October 20, 2013

Planning Meeting

1.    Call to Order.

The meeting was called to order by Ray Estes at 8:12 a.m. at the School Department Conference Room.

Members Present:    Ray Estes, Carol Falvey, Dennis Friedman, Paul Gannon (arrived at 8:50 a.m.), Liza O’Reilly, Ed Schreier, and Andy Shafter

Central Office Present:    Dorothy Galo, Ellen Keane, and John Ferris

Visitors Present:    None

2.    Review of Day’s Agenda.

3.    Budget Process and Calendar.  Facilitated by Carol Falvey
The Budget Calendar was revised – November Walk Around likely to happen with tentative date of November 23; TBD are the schools to visit (PRS, South, Foster, HMS, and HHS Fields were mentioned) and level of possible Town Hall interest/attendance.  Preliminary budget information will be provided to the School Committee by January 3, 2014.  The meeting with the AdCom Education Subcommittee is scheduled for January 25, 2014.

Guidelines & Assumptions – Members will review FY’14 lists and forward suggestions to Dot, who will prepare FY ’15 drafts for the November 4th School Committee meeting.  A list of 12 budget challenges was reviewed by Dot.  There was also discussion of the support and staffing required to address the challenges.  Since the consensus was to continue to take a needs-based approach, it was suggested that we re-visit, in the context of FY’15 guidelines, any items/initiatives identified that were not funded in FY’14.

4.    Special Projects and Establishing Priorities.  Facilitated by Ray Estes
In order for the SchoolCom to have up-to-date information, Ellen & Dot will update the most recent (2007) full-day kindergarten proposal by the Summer of 2014 for possible implementation as soon as the 2015-2016 school year.  There was discussion about whether there should be any fees charged, and it was suggested that data be gathered regarding how many Hingham parents currently have their kids enrolled in full-day kindergarten (including Kids In Action or other supplementary/wraparound programs), and what the fee structure is (if any) in our benchmark communities offering full-day kindergarten.

The emerging technology plan was presented and the following approach represents the current thinking regarding the direction we will pursue:
•    Elementary Schools
Begin to rollout a POW (iPads On Wheels) approach by funding 1 POW for each of the 4 elementary schools in the FY’15 budget (4 x $12,500 = $50,000).  Ultimately, we see the need for 1 POW for each grade level at each school — total investment of $250,000 for 20 POW’s.
•    Hingham Middle School
Implement a one-to-one program (at this time both iPads and Chromebooks are being considered) for all 3 grades in 2015-16 that will be funded in part, or in full, from the HMS construction budget.  This means that during 2014-15 we need to answer all the questions surrounding the rollout through the use of pilot programs or other investigation.  We considered establishing pilot programs in grades 6, 7, and 8 during 2014-15.  We foresee only in-school usage to start the year, and then experimenting with take-home usage of tablets as the year progresses.  The planning for these programs needs to begin next spring, and we might consider stipends for teachers involved in recognition of the extra work required during the spring and summer of 2014.

•    Hingham High School
There appears to be agreement that a high school program would have to involve devices that are used at home as well as in-school.  While initially seen as an attractive option, the Bring-Your-Own-Device approach poses significant administrative problems and requires more study.  We agreed to establish objectives to be achieved during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 school years on the way to complete implementation of a take-home, one-to-one program.

There was discussion of the need to enhance technology infrastructure throughout the district as well as software to facilitate data management that could come from X2 or elsewhere.  We also recognize that all of these technology improvements will require more staffing for support and larger capital budgets to maintain.  It was suggested that we should begin to address increasing replacement and maintenance needs in our FY’15 capital outlay request.

Members expressed a desire to enhance the guidance resources at the high school and a concern about what can be done to stem continuing losses in food service.  It was also suggested that we could expand the offerings of the evening Continuing Education program.

5.    School Committee Organization and Functioning.  Facilitated by Dennis Friedman
Concerns included meeting length and time for meaningful discussions.  Preference of School Committee was prior written reports and briefer, more condensed presentations of things like program reviews, improvement plans, and special reports with an emphasis on what is new or noteworthy.  Also discussed were the subcommittee process, the process for adding an agenda item, and the placement of the “Superintendent’s Report” nearer the top of the agenda.

With reports provided electronically in advance (likely through the Dropbox), presumably questions could be posed to the presenters in advance so that answers could be integrated into their presentations.  It was also suggested that all reports and PowerPoint presentations received by the SchoolCom be posted on our website for the community to access.

Putting items on to the agenda by making a request to the chair would enable getting an indication of whether the SchoolCom considers a given topic worthy of pursuit.  This should be done before time consuming requests are made of the staff on topics that may not have support from a majority of the Committee.

In regard to subcommittees, we reached consensus that the legwork should be done at that level and a recommendation with the necessary backup be provided to the full SchoolCom.  If there are controversial issues or involved investigations, it would be worthwhile to make a preliminary report in order to get feedback from the full SchoolCom before a recommendation is made.  It was felt that there was no need for new standing subcommittees (in particular Finance was discussed), but it might be useful to periodically appoint liaisons on subjects that arise.  Liza was asked to do some investigation with other attendees at the MASC meeting next month.

As a procedural change, it was suggested that raising hands to be recognized would facilitate televising meetings.

6.    Wrap Up and Adjournment.
Ray and Dot reviewed next steps.

The meeting was adjourned at 12:40 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted by:
Dennis Friedman, Secretary