Process of formulating school committee goals:
Options for pre-Kindergarten program
Long range fiscal planning
Reopening of Ripley School, impact on
Emerson Umbrella and the Emerson building
Effect of rising enrollment on Carlisle
Health Education and Substance Abuse program
Selectmen in attendance:
Nancy Beecher, Chairman; Terry Rothermel,William Sullivan, Fan Cabot and Steve Sheiffer, Town Manager
School Committee Members in attendance:
Louise Haldeman, Chairman; Anne Rarich, James Monk, James Sparks and Dr. Irwin Blumer, Superintendent of Schools.
Goals and objectives from the School Committee and from the Board of Selectmen were presented to the joint session. Louise Haldeman presided as chairman of the School Committee and Nancy Beecher presided as chairman of the Board of Selectmen.
Louise Haldeman introduced Dr. Irwin Blumer Superintendent of Schools, to explain the goals and objectives and how they were developed.
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "I'm not going to review the Goals and Objectives, I'd be happy to answer questions about them. They were sent out in the packet and I'm sure you've had time to read them. I thought what I might do just for your own information is talk very briefly about how they developed. We meet Friday mornings as administrators here in this room and somewhere around May we begin to review the goals for the present year and see how far we've gotten on those goals, which goals need to be continued and modified, and that begins the discussion of defining goals for the next school year. That only takes about two more meetings. Those goals are then brought back to the buildings by principals who share them with teaching staff, department chairs, at the secondary level for their input and reaction. We never have as much time to do that in the depth that we'd like to but at least it gives people an opportunity to provide some input into the process, teaching staff primarily. All that is then taken back, revisions are made and we then pass the proposed goals out to the school committee at the June joint meeting to be discussed in July. In August again for additions, deletions, modifications and School Committee normally approve them in August and they are then printed up and passed out to every staff member the first day of school when they come back before the kids return. So that's the process for the development of goals and along the way we also talk with PTG presidents both in a general sense before the goals are written and then after they are written for a more detailed discussion concerning their implications.
"They are divided into actually three sections, the first section is what I would call the instructional goals in a broader sense as they deal with all the different levels of curriculum. We deal with curriculum in basically three stages, limited pilot, pilot, and program implementation. Each one of those stages need to be approved by the School Committee before you go into the next one and that helps us to keep track of where we are in the system. The second broad area is what I would call management services which might talk about capital plans, cleanliness of buildings, changes to the subject format, etc. And the third broad section is related to the community. If you have specific questions about any one of the goals, I'd be happy to answer them for you."
Nancy Beecher — "Perhaps I could ask a couple, if you would, for clarification. First of all, we all always suffer from our jargon and our acronyms and so on, page 5, item G, GPA/RIC what is that committee?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Grade point average/ rank in class committee which has been going on at the high school for two years now. "
Nancy Beecher — "Second on that same page, I want to make sure that we highlight this issue of the continuing declining enrollment at the high school. We should flag that and perhaps come back to talk about it a little bit in regards to implications for financial planning. "Am I correct in understanding this as a proposal or plan or a preproposal to expand into something that is prior to kindergarten."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Yes, last year there was a study committee established to look at the whole issue of the present kindergarten program and alternatives to it for students who might not be successful in kindergarten as it presently exists. The issue is really one of developmental appropriateness. When the recommendation of the committee was presented to the Concord School Committee, they voted two things, one, to change the kindergarten primarily by authorizing the hiring of aides for present kindergarten classes and that's already in effect. They approved of a new pre-kindergarten screening process which was used last spring for incoming kindergarten students and they agreed a year from this last September to implement a pre-K program for students who are not developmentally ready for kindergarten.
"We looked at several options and what it boils down to is either identifying the kids who aren't developmentally ready and providing a pre-K program for them and that would give students two years to be "ready", I don't like that word, but to be "ready" for first grade and the academic demands of first grade. or the other option that we looked at and discarded was the notion of having a transition grade which some school systems have for kids who enter kindergarten, aren't successful, and go into a much smaller class setting the following year for an entire year, and then go on to first grade. Well, in order to do that you have to fail and none of us saw the value of having a child fail in order to get entry into that program. The issue is one of chronological age although not entirely, and hopefully, at least the research shows that if students are provided a pre-K opportunity so that they enter first grade ultimately ready to do the tasks that we ask them to do, there's less need for special education services. So to make a long story short, the committee did approve that last year."
Nancy Beecher — "And are we correct in assuming then that projected costs for this expansion program are in the five year plan?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Yes. We originally talked about doing both of those things for this year and when we approached that, it was clear that we were not ready to do this task, we needed more time to plan the specific program. We're also applying for a planning grant from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for the funding. Whether we will be successful in receiving that or not, I can't say."
"Irwin described how the goals are developed, you might also be interested to know that he prepares for us in the middle of winter, around January an interim review of how progress is going according to schedule, and then he gives us a complete review of the goals in June prior to he himself being evaluated by the School Committee so that's how the goals are followed up.
"You had a couple of questions and I'd just like to call your attention to page 2 the paragraph labeled 2 with five underlying sort of steps. The core of what we do for children is the instruction in the classroom and the curriculum guides this and our various curricula in the various subjects areas are continually under review. And there is a five step process where each step normally is a year but might take more in some cases and the verbiage to the right of those five underlying steps gives you a little explanation of what these steps are. And you see in that, where in this process, the various content area of the curriculum are in our ongoing review and you want to notice especially under step one that this year we're beginning again at the beginning for language arts, English, music and science. And one of the things that is happening now is the solicitation of interests by parents and citizens to join these needs assessment committees that will try to get newly fed into the curriculum that we have, what it is the community wants to happen, and what it is it expects to get out of the teaching in these areas."
Nancy Beecher — "What is your record of response on the part of members of the community in feeding into this process?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Each time we've gone through this process we've been successful in having people volunteer and become part of the process. For one specific curriculum area we did 'advertise' a couple of times but we finally did get people to respond."
Anne Rarich, — "Then there are other areas like computers
where we've had a lot of people. It's important to understand that
there is a role for the community and having determined that then the parents and so on step back and the professionals take over in
the further development of the curriculum. Curriculum isn't written by parents."
"And the implication is not that if we're beginning again at zero for language arts and English that we're contemplating throwing out everything we have and starting from scratch, it's just a reevaluation of what we have and then the mechanism of following up and putting in new things and retiring old things that seemed appropriate."
Louise Haldeman — "This is also meant that the whole energy of the staff is not concentrated on all of our areas at once. Certain curriculum things will take intensive work on the part of the staff and other areas are going on as before and it's been very economical of people's time and also has gotten intensive use out of it."
Bill Sullivan — "Do you find that there's more interest in parents getting involved at the lower levels than in high school?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Yes, traditionally in school systems in general parents seem to feel more comfortable for a variety of reasons at the earlier grades. The unique thing that happened in this community, however, is the level of parent involvement at the high school. Most school systems including the better suburban systems, once they get to the high school, parent involvement is virtually nonexistent. That's not the case of Concord-Carlisle. That's really a tribute to a very small group of people, parents, that originally six years ago decided that they were going to do something different along with Elaine DiCicco and there have been an awful lot of people up to this point who have been involved to the extent that we now have not only a PTG group for the high school but each grade level has it's own set of parents that run grade level events. It's really very nice."
Nancy Beecher — "I'm interested in looking at the management section essentially goal number 2, maintaining increasing efficiency of management services and I just want to highlight and make note of the intent and the desire of the department to coordinate with the Town of Concord as well as Carlisle in the development of the capital improvement plan. My sense is that those systems are pulled together pretty well, now and I could perhaps toss this to the Town Manager actually, the way in which things are working now, the capital planning process and the budget process particularly capital planning process of the school department is timed in such a way to feed into the town's capital planning process, is that not right? That's working out effectively?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Yes, we do an update internally each year but in terms of more long range planning we coincide with and revise with the town and there is a lot of communication between the town and schools in terms of priorities and ultimately we reach a concession."
