School Committee Meeting, 19 October 2016

IMG_0794School Committee Meeting, 19 October 2016

All present

Spotlight on Excellence

The focus on this meeting’s Spotlight was on the Summer Math Program. Students complete math “packets,” calendars of activities that focus on thinking mathematically throughout the summer. Each school was represented by 3 students at tonights meeting. For a list of recognized students by school, see page 9 in the Meeting Packet.

Just as with the Reading Spotlight on Excellence, the Math Spotlight is a great school event which brings proud families to the School Committee meeting.  What a memorable time for each student to receive recognition for effort over the summer months and be applauded for that effort!  Once again, special thanks to the school administrators and staff who also attended last night’s ceremony.

Permissions to Enter

Mr. Gignac requested clarification of the amount for North Reading Transportation. The amount of $336,440 appears to be a change in the contracted amount.


Three motions were presented; one by Mr. Hoey and two by Ms. Martin.

  • 2016/413 (R. Hoey): During a visit to Lowell High School, Mr. Hoey spoke with a junior who asked whether there could be a consideration made to allow food trucks on occasion at the High School along with a stage for students to showcase talents during lunch hours.  While several school committee members agreed this was an interesting suggestion worth exploring, there were some concerns expressed by school committee members:
    • the short lunch period would make this impractical
    • the need to keep students contained on campus
    • those students receiving free/reduced lunches would be excluded

Mayor Kennedy pointed out that when allowing food trucks in the vicinity of the high school was discussed at a recent City Council meeting, Councilor Samaras (former Head of LHS) did not think this would be a good idea.

  • 2016/417 (C. Martin): Presentation by Curriculum Department on an initiative that is successful. If I remember correctly, these presentations formerly were made only in front of the Curriculum Subcommittee. There was decision several meetings ago to include the School Committee in entirety in these presentations.
  • 2016/418 (C. Martin):  A request to provide the full committee with more detailed accounting, including salaries and FTE information for each grant.  There was a good bit of discussion regarding a partial list of grants provided to the Committee right before the meeting. Mr. Frisch has suggested he include the requested information as part of the monthly budget report.

Subcommittee Report

As a result of the October 5 Finance Subcommittee report, Mr. Gignac made two motions resulting from Agenda Item 1, Purchasing Policy (see pages 39-40 of the Meeting Packet). The first motion revised the language within the purchasing policy and the second motion detailed bid requirements. The Finance Subcommittee was unable to discuss Item 2 on the subcommittee agenda, and postponed discussion of same to a future meeting.

As a point of personal privilege, Mr. Gendron spoke about a Subcommittee Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, November 1 at 7 pm in the Little Theater of Lowell High School. This meeting will discuss the middle school population “bubble” and plans to address the same. In addition, there will be a report on the Lowell High School project by the project management and architects.  The public is invited to attend and there will be an opportunity for questions/discussion.

Reports of the Superintendent

There were five items under Reports of the Superintendent:

  • 2016/406, Quarterly Report on Motions. Starts on p 42 of the Meeting Packet.
  • 2016/414: Massachusetts DESE 2015-16 Chronic Attendance. Noted that in prior years some absences were coded incorrectly (for example, students who were hospitalized yet receiving in-hospital tutoring), correlations between a high rate of absenteeism and struggling schools, and the higher rates of absenteeism at alternative schools (with a note that this needs to be looked at as possibly a need to address wrap-around services).  Positive comments noted improvements made to attendance rates in most schools.
  • 2016/415: Monthly Budget Report. Discussion over handling of the encumbered $1.9 million from FY 2016 as a “carry-over”. The auditor closes City books earlier than the state-allowed closing of expenditures in school budgets. The $1.9 million in the category was encumbered from previous year’s budget. Invoices now received and the money spent – the net effect will be that the approved FY 2017 budget is not changed, although the addition of this line makes it look as though it has. The handling of the line item was agreed upon by the City auditor.
  • 2016/419 and 2016/420 Personnel Reports and Lists of Eligible Teachers.

Convention and Conference Requests (2) were all approved.

Meeting Packet can be found here.

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