|TSC Permanent Minutes July 26, 2011
TOPSFIELD SCHOOL COMMITTEE (TSC)
PROCTOR SCHOOL LIBRARY
JULY 26, 2011
Members Present: Jeanine Cunniff, Rosemarie Lucey and Joe
Members Absent: Susan Archer and Gordon Spater
Others Present: Dr. Bernard Creeden (Tri-Town Union (TTU)
Superintendent), Michelle Costa (Principal, Steward School),
Sarah O’Leary (Principal, Proctor School), Dick Gandt
(Board of Selectmen) Kym Sherwood (Resident), Katherine
Carlson and Ellen Gaskell (Recording Secretary)
1. Call to Order: Chairperson Jeannine Cunniff called the
meeting to order at 7:34 p.m.
2. Remarks from the Public: Kim Sherwood had questions
regarding the new teacher contract. She read in a newspaper
article that there was actually a $110K increase in teacher
salaries in Topsfield this year, but in the budget, there
was an $187K increase. She asked the TSC to account for the
difference. She also noted that the state’s Chapter 70
funds were finalized and wanted to know how does that
affected the school budget. Dr. Creeden replied that the
1st year of the teacher agreement was for FY 11; that is the
$110K increase. There is a $157K increase in the budget for
FY12. The difference between the $187K and the $157K is a
$30K difference for FY12. Regarding Chapter 70 funds, the
school budget anticipated a larger shortfall than what
actually happened. J. Cunniff said that the $30K
difference in teacher salaries allows for contingencies
throughout the year (e.g. substitutes for teacher maternity
leaves) and any extra dollars will go back to town at
year-end. J. Cunniff said that the schools’ closeout
dollar figure for FY11 will be available to public soon. J.
Cunniff said that this year, not much money will be returned
to the town because the school budget has been cut so much.
Dr. Creeden said that per an agreement the TSC has with the
FinCom, extra school funds will be returned to the town and
if the schools need funds, the FinCom will make the schools
whole. Cost increases in certain line items, such as SPED
and heating expenses impact the budget. This year, the
schools will return .6% to the town, or about $40K at this
present time; this number could change. J. Cunniff said that
most of what’s not expended by the schools goes into Free
Cash. K. Sherwood then asked a teacher contract question.
J. Cunniff said that in FY12, the agreement is steps and
levels and a 1% COLA. Dr. Creeden said that in FY11, there
was no COLA. Dr. Creeden said that teacher salary increases
are due to 3 factors: 1. COLA increases, 2. any new
educational degrees that teachers achieve during the school
year (levels) and 3. a raise related to number of years at
the job up to the 15th year (steps). The average teacher
salary is $60K; highest-paid teachers make $70-75K. Dr.
Creeden said that teachers eligible for steps and 1% COLA
will have a salary increase of 3-5%.
1. Reports from Other Committees:
a. Dr. Creeden provided a Renewable Energy Committee update.
Their Green Community application was reviewed favorably;
the town can write a grant for up to $130K; grants are due
8/12/11. Their first project will be updating the Proctor
School heating controls. The goal of this committee is a 20%
energy reduction by the town over a 5 year period. $15K in
energy savings will be retuned to the town from the schools
b. R. Lucey asked about the status of the Math Curriculum
Committee. S. O’ Leary replied that a math trainer for
Math Expressions will come in 8/9. The other curriculum that
is being piloted is Math Expressions.
2. Reports of the Building Principals:
a. Michelle Costa, Steward School
i. September enrollment is an issue right now. M. Costa is
doing a number of student tours. There are 84 1st graders
now; 21 per class. There are 61 Kindergarteners; 2nd graders
number 87 and 3rd graders total 85. 2nd grade will have a
5th classroom. S. O’Leary said that Proctor will have 85
4th graders, 80 5th graders and 99 6th graders. M. Costa is
developing an action plan with Curriculum Coordinator
Christine Elliot in order to deploy support when needed.
b. Sarah O’Leary, Proctor School: see above.
3. Report of the Superintendent: included in the packet.
a. Personnel Update: see Superintendent’s Report.
b. Green Community Update and Grant Invitation: covered
earlier in the meeting.
4. Report of the Director of Finance: Dr. Creeden presented.
The report was handed out at the meeting.
a. FY 2011 Closeout Update: a surplus of $38K will be
returned to the town. One of the drivers of the surplus was
that SPED costs reduced. The surplus amounts to a 0.6-0.7%
reduction in the school budget.
b. M. Costa noted that in other good news, preschool
enrollment is booming.
c. FY 2012 State Budget Update: Dr. Creeden said that the
State Budget and Cherry Sheets have been approved. The
Omnibus Budget has information regarding health care design.
