Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Live reporting: School Committee - Feb 10, 2015

Present: O'Malley, Rohrbach, Clement, Mullen, Trahan, 
Absent: Douglas, Jewell

1. Routine Business
Citizen’s Comments

Review of Agenda
conflict with calendar and FEA contract so it is being removed from the agenda

Minutes: I recommend approval of the minutes from the January 13, 2015 School Committee Meeting.
motion to approve, seconded, pass 5-0

Payment of Bills Mr. Clement
motion to approve, seconded, pass 5-0

Payroll Mrs. Douglas

FHS Student Representatives
input from 860 students, choice of blue or white robes decided by majority
students making best of the parking situation
willing to work with administration and school to keep on going

murmuring about April vacation in jeopardy yet

School calendar being looked at, no decision yet
so much and in short a period of time, it may be discussed soon

Correspondence: Budget to Actual – Miriam Goodman

2. Guests/Presentations
a. Senator Karen Spilka, Senator Richard Ross and Representative Jeffrey Roy

Sen Spilka, thanks for inviting us here
has been a little quiet with all the snow
House in session Weds, Senate in session on Thursday

budget gap being discussed, action this week to let the agencies deal with the cuts and get on with the planning and implementation

Gov Patrick did 198M in Section 9C cuts
had asked for other items to be acted upon; waited for the new Governor to come in before acting

Gov Baker updated to add 1488M in Sec 9C cuts

have protected local and and Chapter 70; don't want to cut local aid now with so little time left in the year

Mass Health benefits being looked to cut, Sen Spilka says they are not going to do that
they want to get the actions approved this week and get on with the next fiscal year budget

The ore you get into the estimates, it is really a best guess estimate
forecasting a growth of 4.8%
income tax could go down again, possible trigger for next year as well

money from operations to fund the stabilization fund is needed
it is down significantly from where it peaked but it helped the State weather the recession

Senator Ross - congratulations to Sen Spilka on Chairing the Ways And Means committee
4.8% is not much to work with, not much new revenue coming down the pike
storms stressing the 'free cash' that could be used

Franklin has done a tremendous job, compared to where he has traveled, it is a pleasure to be moving through Franklin.

Feel free to call us if you have any concerns

Rep Roy - congratulations to Sen Spilka on Chairing the Ways and Means Committee
it is good to be here, it is little odd sitting on this side

the good news I would like to share, MA continues to be #1 in the US for education
MA is not complacent with being #1
Associated Industries of MA (AIM)
number one issue is education, need it to keep pace with what is going on in the world

legislation coming up for Common Core and PARCC
discussion coming, it is important for us to know
53% of MA has chosen to go with PARCC
the DESE will not be making their decision until Nov/Dec
participate in the dialog, share your experiences

appointed a foundation budget review commission
Sen Spilka sits at the commission
can submit written testimony, committee slated to submit report in June

unfunded mandates will be addressed by the Legislation
button = "I don't teach anymore I am too busy complying with mandates"

legislation coming on regulations around student data privacy

manufacturing round table at Tri-County
attempting to reintroduce manufacturing there

coordinate the budget with Spilka and Ross

reference to snow globe gift

ready willing and able to answer any questions you may have

O'Malley - I am proud to have you represent us
I do have a problem with the legislature
mandates - let's go to one for example
the circuit breaker was going to help the budget
yet everyone has been looking at it to cut
it is so important for us to know where funding is coming from

Ross - one thing that tends to get ignored is the special education cost
parents will travel to those towns to get those services
those towns get crippled by the real costs

Spilka - I was the Senator to file the item to fully fund the circuit breaker
I actually re-filed a bill to increase the amount that the state reimburses
we will do the very best we can; even fully funded,it doesn't go as far as it should

I am hoping we can increase it, the recognition that school districts are supporting more of this cost, the Federal government can't get off the hook either; need to ask them to fulfill their obligations

Roy - there is universal support for the circuit breaker; but then there is a budget deficit and how do you find the money among the competing wishes, needs and demands?

We will need to fund the transportation infrastructure, you have seen how it failed us

O'Malley - our group has done well but the State has not done as well
There should have been a clearly chartered educational plan, why are the school committees asked to vote at a late date on PARCC vs. MCAS; 53% have chosen one way and that is not good. Where are we? Can we not come together and head in one directions?

Roy - I think you will see that a lot of folks sitting down to talk about going to common core in 2010, the plan has been a number of years in the making, times have changed, technology has changed, we are looking at improvement. it was the decision of the Education commissioner to let the school committee decide for themselves. The decision will be made in Nov/Dec

Ross - MA was the model upon which others have been basing their plan. It frustrating to see the plan dumbing down what we have done

Roy - in 1994, when standards and frameworks were being introduced, it was called common core. MA got away from the name but it has come back around. We are not competing with kids down the street for jobs we are competing with kids from other countries

O'Malley - when we marched out the gate with PARCC as our banner, we had 48 states and we have 11 now, this is not progress. We can't go forward with the numbers like this.

Spilka - we don't have the final say in that decision, we can share our experiences, we don't know what their thoughts are; we have some control via the budget and these are issues we fight for every day. If there are specific problems that Franklin is having, let us know so we can try to help.

Rohrbach - thank you, we appreciate it. we do appreciate the amount of state aid that we do receive. 2 questions on unfunded mandates.  Those mandates take away from the financial resources that allow us to deliver to our students. On the foundation budget, you are trying to protect that; do you know how it will change?

Ross - it is pleasing to see that the commission has been set up to do the work we need this year. 

Spilka - I don't think the results will be in for the FY 16 budget, there may be pieces that we can build upon. Just because it is not finished doesn;t mean we can't do anything with it, we'll see. I ran for this seat to change the education formula and make it more fair. It is simpler but adequacy is still something to be worked on. We realize we need to invest in our education. This is our natural resource. We do have competing interests, we have higher ed, mental health, seniors, veterans, etc.  If you could give us a list of the issues you have with unfunded mandates

Roy - we had a discussion recently about the bill to sterilize mouth pieces of musical instruments. Any cost is borne by the parent currently, and that was the cost avoided. I am confident that the three of us are going to be leading the charge to manage unfunded mandates

Clement - we have hedged our bets with PARCC and computer based testing, I shouldn't have to use gambling terms to talk about this item. All of the speakers were talking about special education. Some of the costs of IEPs are fully education budget yet some of them are really health issues. The implication is that the real item is the person happens to be of school age.

Roy - that is recognized.

Ross - some of the diagnosis is perhaps a transfer or educational issue; for example language based issues, example of two children identified, one was off the program by 6th grade, one caught earlier was off by 3rd grade. That is what special education needs to do. 351 communities is not the way to design a delivery system of equitable delivery. Not everyone will be happy. 

Clement - tweeking it is fine in theory, a child is in 4th grade once, if they don't pick it up then, we have lost the opportunity. You have said 4.8% growth is not easy to work with, you shoudl try working with 2.5%.

Winslow - thanks for working with us, strong advocates for Best Buddies, 

Spilka- it would make Franklin the first district in the state that would have a program across the educational spans. We are also working with Dean and that would be wonderful to see.

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