Nancy Beecher — "As you do that annual updating or assessment of your capital situation, even though our five year capital plan isn't being put together every year, the towns, are you feeding that information to the Town Manger on a regular basis?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "The best example and the most recent example is the playing fields. We've gone through several discussions, even on off years."
Nancy Beecher — "Obviously one of our common interests now in meeting together and in having the long range fiscal plan on our agenda is to think in terms of our shared responsibility for the budget of the town for the expenditures of the town and of course, closely tied to that is the revenue needs of the town. One of my objectives of tonight's gathering is to sort of come away with a sense that we are all sharing that sense of responsibility for thinking of the revenue needs as well as the expenditures."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "At least from the school's perspective that's certainly the approach that we've used and the perspective which we've approached. Steve has been real good about keeping us informed and making sure the various parameters of our interests were understood."
Nancy Beecher — "Are there particular highlights in the goals and objectives that you want to make sure that we are attuned to and to keep in mind as we move forward. What do you consider to be your primary focus?"
Louise Haldeman — "I think that you need to remember that these systemwide goals are something that we take very seriously and they are built on the goals that were set forth in the previous years and accomplished and next year's goals will be built on these. These certainly don't begin to represent all that goes on during the year. These are particular highlights that don't account for every single program within the schools or every single project in the school, and of course they make no mention of things that may arise due to unforeseen circumstances, which we try as much as possible to eliminate, however, they are not anything that we would take lightly or discard lightly."
Jim Monk — "I also view these goals as short range. They are a one year out set of goals so they do not for example address the issue of space needs which we're going to come to because that is not the purpose of these. These are goals that are truly objectives for this year, your employees and what they're doing now. It does not encompass long range goals as much. Some of the items on here wind up taking multiple years but the objectives measure what is happening this year. So there is that dichotomy with these goals and what we might have as long term objectives in this system."
Nancy Beecher — "Obviously, we have been immensely concise and succinct to get all this on one page, that is not to imply that there is not significant substance in them but our process involves an end-of-the-fiscal year self-evaluation of goals and objectives and commentary by the Town Manager, which we discuss with him and on the basis of which he makes recommendations as regards his goals and objectives for the year ahead, and we then in discussion with him conclude what kind of a goals or objectives commitment we make for the following year. So you will see that it was at the end of June that we completed this process and it's a long laundry list in part because we have quite a number of different projects going in tandem, each of them at a different stage of development so we have committed ourselves as a board to supporting and assisting the Town Manager and ensuring the cooperative work of town committees that are responsible to us. In continuing to make progress on A through N in Item I, these are all processes going forward and we would be glad to comment on any of them if that would be helpful to you.
"And then we focused with the Town Manager on his particular perceived needs for 'beefing up' you might say or improvement or paying attention to or thinking through specific needs in the areas sighted in Item 2. And you will see that there is a lot on our plate. We have strong commitment to several things on this first list, I think that have become evident in our discussions and are reflective in the long range fiscal plan. One being Item E, the land acquisition issue which is a new one for boards of selectmen to be focusing on and hence requires a lot of deliberation on our part. And our focus on F, the housing issue is something that as you have been able to observe from our town meeting presentations is a matter of pretty strong commitment and exploration. Those you might say are the more forging ahead into new territory areas, the others in that Item 1 list are by and large continuing programs from the past."
Louise Haldeman — "I have a couple of questions that in a sense are pure curiosity, for example, the prison land use agreement, I see every so often the Middlesex News will write on this subject occasionally but I don't know what's happening."]
Nancy Beecher — "It is a matter under consideration at the present time and I think the best thing to say is at the present time we have an appointment as a board together with the Town Manager to meet with Commissioner Michael Fair of the Department of Corrections next Tuesday to explore again where the land use agreement stands. It had been put together and then we agreed to disagree."
Louise Haldeman — "How are you as a board of selectmen working
with the town long range planning committee in approaching some of
these goals. I understand they are meeting and are you waiting for
feedback from the committee before you proceed or are you
Nancy Beecher — "They will be meeting with us in harmony with our regular practice to have the committees we appoint meet with us on a annual basis by and large. They will be meeting with us actually next Tuesday evening to discuss their process to this point. That was built in as part of their charge. We have a liaison system which is perhaps helpful for you to be aware of that we have one member of the board that serves as kind of a liaison at each of the committees that we as a board appoint. In this case, I'm the liaison with that committee and able to counsel them if there is any need on their part, meet with them and we have been recently meeting with them and the Town Manager to check on the status of things. We will know as of next Tuesday evening when we meet together essentially where they are. We'll be putting our heads together a bit on joint thinking relative to the big open meeting they will be holding early November. Our hope being that they are according to their charge going to begin pulling things together to bring some specific recommendations within the next six months."
Jim Monk — "I'm curious what the goal of telecommunications is, what does it entail?"
Steve Sheiffer — "It entails a telephone system for the town offices where a citizen can actually get through on the telephone. It's really that basic. Our telephone system goes back to post World War II."
Jim Monk — "The schools have a central phone number, the town has individual numbers, are you looking to come to a central phone system."
Steve Sheiffer — "The assistant town manager is in charge of this. As a matter of philosophy, I don't believe in central switch boards in an organization our size because of the alienation factor with the citizens. We've got to work out some way to switch from office to office much more efficiently and some way to get back up numbers into the system, which with modern computers you can do, so that if you dial one office and the line is busy, it's shunted. There are multiples and once we've got you, we can transfer you. Right now if you call one office, we can't transfer you to another office, but the central switch frustration can be very high in a small town with the range of different kinds of things we have. I'm not very eager for a central switchboard."
Jim Monk — "With this system, I assume the town spends a lot of money every year on telephones, is there anything that we can do that would save costs for both organizations or is that just the nature of the phone systems that charge us a lot of money."
Steve Sheiffer — , "From that perspective, that's too detailed a question for me to deal with here. The assistant town manager is in charge of the project and I know we are looking for a consultant, but beyond that scope I really couldn't answer at that level. Cost is always a very important concern of ours."
Jim Monk — "Is there any worth to school and town looking at some kind of joint system, we've got joint computer operations why not joint telephone operations?"
Steve Sheiffer — "It's impossible for me to answer that without really doing a comprehensive study if that is feasible. I just can't answer it."
Nancy Beecher — "What we need to assume then as committees and boards that as management in the town goes forward on this there will be some contact with and consultation with school management to raise the question in that case."
Jim Monk — "I would like to know where CATV is? I have been sort of hearing that they have been changing management and there have been various things happening, there were extensive negotiations, that's my impression, with the selectmen again. Are they still financially viable? Are they proceeding? Is there hope and where are they on schedule? Are they a year behind or six months ahead?"
Steve Sheiffer — "Do you want a negative tone answer or a positive tone answer?"
Jim Monk — "I'll take a realistic tone, please."
Steve Sheiffer — "I think there is no question that Nashoba Cable TV's performance is not as good as we would like to expect in this community. I think there is no question that the installation is going slow and there are billing problems. On the other hand, Nashoba continues to be committed to implementing the system and are trying to address the issues. Most recently, I've talked to Alan Davis [president of Nashoba Cable] and he is aware of the management issues and that they need to make their management operate that TV system effectively. I personally did a wire survey about three hours around town about two or three weeks back because the only way you could really tell what is up there is if you trace the wires and you know how to read the wires on the pole. The main strand of wiring is up in, I would say, about 85% of the community and it's connected and it's operable. For a while there, there were a lot of strands on poles that weren't operable and there were missing gaps. The main system is in place and the problems that remain are in the coordination associated with getting house connections done which do not seem to go efficiently. From what I've heard from Mr. Davis, I think he recognizes that situation and he's trying to address it."
