Runkle School Council

Meeting Minutes (Draft)

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Town Hall, Room 103

 

Members Present: V. Beauchaine, A. Depew, A. Hummel, J. Shapiro, V. Godhwani, T. Gallo-Toth, D. Dixon, M. Voros, M. Bienen, E. Perez

Members Not Present:  C. Pelton, R. McElroy, J. Katz

 

Meeting called to order at 4:01 PM by V. Beauchaine.

 

Since this was a special meeting, the meeting minutes from the June School Council meeting will be approved at the next regularly scheduled council meeting in the fall.    Dr. Beauchaine welcomed Dr. Lupini to the Council meeting and reviewed the agenda.

 

Building Project Status and Transition Plan

  1. Presentation by B. Lupini and V. Beauchaine of facts and background that were not presented in the letter sent to parents dated July 18th.
    1. B. Lupini explained that prior to the last Building Committee Meeting, all communication by the contractors, both verbally and in written form, stated that the Runkle School building on Druce Street would be ready for the beginning of the 2012/13 school year.  At the most recent Runkle Building Committee Meeting on Monday, July 9th, representatives from the building commission communicated that the contractor would not meet the substantial completion date and that the new building would not be ready for the start of the school year.

 

  1. There was no public discussion regarding a delayed opening on Druce Street, due to the fact that there is substantial documentation that a “delay” plan could not be met. That a “9/17/12” start date at Druce was too much of a moving target.

 

  1. All parties involved will have ongoing conversations to discuss “damages” and “resolutions” and “accountability” relating to the delays and shift in the competition date. Jennifer Gilbert, Town Counsel, will be managing these issues/conversations.

 

Superintendent Lupini discussed contingency plans. His primary goal was and still is to get into the new building as soon as possible. Delaying until December break was not a first choice.  The first goal was to attempt a plan to begin the starting of the school year at a later date (beyond 9/6/12). When that did not appear to be viable, the next plan (outlined in the tentative transition letter dated 7/18/12) proposes school to begin at the OLS on 9/6/12 with an official Druce Street 1st day of school 10/11/12. This plan uses 3 additional school days. Ideally and potentially that could be brought down to 2 additional school days. This plan is “about 75% there”, said Dr. Lupini.

 

B. Lupini: There are several factors and guidelines that needed to be considered in the plans:

a)   180 days of school is a state requirement via the School Commisisoner.

b)   The school year must conclude on June 30th as per the collective bargaining agreement (there could be room for discussion on this point).

 

B. Lupini also set certain goals for the transition:

a)   To mitigate the number of school days that would need to be made up at the end of the year and to utilize a holiday weekend.

b)   To allow ample time for potential slippage in the project timeline (substantial completion of 9/10/12).

c)   To move into the new Druce school as quickly as possible without being overly aggressive.

d)   To allow ample time for furniture delivery, move of classroom materials, and procuring necessary permits:

(1)   The plan is 75% certain, but there may be opportunity to reduce the number of make-up days by 1.

 

(2)   The alternative to a Columbus Day move is a move over Veteran’s Day, but he did not see this being needed.

  1. B. Lupini and V. Beauchaine answered previously submitted questions from parents that had been collected by the Runkle PTO.  Additional questions from council members present at the meeting are also noted.
    1. Why did it take a week from the first communication that the building would not open in time to the transition plan being sent out?

a)   In that time, many issues needed to be resolved and worked out before a proposed transition plan could be outlined. First was the need to develop a transportation plan.  The bus contract was expired at the end of the school year, so those negotiations needed to take place.  Second, the current classroom configuration at OLS did not provide adequate number of classrooms for all of the necessary sections for the 2012/13 school year. This issue has also been resolved.

  1. When can teachers get access to the building to set up their classrooms?

a)   Still investigating and getting answers to the many questions that accompany this issue.  It will be communicated appropriately as soon as they are determined.

  1. What is the plan to support teachers during the move?

a)   Planning to change the schedule and teacher obligations at the start of the school year to allow more time for organization of the classrooms (i.e. online training vs. in-person training)

b)   At the end of the 2011-2012 school year, teachers were instructed to pack & label boxes necessary for the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year.  This would hopefully make unpacking easier in general, but also help if the current scenario had to take place.

c)   Storage of classroom boxes that will not be needed for the first month of school will be accommodated/stored.

d)   Administration will develop packing and unpacking guidelines to mitigate extra work and to help streamline the process.

  1. J. Shapiro – For younger classrooms, how will the move impact them specifically? Is the fact that they will be changing classrooms be an issue?

a)   M.Bienen- With Responsive Classroom, a successful start of the school year is most dependent on relationships with and among the children.  So, as long as those relationships are built, it is really not building related.

  1. How does going back to OLS for a month affect the budget?  Where are the related expenses, such as buses, coming from?

a) B.Lupini- There are definitely costs associated with this including transportation and staff to pay for the extra packing and unpacking.

  1. A.Hummel – Can we re-test all aspects of a 9/17/12 start date at Druce, an expedited plan?

a)   B.Lupini-  We can go back and re-test all of the assumptions to see if they can beat Columbus Day.  But at this point, a delayed start, if it slips at all, will greatly jeopardize the end of year.

  1. A. Hummel – Clarified, based on information from Town Counsel’s office, that insurance issues around moving the new furniture in early is no longer an issue,  (i.e., would not interfere with an earlier move in plan).

a)   B.Lupini- He had not spoken with Town Counsel about this yet.

