RAYNHAM QUALITY OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE
November 29, 2004, 5:30 pm 53 Orchard Street
Meeting Room, Town Hall Raynham, MA 02767
Present: John Donahue, Chairman
Tammy Perry, E.C.P.O.
Sue O’Brien, School Committee
Gordon Luciano, Board of Assessors
Gemma Kochan, L.P.O.
Marie Smith, Chairman Finance Committee
Absent: Mary Hocking
Guest: Mr. Tony Caputo, Principal of Bridgewater Raynham
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 5:45 p.m.
Since there were no minutes to approve, John Donahue introduced Tony Caputo and asked him to speak frankly and give his professional opinion on what he believes would be the best offerings for the Raynham children. Mr. Caputo presented a brief synopsis of his working background for the past 32+ years in the Raynham schools and said he would answer any questions.
John asked what he thought about class size. Mr. Caputo recommended class size of 20 students in kindergarten and 22 students in grade 1. He said that for grades 2, 3 and 4 he would recommend 22 students, possibly 24 in grade 4, but wouldn’t go above 24.
The Chairman then asked his opinion on teacher aides. Mr. Caputo stated that for a quality education, the value of an educational assistant in the first grade is vital. He said that if you really want to talk quality and quality assessment in kindergarten and the first grade, you really need another set of hands in there working with the children. He said that in the kindergarten and first grade levels, educational assistants are vital. A brief discussion followed.
The Chairman asked Mr. Caputo about administrators. Mr. Caputo replied that the district has lost so much and spoke of the changes that have occurred in the school system. He stated that the philosophy has changed and the administration has become more of the center. Mr. Caputo stated that the only support people he has are the guidance counselors and the secretaries. He does not have anyone to help him with curriculum.
The budget was discussed next. Mr. Caputo said that the elementary school budget for the Merrill School in 1998-1999, which housed about 480 children, was $76,000. The Merrill School budget today, which houses 475 children, is $18,500. Between the two schools, he said his operating budget is $43,000 of which $10,000 cannot be touched because it is for the maintenance of the copy machines. Mr. Caputo said that the $76,000 was the operating budget and that $18,500 is what he has in the budget for operating. Gordon asked what portion of the money was assumed by the District. Mr. Caputo replied none. He offered copies of his records showing the constant decrease in the budget.
The Chairman asked about principals and assistant principals and how many there should be. Mr. Caputo said there should be a principal in each building. He stated that there were 117 pre-schoolers presently at the Merrill School and that the figure was growing. He said that presently there are two administrators in Raynham that are taking on the responsibility of four and one-half positions. Mr. Caputo said that Raynham is also in desperate need of a hands-on technology person. He said that in a perfect world, both schools should have a librarian and a technology person.
He went on to explain that the Merrill School has no room and that the maximum for the school should be 400 and that, at present, there were 475 students. He stressed the need for space. He said that his office is used for small reading groups and that the Music, Art and Literacy classes are being held in the Park & Recreation building but sees a problem with that next year. He said he anticipates 188 kindergarten children and first graders. Mr. Caputo said they have seven first grade classrooms with 28-29 children in each and if he was to have another first grade class, he didn’t know where he will put it. Gordon said that once the renovations were finished at the Williams School and the re-alignment takes place, this transfer of students would avert back to Bridgewater. Mr. Caputo said that he
didn’t believe there wasn’t any space in the Bridgewater schools. He stated that when preschoolers came over, he lost the music room and that last year the music was in the cafeteria.
Gordon asked if the preschool was taken out and with growth projections, if Mr. Caputo would be satisfied that both facilities were sufficient to meet those needs? Mr. Caputo said that he never envisioned not having the South School. He explained that the South School was designed for preschoolers, has ample parking, classrooms, and the bathrooms were close to the classrooms. He thought that if they needed to find space in the Merrill School and expand to a 5th kindergarten they would always have the South School for the preschoolers. Gordon said that the District still has the South School.
John asked what else Raynham needed in relation to guidance counselors or administrators. Mr. Caputo said that he has asked for (2) Title 1 people, and (1) reading person for pre K-4 and would like to have 3. He stressed the importance of support in reading and math and that having (2) Title 1, Reading support, math support would be great. He said that a Title 1 teacher is a reading expert and a significant resource to the principal.
Mr. Caputo stated that when he was asked to speak with the committee he saw it as an opportunity to thank the committee for what they are doing to help the children of Raynham and wanted to present the best picture of the conditions as he could. He explained that there are four aspects of quality education: Financial, Facilities, Leadership, and Personnel and briefly discussed them.
John Donahue said that one of the problems is the lack of trust the residents have for their elected officials and administration of the school district and that they are trying to remove the obstacle of mistrust. There was a discussion on who is responsible for making the decisions regarding the school children. Gordon said ultimately the residents will decide and that we should keep a positive outlook. Sue said that survey offers the community ownership. Gordon stated that by March a decision would be made on the direction of the Raynham schools.
John Donahue asked Mr. Caputo about the $1.2 gift. A brief discussion followed.
Mr. Caputo said that he is bothered by the rumors that there are empty classrooms at the Bridgewater elementary school. He again stressed the issue of space.
Gordon stated that there was a lot of shuffling going on when the Williams School was being remodeled. Mr. Caputo said the issue of moving the preschoolers was not an issue of space and that the issue the school committee had to face was that they were in a facility with no administrator, secretary or nurse and that it was a financial issue and not a space issue.
Mr. Caputo thanked the committee and departed at 7:15 p.m.
Gordon distributed information that was discussed at the last meeting. Gordon then discussed energy alternatives for the high school and the possibility of incorporating them in all of the schools in the district.
It was noted that the closing date of the survey is December 1st. The committee decided to collect the surveys until they are tabulated. The committee agreed to send out the 25 Superintendent surveys and wait to see how many are returned. Dr. Bemis will be contacted for her help is responses. The Chairman will prepare the cover letter. Sue offered to tabulate the results.
The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 6, 2004 at 6:00 p.m. The Committee will invite Paul Greuter, Raynham Middle School Principal and/or Jeff Granatino, Bridgewater-Raynham High School Principal. If neither of them are available, the meeting would be cancelled.
Sue motioned, Gemma seconded, unanimous vote by the Committee to adjourn meeting. Meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.