Jim Monk — "In a specific area of interest I guess to public buildings, what kind of access do public buildings have to the CATV system and is it, in essence, interconnected as yet? I understand that that was one of their obligations was to interconnect the various buildings."
Steve Sheiffer — "It is. One of their obligations was to install an institutional loop, which is a second cable, that would serve the town and school buildings and to wire the buildings and provide connections to certain specific public facilities for broadcasting. Part of the institutional loop is up on the poles. I don't think any work has been done on the public buildings but on the other hand I have stressed to Mr. Davis that as a matter of policy we would prefer to see the homeowners of Concord connected to the cable system before we see the public buildings connected. Now that was a difficult one but I think it was what we had to do. Also I didn't think once he missed the wiring of the school buildings by September you were going to be very eager to have them in wiring classrooms while school is in session. But no question, that goes as slow as anything else does but he's committed."
Jim Monk — "Just as a matter of curiosity will that institutional loop allow, for example the selectmen's meeting, to be set up so that they don't have to have all those boxes out in the hall but rather have the cameras sending stuff back to the studio where the central equipment is, is it that kind of loop?"
Steve Sheiffer — "Just let me explain and I'm going to have to draw on my experience not direct knowledge of Nashoba. There will be a reduction in equipment but there will always have to be some equipment on the site which is picture and sound mix equipment. Once the rooms are permanently wired, they ought to just be able to plug the cameras directly into a jack in the wall and the mikes into jacks in the floor, so that the equipment is quick disconnect, but they'll bring the cart up with the mixing equipment on it because its too big of an expense to have that. The key to our effective use of this is the joint proposals of the town and the school administration which is headed for the 1988 town meeting for approximately $200,000 to fund the equipment that will be needed jointly to make the system work institutionally. There are a lot of things that we will need. Also, part of the $200,000 is the computer equipment for the police and fire department and a few other things, but we called it a communications package which is a joint proposal. A lot of that is vital stuff just to make that system work."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "One of the immediate benefits if we can get the loop set up and they have been talking to the school about in terms of drops in the buildings would be to use that to run our communications vis-a-vis computers and stop paying telephone bills. There will be a direct cost implication to that loop as well as other implications. One of the major things that can happen once the boxes are in place, if you wanted to, you could not only send a signal back to the central area but we could watch the selectmens meeting here for example and vice versa."
Jim Monk — "I asked one of the questions and didn't get a response and maybe there's not one, but I said what is their financial status?"
Steve Sheiffer — "Well, Jim, the numbers and projections that Mr. Davis has given me verbally seem to indicate that they are okay. As an experienced person, I would not dare answer that question without actually having seen audited figures myself. But I have no reason to believe that they are not in satisfactory fiscal position. Let me just add on the telecommunications that the wild card, of course, is the Raytheon situation that has been referred back to the Town Manager. The Town Manager will be addressing that in a creative, innovative approach."
Nancy Beecher — "For those who are not aware of what that is, that is a request to put a fiber optics cable system through the town."
Steve Sheiffer — "Fiber optics is an advanced telephone and communications system."
Nancy Beecher — "On our goals and objectives sheet, perhaps we have to say there are some here which have far reaching implications which are not spelled out and those specifically are the ones that are highlighted, the land acquisition issue and the housing issue where we are governed by what we consider to be the feelings of the town where part of town still keeps a mix of housing and exploring issues of intervention in order to help maintain or develop a greater mix. Financial implications to those are, of course, still being explored. There are in the town of Concord three elected bodies. There are yourselves, the School Committee. You have responsibility for the management of schools and school policy and as I read it, among you your percentage of the town budget is something like 2/3 and ours, depending on how we treat the fixed costs, is about 1/3. And we have the sort of general overall responsibility, the Board of Selectmen, for the overall finances, the town revenue stream and the budget.
"The analysis of the long range plans and goals summarize what has come out of your input and ours. That over the five year period we expect an overall increase of the base expenditure level which is kind of a maintenance situation of 23.79% for the town as a whole, that the public schools increase on that base expenditure level is expected at 29.24%, town's 21.66% and the assessment from CCHS, 19.35%. And I guess this has grown out of the combined data that had been brought together."
Rudy Loeser — "And that combined data from the schools, both CCHS already includes the effect of the continuing declining enrollment at the high school and the tailing off of the declining enrollment at the public schools."
Nancy Beecher — "And you do not see over that five year period I gather that the bottom will have been reached in the high school."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "We will have reached that in about four years."
Nancy Beecher — "So that this CCHS assessment includes the dip and the beginning to rise up again."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "You don't see any increase in terms of increased staff at the high school but you do see that at the CPS, over the five years."
"I don't think, Nancy, that we're predicting yet that even the high school enrollments are going to go up again noticeably after three years from now. We are expecting though that the sizeable declines that we've been seeing will essentially cease at that time."
Nancy Beecher — "Then if we look at B we see the potential expenditure level changes which are based upon what you have put forth as your goal and objective costs over the next five years and what we have. I think the thing that stands out for us as a board of selectmen is that public schools, if they proceed with their desires, their goals and objectives will add on top if I'm interpreting this correctly, Steve, of the base expenditure level increase another 11.61% due those level changes."
Steve Sheiffer — "It's 11.6% of the gross of everything, not just public schools, 11.6% of the gross of all expenditures for that year, for everything."
Nancy Beecher — "Will be attributable to level changes that is to new programs. Is that the way we understand it?"
Rudy Loeser — "Understanding, of course, that at the CPS level the new programs in this number vary in great bulk of this building being reused as a school. That's almost not discretionary."
Steve Sheiffer — "Could I try and give a little explanation as to what's happening? We are dependent upon the property tax and we have done extremely well for a number of years because we have been able to benefit from the effects of declining enrollment and the willingness of the school committees and the school staff to take on that issue. That one factor more than anything else has been responsible for our success financially. There are a lot of other factors, don't get me wrong, but it has held it. The situation for the next five years says that if you assume current state policies which are that towns like Concord should depend upon the property tax and you look out for five years at the situation, we will have to make some difficult decisions to either reduce major current programs or to generate brand new revenue sources, some which may be unpopular, if we are faced with a need to reopen an elementary school. Now that does not mean that the elementary school's the culprit because if I was sitting to the left here, I would say the culprit was the land acquisition program because if you look at the two, and I just want to explain linkage, both cost about the same and in the land acqusition program looking at bases versus new is that just because something exists doesn't mean its good and just because something is new doesn't mean its a problem. And the land acquisition program, because it was authorized last year is a base but the Ripley School is not in the base. I want to caution everyone not to just look at new programs and not to just look at the land acquisition program. But a strategy must address all current programs and all new programs and all revenues."
Nancy Beecher — "To continue to look at the analysis, this is a document that has a lot of detail in it but it is highlighting the town manager's recommended fiscal actions. Steve has sort of led into that, item does say, 'Every option to avoid the reopening of Ripley School should be fully explored.' One of the items on our agenda is space needs and maybe you want to take this moment to comment on that."
Louise Haldeman — "Clearly, I am sure the selectmen are aware that if it were necessary to reopen this building, the administration is housed here now and it would be imperative that the administration be somewhere, and a tent in the middle of the ball-field is not one of the options, so there is a significant space need. A few years ago the schools undertook a very thorough study of space, we also called it the long range plan committee. We did indeed look at space very carefully and it's very important without going into detail to point out that if there were space for the administration in the existing other school buildings, then we wouldn't be facing the possibility of opening Ripley. In other words, we aren't going to do it if there is space and there is not space in the existing schools to house the administration except under the worst possible circumstances having one office here and another far away and so on. We have certainly seen that the administration of the schools works far more efficiently when they can be housed in the same spot. I think it's impossible to overexaggerate the difference it makes when people can simply cross the corridor to talk to each other. And when the administration was moved here several years ago, not wild at the idea of being uprooted by the town and transported again, they did find that it was much better quarters. Although it is popular to assume that schools don't need administrators and papers don't need editors and children don't need mothers, in fact the school system cannot run without an administration so there is no way that that is a trivial question.
