John D. Runkle School – School Council Meeting Minutes

January 24, 1213


Location: Runkle School Library

Meeting began at 4:40; the meeting was recorded.


Members Present: Co-chairs V. Beauchaine, A DePew, E. Perez, R. McElroy, D. Dixon, J. Shapiro, J Katz, A Hummel, C Pelton, T. Gallo-Toth

Members Absent: M. Bienen, M. Voros, V Godhawani,


Approve Meeting Minutes:

Approved Dec. 6 meeting minutes after confirming and clarifying questions and changes proposed at the Jan. 3rd meeting. Moved by E. Perez, seconded by A. DePew, approved by all in attendance with the exception of J. Katz and C. Pelton abstaining.


Approval of Jan. 3rd. minutes moved by E. Perez and seconded by A. DePew, approved by all in attendance with the exception of D. Dixon, and J. Shapiro abstaining.


Student activities account

Reviewed deposit account and checking account print outs.

• There was a request for a standard form for major events moving forward (what came in , went out, cost, scholarship), to more easily review and compare the costs of class trips.

• Deposit account question about lump sum for 6,7,8th grade field trip money. There was general agreement that in the future, parsing the information and adding more granularity would facilitate comparison on a year- to -year basis and promote transparency.

• Policy regarding funds collected but unused. Suggestion for creating or clarifying a policy for handling excess funds. As a general rule, funds collected or raised by/for a class are carried forward to the next year, or reimbursed to families. Families will not be asked to forfeit funds paid in excess no matter how small the amount (eg., in the event that costs are lower than expected, or fundraising is greater than expected.)

• Scholarship tracking; discussion about keeping better records regarding how much scholarship is generally requested year to year by grade (divorced from identifying information) to help project scholarship needs for fund raising purposes. Last minute requests for scholarship have a heavy and negative impact on funding; improving the ability to anticipate realistic scholarship expense would benefit all.

• Notice to rising 8th grade parents for fundraising planning purposes. Notice to 7th grade parents in anticipation of the 8th grade trip, as well as other events 8th grade parents fund, such as the teacher thank you luncheon, would be helpful to put families on notice to plan appropriately.

• Scholarship funding sources include a generous PTO line-item, Coffee Pond and Target money, 8th gr. musical profits and yearbook profits – if there are any, bake sales specifically for a given trip, as well as parent donations, and fundraising.


Public comment

S. Murphy asked to speak. Raised the following topics, requesting that they be discussed at a later date:

• The School’s Attendance Policy.

• Open Meeting Law complaint procedure (co-chairs noted that it was discussed at a prior meeting.)

• Consideration of hidden costs of the 8th grade trip; look at what other schools do. Requested a subcommittee to review it.


• Why the discussion of Runkle Student performance at BHS was not on the evening’s agenda. (Ans. The school is still working to collect sufficient information in order to have a meaningful discussion. This will be on a future agenda.)

• Asked if the Transportation Board meeting agenda item regarding teacher parking had been discussed in the community. (Ans. Principal replied the agenda item was more specific than she anticipated or requested, and that she planned to attend the meeting to clarify.


MCAS Follow-up questions: Boost Program and District Comparison

Following up on questions from the council’s review of the MCAS results, the principal provided additional data (bulleted below) regarding the MCAS Boost Study Island program; Study Island is e-learning software meant to improve student scores on standardized tests. In this case, the program consisted of ten, hour- long sessions for English, followed by ten sessions for math. Fourth and fifth grade students who participated in 2012, met twice a week for approximately eight to ten weeks.


A review of the results indicates that the program was not as effective for our 4th and 5th graders, compared to the small group, instructor lead format used in the past. As a result, MCAS Boost will revert to small group instruction twice a week for a total of eight 45-minutes sessions.


As in years past, students who scored in the Warning or Low Needs Improvement categories may participate in the after school program, if it is approved by the School Committee.


• 2011 Grade 3 ELA: 9/17 improved in Grade 4, with 3 earning Proficient status (2 Proficient & 1 Advanced-took advantage of Boost; 2 missed Proficient by 1 question; 15 took Boost total)


• 2011 Grade 3 Math: 6/14 improved in Grade 4, with 1 earning Proficient status (1 Advanced,  2 Proficient.  All three took advantage of Boost; 13 took Boost total)


• 2011 Grade 4 ELA: 10/13 improved in Grade 5, with 6 earning Proficient status (All 6 Proficient took Boost; 9 took Boost total)


• 2011 Grade 4 Math: 6/12 improved in Grade 5, with 4 earning Proficient status (1Advanced, 4 Proficient, 2 missed Proficient by 1 questio  and all who earned proficient status took advantage of Boost; 10 took Boost total)


MCAS – District Comparison

At a prior meeting, members asked to see a more granular breakdown of MCAS results, comparing Runkle student performance (CPI) to other students in Brookline, in order to better compare like with like. Members agreed that while the makeup of students among Brookline schools varies, the community shares the same leadership and resources, and should generally be on equal footing. The concern arose because Proficient status at Runkle was low, compared to other schools in the district. The principal reviewed related CPI data, and noted that by removing sub-groups from the calculations, such as special needs, low income, or ELL students, Runkle compares more evenly with other Brookline K-8 public school.


Superintended Share update

• Last meeting was Jan 9. Reviewed a general budget FY14 preview, and discussion of the approximately 2 mil deficit for FY13.

• The Superintendent will present a balanced budget by the end of February as required by law (Feb. 14 preview to the Board of Selectmen.)

• School committee is currently reviewing how to manage the coming years spaces needs, given the growing student population.

• The Pierce School includes a Superintendent – Parent Leadership meeting summary in their news letter each month. To view the summary, see the Pierce School News letter which should be posted on or linked to the Pierce School website.


Topics for future agendas

Attendance policy review

Recess policy (in light of new findings on the benefits of recess.)

School Council Transparency


Having covered the entire agenda, T Gallo-Toth moved to adjourn, R. McElroy seconded. The meeting ended at 6:05pm.


Respectfully submitted,

A. Hummel

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