Jan. 21, 2009 School Committee Meeting


Regular Meeting of the Quincy School Committee
January 21, 2009

7:00 p.m.
City Council Chambers

I. Approval of Minutes: Regular Session Minutes for January 7, 2009.

II. Superintendent’s Report:

A. Science, Mathematics and Technology Academy Opening Ceremony

B. Grade Configuration Proposal

C. Grant Booklet (2008-2009)

D. Career Connections

III. Open Forum: An opportunity for community input regarding the Quincy Public Schools. After giving his or her name and address, each speaker may make a presentation of no more than four minutes to the School Committee.

IV. Old Business

A. Update on building projects, renovations, and construction: Mr. Murphy to report.

B. Update on the New Quincy High School: Mrs. Dwyer to report

C. Update on Central: Mrs. Bragg and Mrs. Mahoney to report.

D. Single Warrant System - A motion was made by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mariano, to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation of a policy (4.11.1) the single warrant system. The Committee needs to take a final vote on this policy.

V.  New Business:

A. Group Insurance Commission (GIC) Presentation: At the request of Mayor Koch.

VI. Additional Business:

VII. Communications:

VIII. Hearings: - none

IX. Reports of Special Committees:

A. Rules, Post Audit & Oversight Subcommittee: Mrs. Dwyer to report.

B. Budget Subcommittee: Mr. Mariano to report.

C. Policy Subcommittee: Mrs. Bragg to report.

X Executive Session:

XI. Adjournment:

Subcommittees of the School Committee

Subcommittee Date Referred Business Pending
Budget & Finance
Mariano/Bragg/McCarthy 4/11/2007 HS Health Curriculum
  3/29/2008 Bus Rental Fees
  3/29/2008 Building Rental Fees
  9/10/2008 Revolving Funds 5-yrs. History
School Facilities Management    
Dwyer/Mahoney/Mariano Major Building Projects  
  3/4/98 QHS/Central/Sterling Building Plans
  10/20/2004 ADA Report
  9/7/2005 Alternative Plans for Central Middle School
  2/8/2006 Conservation
  4/9/2008 11.6 School Facility Policy
  4/9/2008 Track
  9/10/2008 NQHS gym floor named
Health, Safety & Security    
Puleo/Mahoney/McCarthy 10/18/2006 NQHS Traffic & Drop off
  4/11/2007 HS Health Curriculum
  3/26/2008 Increase School Breakfast Participation
School Policy    
Bragg/Dwyer/McCarthy 1/10/2001 Policy Manual
  2/6/2008 Voting Places
  3/12/2008 Teacher Evaluations
  9/10/2008 Grade Configurations
  9/24/2008 Warrants
  9/24/2008 Quill Program
  11/12/2008 Title I Supplement Policy
Special Education    
Mahoney/McCarthy/Mariano 1/17/2007 Emergency Information Form
  1/17/2007 Substitute Teachers for SPED
  3/21/2007 Implementation of IEPs
  9/24/2008 INSPIRE Initiative
Rules, Post Audit & Oversight    
Dwyer/Puleo/Bragg 10/29/2008 Faxon Field
Channel 22    
Mahoney/McCarthy 10/17/2007 Encourage greater use of



Quincy, Massachusetts - January 21, 2009
Regular Meeting of the Quincy School Committee

Regular Meeting

A regular meeting of the Quincy School Committee was held on Wednesday, January 21, 2009 in the City Council Chambers, City Hall. Present were Mr. Ron Mariano, Mrs. Jo-Ann Bragg, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Mrs. Elaine Dwyer, Mr. Nicholas Puleo, Mr. Dave McCarthy, and Mayor Tom Koch, Chairman.

Chairman Presiding

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The Superintendent called the roll and all members were present. Also present were: Dr. Richard DeCristofaro, Secretary; Mrs. Tefta Burrelli, Clerk. Messrs. O’Brien, Mullaney, Mulvey, Draicchio, Keith Segalla, Ms. Roberts and Hughes, and Dr. Sylvia Pattavina. Ms. Tracey Christello, Citywide, Ms. Linda Perry, QPAC, and Mr. Paul Phillips, QEA. The Committee observed a moment of silence for Andy Taylor, a long time Maintenance Department worker who died in an accident while at work.