"The school long range plan may make several assumptions on how we would house students. I think the town manager is correct in saying before the school committee were to come to this decision it would have to review those again. There are certain things that the long range planning committee had rejected as not being particularly desirable which when faced with a fiscal crisis they might wish to look at again. I suspect there are issues that the schools would not want to look at, for example I don't think increasing class size materially would be something the schools would wish to look at. You would have to remember that we would not be talking about going say from 25 students to 26 students, we might be talking about going from 25 students to 40 students and I think that would certainly be unacceptable to the community and I don't believe it would be acceptable to the school committee or the staff."
Steve Sheiffer — "What are the current ratios?"
Louise Haldeman — "At the high school and middle school the idea is one to a hundred which does not mean you have 100 students together at one time. In the elementary school we tend to run 22, 23 and maybe a little higher in the fifth grade."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "By contract, the ratio we are supposed to hit systemwide is 22 to 1. We tend to run larger classes at the upper level and as small as possible at the primary level but overall we come pretty close to 22 to 1, it is 21.9 or something."
Nancy Beecher — "What did I hear 100 to 1?"
Louise Haldeman — "A full time teacher is expected to be responsible for approximately 100 students, that teacher at the high school might meet five classes of 20 students or they might meet four classes of 25 students, it might depend a bit on the subject. In practice there will be teachers at the high school with more than a hundred students and probably a few that have less. But that is an average, it is not absolute contract obligation but it is an average we aim for."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "At the middle school, the average that we aim for is 100 to 1 in a house, house teachers or academic teachers. In reality of operating two buildings under the roof of one middle school the transfer that has to occur between the buildings in the house plan which I think is a highly unacceptable middle school program, those are inefficiencies, that's one way of looking at it. As a result, if you look at the ratios above 96 or 97 to 1."
Nancy Beecher — "You say that is teacher load. What is it in the whole either high school or junior high school, what is the student-teacher ratio."
"That's a different number. Class size is about 25 students on the average. At the middle school there tends to be not much variance, at the high school there is a very high variance. There are some rather small classes and there are some rather large classes which you would not want to be large."
Anne Rarich — "There is a lot of background information that if we wanted to dig it out and give it to you folks, we could because a lot of the state mandated facility requirements in terms of how many people can be in a room and all that kind of stuff that we could make available to you."
Louise Haldeman — "I suspect that the issue as far as Ripley is
concerned would be an issue that we would have to look at the
effect on the elementary schools because Ripley would be reopened
as an elementary school if it were reopened. And the question I
think the committee would be looking at is could they keep Ripley
from being opened if they manage to crowd the existing elementary
school facilities further. We do not have a whole lot of space in
the elementary schools. My own feeling would be that if the
committee were looking at a situation where Ripley's opening could
be postponed virtually indefinitely by for one or two years putting
up with an unhappy situation it might be worth it. If it were
postponing the inevitable, I think you would have to go ahead with
the inevitable. Unhappy situations might be morning and afternoon
Steve Sheiffer — "I think you missed the context in which I raised the question because I'm not sure if anybody else in this room was actually involved in the decision making process when the decision was made to move the school administration from Bulkeley to Emerson. Were any of you on the school boards?
"Well, the reason the Town Manager becomes so concerned and edgy at this issue is because in the decision making that said we had to move the school administration from Bulkeley to Emerson, we were presented with tremendous sets of long range planning data based on assumptions and numbers which clearly documented there was no way to close an elementary school in Concord, it would not be for a long time. Those assumptions were accepted by the boards and by myself. There was a town meeting and we appropriated money to renovate Emerson and one year later the school committees, and I know none of you were party to that I believe, voted to close the Ripley elementary school. And so that's why I raise this whole issue of being sure and regoing through and that's not to imply any criticism at all but once burned, forewarned."
Nancy Beecher — "And what we see is a reopen Ripley built into these projections effective FY1990 and thereafter carried on. I guess it's been built into the plan on the basis of planning and data that comes to us from the school department."
Anne Rarich — "Better to be able to remove it from the plan or postpone it than have to put it in later is the theory.
"It looks to me as though the rate of house occupancy is slowing a little bit but I don't know how long that will be. We have been seeing for the last few years higher enrollments in the elementary schools than expected and a slightly less rapid decline in the upper grades than we expected because of the new housing coming to town. There is also a mini baby boom going on which will probably stop after a while but there does not at the moment seem to be a return to the four and five child families that were popular thirty years ago."
Anne Rarich — "Even when this move and projection were bantying about it was that they were seeing houses with four bedrooms being built and made some assumptions about how many people were going to move into those houses which have completely gone down the tubes."
Steve Sheiffer — "From a fiscal standpoint if you need to reopen Ripley school, it would be in the town's best interests that you would have it at full capacity not at half capacity which raises all kinds of interesting decisions about housing policies, about the potential to do something in terms of a regionalized elementary school system with Carlisle, to increase Metco enrollment. At this point I'll stop because I don't want to get into school policy but I just want to say that what you're dealing with here is what is called step-wise cost factors so it is actually crucial at the point of time when Ripley is open is how much housing value or how many kids are behind that. In fact it might work out better if you have to reopen and carry the central administration if you accepted 75 tuition students. If I understand the finances of opening a school building correctly, you've got so much in variable costs which is the teachers and then you've got so much in fixed costs which is administration and maintenance and what you ought to do is either avoid the opening or maximize the number of students in the building somehow."
"You're remembering though, Steve, that right now Ripley is partially reopen. When you got out the door, you will see actual classrooms in actual use for kindergarten students."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "You've raised some real good points and it may be worthwhile to just take two minutes because this is really essential to the whole financial plan, I mean whether we do or do not have to spend the $500,000 is quite an important issue here.
"In terms of background, there were basically two different studies, one was done and one is about to be done, that relates to this issue. I'll deal with the second one first and it really came at the suggestion of Steve last year. What he suggested was that the school system do a formal space study. If this building needs to be opened and if the administration needs to be housed elsewhere, what space is available to do that, how might the town and the school look at that collectively, if that is a possibility, and what are the various cost components. So that if and when we are faced with that issue, we will at least have all the available data on a piece of paper and the cost implications for all those decisions. We are in the process of attempting to hire a consultant to do that. So that will be done and I think that will provide some data that we all hope will never have to be used but in case we have to use it we will have it. That's the future study.
"The past study is the one that Louise alluded to. We closed a school in 1981. When we closed the school using the current projections that we had based on the past five years of enrollment we said we could put all the kids into Alcott school and for one year we would have to use all the classrooms and put the kids on the stage as the cafeteria where they would eat and build a few closets to do remedial services, and after one year that crunch would ease up and each subsequent year the crunch would get less and two or three years out that issue would go away. And that was the best thinking based on the best data we had at that point. So we closed this school and moved everyone into Alcott which was a plan that came up almost at the last moment. And then found the following year and the year after that the data was changing and the declining enrollment that was supposed to continue to occur wasn't occurring and the kids were still eating lunch on the stage and we will still using little closets to deliver special needs services and the kitchen was turned into a learning center and we did all those things. Finally as the data continued to come in and we looked at it each subsequent year, Steve's right about that that's our obligation, each year this was reviewed, it was clear that the data was wrong and therefore some of our assumptions were wrong and we switched the whole context. For three years in a row we did which I presented at the school committee saying I'm doing this to tell you when we might be able to close the next building. And after I did that for three years, I said scratch that, we're not going to be able to close another building. The next question is are we going to have to open a building. The whole context of that study changed.
