June 10, 2010 School Committee Special Meeting


Quincy, Massachusetts - June 10, 2010
Special Meeting of the Quincy School Committee

Special Mtg.

A special meeting of the Quincy School Committee was held on Thursday, June 10, in the City Council Chambers, City Hall. Present were: Mr. Dave McCarthy, Mrs. Emily Lebo, Ms. Barbara Isola, Mrs. Elaine Dwyer, Mrs. Jo-Ann Bragg, and Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Vice Chairman.

Chairman Presiding

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The Superintendent called the roll and Mayor Koch was absent. Also present were: Dr. Richard DeCristofaro, Secretary; Mrs. Tefta Burrelli, Clerk; Messrs. Mullaney, Draicchio, and Keith Segalla; Ms. Roberts, Tenaglia, Todd, and Hughes. Ms. Tracey Christello, Citywide.

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Open Forum

 At Open Forum, Daniel A. Long stated there is money in the City budget but the City side is getting more money. Money should not be taken out of the school budget. What’s going to happen next year when they face more crisis? Peggy Ferris spoke to cutting the office aides at the Beechwood Knoll School. This is a major concern. She was hired in September 2000 as a security office aide to prevent unwanted people from coming into the school, i.e. restraining orders, etc. four new cameras were installed, however, no one will be able to watch as the secretary’s work load is doubled. Scott Allesandro suggested ways to make more money for the City – send out one mailing in the beginning of the year, use emails, don’t plow unless there is over 5” of snow, have students clean streets. Debra Barrett spoke to the cut in libraries. She asked the Committee not to accept the budget without some kind of K-8 library program. The librarian’s role is to make children want to read and write. Laura Innis told the Committee that we are spending money, just not in the right priorities. She is concerned that people will sell their homes in Quincy and some will send their children to private schools because of the cuts. Dennis Salfity is happy we are keeping the literacy program and full day K. He asked why we need eight deans at the two high schools. What happens to those kids that can’t pay for sports?

The Open Forum closed at 7:27 p.m.

Mrs. Mahoney Speaks

Mrs. Mahoney said that this has been a tough year. “The School Committee’s job is to go through the budget and advocate for all of the students. We can beg and we can plead to the Mayor but the allocation is what it is. In the course of the budget process the QEA has stepped up and joined us to close a $9 million gap. The leadership has deferred their raises for a second year in a row. The Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent have taken a pay cut. These are big sacrifices our employees have taken. We are extremely grateful for that. We have tried to close this gap. It will have an overwhelming impact on our students. The Mayor gave back $500,000 in unemployment and $500,000 in Comcast money. This is a short term solution to a very big problem. This solution will have long term repercussions to our City and students for a long time. It is unfortunate, but this is what it is. We have put forth a level funded budget and our job on the School Committee is allocating these monies. Be assured this is not what any of us we wanted. We did the best job we could with the money we received.”
Mayor arrives at 7:30 p.m.

Supt Speaks

The Superintendent said that this has been a difficutl budget for our City and school system. He thanked the School Committee for their time, the concerned parents, staff and students. He thanked every one for giving so much time meeting on this budget and listening to many concerned parents and students and community members and our leadership team. The Committee met for hours on May 11, 12, 18, 25 and May 26 for discussions and deliberations and open forums, a public hearing on June 2, 3, another subcommittee meeting on June 9 and tonight on June 10. When Mr. Mullaney presents our Budget Summary Overview, it certainly will become apparent to everyone that the Committee has worked together with the Mayor. Additional funding—unemployment money coming back into our school system, the QEA and their deferment, and this Committee listening and learning and creating and making critical decisions based on a sensitive balance of collective hearts and minds. This summary does not really present the amount of time deliberatively thought or operation dedication you placed in this process, but thank you for that.

Summary Overview

Mr. Mullaney again presented an overview of the summary of the deliberations that went on previously. We had a $9 million cut. Our original proposal to you met that deficit and came up with a 201 positions cut and moved forward from there. What happened since that original budget was several large items (QEA deferral, $500,000 unemployment and $500,000 Comcast) that helped lessen the impact on our budget.

Mr. McCarthy inquired about the music line. He wanted the parents to know that we are still cutting one instrumental from the elementary. He asked about the Renaissance at North Quincy and drama at Quincy High School. Mrs. Roberts said the Renaissance program is in tact at North Quincy. The drama teacher did retire but is willing to come back to do drama one period a day and the drama club. There is a variety of classes into one class. Mrs. Spencer thought it was “doable.” She was excited we were able to do something. It is a start back to growing to what it has been.

Mr. McCarthy asked about the reading teachers at the middle school. How is that going to be addressed?

