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Quality of Education Committee Minutes 01/13/2005


 January 13, 2005, 5:30 pm                                                   53 Orchard Street
 Meeting Room, Town Hall                                             Raynham, MA  02767


Present:        John Donahue, Chairman
Karen Crisafulli
Tammy Perry, E.C.P.O.
                Gordon Luciano, Board of Assessors
Gemma Kochan, L.P.O.
Stephen Donohue
                Betty Thompson
                Marie Smith, Chairman Finance Committee

Absent: Mary Hocking
John Thomas
                Sue O’Brien, School Committee

Guest:          Dr. Robert McIntyre, Bridgewater-Raynham School Superintendent

The Chairman called the meeting to order at 5:40 p.m.

Chairman John Donahue introduced Dr. Robert McIntyre. He explained to Dr. McIntyre the purpose of the committee and asked for his professional opinion on what he believes is needed for a quality education.  He asked him, as a professional educator, to state what is right for Raynham and submit options remaining in the district and asked him to be frank with his answers.   John Donahue explained to Dr. McIntyre that the committee had received over 400 responses to the survey. He then explained that the final results would be given to the financial sub-committee to cost out.  

Dr. McIntyre stated that the first-run budget would be presented to the school committee next week and then the sub-committee would start their process of making changes and recommendations.  He stated that we have to get to a level that we are comfortable with and that we cannot level fund a budget three years in a row without making devastating cuts.  

Dr. McIntyre stated that the house budget would be out within a week but since their numbers are a projection he cannot really use them.    He stated that when preparing the budget, he has to make a good projection because being a regional district he cannot come back and ask for more money.  Certain assumptions have to be made so and it must be done responsibly.  Dr. McIntyre stated that he would go anywhere, anytime to meet parents or groups.  He wants to educate people on the budget and stated that building trust is most important.
He wants to submit a budget where he believes we should be and wants to make sure the new school is adequately staffed.

Gordon asked if there would be a negative number on the Charter Schools.  Dr. McIntyre stated that there are approximately 46 students at W. Bridgewater which means approximately $300,000 comes right off the top of the budget.

Dr. McIntyre said that N.E.A.S.C. has put us on warning status and that the next step would be probation.  He stressed that we have to fix the problem and the budget because the state agency expects improvements every year.  

Gordon discussed the school budget and asked if the amount last year would be surpassed.  Dr. McIntyre said he wants to put the budget back to where it was before all this started.  He stated that the district is extremely understaffed and wants decent class sizes, more adjustment counselors, teachers, teaching specialists, guidance counselors, school psychologists and stressed that we cannot wait for the state to bail us out.  

There was a brief discussion on the S.B.A. and how both communities have benefited from it.

Karen asked Dr. McIntyre about receiving monthly budget reports and questioned balances on some of the line items.  Dr. McIntyre said that when you have a budget of this magnitude, it is impossible to hit each item to zero it out and that many items have to be changed once the budget is finalized.  He reassured the committee that no one overspends and has budget audits to verify what is being done.  He said he needs the flexibility. He stated that some line items are prepaid and some are paid monthly which would be reflected in the budget.  

Dr. McIntyre explained that proctors cover the bathrooms and café for the teachers.  He also said the uncertainty of building the budget is not knowing how many will call in sick.  Gordon asked what he would do if he ran out of money.  Mr. McIntyre said that the budget is constantly being reviewed and that he would have to put the brakes and that since part of his job is to determine who gets what, it is difficult sometimes when you have to say no.

Dr. McIntyre said each principal gives to him their separate budget for supplies, maintenance etc.  
John Donahue asked Dr. McIntyre if the budgets are safe from each other.  Dr. McIntyre said that we don’t allow anyone taking money from other principals because we need to use our reserves as wisely as we can.  If there was something they needed, they would have to justify it.

John Donahue asked if he had ever considered running three separate budgets. Dr. McIntyre said that he did not think it could be done by law, but that he had never entertained that idea.

