A 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; Mr. Minichiello, Vice-Chair; Ms. Asack, Mr. D'Agostino, Mr. Gormley, Ms. Plant, Mrs. Sullivan, Mr. Sullivan, Superintendent Smith
Also Present: Executive Team; Director of Special Education Laurie Mason, SEPAC Vice President Teresa McIntosh
Mayor Carpenter called the meeting to order at 7:06 p.m., followed by a salute to the flag.
Ms. Julie Fairfield, BHS teacher, shared concerns about the budget and creating a freshman center.
Mayor Carpenter explained the purpose of the Consent Agenda and asked members for requests to remove items for further discussion, there were none.
Mr. Minichiello moved the Superintendent's recommendation to approve the consent agenda in its entirety, the motion was seconded by Ms. Sullivan.
Voted: to adopt the recommendation, unanimous.
The Superintendent invited Mr. Michael Henry, president of the George School PTA to share some good news from the Massachusetts PTA organization.
First, Mr. Henry was pleased to announce that the George School participated in the National PTA Reflections arts program for the first time, one student won his/her age bracket in visual arts at the state level and will go on to compete nationally. He was also pleased to announce that four Brockton school community members were selected for the following 2018 Massachusetts PTA Awards which will be presented at the annual convention on Saturday, April 7th.
Principal Natalie Pohl was present and thanked Mr. Henry for his service on the George PTA.
Superintendent Smith introduced Keri Wolfe, Manager of Partner Relations for Cradles to Crayons, who was invited to be recognized on behalf of Cradles to Crayons for the donation of over 4000 filled backpacks and books for Brockton students over the past two years. The Superintendent thanked Ms. Wolfe and also thanked Ms. Asack for coordinating the receiving and distribution of the backpacks. Ms. Asack said it was a pleasure to work with Keri and she looked forward to a continued partnership with Cradles to Crayons.
A certificate of appreciation was presented by Mayor Carpenter and Superintendent Smith.
Mayor Carpenter requested that the ECA Solar presentation be taken out of order and asked Mr. Minichiello to give an introduction.
Mr. Minichiello said he met with Mr. Todd Fryatt, President, and Mr. Vincent Moschella, Development, from ECA Solar about a proposal to put solar panels in the Brockton High School parking lot and invited them to give the presentation to school committee tonight.
Mr. Fryatt and Mr. Moschella gave a power point presentation explaining their proposal for a solar parking canopy at Brockton High School. They are proposing an RFP where ECA would lease out the parking lot for 20 years to install the solar panel canopy, in exchange for a new parking lot plus cash payments or energy savings, at no cost to the city or district. In addition to re-paving the entire parking lot, excluding sidewalks and curbs, Brockton will have the option to use the energy and save over $100,000 per year for 20 years tax exempt, or receive $500,000 pre-paid for the 20-year lease plus tax revenue of $43,056 per year for 20 years. From an educational standpoint, ECA will set up educational kiosks with information on what the array is doing environmentally.
Summary of questions and responses and following discussion:
Mayor Carpenter said he has looked at the proposal and this is something that needs serious consideration, in light of the budget this could bring revenue, will pay for a major capital improvement and is a good fit in terms of Brockton being a green community. He said he has committed that if we proceed with this, the revenue generated would be passed from the city directly to the school department.
Mr. Minichiello said he does not see a downside in moving this forward for further discussion and due diligence on the city side, a motion to move the proposal to the city side for more consultation with respect to what is required with this type of project would not be a vote to approve the project, but to pursue due diligence from the city side. Mayor Carpenter clarified this would be for the potential of issuing an RFP. Ms. Asack said she also is in favor of seeking more information and said the proposal is a creative way to bring solar panels to the high school. Ms. Plant said she also likes the idea, but before issuing an RFP an estimate for the sidewalks and is needed; Mr. Moschella said they would provide that.
Mr. Minichiello made a motion to move this to the city side for further consultation and discussion on the parameters and requirements of a project such as a solar parking canopy at Brockton High School, with that discussion/consultation reported back to the school committee for further review. The motion was seconded by Mr. D’Agostino.
Voted: to approve the motion, unanimous.