Cities and towns can only join the GIC until early fall. The
teacher contract stipulates no health insurance changes can
be instated until next January. The GIC may not be
Topsfield’s best option.
d. The 5% decrease in Local Aid was within the amount
forecasted in the Topsfield Elementary Schools’ budget.
1. School Improvement Plan 2011-2012 Approvals: plans
included in packet.
i. There is only 1 small change in the Proctor plan
ii. M. Costa said that Common Core Curriculum Standards will
be an issue schools have to deal with soon and schools must
deal with formulating a bullying policy now.
iii. S. O’Leary said that the school improvement plan is a
iv. R. Lucey issued a thank you from the TSC to all who
served on the committees that created the school improvement
v. A member of the audience, Ms. Carlson of the School
Improvement Council was asked to speak. She said that
teachers need adequate training in the new English and Math
programs. She said that a question the schools should
consider is, “Do we just want our children just to get
good grades or so we want them to learn more?”
R. Lucey moved to approve the Steward and Proctor School
Improvement Plans for 2011-12, seconded by J. Quigley.
Motion passed unanimously.
2. School Committee Planning:
i. School Handbook 2011-2012: M. Costa and S. O’Leary made
changes. Here are the highlights:
1. S. O’Leary asked Dr. Creeden about adding a gift giving
policy to handbook. Dr. Creeden said that there will be
more updates to handbook regarding gift giving. He then
spoke of the current law regarding gift giving. There is no
limit on gifts to remain in the classroom. Gifts for a
teacher’s personal use are restricted to $50 per family
per year. A change to the law is that a group gift for a
teacher’s personal use has a maximum of $150 per year and
it must be stated that the gift comes from the entire
classroom. One exception to this law is a retirement gift.
The market value of a gift is used, not the face value. Room
parents will be briefed on the law.
2. There was a discussion about school starting time.
3. There was a discussion about tardy students; questions
arose about how to notify parents. S. O’Leary said that at
Proctor, there was more of a tardy issue versus an
4. There was discussion about using an “anonymous” voice
on school voice mail that won’t be subject to personnel
5. There was a discussion about the new pickup procedure at
Steward. There was discussion about Halloween dismissal.
6. M. Costa said that the handbook would state that only
soft play balls will be allowed on the playground.
7. M. Costa said that changes to the handbook would be
highlighted on the school website.
8. S. O’Leary said that there would be handbook changes
regarding allowing certain personal technology devices in
the schools. E-readers will be allowed. J. Cunniff said that
items with 3G Internet access shouldn’t be allowed
unlimited use in school. Dr. Creeden said that this area
will be in need of updates and will be constantly revised as
conditions change. The TSC and Dr. Creeden said that there
should be a cell phone policy.
9. The MCAS policy was discussed; the MA English Proficiency
Assessment (MEPA) was also discussed.
10. The Homework Policy was discussed.
11. The Anti-Bullying Program was discussed
12. All mention of the Multi-Age Classroom should be deleted
from Steward Handbook, since it has been disbanded.
ii. Technology Infrastructure Analysis: the Competitive Edge
handout was included in the packet.
1. J. Cunniff noted that fundraising for school technology
is happening now.
iii. Creative Learning Integrated Curriculum (CLIC): Handout
included in the packet. CLIC is former TEF President Jen
LaRussa’s new vehicle; it is funded by TEF and the Mott
Foundation. There are 2 pieces of CLIC – after-school and
in-school. CLIC did a project with the 5th graders about
portraits that show inherited traits last spring.
iv. M. Costa wants to get Science Specialist Patsy Eldridge
over from Proctor to Steward and is writing a grant now so
that this can happen.
v. Extra Curricular Foreign Language Initiative: Global
Child brochure included in the packet. The program was
recommended by a parent. Dr. Creeden spoke of the previous
program brought to the schools, Berlitz. Global Child will
probably cost about $600-800/yr. per student in the program.
Dr. Creeden asked the TSC if there was any interest in this
program. R. Lucey said maybe Steward Station could be the
place where this is offered. M. Costa and S. O’Leary will
survey the interest of parents in this program. Dr. Creeden
said if the program is brought to the schools, it won’t
start until after next September.
3. School Committee Policy Development:
i. Free and Reduced Price Guidelines 2011-2012: See
R. Lucey moved to approve the Free and Reduced Price
Guidelines for 2011, seconded by J. Quigley. Motion passed
ii. B. Creeden referred to a Comcast memo that said that
students eligible for free & reduced price lunches may be
eligible for reduced price Internet service in their home.