There was a discussion on homeless people.  Dr. McIntyre explained that he has a truant officer that investigates their existence.  He explained that the homeless people are allowed to go to whatever school they choose and this would have to be reimbursed.

Gordon asked Dr. McIntyre where we were failing.  Dr. McIntyre replied he didn’t think we are failing.  He said there are a lot of good things, wonderful people, and that more people are focused on the education of the students and that he was very optimistic.  He said that we need to get parents more involved, to speak loudly and advocate for their children.  He stated that we are trying to do the best we can, but need funds and need support.  He said there are issues overall but the ingredients are there for a very good student.  The PSAT’s and MCAS show that we are holding our own at the high school.  We have to give and offer more electives, more AP courses and focus on the students.  He said he feels that a lot of students that have left will be coming back.  Dr. McIntyre said he wants to give his students every opportunity because when they go to college is when they would feel the difference in education.  He stated that we cannot go through this again and must re-fit the high school as it should be and need to expand the curriculum.

John Donahue asked Dr. McIntyre to explain this year’s budget. Dr. McIntyre replied that the high school has been taking the biggest cuts and it cannot be allowed to continue or go below 990 learning hours.  He said that he was upset with the $500 user fees and that it was unjust and unfair to families.  He said there would be user fees but that $100 to $200 would be a more comfortable figure.  He said he takes full responsibility for dispersing the cuts across the district and that with the state agencies watching, we cannot take a chance to lose our accreditation.  He stressed that the students have to come from an accredited high school.  

Gordon stated that the students are a tremendous inspiration.  He explained that the student body is working very hard to try to save their education and have turned into professional fundraisers.  

Asked if he could tell the difference between Raynham and Bridgewater students, Dr. McIntyre replied that all of the students are good students and come from good families.  He said he does not look for or see any difference.  

John Donahue asked if there was any good news.  Dr. McIntyre said he was very optimistic.  He sees a half glass of water as half full.  He said that we have to move ahead and come up with creative solutions.  Dr. McIntyre said that it was gratifying to see a new school being built and that with all the schools rehabbed, we have the finest schools around here.  Dr. McIntyre said that with proper funds we would skyrocket and praised the good luck we have had with our students entering colleges like Harvard and Yale.

John Donahue discussed the positive quotes and comments received in the survey.  Dr. McIntyre stated that the high school teachers have gone through turmoil rescheduling blocks in January with new courses and that in all of his years, he has never had to reschedule high school in January.  He commended both the teachers and the students.  Dr. McIntyre stressed that we cannot go through this again next year that it was unfair and undeserving.

John Donahue asked Dr. McIntyre if he received $75,000 if he would add a teacher and reduce the class size or hire an administrator.  Dr. McIntyre replied that both positions are important but with $75,000 he would add one administrator and share that person with the middle and elementary schools.  He stressed the importance of an administrator and how that one administrator would impact every student.

Karen asked about residential placement to age 22 and asked whom she could speak with regarding this issue as to how it is impacting our schools.  She was advised to speak with State Legislators.

There was a brief discussion on the Sped budget and circuit breaker money.

Dr. McIntyre thanked everyone for inviting him to speak and departed at 6:45 p.m.

John Donahue explained that the survey was being edited and would be available in a couple of days.  The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, January 17, 2005 at 6:00 p.m.   

Marie Smith stated that letters have been sent out to the various departments regarding their budgets and that she was waiting for numbers from Randy.  Gordon said he would like to go with the numbers and assume Bridgewater would come around.

Minutes of the December 28, 2004 meeting were reviewed.  Gemma motioned, Steve seconded, unanimous vote by the Committee to accept the minutes of the December 28, 2004 meeting as written.

Gemma motioned to adjourn meeting, Gordon seconded, unanimous vote by the Committee to adjourn the meeting.  Meeting adjourned at 7:00 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Donna Guay,
Recording Secretary

Town of Raynham 558 South Main St., Raynham, MA 02767
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