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Reg. Mins.Approved 1/7/2009

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, the Committee approved the regular session minutes for January 7, 2009. The ayes have it.

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Supts. Report

The Quincy High School Building Committee will host an opening ceremony for the Science, Mathematics and Technology Academy at the new Quincy High School on Sunday, February 22 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. Invitations will be going out soon.

Homeland Security

Mr. Michael Draicchio introduced Police Lt. Don Greenwood, Director of Homeland Security for the Quincy Police who has been working on initiatives with the School Department. Homeland Security is establishing a city wide camera system that will monitor the critical and key areas of the City. Based on the need to use the roofs of some of our public buildings, Lt. Greenwood has met with the Superintendent. His recommendation was that Lt. Greenwood come before the Committee to explain the camera system and why they need a school roof. This project has been approved by Mayor Koch. Quincy is in a partnership with eight other cities and towns. (The Urban Area Security Initiative) All the cities and towns have accepted this camera system. A camera will be located on a school roof that would pose no damage to the roof. It has small visibility, which would pan/telescope up and down and be monitored at the Quincy Police Station. Its purpose is to detect and assist in the apprehension of any terrorist activities that could occur and to prevent any damage to infrastructure. It can also be used to monitor Quincy Square.

Mrs. Bragg inquired about the privacy rights of individuals. Lt. Greenwood answered that the cameras will be monitored 24-7 by the Sergeant in charge of communications. There are strict guidelines for use of the camera. The camera will be zooming in on public space, and there is no expectation of privacy in a public area. As part of the partnership, every municipality is guided by these guidelines. The camera will only be used to monitor the infrastructure and if it can assist in the solving of a crime, the Police will use it. There is no cost to the School Department.

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The members received the Library Links, Credit for Life brochures. Mr. Keith Segalla gave an overview of the Career Connections Newsletter.

Atlantic Middle School will celebrate their 50th year on Tuesday, February 16 at 7:00 pm in the auditorium.

Grade Configurations

The Superintendent has informed the members of his intent to consolidate the services now being offered in the Children’s Developmental Center and relocate those programs to the Amelio Della Chiesa Early Childhood Center. In order to have appropriate space at Della Chiesa, he is proposing Kindergartens move up to the Lincoln Hancock Community School. The fifth graders at Lincoln Hancock will move up to Sterling. Sterling will become a grade five to eight. This will mirror the educational design of Point Webster and Marshall Schools.

The Superintendent has met with some parents, spoken with staff, and he thinks this is an excellent opportunity to consolidate building usage. As well, to provide some collaboration and integration for both staff and students of the CDC.

Mrs. Bragg said she would consider this a policy change and she would like to hear from the parents, staff and anyone involved. She would like to have a Policy Subcommittee meeting in the evening for those involved.

Mr. McCarthy recommends they speak to the faculty and staff that were involved with the move to Point Webster to check for any bumps along the way.

Mr. Mariano asked that they be a separate entity to these students at Sterling. The fifth graders need to be isolated. He is anxious to hear what the parents have to say. He would be in favor as long as there is some protection for the fifth graders. The Superintendent said Ms. Barrett has a plan that would allow the fifth graders to be their own entity--not only for the classrooms, but for lunch.

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TELLs Survey

Ms. Colleen Roberts and Paul Phillips attended an educational survey meeting of the TELLs. This is a staff developmental program that was jointly offered by the MTA, AFT, MASS and MASC and funded by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Teachers and principals were asked to complete the survey regarding the teaching and learning conditions in their district. They gave a quick overview and shared some of the data. Forty seven percent of the staff in Quincy responded. Some of the strengths in Quincy are the small class size, teachers feel trusted to make decisions, our weakness is technology. Ms. Roberts will forward information about the time on task to members

