Brockton, Massachusetts
Regular Meeting of Brockton School Committee
October 17, 2017 -- MINUTES

The Regular Meeting of the Brockton School Committee was held this evening in the George M. Romm Little Theatre at Brockton High School, at seven o'clock. These minutes contain a summary of the meeting and list items that were under discussion.

Present: Mayor Carpenter, Chair; Ms. Asack, Mr. D’Agostino, Mr. Gormley,
Ms. Plant, Mrs. Sullivan, Mr. Sullivan, Superintendent Smith

Absent: Mr. Minichiello

Also Present: Executive Team Members, Director of Bilingual Services Kellie Jones,
Director of Technology Services Dan Vigeant

Mayor Carpenter called the meeting to order at 7:05 p.m. followed by a salute to the flag. He asked those in attendance to remain standing for a moment of silence to remember two members of the Brockton Public Schools family who recently passed: Harold McDonald, former Ashfield School Principal, and Ester Monteiro, a long-time paraprofessional. Mr. Gormley extended his condolences to the family of Ester Monteiro, her children Gerson and Cynthia and sister Julia who all work for the schools.

Consent Agenda Mayor Carpenter explained the purpose of the Consent Agenda and asked members if there were any requests to remove items for further discussion, there were none.

Mr. D’Agostino moved the Superintendent’s recommendation to approve the Consent Agenda in its entirety; the motion was seconded by Ms. Plant.

Voted: to adopt the recommendation, unanimous.

Communication The Superintendent shared two communications: first, a letter from Mr. James Pinzino to Athletic Director Kevin Karo praising the conduct of members of BHS cross country teams during a recent encounter he had with them. In his letter, Mr. Pinzino said they represented Brockton in a “very positive manner”. Second, she shared a thank you from Joshua Ostenberg, the 2nd grade student recognized at the prior school committee meeting.

Superintendent's Superintendent Smith began her report by thanking the many volunteers who put together
Report the October 13th Staff Appreciation Night, and acknowledged donors Chartwells Food Services, BC Tent & Awning, and the generous donors of raffle items. She was pleased to see the stands filled for the BHS football game which was also an alumni homecoming event and plans to have the event again next year.

Update on Students Coming from Puerto Rico: To date, Brockton has received two students from Puerto Rico and two students from the U.S. Virgin Islands as a result of the hurricanes. She said it is still early on, we are a district carefully watching class size so this will be critical. Other districts in the state have also begun receiving students.

Update on Enrollment: BPS current enrollment is at 17,057 with many large class sizes; discussions continue with respect to support for the schools. To assist with that, the Superintendent announced she has scheduled site visits at the schools during which executive team members will look at and discuss with principals issues such as instruction, space, parent engagement, to best assess areas of need.

District Capacity Project/Code of Conduct
Mr. Ray Shurtleff, Ms. Kim Gibson and Deputy Superintendent Thomas brought school committee up to date on the Code of Conduct project. Ms. Gibson reported that the task force is now planning parent engagement events.

Mr. Shurtleff explained that the task force is focused on a number of issues: they are looking at specific areas in the student handbook including the dress code, cell phone use and bullying and the next step is to hear from parents on these topics. He reported a teacher survey was done and there is discussion about a future student survey at Brockton High School, the task at hand is parent outreach that will be followed by a parent forum to get feedback.

Deputy Superintendent Thomas said parent input is important in order to develop a code of conduct that is appropriate at each level. He said, for example, there are benefits and pitfalls around cell phone use in schools, the task force is looking to have open dialogue with parents on these issues.

Superintendent Smith reported that communication with parents is key and this year the parent portal at the middle school level will be opened, we have also begun texting notifications to parents and have received positive feedback.

Ms. Plant asked whether a parent survey would be done and if so, would it be translated into other languages and formats, Mr. Shurtleff responded that the plan is to begin with parent outreach to get to know parents to make them comfortable with talking with people in education before expanding into a survey form, he said parent surveys can be more of a challenge because of languages.

Next Generation MCAS
The Superintendent reported that the MCAS testing results will be released tomorrow, she stressed that this is a totally different reporting format and asked Dr. Cancell to talk further about the changes in reporting.

Dr. Cancell prepared a power point presentation that illustrated the new way in which we will we will look at student test results. This year grades 3 – 8 took the “Next Generation MCAS” (with the exception of science), Brockton High students will continue with the “legacy” MCAS test until 2019 and the reporting format for them remains the same.