"Two years ago we brought together a large group of staff and parents that spent a lot of time on it, looked at a lot of options, developed some assumptions for a long range document which the school committee accepted last year, I would be happy to share it with you if you don't have it. But what it in essence said in a nutshell is the following, to alleviate some of the crunch at Alcott school which wasn't going to go away, that became clear, we needed to open this building, use five classrooms to house four kindergarten classes from Alcott school and one room to house a nurse and a library/art area for the kids. And we did that. We appealed to you to ask to lease us three more rooms and we got our five and that's why Rudy says this building is open, it's open. Those are the Alcott kindergarten kids and we're doing a transition. The other major assumption of that study was, exactly what Steve said, we would not talk about opening this building until it was clear that we could house two classrooms of kids at each grade level. That happens to be at the exact same time when you can't squeeze another classroom into Alcott. With our most creative use of space we will not be able to squeeze another classroom into Alcott. So those two things intersect. And the key questions is 'will that year ever come?'
"If and when that year comes and our best thinking based on last October 1 data was FY90 was the year. That's opening this building with twelve classrooms which is a very effective use of space, it's a two classroom per grade level school plus a learning center and gives us maybe two or three spare spaces for the entire town, and that's it on the elementary level. That would be effective use of space using the criteria that Steve just used.
But the unknown, the question you need to keep asking us is 'well, what does this October 1 figures say?' Well, we just got these October 1 figures and we are just in the process of running them through the computer to do the projections, I don't know the answer to that question yet. I do know when we look at the trends, to use the worse scenario thinking, what if, what is the worst thing that can happen. Let's assume that the building opens and we, this whole administration, needs to go somewhere and there's no money to buy anything or build anything, what are we going to do?
"Taking what Louise said we're most effective when we're together, forget that. When we squeeze us into various segments around the system just to see whether that can operate, what we see again using last October l's data it's almost impossible to do that and when you do it in two years you better be prepared to come up with another solution because the upswing drives us out of the space that we just put ourselves into. Doesn't make any sense long term to make a move for two years when you know you're going to be moved out at the end of two years. Now if it dropped and the upper level becomes more severe than we anticipated, well we have to go back and look at that again. If it becomes less severe, there's no point in even talking about it. Each year we need to look at those figures and begin to make plans for the future and the trick is to identify the year, if and when it must happen, with enough preplanning time to allow us to do it in some kind of a smooth way. If we blow it, the only alternatives open to us will be double sessions and I can't believe that people are going to be very happy about that. I won't be very happy about that. So that's the long and short of it. We have FY90, that may or may not stay depending on what the latest computer projections show. You have our word that this is looked at each year.
"I happen to agree with what Steve said initially and that is the question of all the different alternatives every year has to be looked at very carefully. I can't guarantee where that's going to bring us out at the end."
Nancy Beecher — "I might ask the Town Manager connected to what Irwin has said, is it our expectation that this document, this five year fiscal plan will be reexamined each year? That is the Town Manager's plan."
Steve Sheiffer — "One of the primary purposes of a single unified financial planning document is to provide base line data for everybody to work with on a common base. I'm not saying it's perfectly right, I'm not saying you couldn't use different assumptions but it gives everybody the same base line and now you can go from there, you can test it out."
Anne Rarich — "It's also a chance to share assumptions too so that we know whether or not we're making the same ones."
Steve Sheiffer — "There are no surprises, you can see what's happening, you can think it through and you can see where it leads us. It actually works in reverse too. Seeing those projections in the future that made us want to move the land acquisition program last year because we had capacity and the sooner we did the better because Ripley came on line we may have to discontinue it. This is part of the trade offs of timing. And we may not need to discontinue it because we may look at one of these other lines and find something else."
Jim Sparks — "I would just like to make a few comments about Carlisle because Steve has mentioned a few things and you need to know a few other things that are occuring. Number 1, despite the continuing drop in enrollment at the high school, Carlisle's proportion of students continues to increase, in fact at the time the high school population bottoms out, Carlisle will be at the highest level of percentage in terms of our assessment for the high school somewhere around 25%. About ten years ago it was running 15-16%. The major change in that and the major change in the assessment has to be from the town of Carlisle, that's one thing. You also know that there is a mini building boom going on in Carlisle. There are still a lot of homes on the market and one doesn't know if they all sell what that's going to do in terms of students or the ages of students and they do seem to be as in Concord building rather large homes not small ones. But we still don't know demographically who's going to occupy those and Carlisle has begun a building program for the elementary school, K-8, which is going to include ten new classrooms at a cost of over $8 million for the town. On two separate occasions in the past ten years a discussion of regionalization of at least the junior high school has been brought up and rejected flatly by the school committee in Carlisle. So I think, and I think elementary even more so, that that is not going to be something that anyone wants to talk about. Both in terms of the physical problems of distance if you really start busing students."
Louise Haldeman — "I said that we would have to reexamine things and the kind of thing we would have to look at is the use of the middle school buildings. It would be difficult to house any part of the middle school at the high school without making some changes because that is a regional building. Again I think it's fair to say that one of the things that we looked at as we looked at the long range plan was that we didn't want to do something that wouldn't hold up for a while.
"Redistricting is another thing we again would have to look at. At that time the long range planning committee said redistricting would be fine if we could have a plan that we could see in effect for at least four or five years. We don't like the idea of having to redistrict children two or three times during their elementary career. Again I'll say what I said earlier if it were a question of doing something that we could keep Ripley from ever needing to be opened, I think we would have to look at it. If it's a question of postponing it for a year or so, I would not hope the community would do something that they didn't feel educationally sound otherwise in order to keep the building from being opened, but that is something that the committee would have to decide.
"We also happen to feel this is a system that works very well. We would not wish to undertake putting the fifth grade in the middle school without giving some very serious considerations to how that would be done."
Jim Monk — "We designed a high school that would hold seventeen hundred students and now the number of students is below 1200 and the whole place is used. The educational regulations and requirements have changed so much since that high school was built that we cannot go back to 1700. And so you can't envision that you've got an extra 500 student spaces at that high school any more. That also says that there isn't this large surplus of 500 students spaces that we can use for the administration because the way we teach and what we teach has changed so much since then that that school is not 1/3 empty. I found that very intriguing and I just want to call that to your attention."
Louise Haldeman — "I think one thing you have to remember, and I think a former school committee member commented on it more eloquently than I, that at a time when the population was at its highest in this town all of our high school students were on open campus. It was not a privilege for upper classmen, it was designed because the building really wouldn't hold them and if they weren't in class they were expected to be somewhere else, probably Friendly's. At that point a large percentage of our middle school students had unscheduled time. I've heard figures as high as 40% which means that if a student did not have a class, then those students got involved in activity periods. But we do have a different system as Jim alluded to, I'm not sure that what we teach changed so much but we do expect our students to be somewhere. Even those with open campus are not supposed to be leaving campus. It is a different feel and I think that while I remember as a much younger parent great educational reasons being advanced for these systems which were not unique to Concord, I have learned that an awful lot of things happen in schools because of space. One thing that we have to be very honest about in the future is what we're doing for space and what we're doing for other reasons."
Rudy Loeser — "If it comes to finding new space for the school administration, Steve, you have said and pointed us in the direction of the Emerson School. How do you envisage that if it were to come to that? How would that happen?"