  1. J. Shapiro – As a clarifying question to A. Hummel’s prior question, given today’s meeting, in the presence of all these different parties, how hard could we push for a delayed start at Druce.

a)   B.Lupini- We cannot push for a delayed start without jeopardizing the June 30th end of year date.

  1. Have recent events affected the plans for new furniture and technology in terms of budget or timing?

a)   Absolutely no impact on budget or timing.

  1. How are new parents to the school being communicated with? Is there a separate transition meeting for them?

a)   After the July 18th transition plan e-mail went out to the Runkle parents, Beatrice Moyer caught that new parents were not included in the ConnectEd database.  A separate email was sent 2 hours later.  These emails have been included in the database and they will receive future communication via e-mail and by letter.

  1. Is the school working to find any solutions for childcare for the three days of canceled school or is it a parent responsibility?

a)   Yes, it is being worked on and will be communicated when a plan is created.

  1. What is the contingency plan if we have more than two snow days, as this will hit the limit of the number of makeup days allowed?

a)   The current plan does have some buffer built in.  The contingency is to eliminate vacation days.  There is also the ability to renegotiate the collective bargaining agreement for the June 30th end of school date.

  1. A. Hummel – Some of the class sizes at the OLS were reduced based on the smaller physical size of the room.  Are the class sizes being built assuming the room sizes of Runkle on Druce Street?

a)   B.Lupini. – Yes, the class lists will be based on the classroom sizes on Druce Street.  Summer enrollment is still not yet closed.  After that, the class lists can be finalized.

  1. What is the plan for keeping up staff morale?

a)   The administration is doing all that they can at the moment.  Staff ideas are encouraged.  The outpouring of parent support to the teachers has been greatly appreciated.  V.Beauchaine is open to all suggestions in this matter.

  1. V. Godhwani – Oct 9 & 10 are listed as unpacking days for staff, but the grand opening and open house is planned on Oct 10 starting at 2:00p.m.  This will undoubtedly cause interruptions for teachers and impede their ability to get the classrooms ready.  It may also cause extra pressure for teachers to get their classrooms in perfect condition for the showing.

a)   The logistics and details for the Open House are still to be determined by the Transition Team in September.  October 10th will not be the official Grand Opening as outlined in the transition letter.  That “celebration, ribbon cutting” day will happen later in the fall.  Those details will be communicated by V.Beauchaine.

 

  1. Public Comment

 

  1. Dolbear – Overall parent feedback is a much greater need for transparency.  Parents want to understand how various plans and decisions are made.  A desire for more information in a more timely matter.  Even if it’s not the final answer, parents want to know the good, bad or uncertain.  They just want to feel that they are being properly informed of the happenings pertaining to the school.  The parents have been so patient through everything in the past 2 years. There are some parents that have been attending many of the meetings pertaining to the building, but for the general Runkle population, they are not as informed.  They need to be kept in the loop.
  2. Polumbaum – His initial reaction to the letter was that there were a lot of possibilities of slippage in the schedule, but Drs Lupini & Beauchaine answered all of the questions that Columbus Day is indeed feasible.  What he has seen and heard is that the communication to teachers and staff has been less than ideal.  Feedback from the general population is that as much as they hate the OLS, they will deal with it to get the Runkle building done right.  Right and late is better.  Transparency is essential moving forward as well as following through with the stated plans.
  3. T. Gallo-Toth – Morale is greatly affected by sharing of information.  The sooner the better and can even allow being part of the decision.  A request of extra technology help at the start of the year and move-in to the new building was made.
  4. J. Shapiro- Communication from this point forward is critical. Both the good and the bad news. We are all in this together, on the same team. There should be no more surprises. We expect updates and decisions are made. Not waiting until the September 11th date.

 

There was a moment taken to allow other community members to sign in for public comment.  During that time, V.Beauchaine moved onto the next agenda item.

 

III. Summary and Next Steps

  1. Many questions have been submitted.  Those not answered today will be addressed and communicated when the answers are developed.

 

Public Comment Continued:

  1. M. Lowenstein – Request that there is consideration for parents that need to find child-care help during the extra days off in Oct.  Wanting to note that financial commitments may need to be made by families and early notice is critical.  Agreed that transparency is key.
  2. S. Murphy – Who outside of the immediate Runkle Community are impacted by the delayed opening at Druce and the start of school at OLS?
    1. V.Beauchaine – the neighbors at OLS and Druce have not been contacted, but will be.
    2. B.Lupini – nobody else is affected.  There were no other plans to occupy OLS.

The polling place has been used as an opportunity for 8th grade fundraising.  Would this be affected? September location? November location?

  1. The polling place location will be discussed at the Selectman Meeting 7/24/12 (per Ken Goldstein who was present at the meeting).
  2. C. Ellis – Clear communication should be made to parents about what to expect in the new building in regards to the “move-in” condition/environment as a newly constructed site.  It is often dusty, rough, etc.
  3. V Godhwani – Along the same line, communication should be sent to parents to manage their expectations about the month at OLS.  Teachers should be expected to unpack just what is necessary for teaching during those 19 days, not anything above and beyond that, (i.e. decorations). The focus for the time at OLS will be on learning, not setup & decor.
  4. E. Perez- The delay is a great learning opportunity for children –managing and coping with uncertainty.

 

V.Godhwani- motion to adjourn.  All in favor.

Meeting adjourned at 5:30PM

 

Minutes respectfully submitted by V. Godhwani, J. Shapiro

 

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