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Open Forum

Mr. Ernie Ariente, Dominic Venturelli, Steve Moynihan, Jay McGilicuddy and Paul Phillips spoke to the issue of the GIC which was brought up at the last meeting. One thing was very clear to them that to get into the GIC approval is needed from the unions, Mayor and School Committee. The issue is with the law and GIC commission. The Public Employees Committee (PEC) worked very hard to enter into a tentative agreement to enter the GIC on July 2009. If there was a legality issue with this agreement they thought the Commission would send it back. Instead they accepted it. The School Committee should have been well aware of the fact that these negotiations were going on because Tom Walsh attended these meetings. Instead of finding fault, they should thank them for saving the taxpayers $4.2 million this coming year and in the future. They urged the Committee to vote down Mrs. Dwyer’s motion for a legal opinion so that the city can move forward. If the Committee chooses not to approve this deal, that will invalidate the QEA vote for going to the GIC.

Ms. Linda Perry, QPAC, addressed the Committee about a preschool student who was left on a Quincy Public School bus. QPAC wants to hear what is being done to prevent such a mistake from happening again. Does bus driver training need to be reassessed? Do “empty” or “full” signs need to be purchased? Is it time to re-evaluate the need for bus monitors for preschool students? There is a Health, Safety & Security Subcommittee meeting January 28. They want a full update on a resolution and the corrective action.

Ms. Erin Bradley, Atherton Hough parent, spoke to the issue of recess in cold weather. She complained that her daughter came home from school with wet sneakers. She didn’t put boots on her daughter because she didn’t think the school would have recess in such extreme cold. The temperature was 14º that day. She called and found out there was no policy on recess. She asked that there be a policy prohibiting recess when the chill factor is below 20º.

Mr. Bob Haley spoke regarding the statements from people on the GIC. He feels that the end does not justify the means. He said that the Mayor has no authority in statute to negotiation any type of pay salary for the school committee, nor do his representatives have that authority. There is no way they should have reopened contracts within the School Department. The School Committee has not signed off for the nine school unions. He thinks the way this issue was handled may jeopardize the City’s ability to join the plan. Also, there are a number of line items that appear to have an excess of money that can be cut. He believes the Mayor’s transfer of the $850,000 Comcast money to cover school debt was inappropriate.

Mr. Karl Roos applauded the efforts of Budget Subcommittee to make the meetings more available to the public. He asked that the School Committee’s meetings be posted on the webpage.

Mr. Malik Gulister, whose son is in tenth grade at Quincy High School was shot with a BB gun. He said he has called everybody and would like his son transferred to another school. He is missing school time. The Superintendent stopped Mr. Gulister and said that this incident happened outside the school system. Mrs. Powell is working with Mr. Gulister. This incident is under investigation and has nothing to do with the school day itself. However, Mr. Gulister wants his son to remain in the same school and have the other boy transferred The Superintendent told Mr. Gulister to come to his office tomorrow and he will speak with him. Mrs. Powell is away this week.

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Grants Update

Mr. Mullaney presented the Grants Booklet and gave a quick overview of the highlights. The total funding received this year is $7.1 million. That money is used to service our students who total 9,154, as well as 1,200 students who are in private schools in Quincy. They’re helped out by Title One, Teacher Quality Grants. There are 106 positions that are instructional paid for with grants. The largest grants are the No Child Left Behind, Title I, Title 3 and Title 4, Safe and Drug Free Schools. Those are direct funds from the Federal Government. Another large grant is the Special Ed Allocation Grant. The 21st Century Grant, provides enrichment programs, and Full Day Kindergarten. The money has been decreasing. The majority that decreases is the Title I grant. We have been obtaining more grants that do require additional spending to go forward because we have to match the grant. We have to be aware that a lot of these grants don’t keep up with the funding. He thanked Cindy Lally who acts as the Grant Manager in his office. We’ve had a large drop off of half million dollars this year.

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Bldg. Update

The Metals Shop, Robotics, Auto Body Shop, are all out of the CTE building. The Kindergarten at Squantum has been moved to the Early Childhood Center. Maintenance repainted the teachers lounge at Central and repaired a steam leak at Center. Carpenters are putting up divider walls at the Early Childhood Center. Electricians are almost finished wiring the new freezer at Broad Meadows. Staff is working on the “no heat” issues. They are making great progress with Honeywell.

Mr. McCarthy asked if Maintenance could get some heat into the gym at Quincy High School without spending any money.