Steve Sheiffer — , "Irwin and I agreed that in order to really look at this issue you have to look at all the different spaces and the cost effectiveness. The plan of Emerson School is rather direct to me which is if you take the worst case scenario that you would need 30,000 square feet for the school administration and at current construction costs that would be $3 million, and as Town Manager before I would recommend an expenditure of $3 million to the Concord town meeting, I would recommend the utilization of the Emerson School building for the school administration of this community. Unfortunately, that would displace the Umbrella. However, the Umbrella went in there and the conversations and communications were clear that this was not forever. The lease for the Umbrella expires on December 31, 1988. It was intentionally kept short by the Town Manager in order to ensure that we did not get ourselves in a trap where we were faced with a $3 million decision, no space. If it comes to that, there will have to be some quick pro quos worked out with the Umbrella in terms of reimbursement of certain capital costs and some other things but that's where that comes from. I intend to insure that in any future leases that that option is kept open to everyone until the issue is resolved but at the same time until the space study is done, we don't know if we're exactly going in that direction."
"So it is your view that this is a potentially practical alternative if it comes to it."
Steve Sheiffer — "Well, I guess, presuming that funds are put forth to make the building suitable for use as a school administration building then there's no question that my current position is that it's got to be more economical than spending $3 million. As Town Manager, I will recommend the most fiscally prudent option at all times. Forget the politics; the politics are not my concern."
Bill Sullivan — "Quantify the number of people that is called the administration and how many square feet are required daily."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Thirty thousand is too large. When we talk about space for the administration we talk roughly about 16-18,000 square feet, everything that's here and that's approximately 100 people."
Louise Haldeman — "We're getting behind in our schedule, however I don't want to just cut off discussion because this is the central core of our meeting. I just want to remind people of the time. We have discussed what is our major concern I think looking forward down the next five years on a fiscal basis. Perhaps you have other things that you are having equal dilemmas about as you look at the fiscal plan or anything else."
"I'd like to comment about the long range plan. I'm impressed by this document, Steve. I'm not professionally involved in financial stuff myself. What I've learned about finances I've learned from the FinCom and the Town House and here now from the schools. I find this an easier document to read and to understand than the first one which probably involved improvements on your team's part and my having learned something but on the whole, I'm impressed by this thing. I can make a lot of sense out of it and I find it very useful. I just wanted to say that."
Steve Sheiffer — "Well, the intent is to make it readable and part of that we try to stay as close to the same format as possible but we have tried to listen to people to make it readable. It becomes more readable if you just use the same format every year for a while. That'll do it more than anything else."
Louise Haldeman — "I'd would just call the selectmen's attention to the document titled Long Range Assumptions which was also in the packet. We don't need to spend time on them but those are basic assumptions that the schools have made which essentially govern our thinking and I expect will continue to govern our thinking as we plan budgets.
"I think it is important that we certainly don't wish and I know you don't wish to make any decision on the spur of the moment which we clearly are not doing. We have to look at the best of our ability to project what is going to happen in the future and after all what is going to be the educational effect on our young people is what we are here for. I don't believe we are a community that is going to sacrifice quality in the schools and we spend a long time on that."
Nancy Beecher — "I guess I would just add that and this is going back to an earlier point which Steve helped us to make and that is we're all going to have to work together as we go to town meeting and out to the citizens and the electorate. If we feel as though we've got to raise more revenue, we have to be clear about the purposes and be able to articulate well what are the values for the town of the things we're going forward with. Part of our purpose here is to try to share our values and see if we understand one anothers goals."
Louise Haldeman — "I think it's important for the public to remember that there are certain things that nobody has any control over. It would be simple if we could just say that we will not take more than x number of students. Clearly we can't do that. Regularly as we prepare a budget we remind the Finance Committee that there are certain things that we cannot predict. We have a good idea of how many students we're going to get in the next few years but we can't predict the birth rate. We can't predict our special education costs which go up and down a lot and of course, we can't predict the weather and what that will do to our heating costs. Although recently, that has been a minor problem and I mention that because I can't believe that situation is going to stay stable."
Anne Rarich, — "We particularly wanted to share this with you because in a sense the health education has been a part of the elementary school curriculum for a long time. There is a unit in of Selectmen & School Committee fifth grade science having to do with human anatomy and the reproduction system and there is health education taught at the middle school.
"A few years ago the school system applied for a grant from the Juvenile Justice Department to look into education and programs dealing with substance abuse, which is a problem in our community as it is in most communities. A task force was formed in Concord. You have in your packet a year end report from last year's work on that task force. It is also fair to say that using our grant money we have several pilot programs in the elementary schools in this area. We have a project director who worked very well for the school and who left to take a teaching position and we have another project director there now.
"This is the kind of issue that tends to mushroom a little bit. I think it is important that you all realize that substance abuse is as common in Concord as it is anywhere else and the drug that is most commonly abused among young people is alcohol, but there are drugs. The school system is very fortunate in the kind of cooperation it gets from the police department. The juvenile officer here in town has been absolutely wonderful and I know if the high school people were here they could talk about that. I sense and I think we all sense on the school committee that there is pressure in the community to do more in this area. There are questions about what happens when funds under the grant expire, will we have something permanently in place and will health education become a permanent part of the high school curriculum? There are obviously some financial implications down the line if we do more in this.
"There is also another question because this is not a program that is limited at the schools. Most students who abuse substances don't do it at school, although there are a few that do. The school can deal with students who are caught on the school premises with alcohol but the school has no authority over what happens beyond its grounds. There are adults in town who knowingly abet these things and there are adults who unknowingly abet it. It is not uncommon for people to go away for the weekend and find that their kids have parties. We can be sympathic to people when that happens once or even twice. There may be families where that happens regularly, and I think the question we have is there any way the town can in a sense raise the consciousness or even impose sanctions upon people who are repeatedly in violation of the laws.
"We've noted the selectmen have been very very strict lately as to who gets a liquor license and the fact that you have been willing to suspend the license when people serve to minors and so on. I think that's very good. I don't know the law on this case but the more I get into this and I have served on this task force and on some of the subcommittees, the more I realize that if there isn't cooperation between the town and the schools in areas like this that not too much can happen. That's why that is on there. Maybe other committee members would like to add to that.
"Do you have any specific questions about anything we've done? As far as you selectmen are concerned, have you ever looked at if there is any way of prosecuting people who are violating the law, I don't know if you've ever looked at it?"
Nancy Beecher — "Well, my comment first of all, we as a board have not looked at that as a policy issue. We might ask the Town Manager as the person responsible for the police department to comment on that in a moment. But I would want to suggest that what we have begun to see which I think we need to thank the school committee for and we thank the police department and the Town Manager for is a productive, cooperative venture among government entities in town most specifically the school board and the police department on one hand and nongovernment entities. As I understand it, your task force, your advisory committee or whatever it is, also has representatives from a variety of nonprofit organizations that have concerns. So there is a network, a combined approach to dealing with this."
Louise Haldeman — "We are very fortunate because there are a great many agencies in this town who can be used as resources for people who are identified as having problems. I think as for Officer Alexander and Mr. Kryple, the student caught and referred for help, he has a chance. We tend to worry more about students who are never caught or for whom there is no one to say you shouldn't do those things or to the people who never say 'why are you letting this happen?' That's over simplifying the problem. We need to reiterate that it is an adult problem, too.
"There is an active SADD group at the high school which is Students Against Driving Drunk and they are very active however driving drunk is not limited to people under eighteen."
Nancy Beecher — "Steve, perhaps you would like to comment from the point of view of the police department. I would like to point out the regular reports of the police department on activities over a prior week go past the selectmen in our reading material every weekend so that we do have some sense of going on. We have not seen that there has been a specific special focus on issues of alcohol abuse shall we say, but I don't know whether it's been ever thought of or discussed."
Steve Sheiffer — "I note just for the record how quickly the subject changed from drugs and alcohol to alcohol abuse and I would like to urge everybody involved in this community to keep that drug and alcohol abuse and not let us be naive that we don't have both. We just kind of did that and I do that all the time too. We think of just alcohol but we have both issues in this community.
