RAYNHAM QUALITY OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE
December 6, 2004, 6:00 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.
Absent: Mary Hocking
Marie Smith, Chairman Finance Committee
Guest: Mr. Paul Grueter, Raynham Middle School Principal
The Chairman called the meeting to order at 6:15 p.m.
The Committee agreed to review the minutes at the end of the meeting.
The Chairman explained to Mr. Grueter that he was invited to speak with the Committee to discuss the Quality of Education in the Town of Raynham. He asked Mr. Grueter to be frank, open, honest and forthcoming with his answers.
Mr. Grueter distributed copies of the school budgets, enrollment numbers, FY2006 budget request summary sheet, Raynham Middle School staff from 2001 – 2005, and FY 06 Organizational Assessment. Review and discussion followed.
The Chairman asked Mr. Grueter what items comprised the budget. Mr. Grueter replied that the budget figure was basically for the day-to-day running of the building and included such items as text books, teacher supplies, maintenance of duplicating machines, computers, sewing machines and some professional memberships. The budget figure did not include teachers salaries, some of the maintenance and utilities or athletics. A discussion followed.
John T. asked Mr. Grueter to explain the difference between certified and non-certified positions. Mr. Grueter explained that the certified positions were the teaching positions and the non-certified positions were the educational assistants.
The Personnel request list was reviewed. Mr. Grueter said that Priority #2 through Priority #6 would bring the educational level back up to the point when Raynham Middle opened. Mr. Grueter explained that Priority #1 was the granted positions and that Priority #2 thru #6 was his wish list.
Gordon asked Mr. Grueter to explain what happened to the Librarian position. Originally there were twenty-four grant positions of which twenty-two were teaching positions and two were librarians. Mr. Grueter said that wasn’t the way it was understood even though it might have been the preference. He stated that he could not justify hiring a Librarian in place of a Special Needs Teacher when he broke down what he needed. He said that he had lost a Special Needs Teacher in the 5th grade and was concerned that they were out of compliance. He then pushed for the Special Needs Teacher over the Librarian. Mr. Grueter explained that between September and November there was nobody in the library but in November they added a position of library clerk.
Mr. Grueter explained that the whole team teaching concept helps the students in the transition to high school. Mr. Grueter said he has seen a lot of changes. He said that when the four team teachers meet, they discuss a lot of issues and end up dealing with the petty types of discipline problems. He noted that there was more communication with the home. Sue added that collectively, the team is much more nurturing and much more of a transition from elementary to the high school and is a good stepping point for the students. Mr. Grueter explained that the transition doesn’t take place so much in the style they schedule, but more in the way the team teaches. He explained that the demands on the child in the 8th grade are more high-school like as compared to the 5th grade and that the teaching and
material is more of a difference than the schedule. John T. asked if adding one teacher would make a difference in a team concept. Mr. Grueter stated that one teacher wouldn’t make a difference but maybe two could make it work.
Regarding class size, Mr. Grueter said that in the last 4 years, class size has been 30-31 even though the classroom was designed for 25 students. Because technology was added, larger class size was allowed but at this point, they are at their limit. He explained that even if they could add a 7th period, they would have to find something for the students and wouldn’t have the teachers to cover another subject.
Gordon asked it there was any demand for Portuguese. Mr. Grueter replied no. He explained that they had taught French and had low enrollment in the class, so French was dropped.
Gordon asked Mr. Grueter what classes were transferred from Bridgewater. Mr. Grueter replied that there are two programs at the Middle School. One is Behavioral Special Needs and the other is a Life Skills class. Gordon asked if having these classes had any adverse impact. Mr. Grueter said that the Life Skills program is a real plus for Raynham and is a great integration in the school.
Mr. Grueter discussed the Collaborative and the benefits of belonging to one. Question and answer period followed.
Gordon asked Mr. Grueter what he thought would be the impact from a special needs standpoint cost-wise if K-8 was to de-regionalize and what he thought the town could absorb in the budget. The cost of transportation was a big expense and a benefit of regionalizing. All students would be affected by the cost impact of de-regionalizing.
Mr. Grueter discussed the student population. He thought originally there would be 800 students in his building, but with students transferring to W. Bridgewater, Taunton, Private Schools as well as some moving out of the area, his numbers have remained basically the same. He stated that it cost $5,500 for each transferring student. John T. asked how many students Raynham has lost to W. Bridgewater. He replied approximately 44 students.
Mr. Grueter said it would be ideal if he could add five more teachers to the ten he currently has as well as add another administrator.
The Chairman asked Mr. Grueter if he felt that he has lost control of the educational system to the central administration. Mr. Grueter said that it is a difficult situation and the results are always unknown. The Chair then asked Mr. Grueter if he thought that the control of the building belonged to the Principal. Mr. Grueter explained that it is very frustrating because of the budget cuts and that many times he is unable to leave his office. He stated that with the athletic cuts, the program responsibilities fall upon the office of the principal.
John D. asked Mr. Grueter if the District is serving the people of Raynham the way it is set up today. Mr. Grueter said he believes the District is servicing the people of Raynham. He also believes that they have been asked to do an undoable job. Mr. Grueter said his biggest frustration is that he doesn’t see a cure right now and doesn’t know what he would do without the grants.
Steve asked Mr. Grueter if the grant process put him at odds with the District. Mr. Grueter stated that because of the grants, the District doesn’t have to service three schools that are currently being serviced with the grants.
Mr. Grueter said as far as the Librarian is concerned, he believes that a certified Librarian is important but believed the teacher position was what they needed at this time. He also stated that obtaining an assistant principal through the grant process was a “band-aid approach” and stated that we shouldn’t have to depend on a grant. Mr. Grueter said that he doesn’t believe the residents see the crisis in the school. John D. added that a major portion of the school budget is not related to education but healthcare costs and special needs.
Mr. Grueter stated that at the time of funding changes, the problems began and that we had to give up a lot. He said that when we regionalized, foreign language was brought back, there was art, music, health and computers were introduced. Gordon added that more state reimbursement was received when we regionalized.
John D. discussed the possibility of allowing K-8 in each town to stay in the district but run their own individual budgets. There would be three separate school committees, one central team and one central administration. This would create a lot of flexibility but the agreement would have to be changed. He thought this might be an option. There was a discussion on regional school committee, sharing costs, and handling three budgets. John T. stated that by joining another district, municipal services could be combined and the costs would be less. Gemma said that the agreement could include what things you would want to pay for. Gordon suggested inviting Bridgewater and a Department of Education official to speak at the meeting to discuss further.
Mr. Grueter thanked the committee for inviting him to speak and for all they are doing for the children of Raynham.
The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, December 13, 2004 at 5:30 p.m. The Committee will invite Jeff Granatino, Bridgewater-Raynham High School Principal to speak.
Gordon discussed several of the items remaining to be completed before the end of January. John D. said that the presentation at the town meeting could be done the very last day of March, but the committee needs time to get an article on the warrant for the May Town Meeting. Gordon asked the committee to look at the calendar for next month so the meeting dates can be set. The committee agreed to meet on December 20, 2004 to work on the surveys. Karen volunteered to tabulate the surveys and Sue will analyze the results.
Sue motioned, Gemma seconded unanimous by the committee to adjourn meeting. Meeting adjourned at 8:00 p.m.