For the first time, the new MCAS test will assess readiness for the next grade level. When the high school test is implemented in 2019, it will assess college and career readiness. Dr. Cancell stressed that this is a much tougher test. The new standards for Meeting Expectations are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the Proficient level on legacy MCAS, he said it is important to know that achievement levels cannot be compared to prior years, however, student growth can be compared to prior years.

The spring of 2017 is a baseline year for the new test in grades 3 – 8, which means there is no accountability status this year in these grades. Seeing that this year’s 10th grade took the legacy MCAS test, accountability is the same for them. The next-generation tests will be introduced at the high school level in spring 2019, but the minimum passing level is not expected to change until later years. Dr. Cancell offered to answer questions.

Mr. Gormley wanted to be sure it is clear that MCAS is not used to determine promotion, it gives us an idea of where the school is, Dr. Cancell agreed. He asked whether 2018 will also be a baseline year, Dr. Cancell responded that has not been determined.
With respect to information for parents, Superintendent Smith said the Brockton Public Schools website will have a “bubble” for parent information, she said the Department of Education has already put up information on its website and Acting Commissioner of Education Jeff Wulfson has prepared a letter for parents. The Superintendent reminded everyone that this is a totally different, more rigorous new mode of testing.

Technology Update
Director of Technology Dan Vigeant brought an update to school committee on the status of Brockton’s 1:1 initiative: one device for every student in the district. He said the push for online assessments and the growing use of digital curriculum is driving the need for 1:1 devices and the initiative is important to propelling Brockton into 21st century learning.

Mr. Vigeant said Brockton added 8,000 student devices and 1,470 teacher devices (all teachers have been provided a device) in FY17 through a 5-year lease; in FY18 the goal is to add 1,000 more student devices and then bring in the remaining needed 7,500 devices in FY19.

With respect to staffing, the department has a total of 15 staff including the administrative assistant, and is responsible for supporting not only these devices (currently at a 1:1000 ratio), but all areas that fall under I.T./technology. Mr. Vigeant said this is a significant number of devices and is beyond reasonable expectations.

A brief discussion followed where Mr. Vigeant was asked the difference between leasing and purchasing, he explained the cost of the devices is the same, but leasing is beneficial as it allows the district to spread the payments out over time. Mr. D’Agostino said part of the conversation going forward with the 1:1 initiative needs to be support, he would like to see a number for staffing needs. The Superintendent said the state is moving forward and this is a critical need, she has had this conversation with the Mayor, school committee and city council and said “we cannot compromise our children’s future.”

Bilingual Education Classrooms
Director of Bilingual Education Kellie Jones spoke to the committee about the issue of large class sizes in the bilingual program. Of particular concern to Ms. Jones is that we are beginning the school year with very large class sizes, in the high 20’s and 30’s. She said existing class sizes must be monitored and extra attention will be paid to students who may be coming in from Puerto Rico. Ms. Jones asked the committee to consider addressing what she felt are the most immediate concerns:
• An additional teacher at the Angelo School to eliminate a grade 4/5 split that currently has 33 students; this will also provide some relief for the high grade 5 numbers at the Raymond School (34).
• An additional paraprofessional at the Brookfield School where numbers are high in several grades
• An additional paraprofessional at the Davis where there is a kindergarten class of 31, a grade 4/5 split and a grade 2 class of 28
• An additional paraprofessional at the George School where there is a kindergarten class of 30 and several other grades in the high 20’s
• An additional paraprofessional at the Raymond where class sizes are at maximum at almost all grade levels
• Possibly transferring students from the Baker grade K and 2 to the Kennedy where class sizes are smaller

In summary, the Superintendent said she will be looking at one additional teacher at the Angelo School and at least three paraprofessionals to support SEI classes, as well as looking at locations and whether some relief for class sizes can be provided at other schools. She will discuss this further at an upcoming finance meeting.

Items to Refer to The Superintendent referred several items to a Safety/Security/Transportation meeting:
to subcommittee distracted driving student program, bullying, the transportation contract, a presentation by School Resource Officer Nicole Anderson with respect to social media use. She also recommended a finance subcommittee meeting for an FY18 budget update and an overview of the FY19 budget projection. With respect the Superintendent’s Evaluation, she reminded the committee that a rating needs to be submitted to the State as soon as possible.

New Business The Superintendent announced that Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson called out Brockton at the Abington Education Forum last week with respect to the 25th year of Ed Reform in Massachusetts. She said DESE will be celebrating the achievements during their “Leading the Nation” campaign and she felt this is the perfect opportunity to have Brockton be a part of this initiative.

There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:35 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Kathleen A. Smith, JD
Superintendent/ Secretary