Runkle School Council Meeting Minutes – DRAFT

Runkle School Library

May 8, 2012


Members Present: Vanessa Beauchaine, Marian Voros, Rosemary McElroy, Chad Pelton, Teresa Gallo-Toth, Danielle Halwick, George Sopel, Susanna Stern, Jennifer Shapiro, Amy Hummel (arrived 4:20), Deanne Dixon


Members Absent:  Val Godhwani, Judy Katz


Meeting called to order at 4:09 p.m.


Approval of Minutes from the 4/10/12 meeting.


There was a wide-ranging discussion by members of the Council regarding wording to section III that pertained to the UDP (Understanding Disabilities Program).  It was decided to change the wording to reflect the fact that each school has its own district-wide special education program located at each elementary school and the UDP in each school will reflect that particular special needs population.


Council members also raised the issue that in the Minutes several comments were attributed to particular School Council members and that had not previously been the practice. After a brief discussion, the Council agreed that while anecdotal comments do not need to be included in the minutes and attributed to individuals, comments germane to discussions and actions taken by the Council (such as motions) should be attributed to members.


The Council decided that a summary statement was needed at the end of the UDP section in the minutes from 4-10-12, and that this “wrap up statement” will reflect the discussion and the Council’s desire to broaden the efforts of the UDP.


A motion was made to approve the minutes with the corrections.  The motion was unanimously approved with no further discussion.


New Business


Dr. Beauchaine passed out a new Arrival and Dismissal Procedures and Routines plan that will go into effect at the beginning of the next school year.  As she passed out the Procedures, she noted that the statement reflected priorities that she wished to underscore:  that these procedures have been designed to preserve the integrity of the school day so that all classes can begin promptly at 8:00 a.m. and end at 2:20.  She acknowledged that during the past two years, busing to and from our present address have impacted the ability to teach until 2:20 in order to accommodate the two rounds of buses.


The New Procedures Statement will ensure that students have a safe entry and exit routine at the beginning and end of the school day, teachers have ample uninterrupted preparation time at the beginning of the day, as well as allowing teachers and parents to have time to meet and coordinate at the end of the day.


Dr. Beauchaine encouraged Council members to make use of architectural renderings to help to understand the nature of the changes that the new procedures represent to the Runkle community.


Dr. Beauchaine mentioned several changes to our present routines:  Kindergarten and Pre-K will have their own entrance where students can be dropped off and picked up; there will also be meeting places for each first and second grade class along the lower “lobby” by the Clinton Road entrance.  Grades 3-8 will use the staircase adjacent to the Cafeteria. Hallways to the classrooms will be open at 7:52 and a 7:55 warning bell will ring to signal that all students should be on their way to class.   There will be no verbal afternoon announcements at 2:17 – there may be emergency announcements if necessary, but a bell will ring at 2:20 to signal the end of instruction for the day.


Students who arrive early will be allowed to enter the Cafeteria and can socialize there until 7:52 when they can go to the classrooms.  Dr. Beauchaine underscored that we are hoping to foster camaraderie by allowing students to stay in the cafeteria prior to the early morning bell.  There will be supervision in the upper and lower lobbies and the cafeteria prior to the start of school as well as in the hallways once they open at 7:52.


Several School Council members expressed disappointment and concern that the new policy and procedures for entering and leaving the building represented a significant departure from the way things have been both at 194 Boylston St. (Old Lincoln) as well as at our old address at 50 Druce Street.  Some members felt that suggestions and ideas they had expressed had been left on the “cutting room floor”, that after many opportunities and several meetings where parents and faculty had expressed ideas as well as made suggestions, those ideas had not been incorporated, and that a consensus had not been reached, and that many parents will be unhappy or upset because this policy will represent a dramatic change from our previous procedures.