Less than 3% of Topsfield Elementary students qualify for
this program. Dr. Creeden will find out more about this
program; there may be an upcoming vote regarding this.
iii. Student Attendance Policy Review: See above discussion.
Related materials were included in the packet. The policy
will be updated; TSC is encouraged to comment on policy.
iv. Dr. Creeden spoke of an article included in the packet
regarding flavored milk. Flavored milk is on the way out of
school lunches, unless dairies reduce sugar content.
4. Correspondence: Attorney Naomi Stonberg sent a letter
stating that she has changed law firms.
5. Other: None
1. Regular Meeting Minutes of Previous Meetings: Copies of
which were included in the packet.
1. In the Call to Order section, correct the spelling of
A motion was made by R. Lucey to approve the aforementioned
amended minutes, seconded by J. Quigley. Motion passed
2-0-1, with J. Quigley abstaining due to absence.
ii. 6/17/11: These minutes needed further changes not
available at meeting time and will be approved at a later
meeting. Note: the meeting actually occurred on 6/16/11.
iii. 6/16/11 Executive Session: Since there was no need for
an executive session to be held tonight, these minutes were
approved in the regular meeting. These minutes will be held
because they are related to the Regular Meeting Minutes of
the same night and as previously stated, those minutes are
not ready for TSC review.
1. First Page, Paragraph 5, Second Sentence, change BSC to
A motion was made by R. Lucey to approve and hold the
6/16/11 TSC Executive Session amended minutes, seconded by
J. Quigley. Motion passed 3-0-0.
2. Bill Warrants and Payrolls (as read by J. Cunniff;
handout distributed at the meeting):
iv. Bill Warrants and Payrolls – Sign and Vote to
1. BW#12-01 7/21/11 $17,401.88
2. BW#12-02 7/21/11 $5,660.00
3. BW#12-03 7/21/11 $400.00
4. BW#12-04 7/21/11 $701.00
5. BW#12-05 7/21/11 $9,412.18
6. BW#12-06 7/28/11 ($16.20) – Credit from Dawson’s
Hardware (payment discount)
v. Bill Warrants and Payrolls – Vote to Accept Only:
1. BW#11-70 6/22/11 $2,062.50
2. BW#11-71 7/05/11 $6,027.85
3. BW#11-72 7/05/11 $39,031.53
4. BW#11-73 7/05/11 $10,640.40
5. BW#11-74 7/05/11 $5,609.03
6. BW#11-75 7/05/11 $167.88
7. Payroll #26 & 21 6/30/11 $79,725.35
8. RETRO TEACHERS PAY 6/30/11 $79,861.15
9. YEAR END 7/14/11 $29,255.17
10. #1 FY12 7/14/11 $19,700.93
11. #2 FY12 7/28/11 $36,553.68
12. Grand Total $339,194.13
Motion made by R. Lucey to pay the Bill Warrants and
Payrolls as read by J. Cunniff, seconded by J. Quigley.
Motion passed unanimously.
3. Declaration of Surplus Equipment: List included in
R. Lucey moved to declare as surplus the aforementioned
list and that the items will be disposed of consistent with
MA General Law Chapter 30B, seconded by J. Quigley. Motion
4. August Meeting Date: will be either the week of 8/22 or
8/29/11, the exact date will be determined later.
At 9:00 p.m., R. Lucey moved to adjourn, seconded by J.
Quigley. Motion passed unanimously.
Per the new Open Meeting Law, here is a list of the
documents that were either distributed to the TSC before the
meeting in a packet, or at the meeting:
2. Attendance Log
3. Preliminary TSC Minutes – 6/7/11 & 6/17/11
4. Superintendent’s Report
5. Bill Warrant and Payroll Sheet
6. School Improvement Plan – Steward - 2011-12
7. School Improvement Plan – Proctor - 2011-12
8. Global Child World Language Instruction for Children
9. Teacher Contract article
10. Dept. of Agriculture bulletin – Free and Reduced-Price
11. Student Absence and Excuses Policy
12. Student Absence and Excuses form letter
13. FY11 Financial Close-Out Update
14. Creative Learning Integrated Curriculum Integrated
15. Surplus Equipment List – Steward
16. Comcast letter
17. Evaluation of Educators – Proposed Regulations
18. Chocolate milk article
19. IT Audit results – Competitive Edge
20. Topsfield Schools Handbook