April 9, 2008 School Committee Meeting


Quincy, Massachusetts - March 12, 2008
Regular Meeting of the Quincy School Committee

Regular Meeting

A regular meeting of the Quincy School Committee was held on Wednesday, April 9, 2008 at City Council Chambers, City Hall. Present were Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Mr. Kevin Mulvey, Mr. Nick Puleo, Mrs. Elaine Dwyer, Mrs. Jo-Ann Bragg, Mayor Tom Koch and Mr. Dave McCarthy, Vice Chairman.

Vice 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, Walsh, Mullaney, McPhee, Dr. Pattavina, Ms. Powell, Hughes, and Roberts. Ms. Tracey Christello represented Citywide, and Mr. Paul Phillips, QEA President, was present.

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Reg.Session Mins. Amended/Approved 3/26/08

On a motion by Mrs. Mahoney, seconded by Mr. Mulvey, the Committee approved the regular session minutes for March 26, 2008. Mrs. Mahoney asked that the minutes be amended to include her comments at the end of the last meeting regarding the traffic at North Quincy High School. The following wording will be added: “Although there is a long term plan, they are looking for a short term solution. The Subcommittee is looking for a dialogue and a timeline. They also want representatives from the City side to be in attendance at the next subcommittee meeting.” On a roll call vote, the amended minutes were approved unanimously 7-0.

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BM 50th.

Anniversary Principal Larry Taglieri invited everyone to the Broad Meadows 50th anniversary Open House Sunday, April 13, 2008.

Graduation @ Adams Field/Rain Date for NQHS

The Superintendent informed the members that this year’s high school graduation will be held at Adams Field. Also, a rain date has been added for North Quincy High School. Quincy High School’s graduation dates this year are June 2 with a rain date of June 4. North Quincy High School’s graduation dates are June 3 with a rain date of June 5.

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Supts. Report

The Career and Technical Education program sponsored Building Bridges to the Future Student Expo. Over 70 middle school students working in teams used a design process to build a surprise engineering challenge for the other teams. It was a terrific morning for our young engineers as well as our staff. Middle School Technology teachers treated students to a barbeque.

Quincy High School held their Cultural Fair chaired by the English Language Dept. It created a celebration of diversity and culture. Over 200 students participated.

Evening at the Pops featuring the Quincy Symphony Orchestra as well as our middle school Jazz Band and the QPS John Adams Orchestra will take place on Thursday, May 8 and is sponsored by State Street. The proceeds from this event help the music program.

Members received, Lens of Literacy, a publication for all elementary staff produced by members of the Literacy Team. Another publication they received is the third issue of Quincy’s Music Notes. It features high, middle, and elementary instrumental and choral information.

North Quincy High School held its 2nd Annual Health Fair. North Quincy High School teachers facilitated.

Quincy High and North Quincy High received $250 each from the Prom Sense Grant. This money is to be used to keep students safe during prom and graduations season.

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Open Forum/Voting Day

At the Open Forum, Mr. Paul Phillips, QEA President, congratulated the Broad Meadows staff on their 50th anniversary. The QEA has concerns about closing the school on November 4. That Tuesday and the next Tuesday, November 11, Veterans’ Day, would leave only the 18th.and 25th the only Tuesdays open in November. November is always the month report card conferences are held. There will be no Tuesday prep time in the entire month of November for the elementary school teachers. Also, there is a concern with Kids Voting which is done during Election Day in the schools. The QEA is committed to working with the Superintendent to come up with an accommodation.

TeLLS Survey Regarding the TeLLS Survey, Quincy achieved the 40% threshold so we are eligible to get some results. The only school that did not get 40% on an individual report was North Quincy High. A copy of the survey will go to the Superintendent and to Mr. Phillips. It will become public information after six months.

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Budget Subcommittee

A Budget Subcommittee meeting was held on Tuesday, April 8, 2008 at which time Mr. Mullaney presented the third quarterly report of the budget.

Academic Classroom Teachers: We have to date expended $17,252,276 on the salary side. There is a deficit in this line of $431,164 which is caused by reduced breakage and staff changes. We expected 30 teachers to retire and only 25 are retiring. The new teachers being hired now have advanced degrees and demand higher salaries. Savings in other teacher salary lines and longevity salary lines will offset this deficit.

Academic Programs: There is currently a surplus of $307,456 in this line. This money will be used to offset deficits in other salary lines.

Academic Support: Currently there is a deficit of $53,502 in the academic support lines of the budget. This deficit is due to three areas – substitute teachers, department heads, and SPED tutors. There is a $21,000 deficit in the part-time professional line. That deficit will be offset from non academic support area. Administration is reviewing substitutes, absences, as well as long term absences. Mrs. Dwyer asked that that be shared with the Committee.

