• SC Minutes 01/29/2014



    School Committee Meeting

    Wednesday, January 29, 2014

    Sharon Middle School

    75 Mountain Street

    Sharon, MA 02067

    Note: January 22, 2014 meeting was rescheduled to January 29, 2014

    Present: Katie Currul-Dykeman, Jon Hitter (arrived at 8:00 p.m.), Marcy Kaplan, Laura Salomons, Emily Smith-Lee, Veronica Wiseman

    Also present: Tim Farmer, Glenn Brand, Principal Elizabeth Murphy, Assistant Principal Donna Brown, students from East Elementary School, and members of the community

    Open Session was convened at 7:01 p.m.



    Correspondence received included:

    • letter from Department of Energy re: grant proposals

    • letter from president of FAME re: clarification of proposed realignment of elementary music program. T. Farmer responded.

    • email from a parent expressing gratitude for the implementation of the on-line grade book

    • letter from a parent re: I-Ready Program. T. Farmer responded and will follow-up with I-Ready Company.

    • 20 letters from parents re: the proposed elimination of the multi-age classroom at Cottage. T. Farmer had a meeting with the parents. L. Salomons responded to the parent that raised questions regarding class size and redistricting.

    Student Advisory Committee Representative

    Recent happenings at SHS:

    • Student plays will be performed on February 7th and 8th

    • Winter Pep Rally: January 31st

    • Quiz Team is again in competition

    • Guest speaker, Matt Bellace will be at SHS on February 4th

    • Report cards will be sent out on January 28th

    • Teen Speak Out: January 24th

    • Winter sports doing well – particularly girls’ & boys’ basketball

    • L. Salomons announced that there is a community speak-out scheduled for February 9th

    East Elementary School Update

    East students reported on recent happenings at East:

    • Sharon Educational Foundation has presented a grant to East for a Before School Math Program.

    • School newspaper, The Bubble, is a great success with articles submitted by students.

    • A new before school book club has been formed.

    • East now has a new Student Leadership Program.


    Consent Agenda

    Prior to a vote on the consent agenda, L. Salomons proposed an amendment for insertion into the January 8, 2014 minutes under preliminary budget FY 2015 discussion as follows: “Added value of foreign language and enhancement of grade 6 was discussed.”

    Consent agenda items: 1-Approve Open Session 1-8-14 minutes; 2-Approve Sharon Youth Basketball Association Donation ($3,000); 3-Approve FAME Donation ($1,129.64);

    4-Approve SHS ASF Rising Leaders Scholarship Donation ($500); 5-Approve SHS All-State Music Festival Trip. Note: There was a consent agenda item for approval of a FAME donation. Approval had been voted at a previous meeting and, therefore, a vote was not necessary at this evening’s meeting.

    E. Smith-Lee asked for a motion to approve consent agenda items 1-5 as presented with the addition of the proposed amendment written into to the 1/8/14 Open Session minutes.

    MOTION: (Salomons/Kaplan) Moved to approve consent agenda items 1-5 as presented on January 8, 2014. Yes vote: Currul-Dykeman, Kaplan, Salomons, Smith-Lee, Wiseman. J. Hitter was not present at the time of the vote.


    FY 2014-2015 Budget Update

    T. Farmer highlighted areas that are included in the comprehensive FY 2015 Preliminary Budget binder that was given to each S.C. member. The public budget forum is scheduled for February 5th. A vote by the S.C. will be taken at the February 26th meeting. The vote by the S.C. on the final budget takes place in May after the Annual Town Meeting. The only change to what was presented at the January 8th meeting is administration’s decision to continue the multi-age classroom at Cottage Street School. It was possible to continue with the multi-age classroom due to savings from teacher retirements. The S.C. will have a broader discussion and examine a wide range of alternative programs at subsequent meetings.

    Members thanked Mr. Farmer for his leadership in resolving the issues surrounding the retention of the multi-age classroom.

    T. Farmer outlined administration’s proposal for the use of contingency funds ($116,724) if it is not necessary to use these funds for staffing.

    • $45,000 for a .5 data specialist

    • $50,000 for athletic department transportation costs

    • $10,000 for Social Competency training (part of Strategic Plan)

    • $11,724 for Asst. Technical training

    These items are not listed in order of priority.

    There was a discussion on:

    • class size district-wide and at what point would administration make a decision (usually in August) to add another section

    • what the grade six configuration would look like if the foreign language program was expanded

    • the possibility of raising user fees in the future in order to adequately fund offerings.

    Heights Existing Conditions/Security

    T. Farmer and E. Smith-Lee presented a brief overview of the proposed plans for entrance security at Heights Elementary School. To address all the needs (infrastructure, structural changes, etc.), the cost would be close to one million dollars. The School Department’s Capital Outlay request for this year has been an intentionally modest $259,000. The final existing conditions report on the High School is due in late February. The S.C. would then have a discussion in March to prioritize in order of importance the recommendations for both buildings. Long-range planning is necessary for both schools.


    L. Salomons presented the following policies for discussion:

    IGA-Curriculum Development – revise to clarify and to include elements of IGD, which is recommended for deletion. K. Currul-Dykeman submitted language clarification suggestions. There was a lengthy discussion on the wording and what is a curriculum change vs. a program change and how curriculum development can impact the operating budget. There was no objection from the members for the incorporation of some of the language suggested by K. Currul-Dykeman.

    In the future, the S.C. could develop a policy that addresses program changes.