Student Shama Erase gave a report on happenings at Brockton High School and sent out congratulations to students who are receiving college acceptances. She was happy to report that the Boxer Buddies have sold over 225 autism awareness t-shirts.
Ms. Teresa McIntosh, vice president of SEPAC, gave an update report and shared parent concerns, they are currently looking at student transitions from elementary to middle, and middle to high school. She spoke highly of the new Barrett Russell preK center and said it has been a positive experience for students and parents.
Ms. Mason gave a power point presentation to update school committee on special education; the presentation included enrollment, budget impacts, and updates on program review findings and action plans over the last year. Ms. Mason explained that the program review cited in the report was initiated by the district and conducted by an outside hire; the review and findings are then reported to the state. Ms. Mason was pleased to report that utilizing the Huntington Therapeutic Day School, the district has saved almost $200,000 in out-of-district and extended evaluation placements and plans to continue expanding the program.
The Superintendent said we are in the initial stages of the FY19 budget, if we are to have a level services budget we are looking at a $6.7 million deficit with the estimated state and city figures we are working with. Today, $3 million in savings and cost reductions were identified and recommended, she cautioned that it is her job to advise the school committee going forward, there are going to be some difficult choices. She said she will continue to work to submit a budget that meets the needs of giving our children an excellent education and meets compliance and reasonable class sizes.
Brockton is again at the forefront of advocacy; she and Mr. Petronio will present tomorrow evening at the Worcester school committee meeting. She said we continue to be contacted by interested districts and several attorneys have expressed interest in possibly joining a coalition. Ms. Smith said right now she is focusing on advocacy, getting budget figures, and moving the work of the district forward.
Mayor Carpenter commented that even without figures we know it is going to be another budget crisis this year. He said a meeting with Brockton’s legislators is planned here on Friday to give them a full briefing and strategies for them to advocate at Beacon Hill; he is advocating at the mayoral level. He said the reality is that the city will meet its obligation for foundation budget and do whatever it can to go over that, but it will still be only a fraction of what is really needed as we do not have the resources on the local level to replace millions of dollars of underfunding by the state.
Superintendent Smith said she would like to postpone this to a future school committee meeting, there were no objections.
Superintendent Smith referred student handbooks, a social media policy, and military and foster family policies to a policy subcommittee meeting that will need to be held no later than mid-May; finance/budget meetings need to be scheduled and she will send out some recommended dates.
The Bid Review subcommittee convened earlier this evening to discuss a bid that was tabled at the March 20, 2018 meeting. A report from Chair Timothy Sullivan follows:
Mr. Sullivan reported that the Bid Review subcommittee met at 5:55 p.m., absent was Michael Bandis, all other members were present. At the meeting, the committee recommended awarding the School Mail Delivery Contract bid to the low bid, ICE, Inc.
Moved, by Mr. Sullivan, to accept the report of the April 3, 2018 Bid Review subcommittee as presented; seconded by Mr. D’Agostino. The vote was unanimous.
Moved, by Mr. Sullivan, to award the FY2019 School Mail Delivery bid as presented, seconded by Ms. Asack.
Voted: to approve the motion, 6 – 0 – 1 (Mr. D’Agostino abstained)
Mayor Carpenter said he was asked to share insight on the city’s snow plowing and sidewalk clearing process, specifically with respect to schools. The following is a summary:
Ms. Plant explained the two concerns she had during this past storm season, one being that sidewalks up to the schools were cleared but on the actual school property they were not, the second concern was that at some signal lights children were unable to reach the walk button because of snow piled up around the poles. She inquired whether there is a policy where we are physically checking each school to ensure they are ready to open.
Mayor Carpenter responded that the emergency management meetings include representation from the school department and other city departments, decisions about school opening are made together but the final call with respect to opening schools is made by the Superintendent. Mayor Carpenter said he will look into the signal light issue.
The Superintendent congratulated the BHS choral groups for an excellent concert last week, she announced the BHS spring concert is tomorrow evening, April 4, and will debut an original piece by award-winning composer Randy Klein titled “Brockton”. Finally, she gave a shout-out to Ms. Margaret Gorman, who watches every school committee meeting and is a long-time supporter of our schools.
Seeing no further business, the meeting adjdourned at 9:05p.m.
Kathleen A. Smith, JD