Non-Academic Support: There is an anticipated surplus of $122,196 in the non-academic support payroll lines. Increased routes have required more drivers and attendants. There is an anticipated deficit of $103,200 in the custodial overtime line which was due to work done over weekends and summer.

Academic Expenses: A transfer from the SPED tuition line to salaries and acquisition of instruction and technology equipment. The resulting deficit will be covered by use of Circuit Breaker funds. We are working with the city auditor to ensure that all actions are appropriate. The transfer will not take place until the City Auditor gets a letter from the Department of Revenue specific to Quincy. He does not feel confident to deficit spend. Mr. O’Brien has contracts waiting on this approval.

Non-Academic Expenses: We are anticipating a deficit of $161,000 in the utility lines for the year. This deficit will be offset by savings from transportation, gasoline, and insurance lines.

Mr. Mullaney said transportation has been an area that is causing concern. He has been working with the Transportation Team looking at acquiring another vehicle.

Mrs. Bragg requested that for the next two quarterly reports, Mr. Mullaney use a spread sheet to break it out and compare the budget that was approved, where we are to date, as well as where he anticipates problems and where he anticipates solutions to those problems. It will make the format easier to understand. .

Mr. Puleo had questions with the SPED tuition line. Ms. Todd works out a list of those students we think will move out and those that will move in. We make some estimations and assumptions which outplacements will go up. We need room for those coming in at the middle of the year. Mr. Puleo asked if the cost increased because of actual tuition rate or case? Mr. Mullaney said both, per student placement plus additional expenditures, aides, home tutoring attendants, summer programs. They keep track of both and keep a breakdown. Mr. Puleo asked for a copy of the breakdown.

Mr. McCarthy and Mrs. Mahoney asked everyone to push the Circuit Breaker money along quickly as we are coming to the end of the year. There is a chance we may lose out on this opportunity.

Quarterly Budget Approved

On a motion by Mr. Mulvey, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, the Committee approved the quarterly budget. The ayes have it.

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Bldg. Update

Mike Ryan reported that the purchase order for the North Quincy High PA system has been released. The equipment will take about two weeks to arrive and one to two weeks to install. Wiring of the computer lab at Parker School is in progress. Beechwood Knoll received a donation of furniture from the Boston Stock Exchange and was transported from Boston and Woburn back to the school by the Maintenance Dept. The painters have been painting the outside rails for the Broad Meadows Middle School open house.

The lower shop areas of the East Campus at Quincy High School are being cleaned out in advance of the demolition scheduled for 2009. The custodians’ supply area has been relocated. The next round of bus inspections are scheduled for April vacation week. Two new employees have been added to the Maintenance Staff as of this week.

Mr. Puleo inquired about moving the food service equipment to North Quincy High School. Mr. Ryan said nothing is finalized. Measurements need to be taken. Mr. Puleo is concerned with safety as the deliveries would have to go through the cafeteria.

The Superintendent answered that no matter what is done in these many moves, first and foremost is student and staff safety. Mr. O’Brien will be the contact person for these moves.

Intercom update: the Montclair and Atherton Hough principals want to review their options. Central is working with the IT department. Lincoln Hancock is up and running, and we still need to check into Merrymount.

Mr. McCarthy asked that Mr. Ryan look at the graffiti at the Marshall School and take a look at all schools.

Mrs. Mahoney received emails about the absence of the Police officer that morning at North Quincy. Mr. McPhee said the Community police officer went on vacation. The Police Department did assign someone else, but that officer didn’t make it there. Mr. McPhee has since called the Police Department and someone will be there to fill in. Mrs. Mahoney told parents that they should notify the principal if the officer is not there and he will get in touch with Mr. McPhee. Mr. McPhee and Mr. Puleo are going to the MBTA to ask them to close off the fence between McDonalds and the MBTA lot.

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State Delegation

At the request of the Committee, Senator Morrisey, Representatives Mariano and Tobin were present to give a report on state funding.

Senator Morrissey reviewed the FY09 Local Aid Estimates Cherry Sheet. There are challenges facing us in the next budget year. The revenue picture is not bad. The problem is in trying to keep the commitments they have made. Three years have passed for the Chapter 70 funding. The Lottery is level funded. A cigarette tax has been proposed. The Quincy delegation is united in trying to increase revenues. They also recognize their commitment to the mentally ill, the homeless programs, health care. The cost for medical insurance is higher than anticipated. They were prepared to vote on a corporate reporting tax. The second half of this year home sales, lower capital gains, and energy prices could have a dramatic impact. The plan now is to use stabilization money and look for increase in revenues and deal with some cuts.