Mrs. Dwyer is compiling a list of the maintenance issues from the School Improvement Plans. She will schedule a subcommittee meeting with Mr. Murphy. The principals are very happy with the conditions of their buildings.

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New QHS Bldg.

Mrs. Dwyer Reports There is a New Quincy High School Building Committee meeting scheduled for January 30. Opening Ceremonies will be February 22 for invited guests only. Students are moving in February 23.

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Central Bldg. Comm. Mrs. Bragg reports asked

Mrs. Bragg said that there have been no Central Building Committee meetings since August. At the last meeting they discussed touring other schools. Mayor Koch expects to have an appraisal on some of the properties they are considering, and he will get an update on the MSBA and schedule some tours. Mr. Jack Buckley, a retired Quincy Public Schools teacher has been added to the Central Building Committee.

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Single Warrant Policy Approved (4.11.1)

A motion was made by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mariano, to approve the Superintendent’s recommendation of a policy (4.11.1) for the single warrant system. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.

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GIC Update

At Mayor Koch’s request, Mr. McGrath and Mr. Madden were present to review the GIC again and make a formal request to go to the Budget Subcommittee for deliberation.

Mr. McGrath said the GIC was a wise thing for the administration and the PEC to entertain successfully. The Mayor told them to settle the contracts that had not been settled and a RFP on the health care. They met extensively through t the summer. They accomplished having the GIC passed which will save the City $4 million and the employees $4.2 to $4.3. Part of the negotiations, in a separate document, was a payment to all the City employees of the sum of $300 added to their salary as of July 1, 2009 when they enter into the GIC. At the time of the signing, most of the unions have signed that document The school department remains unsigned.

Mr. McGrath passed out copies of correspondence requested by Mrs. Dwyer from the GIC, an acknowledge receipt that Quincy is going to join the GIC, and copies of the contracts to be considered by the school committee.

A question has arisen about the authority of the Mayor to enter into negotiations. Section 19 of the statute indicates that a community can join the GIC and the section shall take effect in a polical subdivision upon its acceptance in a city by majority vote of the City Council and approval by the Mayor. This statute foresaw the fact that cities and towns would have to get into contract reopening as part of the joining of the GIC. The matter is before the Committee now for their consideration on the contractual piece. Mrs. Dwyer stated that there is a lot of misinformation now and two years ago. The School Committee completely supports the GIC. They had been trying to negotiate this in contracts for the last two years. The Committee is not going to do anything to jeopardize this. They are effectively in the GIC and it will become effective July 1 regardless of any comments.

Mrs. Dwyer said all they are trying to do by sending a letter to the MASC is to get an official, independent opinion about the way this happened. She is challenging the fact that the city negotiated contracts that they didn’t have the authority to negotiate.

Mr. McGrath said he thought that the court would say that the Mayor does have that authority.

Mrs. Dwyer said she didn’t agree and that’s why they want an independent opinion. She stated that the Committee has every right to ask for the opinion. She expects an answer very quickly, if it comes back favorably than this committee will then talk about the $300 which comes to $570,000 applied to the budget effective July 1, 2009. It is a budgetary problem for the school department.

Mr. McCarthy said he is also 110% for the GIC. He knows that the Mayor has apologized but the members did not know about that $300 until it was over. People are getting bonuses and the committee will have to take out custodians, maintenance, all the way up to the teachers.

Mr. McGrath said the Mayor had to give up $800,000 but emphasized that Quincy will save $5.2 million. In the absence of the agreement, the increase in health costs would have been $6-7 million.

Mr. Mariano said they heard from folks that were at the table and had numerous meetings and wanted to make sure that they did what was best for the city. Then they heard from two folks on the Committee that want to send a letter that admittedly doesn’t mean anything. He didn’t understand the logic of that. The issue becomes the authority of the School Committee and where that line is. Does the chief executive have the authority to negotiate. Mr. Mariano said the law was written to give the chief executive extraordinary powers to make this happen. He thought this is a good deal for the City. He does not support the letter.