Mrs. Roberts said that most of the teachers are reading specialists. Specifically, grade 5 at Sterling and Point Webster will have reading classes. We are not having a specific reading teacher, but we will have reading. She is working with the principals to take a look at a 6-period day for grades 6 and 7. We are working on adjusting the reading program. In the middle school fifth grade classrooms, there are four elementary teachers. They also are considered highly qualified. The second subject they will teach is reading.

Mrs. Mahoney added we will bring back six literacy teachers, but we are able to use for one year the Title 1 ARRA money. We will bring back three additional literacy teachers.

Cap on Busing Fee

Mrs. Mahoney made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Bragg, to put in a cap on the fee for busing at $400.00. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0. Parochial students will be paying also unless they are over the two mile limit. Mr. Mullaney said if there is space available, we can bring some children within the 1 mile limit on board.

Ms. Isola asked about Media. How do we plan on integrating that through the English Language Arts. Mrs. Roberts will be meeting with the principals to schedule time and “book borrowing.” It will be part of the teachers response- bilities. The libraries will be utilized. There will be a full time person at the libraries in Quincy High and North Quincy high School.

Mrs. Lebo wanted to assure the public that the Career and Technology classes are still there.

Mr. McCarthy inquired about the aides at the schools when the secretary is out so that someone is there. Mr. Mullaney answered there will always be a person in the office. If the secretary is out, we will have a guidance person or a principal in the office.

Ms. Isola asked if the $38,100 is set it aside for curriculum assistance and protective services, since that program is going to be seeking certification by the state. Mr. Mullaney said it was mentioned for curriculum assistance and possible Protective Services and Chapter 74 may need additional help. This money will be used at the Superintendent’s discretion. That money has been placed in the Curriculum Director’s line. We have not spent the money.

To Policy Subcommittee

Mrs. Bragg put into the Policy Subcommittee, verification for free and re- duced lunches and waivers to students for athletics. Mayor speaks Mayor Koch expressed his gratitude to the Superintendent, his Leadership Team and the QEA for their deferral of their raises. He is very proud of our school system. He is not scrapping the Central project. There are great days ahead for the Quincy Public Schools.

Motion to cut deans

Mrs. Mahoney made a motion, seconded by Mrs. Lebo, to move the two deans into phase 5. Mayor Koch and Mr. McCarthy said they could not support the motion. They are security people and very important. The Superintendent said the deans are critical to the high schools. They each work with around 350 students. It has a connection with the drop out rate. Mrs. Lebo thought although they have a very important job, the Assistant Principals could deal with the Senior Classes.

Motion fails

On a roll call vote, the motion failed 3-2. MS. ISOLA, MR. MCCARTY and MAYOR KOCH VOTED NO. MRS. LEBO and MRS. MAHONEY voted YES. MRS. BRAGG and MRS. DWYER ABSTAINED.

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FY2011 Budget Accepted

At this time, Mrs. Mahoney made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCarthy to accept the FY2011 Quincy school budget. On a roll call vote, the motion passed 6-1. Mrs. Dwyer voted NO.

Mrs. Dwyer said she could not accept this budget. Ms. Isola said we should look at our foundational budget formula to try and get more funding from the state. The Mayor said he is asking the City Council for $3 million bond money for the schools. Mrs. Bragg asked him to keep in mind the safety concerns (large potholes) with the parking lots at some of our schools. She has been asking since the fall to have them repaved. She will send the Mayor a list of the schools.

Mrs. Mahoney speaks

Mrs. Mahoney said “this budget offers no progress and is a major step back- wards. She will ask Mr. Mullaney for updates. She did not want to vote for this budget tonight, but knows they had to. The only person that can make a difference is the Mayor. A vote of “no” on this budget would put it back into subcommittee. I will continue to advocate for our schools and our budget. I will focus on the vision of restoring our school system and protecting our home values and making a better City to live in. I will do my best to move forward and make it better. I really and truly did not want to vote in favor of this budget.”

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Bernazzani to Canobie Lake

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, the Committee approved a trip request for the Bernazzani School to visit Canobie Lake Park on 6/16/2010. The ayes have it.

Central to Camp Wing

On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, the Committee approved a trip request for the Central Middle School to go to Camp Wing from June 15 to June 18, 2010. The ayes have it.

Trip Request Forms

Mrs. Bragg cautioned that she would not approved any more trip requests unless they come before the Committee two months before the schools start collecting money. Mrs. Bragg made a motion, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, that the Superintendent notify the principals that on any field trip, School Committee approval is needed before any money is raised or collected. Ms. Isola added a friendly amendment that the statute says that “The field trip approval form needs to be put in before any monies are raised or collected.” Mrs. Bragg accepted the friendly amendment. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0. Mrs. Lebo asked that the school’s name is on the front of the form.

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On a motion by Mrs. Bragg, seconded by Mr. McCarthy, the Committee adjourned for the evening at 8:55 p.m. There was no Executive Session. On a roll call vote, the motion passed unanimously 7-0.