"In responding specifically to your question, Louise, I can remember vaguely our looking at party bylaws which were called antiparty bylaws at one point in time. I know we have looked at them and I don't know why we didn't move on them. And it may have been simply a matter of not legalities but of climate, and what I would like to do for everybody is have some time to pull back out of the files the so called antiparty bylaws that were researched at one point in time. There are issues associated with them such as civil rights issues and there are issues associated with the amount of control. There are also some issues associated with enforceability but we do have somewhere in the files which may be available. There was some research from other towns done on that."
Louise Haldeman — "There are some people associated with the CAP group who have researched a bylaw that is in force I believe somewhere in Wisconsin."
Steve Sheiffer — "We have a complete set of materials. I think the police department got the materials. I don't remember why nothing happened."
Nancy Beecher — "If I might just interrupt on that point though, it might be very helpful to us if there came a recommendation from this task force as regards some kinds of things of that sort might be considered. We would gladly respond to that. It's a little hard for us to sort of think out of the blue as to what might be the appropriate thing for us to do."
Louise Haldeman — "It's hardly fair for us to ask you for an answer now. I think part of it is to ask you to think about it and perhaps the task force would be the route to go.
"I think we are very fortunate in Officer Alexander, I think the issue has come up occasionally that, 'the school system can warn the kids and sometimes it might be nice to warn the adults too.' I have a personal concern that we not start spying on each other. If people are not creating a disturbance, then there's no point in going and looking for one. On the hand, if disturbances are created... I know it is an issue with high school parents who are desperately trying to get together on some joint guidelines for students and looking for full cooperation, a climate perhaps that is acceptable."
Bill Sullivan — "The liability world is changing so much too."
Anne Rarich — "On the other side of the coin in terms of awareness, I think what we are also seeing is attempts to prevent the beginning of abuse of drugs and alcohol, and I think the fact that our sports programs are as subscribed to the way they are is one indication of an attempt at a healthy view of life rather than other ways of looking at it as unhealthy pastimes. I think that does have implications for the town in terms of our playing fields for one thing and how that gets allocated by all the different groups that are in town using them, not to mention Hunt Gym and some of these other things."
Nancy Beecher — "So you see those various programs that are developing now as being a contribution to the minimization of such abuse."
Louise Haldeman — "I think it's impossible to point at any one cause of substance abuse. It's widespread in the country, many people have said we are essentially a drug taking culture anyway, caffeine, couple of aspirin for a headache. There are things the school needs to look at, for the fact of the matter is for example, that a very relatively small, smaller and smaller percentage of students go home to houses where there is anyone present in the afternoon. That in turn puts more pressure on the schools and the town's recreational facilities. Most students manage very well. I'm not suggesting that they all run wild, but the fact remains that we see in the school system more need for afterschool activities, not just because it's fun to play sports but because when somebody's son or daughter is playing in after school sports at the high school, they can be sure they know exactly where they are. I think Anne's point about the need for Hunt Gym and so on, I think that is something that we are looking at down the road. In order to pay our taxes in Concord, you have to have both parents working."
Nancy Beecher — "Well, I do think that we would want to respond actually as a board, correct me if I'm going too far. We would be, because we are sensitive to this and concerned about it as an issue in town, we would certainly be open to any specifics that you wanted to bring forward to us in the future. Ways in which we can cooperate including any ways in which you see the police department assisting with such programs. Of course, that is under the responsibility of the town manager but we could explore those."
Louise Haldeman — "I think everybody involved in the task force is aware that the police and the faculty are overburdened. I don't have any ideas what we might be talking about as additional burden."
Steve Sheiffer — "I think we are prepared to institute with the existing police force any program that you can come with up about substance and alcohol abuse area. We have the resources to do the work and we will do it. We certainly have sufficient staffing levels to do it."
Nancy Beecher — "We do have our representation in the person of Jim Alexander on the task force and I assume that as suggestions are evolved he could help explore the practicality of it and the issues related to the police department's operation and then bring it back or prepare the task force to bring it back to the town manager."
Steve Sheiffer — , "I'm very concerned here that I believe that the chief of police need to show a primary leadership role in all these activities, that we need to work on those kinds of issues. If we are going to do something with substance abuse in this community, then it requires leadership. Leadership by the elected officials, by the school officials, by the town officials up and down the chain and so I think we've got to do something, but we've got to come up with concrete proposals. I've always wondered about the concept of being able to have an actual office for a juvenile officer in the middle school. That's always intrigued me, I've been hoping to look at that."
Louise Haldeman — "I think it would be helpful to the task
force at some point to hear some of these ideas. We have had
excellent participation by Jim, but even if there could be somebody
else from the police department. It's not the task force's role
and certainly not the school committee's role to say you must come
but I pitch this out as a suggestion that if it were possible it
would be useful."
Terry Rothermel — "Why is that needed?"
Louise Haldeman — "I think to raise some of the issues that
Steve is addressing. I think the role of the task force is the
looking at school based programs and I'm at least aware of the need
to go beyond that, but I don't think it's the role of the task
force to say the police have to do such and such."
Terry Rothermel — "Does the present task force need that other
Louise Haldeman — "My sense is, as a member of the task force,
that there has been a hole in not having essentially somebody that
I would call from the 'Town House.'
Steve Sheiffer — "You see, that's just the difference in the
way we operate. The entire administration, general administration
of the town, consists of town manager and assistant town manger,
who is actually chief operating officer, that is it. If you would,
I would be prepared to ask the chief or the deputy chief to
personally serve as members of the task force to upgrade that, if
you think that would be helpful. But I usually feel that once that
has occured, that is adequate because we just don't have the
resources to have everybody there."
Louise Haldeman — "I suspect it would be useful in the future
to have the chief or deputy chief involved as we move to a
different area. I think at the next meeting there will be specific
proposals that have to do with schools. I think there is a
community part. This was a grant to Concord not to the schools and
it's supposed to involve the community and the schools. My feeling
is that the community has been represented by the other agencies
and that's been very useful. I sense that there is a civil part of
this that isn't being picked up. Do you share my feeling, Irwin?"
Terry Rothermel — "I think Louise is being diplomatic, she may be asking for the selectmen to be representing."
Louise Haldeman — "It certainly would be very nice if somebody from the selectmen could come."
Terry Rothermel — "I don't want it to be just nice, I want there to be a need. Our time is short as well and so I think I need to see a real need for that participation, more than show, more than just being there, a real need for that that is tied into another program which may be seen next year or so. But to be seen in another meeting for the purposes of just being there to be seen is not my idea of leading."
Jim Monk — "Terry, I think though that what I hear is that what you have is a working representation at this point, a person who is dealing with problems and that person is great for that but is not providing a policy or management directee to look at the town approach. And so you're not going to see the innovative things that might come out, such as putting somebody in the middle school; it's just not the level that it's going to be responded at. So what I suspect what we're looking for is a more of a policy representation."
Steve Sheiffer — "A twenty member task force is excellent for the sharing of information and ideas but it is not an action vehicle. If what we want to begin to talk about is an action vehicle to develop accompanying programs then I think we need to talk about a smaller group that is workable. Now we're getting into personal inclinations and staffing levels."
Louise Haldeman — "Could I make something plainer which I didn't do and I apologize, the task force as a larger group meets three times a year. It is divided into three subcommittees although I admit that not everybody on the task force is associated with a subcommittee. The subcommittees have been meeting regularly and frequently. The one on which I serve has managed to meet every Wednesday. Our programs on that particular subcommittee are directed at the schools, the intervention and prevention measures for the schools. It has nothing to do with the rest of the town except that when Mr. Alexander is there, he points out that there are some things that we've talked about that might ultimately apply to the faculty and certainly might apply to other town employees but right now we are concentrating on students. There is a curriculum subcommittee and that has to do with the schools entirely and nobody else needs to be on that. There is a group that is supposed to represent the rest of the community and the CAP organization has assumed that role. That group is working with larger community issues. I sense that if someone were willing to be involved at some point in policy that would be the group to be with. I don't know that we are this evening however, asking any of you to join the task force. I think what we are asking you to do is to be very much aware that this is going on and it's a fairly large matter as far as the schools are concerned and that if it is to continue there are going to be spillovers into the community. At some point the selectmen and town manager do need to consider policy. I do not believe in my experience that the juvenile officer is in any position to make any kind of policy recommendations either for the rest of the police department or for the town so to ask him to do that would probably not be fair unless he was directed to do that.