Several Council members expressed concerns that previous morning drop-off procedure had allowed for present Grades 5 through 8 students and parents to become more cohesive because they have gotten to know each other in the area where they drop off/pick up their child.  Members expressed concern that “things will feel different” and that present lower grade parents will not have the opportunity to have this same experience of a community which built cohesion and neighborliness, which has been an aspect of the Runkle Community highly valued by the parent community, and that it was not constructive to whittle away at something that parents valued.


Dr. Beauchaine responded that there had been an original plan to work as a group and refine the procedure over time, and that the plan had had to shift, prompted by impromptu discussions and that instead of a small group working out the bugs, the process changed to incorporate discussions with the Transition Team, with Faculty in a number of meetings and with the PTO.  Her primary concern was that we make our goals happen for kids.  She realizes that not all groups will be happy, but feels it is important that she and Mr. Stoddard had assembled this plan, a fairly detailed plan with its procedures though she recognized that things will change over time for one reason or another.  Exigencies happen and small tweaks will be needed.  It is best to see this plan as a work in progress. Dr. Beauchaine acknowledged that there would continue to be areas where we refined the procedures as various situations came to light – she feels we will need to be flexible, and respond to different types of needs.  For example the upper grade teachers (6 through 8) often offer assistance and help in the morning prior to school.  In the younger grades, teachers require time to plan for the school day and  (if students are in the hallways outside their door/inside classroom) teachers need to keep their eyes on younger students who require closer monitoring, and it is the teachers’ responsibility to watch over students.


Faculty members of the School Council expressed the opinion that faculty members can understand the parents’ viewpoint and are aware that parents will feel (or feel) that they have lost something in not being immediately able to drop their child off at the child’s classroom.  Faculty need parents to know that faculty did consider what a huge change this new procedure is undertaking.  Lower elementary grade teachers acknowledge that direct contact with teachers at the morning drop off is going to be missing – drop off and pick up spaces will not be places where parents and teachers can have substantive conversations.  It will be very important for faculty members to communicate times when they are available to meet.  One faculty members noted that this was a very worthwhile conversation, that we are early in the process, we need to listen to each other and proceed to refine this policy as the school year unfolds.


Discussion continued about the Kindergarten drop-off area, where doors open to the outside.  Council members expressed concern about how to accommodate parents who were walking with strollers in this area during colder months, as well as during rainy days.   Additionally, there was a discussion about shifting the 2nd grade drop-off area to a less congested side of the entranceway. There was also a brief discussion about situating paraprofessionals in the Lower Lobby and cafeteria and a request to know what the cost was associated with the additional paraprofessional support during the two years at OLS.


The Second section of the School Council meeting focused on the draft School Improvement Plan (hereinafter referred to by the acronym SIP) for the 2012-2013 year.  Dr. Beauchaine said that the copy of the 2012-13 SIP in front of the Council members was a Draft and that when putting it together for the council’s discussion she had tried to write S.M.A.R.T. goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time bound.


The ensuing discussion for the next half hour focused on both how to group the various goals to allow for the most focus in various areas.  Council members voiced concern that certain goals were written in such a way as to make them too specific and other goals were seen as written too broadly. A good portion of the discussion centered on concerns about the need for goals, which targeted greater differentiation in grades 6-8 and whether SIP goals could be realistically be written to encompass the needs of students who need additional challenges and those that require additional support.


Dr. Beauchaine discussed the need for the Council to expand thinking about the concept of differentiation as targeting a discrete skill, to include the concept of differentiating by interest or learning style.  She noted that coming in September 2012 in the 7/8th grade cluster for the first time  “academic support time” called Targeted Instructional Activities (TIA) which will be built into student schedules once or twice per week. Continuing discussion focused on how to categorize certain kinds of goals; as the discussion ended members expressed anticipation for seeing changes to the revised SIP goals.  Dr. Beauchaine said she would send out a list of possible dates for the additional meeting.


Meeting adjourned at 6:00 p.m.


Respectfully submitted,


Deanne Dixon








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