Mr. Puleo added that mistakes were made. The law was made so that cities and towns would have to negotiate. It is a collective bargaining right. The $300 issue was their right to negotiate. This gives the executive of the city or town more executive power to negotiate. From a face value, it seemed him like an issue of hard feelings or politics.

Mrs. Dwyer said the PEC had the right to negotiate. Her question is why was it not decided to write a check for $300, but to go back into the contracts and add the $300 to salaries. This is where she has a problem.

Mr. McGrath read the law and where he feels it applies. However, Mrs. Dwyer did not agree. Mr. McGrath and Mr. Madden said that pending before the Committee are eight or nine agreements for the School Committee to sign.

Mayor Koch said if he had to do it again, he would have brought the School Committee into the loop, however, he doesn’t apologize for saving the City millions of dollars. He respectively requested that the School Committee put this into Subcommittee and discuss it one more time, act favorably and sign the agreement and go forward.

GIC into Budget Subcommittee

Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mr. Mariano, to move the GIC into the Budget Subcommittee. The ayes have it.

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Recess to Policy Subcommittee

Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, to move recess into Policy Subcommittee. The ayes have it.

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Mrs. Dwyer presented the letter to the MASC regarding the GIC and the track on Faxon Field. Her motion is to authorize the Vice Chair to sign and send this letter to the attorney at the MASC for his free legal opinion on the track and the GIC. The motion was seconded by Mr. McCarthy.

Mrs. Bragg said she shared concerns on the GIC being part of this letter and asked that it be separated out. She did want to know the answer to the question of who can negotiate with the unions, but felt it should be separated from the track. She did not support the GIC portion at this time. She did support the portion on the track.

Motion to send letter re. GIC & Track Fails

Mr. McCarthy moved the question. On a roll call vote, the motion to send a letter regarding the GIC and track failed 4-3. MRS DWYER, MRS. MAHONEY AND MR. MCCARTHY voted YES, MRS. BRAGG, MR. PULEO, MR. MARIANO, and MAYOR KOCH voted NO.

Motion to send letter re. Track only Passes

Mrs. Dwyer will rewrite the letter. On a roll call vote, the motion to support the letter on the track passed 6-1. MAYOR KOCH voted NO.

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Comcast Money

Mrs. Dwyer passed out copies of another letter to Mayor Koch regarding the Comcast contract. The Comcast money was already earmarked for technology in the schools. It is now going for a different purpose. Mayor Koch explained that the money was never transferred by the former Mayor and former Auditor.

Mr. Timmins explained that she was referencing an order from Mayor Phelan to Mr. Fitzpatrick last year. That year is closed. It is a transfer request by a former mayor to a former auditor in a prior fiscal year. It is not something the current mayor should address. You can’t go back in a prior fiscal year and undo something.

Mr. Mullaney said the vote was to deficit spend the circuit breaker money and move those funds into the district technology line. The $1.4 million from the cable funds wasn’t voted on by the School Committee. It was going to be coming from a direct appropriation through City Council. This was a directive by the Mayor to move this over to the Technology line. We get about two payments every year of $450,000 totals around $1 million. Nothing has been turned over to the school side in all of 2008. Mr. Mullaney said it is a city side account.

Mrs. Dwyer said that the directive was made and she thought this transfer had been done. This is money that should have come to the schools in December. Instead, it went to Debt Services.

Mrs. Bragg said she saw the Council vote and didn’t understand how the money could go to Debt Services. She asked the Mayor to get back to the Committee with an explanation.

Mayor Koch said a great part of debt services is contributed to schools. The technology closet money is coming out of there. The publication for the schools is coming out of there. The Mayor will get an accounting and an explanation for everybody.

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Additional Business

Mrs. Mahoney is having a Special Education Subcommittee meeting at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, January 28.

The Health, Safety and Security Subcommittee has a meeting tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. to discuss school bus safety procedures in the 2nd Floor Conference room, City Hall.

Subcommittee meetings On webpage

Mrs. Bragg asked that the subcommittee meetings be posted on our website. Mr. O’Brien will take care of it.

The Quincy Teen Mothers are having an open house at the Bethany Church on March 25 at 3:00 p.m. to celebrate their 30th anniversary. This is open to the public.