Representative Mariano said that the School Committee will face challenges. Right now the goal is to try and maintain our commitment to cities and towns and local aid. The revenue estimates are up. The bad news is much of that money is a one time revenue and will not be repeated.

Representative Mariano said the climate out there is not good with the foreclosures and higher gas prices. There is a sense of impending doom and a lack of confidence. Even though revenues are up, a lot of people aren’t spending. Unemployment is going up and that’s a terrible sign. They are trying to help Quincy any way they can.

Representative Tobin thought we were all fine for right now. Nobody is predicting optimistic growth for next year.

Mayor Koch said it is difficult for everybody right now because of what next year looks like. He expressed his gratitude for what they do and thanked them for the terrific news we received from the SBA allowing us to move forward on Central. Senator Morrissey reminded everyone to look towards Sterling.

Mrs. Bragg told them that two of the corporations she did work for, have folded because even if though they had a loss, they still had to pay the minimum excise tax on top of an annual fee they paid to the Secretary of State. Things like that need to be looked at. It’s sad when a business has to close. Also, this Committee in December earmarked the Circuit Breaker money which has not been released because the City is waiting for a letter from the Department of Revenue guaranteeing we can make up that deficit. If the delegation had any influence getting that letter, the sooner we can get the money. Senator Morrissey said they don’t recommend deficit spending but will try and get the letter.

Mrs. Dwyer asked about eliminating the 70% vote necessary to join the GIC. Senator Morrissey said there is something on file. However, it is their intent that there should be some vote. There is no change on the horizon.

Mrs. Mahoney said that the School Committee is in the same situation as they are. They are held accountable too. As the economy gets more difficult, they are still bound by mandates i.e. MCAS.

Senator Morrissey said there are always discussions on making MCAS more of a guide than a mandate. As things get worse, more things will go on the table. They have to make $150 million in cuts. It’s difficult to find other revenues. They are going to cut DMR. They will be looking at the Chapter 70 money in the next couple of years. There will be some hardships coming up. They welcome input.

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Mrs. Dwyer reported that the March 29 QHS Building Committee meeting was cancelled by Mr. Cunniff and has been rescheduled. She has still not received any minutes for the meetings for the entire year.

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Mayor Koch reported that Quincy does not have to go through the feasibility study for Central. This will allow us to move quickly. He will work with the Superintendent and set up a meeting.

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School Calendar/Close School on 11/4 Presidential Election

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mulvey, the Committee removed the 2008/2009 School Calendar off the table. Mr. Joe Shea City Clerk, attended the meeting and gave an update on voting places in the schools. When you pick a polling place, there are three issues-- student safety, parking, and handicap accessibility. The Mayor has asked that the Committee close the schools during voting days. After some discussion, the Subcommittee recommended closing the school on the Presidential election, November 4. They will work with the QEA and Kids Voting. They did not close the schools for the primary as they didn’t feel that day would be as busy. The Mayor agreed to commit to additional police presence. After that, the City Clerk and Superintendent will work to try and change some of the polling places. The City will look at a redistricting plan in 2010.

2008/09 School Calendar Approved

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Puleo, the Committee approved the 2008/2009 School Calendar. The ayes have it.

Mrs. Bragg made another motion, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, for the Superintendent to work with the City Clerk and school committee to review polling places and make adjustments in 2010. The ayes have it.

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Trips - SH to Canobie Lake

On a motion by Mr. Mulvey, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, the Committee approved a trip for Snug Harbor Community School to go to Canobie Lake New Hampshire on June 4, 2008. The ayes have it.

BM to Wash. DC

On a motion by Mr. Mulvey, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, the Committee approved a trip for Broad Meadows students to go to Washington. DC on May 28 to May 30, 2008. The ayes have it.

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Gift: to Project Access

On a motion by Mrs. Dwyer, seconded by Mrs. Bragg, the Committee accepted a gift of $169.00 donated by the First Church of Christ Scientist to benefit Project Access. The ayes have it.

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Additional Business

Mrs. Mahoney asked for job descriptions and qualifications for Mr. Walsh and Mr. McPhee’s positions. With regard to security they want someone with good qualifications. Things now are happening on the Internet that need to be checked.

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Retirement -LBogan

Mrs. Bragg recognized Atlantic Principal, Laura Bogan, who announced her retirement the end of this June. She also recognized the other two principals who will be retiring this year.

Mr. Mulvey announced that District Attorney William Keating’s office has raised funds to provide DVDs (Take Ten) on the abuses of drinking and driving initiative for the eighth graders. The DVDs will be sent home with a note and a letter.

