Feb. 23, 2015 Policy Sub Meeting


Quincy School Committee
Policy Subcommittee Meeting
Mr. Paul Bregoli, Chair
Monday, February 23, 2015 at 5:30 P.M.
Coddington Building

  1. 2014-2015 Revised School Year Calendar

  2. 2015-2016 School Year Calendar

  3. Adjournment


Quincy School Committee
Policy Subcommittee Meeting
Monday, February 23, 2015

A meeting of the Policy Subcommittee was held on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 5:30 pm at the Coddington Building. Present were Mayor Thomas Koch, Mr. Noel DiBona, Mrs. Kathryn Hubley, Ms. Barbara Isola, Mrs. Anne Mahoney, Mr. David McCarthy, and Mr. Paul Bregoli, Chair. Also attending were Superintendent DeCristofaro, Deputy Superintendent Kevin Mulvey, Mrs. Mary Fredrickson, Ms. Beth Hallett, Mr. James Mullaney, Mrs. Maura Papile, Mrs. Erin Perkins, Ms. Madeline Roy, Mr. Keith Segalla, Ms. Judy Todd; Ms. Allison Cox, President of the Quincy Education Association; Mr. Scott Alessandro and Ms. Paula Reynolds, Citywide Parents Council Co-Presidents; and Ms. Laura Owens, Clerk.

Mr. Bregoli called the meeting to order at 5:45 pm and introduced the options for addressing the eleven weather cancellations to date for the 2014-2015 calendar. One option would be ending school on June 30, with an additional day to make up. Another option would be to make up three days through extended days and a draft calendar reflecting this was shared.

Dr. DeCristofaro said that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) has presented three options: Good Friday (may be an early release day), Saturday(s), or April vacation days. All of these options require hourly employee compensation, but the costs due to contractual obligations for holiday or weekends. DESE is open to other options, including extended days or a mix of their suggestions. Dr. DeCristofaro said the combination approach would give some flexibility in case of additional snow days, since there is still another month of winter. Dr. DeCristofaro noted that the MCAS schedule has been extended to account for the snow days. For seniors, the DESE regulations do not require rescheduling graduation, so their last day of school will remain May 29.

Dr. DeCristofaro reviewed that early release days are used for professional development at a system level and by principals in individual buildings. Given the elementary contract obligations for professional development, planning time, and report card conferences, there would not be much gained. The lack of consistent early release days across all grade levels would impede this option.

Dr. DeCristofaro said other school systems are in the same boat we are, pursuing Good Friday and Saturdays (full day in Easton) in an effort to make up instructional time. Cities like Somerville and Weymouth who have similar number of weather cancellations are still weighing their options. We will be collecting information from other cities and towns as it becomes available.

Mr. Mulvey reviewed the costs of various options, above and beyond budget items (clerical, custodial, security, transportation – drivers and attendants, food services):

  • Saturdays and Holidays: $76,458/per day (time and a half)

  • Vacation Day: $42,815

  • Early Release Saturday or Holiday: $50,920

  • Early Release Vacation Day: $36,198

  • Extended Day: $50,509 (12 half-hour days to make up one full day)

Quincy Education Association members are not included in this cost, they are paid a salary for 182 days, calendar to be determined. Making up days on not regularly scheduled school days would have to be impact bargained with every union. The Saturday, Holiday, or Vacation days would have incremental costs for the QPD Traffic Supervisors as well still to be determined. Mr. Mulvey said that Good Friday is considered a religious holiday, so any QEA member can request that day off with a week’s notice. The cost of substitute teachers would then need to be factored in.

Mrs. Hubley asked for clarification, but there are no options that don’t have a cost associated. Mr. Bregoli asked about the requirement for hours vs. days. Dr. DeCristofaro said that even though our students are scheduled beyond the minimum requirement of 900 hours for elementary school and 990 hours for middle and high school students, DESE is still requiring 180 days of school scheduled.

Mr. Bregoli reviewed that the early release days are not uniform for elementary, middle, and high school, so would not help us in making up days.