Mayor Koch asked the Committee to allow him to have discussions with the various school unions to consider alternative funding come July 1, 2009. He will come back to the committee to approve or disapprove any recommendations.

Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mr. Puleo, to authorize the Mayor to enter into negotiations, but before anything is done, he’s to come before the School Committee.

Mrs. Dwyer said she won’t support the motion when we’re adding $570,000 to the budget.

On a roll call vote, the motion passed 5-2. MRS. DWYER AND MR. MCCARTHY voted NO.

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Oversight & Rules Mrs. Dwyer Reports

Mrs. Dwyer said the Oversight and Rules Committee met on Thursday, January 15 to get information about the track at Faxon Field. There has been a lot of communication and she felt it was a good time to discuss what’s going on without the Committee’s knowledge. She noted that the Mayor did not come to the meeting but sent the City Solicitor instead. They discussed the letter to MASC to get clarification on who has jurisdiction of Faxon Field. They discussed the letter the Parents for Pageant have submitted to the Inspector General and they discussed the Memorandum of Agreement given to the neighbors back in 2006 as to what could and could not go on the land and what the implications would be. The Parents for Pageant went in front of the Conservation Commission to discuss this. The Committee did find out on January 15 that the City Solicitor has filed a Notice of Intent. Mrs. Dwyer said she didn’t want to jeopardize the new high school. She has asked for a copy from the City Solicitor’s office but hasn’t received it yet. This was an informational meeting. Mrs. Dwyer will rewrite the letter and submit the letter.

Mrs. Mahoney asked why they didn’t have a copy of the Notice of Intent yet. Mr. Timmins said his office was going to put it into a PDF format and then he would email copies to everyone.

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Budget Subcommittee Mr. Mariano Reports

Mr. Mariano reported that not much was resolved in the Budget Subcommittee meeting tonight. They are requesting an opinion of the Department of Revenue as to the ability to spend the QEA settlement money. The Budget Subcommittee will meet again on February 11 to do the Quarterly Report and to dispose of the $100,000 and the cuts they need to make to balance the budget.

Mr. Puleo was concerned because the City Council did cut $150,000 from the budget and the Committee has delayed the implementation of this decision. There are a number of risks by delaying this action.

Letter to Mass Dept. of Revenue Approved

Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mr. Mariano, to ask for an opinion from the Mass Department of Revenue Local Services Division if the School Committee has the authority to spend the money in the contract that was recently settled with the QEA dealing with the strike and if it can be spent this fiscal year. The Superintendent will ask those questions and depending on the answers the Superintendent will come back with a recommendation of $50,000 instead of $150,000. On a roll call vote, the motion pass 5-2. Mr. Puleo and Mayor Koch voted NO.

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Elementary SIPs Approved

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mariano, the Committee moved approval of the School Improvement Plans for the elementary schools. The ayes have it.

Title I Policy Mrs. Bragg reports

As part of the last year’s audit the Quincy was asked to expand their policy and clarify the existing Title I programs. Dr. Pattavina put together a suggestion on the policy. We changed existing language to drop “an additional teacher” and add in its place “additional staff” in line three. We determined most of the document was procedures not policy. Based on the Superintendent’s recommendation we adopted the first paragraph to be added to existing language in the policy manual. “Title 1 funds may not take place of (supplant) public education services that are to be provided to all students. The school system in demonstrating that it uses Title 1 funds only to supplement, and to the extent practical, increase the level of funds that would, in the absence of Title 1 funds, be made available from non-Federal sources for the education of children participating in Title 1 programs.” We also added, “Students Served: Central Administration Personnel will visit and review schools to ensure that students being served by Title 1 funds are those who have been identified to be served based on the student selection criteria.”

Policy Approved

Mrs. Bragg made the motion, seconded by Mr. Mariano, to adopt the changes to the Title I policy. The ayes have it. This will remain on the agenda.

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The Committee noted the following appointments:

Teacher: Kristen Boyle

ROTC Instructor: SMSgt. Teresa Holmes

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On a motion by Mrs. Dwyer, seconded by Mr. Puleo, the Committee adjourned at 10:30 p.m. for the evening. There was no executive session. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.