ROTC Banquets for the School Committee on Thursday, May 15 at the North Quincy High Cafeteria and QHS at the Neighborhood Club on May 7

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The Committee accepted the following letter into the record regarding the proposed track:

Dear School Committee:

I would like to request that you introduce the following letter into the record of the Quincy School Committee:

I am contacting you to request your assistance with regards to the construction of the approved track facility at Pageant Field. As you know, this approved track facility has received all required approvals from both the Park and Recreation Board and the City Council. The City has been without a regulation track for too long!

I am opposed to the Mayor’s proposed track facility at Faxon Field for the following reasons:

  1. Proximity of this location to two of the busiest streets in the City with heavy traffic

  2. The Faxon Field site is not centrally located in the City

  3. Possible wetlands issues with Faxon Field site

  4. Questionable soil stability at the proposed Faxon Field site

  5. The timeline for construction at Faxon Field given its current use as a staging site for the new high school project

  6. Increased costs at Faxon Field as compared to the approved site at Pageant Field.

Please urge the Mayor’s Office to take all necessary steps required to begin construction of the approved track facility at Pageant Field as soon as possible.

Your support will allow the track athletes in the City to have the same type of new sports facilities as other sports already have.

Chris Meyers

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Director of Safety & Transp. to Subcommittee

The Committee discussed the job description for the Director of Safety & Transportation. They are considering separating it into two jobs. The Committee put the job description into the Budget Subcommittee. Mr. Puleo thought it would be best to wait for the next budget before we change that position.

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Policy Subcommittee

Mrs. Bragg reported that the Policy Subcommittee met and discussed the Anti Bullying Policy. Mrs. Powell presented a draft policy. After reviewing, the Subcommittee sent it back to the Task Force to finalize it. We will need a new Harassment Policy. The law requires distinctions between students and staff as there are different laws for each. Mrs. Powell will email the final copy to everyone. The Harassment Policy is tabled right now. The Committee wanted to make sure there is a process if a student is bullied. Mrs. Nash explained that if the student tells the teacher, that teacher would go to the dean, and the dean would contact the student and parents, and bring in the bully, but not together. They would try and guide the students.

The Subcommittee approved the following tabled policies: Section 5.6, 5.7, Section 11.4, 11.6, school facilities, was tabled and referred to the School Facilities Subcommittee. They amended 11.10, no changes 11.11.1, amended 11.12.

Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, to approve those policies in Section 5 and all of Section 11 except for Section 11.6. The ayes have it. This will be on the next agenda for a final vote.

The track was discussed and put that into the School Facilities Subcommittee. On a motion by Mrs. Bragg seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, the ayes have it.

With regard to section 5.6 - early release lunch for elementary schools, Mrs. Bragg answered that the Superintendent has a letter dated 1991 stating that since school lunches were never served on early release days, the school department does not have to serve lunches on early release days.

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SPED Subcommittee

Mrs. Mahoney reported that there were many people at the SPED Subcommittee meeting at Atlantic Middle School. Ms. Todd presented an update on the audit which answered parents’ question. Ms. Todd is going to an Apple Conference in May with five SPED parents. She will report back. Mr. O’Brien gave an update on the Instant Alert for SPED. Parents can opt out if they wish. They discussed transportation. Lois Constantino updated them on how transportation works within the whole school system and with SPED. Vin Savil from VHS spoke and discussed the tracking system. They are progressing down the list of parents’ requests. Thanks went to Linda Perry and officers in QPAC for their support.

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Health, Safety & Security Subcommittee

Nick Puleo reported that a Health, Safety, & Security Subcommittee was held to address the issues and concerns regarding NQHS traffic. Mr. Puleo met with the Mayor this morning. There are a lot of proposals going forward. Closing off that fence will make people use cross walks.

The members noted that Jim Collins, Sue Nash’s father, passed away.

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The Committee noted the following retirements:

Principal: Laura DiTullio-Bogan `

Dept. Chair: Ernest Gizzarelli


The Committee noted the following resignation:

Teacher: Carolyn Ronchinsky

Lunch Attendant: Eileen Richardson


The Committee noted the following appointments:

Lunch Attendants: Kelly Dunn, Roberta Skinner

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Exec. Session

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mulvey, the Committee voted to go into Executive Session for the purpose of negotiations at 9:20 p.m. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.

Vice Prin. Contract Ratified

The Committee returned to open session at 9:45 p.m. On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mrs. Dwyer, the Committee ratified Unit C, Vice Principals contract for September 1, 2003–August 31, 2006 and September 1, 2006 to August 31, 2008. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.

Confidential Secretaries Contracts Ratified

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. Mulvey, the Committee ratified the Confidential Secretaries Contract for July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2007 followed by a three year agreement (July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2010). On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.

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On a motion by Mayor Koch, seconded by Mr. Mulvey, the Committee voted to adjourn for the evening at 9:56 p.m. The ayes have it.