"Mostly we wanted to alert you to this. There's public pressure to do more of this and there's also increasing pressure in another narrower aspect of health education which is also known as sex education and there is pressure in that. There could be some staffing implications. If the schools were to do all the things that we might like to do I suspect that eventually it might involve another part time teacher somewhere along the line. If that happened there would be some budgetary implications and we would need to know that the town considered that important."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "Those are really the policy informational issues that I see. Somebody needs to be aware of the kinds of issues that are being discussed and the implications to them because I would go one step further, if we were simply to do what most of the people of that group are already asking us to do, which we're not doing, there's fiscal implications to that."
Nancy Beecher — "When you say 'that group', whom are you meaning?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "The twenty-five odd people that serve on the Governor's Advisory Council. In my own personal concern which has nothing to do with what is said here tonight, this issue cannot be addressed by the schools alone. We tried that and we failed. I'll never go through that again. This issue will be addressed satisfactorily only if it's a combination of the schools, the parents/community, the government agencies, and the community agencies working cooperatively. That's the only way this issue can be handled. We have only one piece of the pie but that's all we can take responsibility for and I don't want the rest of it."
Nancy Beecher — "I think what you are hearing then this evening is a positive response from our board in that we think that it is an important issue and we are ready to lend a) moral support and b) if something concrete is spelled out, a pragmatic, practical support as well, but it's not clear to any of us at this point in time what that entails. I guess that my hope would be that the task force itself or one of it's subcommittees might explore further what would be the kind of specific and in what way in which it would be helpful to have the town government engage itself in this operation. Now that's not to say that we don't all of us feel very much committed including town staff already overcommitted to all sorts of things, but we do attach seriousness to this and we would weigh then how we could respond."
Rudy Loeser — "I'd like to say more bluntly something that Louise said earlier and that Irwin was alluding to and by the way school staff is overcommitted too. What Louise was saying very mildly was that these efforts of dealing with substance abuse in this town as far as the school focus and the school activities and initiatives are concerned have pretty well reached their limits. There are things that we can do to flush things out, there are things we are presently doing having to do with the implementation of the policy that we adopted this spring which means assessment teams and stuff being put in the schools. But the jurisdiction of the school is limited and yet, because of these highly visible large contact hours with young people and the students, all this gets dumped on the schools and the message from Louise is and you need to get it very plain, is there's not going to be happening much more unless you people and others in the community jump in with both feet and take this on, rather than the reaction that is especially coming from Terry and you is 'well, they have the ball, let them carry it some more.'"
Nancy Beecher — "But we haven't gotten to a specific point of saying what is it that the town ought to be doing at this point in time."
Rudy Loeser — "Oh, I understand. Rather than sitting back and letting other people find out what we ought to be doing, you have to be thinking at least in terms that what has to be happening pretty soon is you to jump in and say 'OK, now let's get this show on the road.' If CAP and the Governor's Task Force isn't going to study how the town government can be usefully involved, then you have to take a couple of evenings out and study how you can be most usefully involved. With you now I mean more of the community and that involves the selectmen, but not just the selectmen."
Louise Haldeman — "What I think I'm hearing is that the selectmen would be certainly receptive at this point to hearing more about this. If, for example, the CAP subcommittee wanted to come to you and again raise the issue of party bylaws which I know some people have been interested in, I'm hearing that certainly these would be looked at again. There are complex issues there and nothing you can take lightly but I sense that you would look at this if it came forward."
Nancy Beecher — "No question. I think the thing that we have the greatest trouble dealing with right now is essentially is the situation where it's said we ought to be doing something. We take our goals and objectives seriously, we've got a very full plate and to add something now in the course of this particular fiscal year that we haven't built into our time planning is a tough thing for us to do and we would be hesitant to do that unless something very specific comes forth."
Anne Rarich, — "I don't think any of us is asking you to do that because I feel the schools are just getting to the point where they are starting to implement some of these things. These things are not done rapidly, they can't be and if the school can get a certain part of the program, it would be followed that the town may wish to do something. I don't think that it's a matter of this year but it's probably important for the schools to know that the selectmen would be receptive. And again the other point that we made is that you may hear the schools at budget time saying if we're going to do such and such, you have to understand that somewhere along the line, we're going to have to pay someone to do this. The other issue for the town, not just the selectmen, is how much do we want to do these things, if by not doing them means we can have another $35,000 out of the budget. So when push comes to shove that may be one of the issues that we all look at."
Nancy Beecher — "We have heard from the town manager that he believes it is an important goal for the police department to be playing and he is willing to explore further but I think some kind of concrete guidance is needed out of the experience and the study of the people that make up the task force.
Louise Haldeman — "Well, I think that's very reassuring."
Bill Sullivan — "Is there a lot of parent participation on the task force? This is sort of the third element that we're talking about, the town, the schools and the parents."
Louise Haldeman — "There is parent participation on the task force particularly through CAP, not only the subcommittee but also the task force itself. The CAP organization has contacts now with all the schools, a specific representative to CAP from each of the schools. It is entirely a community group. CAP has sponsored some programs and expects to sponsor one again. I did attend a meeting the other day and they are trying to get a community awareness day of some sort. The plans are in morphous but I suspect that that might be a place where again the town house could get into the act in some way, with not having to carry the burden of the work but by sort of lending its moral support, if nothing else. I think again part of it is consciousness raising. There is still a lot of mythology, I find, in a town like this. In a beautiful town like Concord with our high SAT scores, our kids couldn't possibly have these problems, and they do. And also no parent in this town would do something like that, and they do."
Nancy Beecher — "I would just like to say and I think I speak for all of us selectfolk, we are appreciative of the way in which you folks have taken this initiative and are working in the area which we think is an immensely important one. Please don't interpret anything as being balking or failure to wish to be supportive and responsive, it will be helpful to us to have as much specific as possible by way of guidance."
Louise Haldeman — "I think it's fair to say that the work of the task force which has been extensive is known best to the members of the task force. There will be a point where the rest of the school system has to absorb some information that they are not going to be really happy to hear either."
Nancy Beecher — "I guess I should raise one more specific, but I notice that there is a Memorandum of Agreement in process between the police and the school department. Is there any problem with that or it is moving forward?"
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "To the best of my knowledge, that's moving forward."
Nancy Beecher — "When we see that, that may give us some specific understanding."
Dr. Irwin Blumer — "It's actually formalizing how the schools and the police department presently interact with one another on these issues. But one point I want to reinforce and going all the way back to the beginning of this discussion but I think it's worth saying again, I cannot speak highly enough of the cooperation that we have received from the police department in this issue and in all issues. That is not the case in a lot of towns but it certainly is the case here and it's something you should be real proud of."
Nancy Beecher — "We're glad to hear that. We want to pass that on to them."
"One more thing that the community as a whole and the selectmen ought to be aware of, one of the most actively involved school people in this whole issue is Louise and this is Louise's last year."
Louise Haldeman — "I'll tell you it's been an eye opener. We're very fortunate not to have had some of these problems with our youngsters and I realize there was an awful lot of luck there. But in any case, there are some very tragic situations and schools are the place to see the students. There is no question that as far as young people are concerned the schools have to pick it up. My eyes have been opened to some of the real tragic situations that involve families, children of alcoholic parents, children who are abused and they come from some of the nicest sections of town too so we need to work on that and we will."