Ms. Isola would like to see a waiver request filed on the grounds that these are extraordinary circumstances, three days were state of emergency and school could not be opened. Ms. Isola would like to be proactive and demonstrate that there is an impact to students, families, and staff. We want to find a solution that is educationally sound for our students and it is not viable for students to be in school through June 30. Ms. Isola said an early release day on Good Friday is something she would entertain, but not April vacation. The vacation times are a contract between QPS and families, we ask families and staff to plan around those breaks.

Ms. Isola made a motion to file with the Commissioner of Education a waiver requesting an exemption from the 180-day school year for the three state of emergency days. Mrs. Mahoney seconded the motion.

On the motion, Mayor Koch agreed that this is an extraordinary year, for example, the Department of Environmental Protection granted waivers to dump snow in the harbor. This should be viewed as a reasonable request and the Mayor supports the waiver request and would like the letter to go as soon as possible.

Ms. Isola said having the answer prior to the March 4 School Committee meeting would inform the decision made there about the 2014-2015 school year calendar.

Dr. DeCristofaro said the cost prohibitiveness of some of the options should be stressed in the letter, but is also concerned about how fast DESE will respond. Dr. DeCristofaro offered to hand-deliver the letter and Ms. Isola agreed that he should. DESE is constantly making an impact at a city level with their initiatives and they should be aware of the realities of this situation.

Mrs. Mahoney asked if we can request a response date. Ms. Isola suggested we invite the Commissioner to the March 4 School Committee meeting.

Mr. McCarthy said we should vote on sending this waiver request tonight.

On a roll call vote, the ayes have it 7-0.

Dr. DeCristofaro said he will work with Deputy Superintendent Mulvey on a draft for School Committee review on Tuesday, February 24.

On the other 2014-2015 school year calendar options, Dr. DeCristofaro said until we have a response from DESE, there isn’t much else to discuss. Dr. DeCristofaro said that several School Committee members have suggested a public hearing where parents and staff could provide their input.

Mrs. Mahoney suggested having the Public Hearing on Monday, March 2 and have a survey as well. Monday, March 2 at 6:00 pm will be the advertised date for the Public Hearing.

The survey will request input on approval of using Good Friday, Vacation, Saturdays, and/or extended day as options for making up days.

Mr. McCarthy asked if we’ve heard of other towns requesting waiver from the 180-day requirement; no other town has confirmed filing the waiver as of today.

Mayor Koch left the meeting at 6:30 pm.

For the 2015-2016 school year calendar, four options were presented, based on the recommendations suggested by DESE to mitigate the risk of extraordinary amount of snow days. One would be the traditional opening after Labor Day and scheduling both February and April vacation. The alternates were (1) opening prior to Labor Day but retaining the February and April vacations; (2) opening prior to Labor Day, but only one vacation week in March; and (3) opening after Labor Day and having one vacation week in March.

Mrs. Mahoney is concerned about changing the vacation week in isolation, what if other cities and towns do something different. Consistency would be helpful to staff who are residents of other towns with different schedules. Mr. Bregoli suggested that the 2015-2016 school year calendar remain on the March 4 School Committee agenda as Old Business for further discussion.

Dr. DeCristofaro suggested that both this year and next year’s calendars should be items on the Public Hearing agenda.

Mr. DiBona said that all of the options should be shared with the public in preparation for Monday’s public hearing.

Mr. Bregoli asked Ms. Cox if the Quincy Education Association members have expressed thoughts about next year’s calendar. She said that most of the discussions have been focused on this year’s calendar. There is a meeting with the building representatives on Wednesday afternoon and Dr. DeCristofaro will attend.

Mrs. Mahoney asked if Good Friday should be scheduled as a school day going forward. Mr. Mulvey reminded the School Committee that this change would have to be impact bargained.

Ms. Isola made a motion to adjourn the Policy Subcommittee meeting at 6:45 pm. Mrs. Hubley seconded the motion and on a voice vote, the ayes have it.