    L. Salomons will incorporate the language changes discussed and agreed upon at this evening’s meeting.

    IGD-Curriculum Adoption – Delete. Language included in IGA

    IMB-Teaching about Controversial Issues/Controversial Speakers – Revise to simplify. Kept the word controversial.

    JIE-Pregnant Students – Change title, delete judgmental section and update to include new fathers.

    JJ-Co-Curricular Activities – Revise to change title to Extra-curricular. Keep focus on student activities and make other minor changes.

    JJA-Student Organizations – Revise with minor changes and minor update.

    JJB-Student Social Events – Revise to simplify.

    JJC-Student Performances – Recommend no change.

    JJF-student Activity Accounts – Delete. Language already exists in DIBA.

    JJIB-Interscholastic Athletics – Revised to include more specifics of what is required of athletes and their parents.

    JKAA-Physical Restraint of Students – Revise to include more specifics regarding raining and regulations.

    JKD-Student Suspension Policy – Revise to clarify and update in lieu of recent court case. (Law will change 7-2014)

    JL-Student Welfare – Add a legal reference and insure reports go to superintendent and fire chief.

    JLCC-Communicable Diseases – Minor revisions. Add legal and cross references.

    JLCDA-Condom Policy – Minor revisions.

    JLCDA-E – Sample Parent Letter – Delete.

    JLD-Guidance Program – Add MASC policy on guidance program with some revisions.

    JQ-Student Fees, Fines and Charges – Eliminated statement re: no student will be denied participation if can’t pay and replaced with a statement re: sliding fee scale. Removed statement re: charging students for materials required for a course.

    JRA-Student Records – Update legal references.

    JRD-Student Photographs – Delete.

    KCB-Community Involvement in Decision Making – Revised to simplify.

    KDB-Public’s Right to Know – Revise to update and add legal references.

    KDD-News Media Relations/News Releases – Revise to simplify.

    KE-Public Complaints – Minor revisions.

    School Committee Appointment Authority of Identified Positions as Outlined in MA General Law

    E. Smith-Lee opened the discussion with a brief overview of the Educational Reform Law, which limited School Committee supervision of hiring educational professionals. The positions requiring a vote by the School Committee are: school nurses, business manager, SPED administrator and truant officer. A vote on these positions is based on the recommendation of the Superintendent. Discussion included: 1) Does the law require the S.C. to vote reappointments; 2) Does appointment also mean reappointment; 3) what is the role of S.C. on reappointments.

    There was a lengthy discussion on the legal obligation of the School Committee. In 2016 the law will change and give the Superintendent authority to appoint these positions without a vote by the S.C. Areas of discussion included:

    • Pre-ed reform, S.C. had reappointment right. Since ed reform, little information is available on the role of the S.C. in reappointments.

    • It is difficult to make an informed decision on reappointments without extensive data. S.C. does not have access to personnel files.

    • S.C. members have the right to vote “no” on a reappointment recommendation by the Superintendent. It would be a rare instance for a S.C. member to vote against the recommendation of the Superintendent.

    • When S.C. members have conversations with their constituents about personnel, it is then difficult to then vote on reappointments.

    • It is the moral obligation of members to make informed decisions.

    • The Superintendent has by law been given broad discretionary powers.

    • To seek further guidance from MASC and the Attorney General’s Office (particularly what can be discussed in Executive & Open Session).

    • The legal implications of not reappointing a position that was recommended by the Superintendent.

    There will be further discussion at a subsequent meeting.


    Capital Outlay

    Capital Outlay Committee is now in the process of reviewing town department proposals. The purchase of the property on Pond Street was discussed at their last meeting. The Board of Selectmen is in support of the purchase. There will be further discussion on the possible purchase at a subsequent meeting.

    Recreation Department

    Discussion at the recent Rev Advisory Committee meeting included: spring program offerings, hiring for summer positions, updating the beach rules, field space and emergency evacuation plans.


    T. Farmer congratulated Glenn Brand on his appointment as Superintendent of the Acton/Boxborough School District. Mr. Brand assumes his superintendent duties on July 1st.

    Sharon Middle School is video conferencing with a school in Afghanistan.

    MA Library Association awarded SHS librarian, Cathy Collins, with a Seal of Excellence.

    East Elementary School has been nominated as a National Blue Ribbon School.

    Repair work on the damaged portable classroom due to a burst pipe is complete.

    The Foxborough YMCA Production Services is sponsoring guest speaker, Elizabeth Smart, at Foxborough High School, May 8th, 7:00 p.m.

    Members were updated on the PARCC Pilot Program.

    The School Department now has a Twitter account for the purpose of sharing meeting agendas.

    Other Business

    There being no further business, E. Smith-Lee asked for a motion to adjourn Open Session and enter into Executive Session for the discussion of negotiations with non-union personnel with the intent not to return to Open Session.

    MOTION: (Salomons/Kaplan) Moved to adjourn Open Session. Yes vote: Currul-Dykeman, Hitter, Kaplan, Salomons, Smith-Lee, Wiseman

    Open Session was adjourned at 10:33 p.m.

    Submitted on behalf of the School Committee by: Helen Campanario, Recording Secretary to the School Committee

    Back-up Materials for the January 29, 2014 meeting

    • copies of correspondence

    • copy of FY 2015 Preliminary Budget


    • copy of field trip request

    • copy of Sharon Youth Basketball Donation info

    • copy of FAME donation info

    • copy of Rising Leaders Scholarship Donation info

    • copy of Strategic Plan

    • copy of student enrollment info

    • copy of Hockomock area YMCA Healthy Futures newsletter