, April 4, 2011 at 7:00 P.M. in the School Committee Room of the Wayland Town Building.

Present were:
Dr. Louis Jurist, Chair
Mrs. Barb Fletcher, Vice Chair
Dr. Malcolm Astley
Ms. Beth Butler
Dr. Shawn Kinney

Also:
Dr. Gary A. Burton
Superintendent of Schools

Mr. Brad J. Crozier
Assistant Superintendent

Mr. Geoffrey S. MacDonald
Business Administrator

Dr. Marlene M. Dodyk
Director of Student Services

Chair Louis Jurist convened the regular meeting at 7:02 P.M. and reviewed the agenda.

1. Special Matter – Safe Schools and Healthy Students Grant:
Mrs. Heidi Heilman informed the School Committee about a grant opportunity by partnering with Weston and asked for a School Committee member to participate in the conceptual planning of this grant with other Town municipal administrators. This grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education and will be awarded to local education agencies (LEA’s) that meet the eligibility criteria and submit the strongest proposals. The award would be one million dollars per year for four years. Mrs. Heilman answered questions from School Committee members.

2. Comments from the Public:
Tom Sciacca discussed a video link from Khan Academy he provided to the School Committee that had three main points: 1) it inverts the lecture and practice; 2) software provides structured learning with ongoing measures; and
3) there is constant monitoring by teachers.

3. Annual Review of School Choice:
The Education Reform Act (ERA) of 1993 mandates participation in “School Choice” unless a school district opts out.

…Effective September 1994, every city, town, or regional school district is required to enroll
non-resident students under the choice program, unless the school committee votes prior to
June 1 not to participate. The section of the law states in part, “…this obligation to enroll
non-resident students shall not apply to a district for a school year in which its school committee,
prior to June 1, after a public hearing, adopts a resolution withdrawing from said obligation, for
the school year beginning the following September. Any such resolution with said reasons shall be
filed with the Department of Education, provided, however, that said department shall have no
Power to review any such decision by a school committee…”

In the past, the School Committee has opposed School Choice for the following reasons:

• It takes money away from other school districts and gives it to the receiving school district.

• Wayland’s per pupil cost is in excess of $10,000, while the highest reimbursement allowed is just over $8,000; thus, Wayland’s taxpayers would be subsidizing each choice student by a factor of more than
2,000 per pupil.

• There is no control over whom we take in; choice is a non-selective program. Thus, we could find ourselves with several very difficult and even trouble-making pupils who could be very disruptive to our schools.

• Once we accept a pupil, we must keep that pupil through high school graduation. Thus, as our enrollment numbers increase upwardly, we cannot discharge the choice pupils to make room for increased numbers of Wayland resident pupils.

• Other districts that have had choice for the past few years are experiencing financial problems as students they had counted on have returned to their districts, other students have not materialized, etc.

For these and other reasons, it does not seem prudent to accept the choice program.

The School Committee agreed to hold a special public hearing at their May 9th meeting.

4. Continued Discussion re: New Fields at the Middle School:
Bob Verizi and Brud Wright joined the School Committee to review questions submitted by the School Committee. The Committee continued their discussion regarding the need for and their support of the construction of two all purpose athletic fields at the Middle School, as called for in the Town’s Capital Budget Request.

Upon a motion duly made by Mrs. Fletcher, seconded by Ms. Butler, the School Committee voted 4-1 (Dr. Kinney opposed) to support the debt exclusion for all purpose athletic fields at Wayland Middle School.

The School Committee would like Dr. Astley to continue to work with the petitioners.

5. Continued Discussion re: Principals’ Discretionary Accounts:
The School Committee will discuss the discretionary accounts after the Operations Review Committee submits final report in collaboration with the PTOs. Geoff MacDonald discussed procedures for student activity accounts in the future.

The Committee discussed the document titled, “Talking Points for School Committee Process Review.” The School Committee plans to review and discuss current code of conduct, MASC guidelines, and Massachusetts State Law related to member behavior to provide further clarification as the Committee moves forward.

6. Superintendent’s Report:
(a) Full Day Kindergarten:
Dr. Burton reviewed the current kindergarten enrollment and the breakdown between Wayland Traditional Program and the full-day program. The School Committee listened to parent input (comments listed below) and asked Dr. Burton to research several of the concerns expressed by the parents and the Committee members.
• Brian Scott asked about the cost structure for FDK. He also commented that the School Committee could charge slightly more as a fee to provide scholarship to those who are in need.
• A parent asked about current district data for academic performance. She also asked what the harm would be in opening more sections.
• Heidi Webster commented on the flexibility and mental health benefits in the full-day program. She urged the School Committee to open as many sections as possible.
• Sara commented that clear guidelines for evaluating the pilot should be established.
• Julie Rainsville commented that the School Committee is in a great position because they have created a great program that is being embraced by the parents.
• Eric Knapp commented that increasing the sections to six sections will strengthen the pilot by involving more students. He also urged the Committee to keep the positive momentum that the program has generated. He stressed that the School Committee should consider providing choice for parents.
• Jessica Green commented that the length of time students spend with the curriculum creates a different experience for students.
• Tom Sciacca asked the School Committee to prioritize and support great programs such as FDK.

7. Final Review of Town Meeting Preparations:
The School Committee reviewed a draft of a communication to support the debt exclusion vote, materials, and logistics for the Annual Town Meeting.

8. Approval of Accounts Payable and Payroll Warrants:
Upon a motion duly made by Mrs. Fletcher, seconded by Dr. Astley, the School Committee voted unanimously (5-0) to approve payment of the following:
• Wayland Public Schools Payroll warrant, dated 3/24/2011, in the amount of $1,043,436.03
• Wayland Public Schools Accounts Payable warrant, dated 4/4/2011, in the amount of $303,401.01

9. Approval of Minutes:
Upon a motion duly made by Mrs. Fletcher, seconded by Dr. Astley, the School Committee voted unanimously (5-0) to approve the following minutes, as amended:
• Regular Session of March 21, 2011, with possible attachment from Rebecca Chasen

10. Follow-up and Future Agenda Items:
• The School Committee will revisit the topic of an Alumni Association at the April 25 meeting.
• The School Committee would like Dr. Burton to attempt to schedule the Boston METCO meeting.
• Reminder that there is the Suburban Coalition Annual Legislative Breakfast on April 26, 2011.
• The Committee discussed a retreat topic: School Committee’s response to RTN

11. Superintendent’s Report:
(a) Destination Imagination Award:
Dr. Burton spoke to the Committee regarding the Claypit Techno Team who recently won the DI State Award and will be going on to compete nationwide.

(b) NStar Community Initiative:
Dr. Burton reported that the new high school building will qualify for the NStar Community Initiative.

12. Comments from the Public:
• Tom Sciacca asked if Leisha Simon would be attending the Annual Town Meeting.

13. Executive Session:
There was no executive session.

14. Adjournment:
Upon a motion duly made by Mrs. Fletcher, seconded by Dr. Astley, the School Committee voted unanimously
(5-0) to adjourn the Regular Session at 10:00 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Gary A. Burton, Clerk
Wayland School Committee

Observers:
Tom Sciacca, WVN
Ellen Grieco, Wayland
Tracy Scheidemantel, OCP
Diana Lien, 24 Rolling Lane
Heidi Webster, 26 Three Ponds Road

Corresponding Documentation:
1. Information re: the Safe Schools and Healthy Students Grant
2. Letter to NStar from BOS and SC Chairs