Hastings PTA Meeting Minutes – March 17, 2014
Co-Sponsored by the Hastings School Site Council
7:00pm Welcome Introductions – Louise Lipsitz
7:05pm A discussion with Superintendent Dr. Paul Ash and School Committee Members Jessie Steigerwald and Judy Crocker
Topic to be covered:
- Enrollment Issues -Dr. Ash wanted to address numbers for this year and next 4 years. Enrollment numbers from 2003-2008 were flat and looking to decline in 2009. Instead starting in 2010 the numbers began to increase. An outside ad-hoc committee of Lexington citizens was formed to develop a new methodology to analyze these trends, as the previous method did not account for the changes that were occurring. They found that 105% increase was from 9 apartment and condo developments along with a slight increase in density. Phase 2 of the work for the ad-hoc committee will be to define what the upside capacity will be, given a 2% increase in enrollment each year on average.
The district will hire an architect to help develop various ways of responding to these increases in enrollment. Potential responses include increasing class sizes, using art/music rooms as classrooms, building modulars, redistricting, or building permanent space. Based on what actually happens each year, the district will assess where it is and revise the plan of what to do.
Another finding was that last year there was a net change of 1000 students in and out of the district. One cannot assume that the children who are living in Lexington have the same knowledge base as if they had started in Lexington from kindergarten, which speaks to how teachers will need to work with students.
In January of 2014 Hastings School filed a Statement of Interest (SOI) with the state, the Massachusetts School Building Association (MSBA). There are 7 criteria that a school may use to apply. Hastings filed under the following two criteria:
- Overcrowding. Mrs. Lipsitz made a note that if the modular buildings did not exist (and they are at the end of their useful lifespan), Hastings would be severely overcrowded. The state only looks at permanent space when assessing how appropriate a building is for the number of students.
- Special Education Program – As with every elementary school in Lexington, Hastings houses a particular special education program.
We will not hear back from the state regarding our application until possibly the fall of 2014. Would most likely receive funding under the class 2 need of extreme overcrowding. If approved by the state, the town of Lexington would be able to accept their invitation to be a partner in the rebuilding of Hastings School.
Given the situation with enrollment increases in Lexington and if it is determined that there is enough land to build a new building, the recommendation would be for a school with 28 classrooms. The plan for Hastings needs to take into account the needs of the entire Lexington school system.
In addition to Hastings, the Town of Lexington’s Master Plan also includes the need for new fire and police stations. It will be critical for the Hastings community to advocate for the funding of the Hastings project. Funding will come through a debt exclusion vote by Town residents. It will be critical that Hastings has a core group of people who know how the debt exclusion process works and can encourage our community to advocate for a positive town-wide vote.
A question was posed regarding increases to the cost of the Estabrook school project. Jessie Steigerwald noted that all changes to budgets have to go before Town Meeting (and prior to that through numerous committees include the School Committee, Planning Board, and Board of Selectmen) prior to being implemented.
Dr. Ash was also asked about classroom space and size guidelines. If the state is a partner on a school, the size of a classroom should be 900 square feet. In terms of number of students per class, the Lexington teacher contract stipulates: kindergarten (18-20), grade 1 (20-22), grades 2-5 (22-26).
Additional questions were posed by parents that were unable to be discussed due to a lack of time. Jessie Steigerwald noted that everyone should feel free to forward questions to the School Committee and/or raise them at a School Committee meeting. They welcome your input.
8:15pm School Site Council Announcement – Miranda Clarke – The purpose of the site council is to assist principal in the monitoring of the school improvement program. They are looking for 2 new members next year.
Becky Barrentine spoke and encouraged all families especially new ones to go to the Hastings PTA website and to become a part of the Hastings Google group to receive pertinent news and information.
Bettina McGimsey thanked everyone for coming and for the success of the recent Hastings FUNdraiser. PTA vacancies are: Staff Liaison VP and Co-President.
Below please find a list of upcoming events at Hastings:
Thursday, March 27 – Executive Function Workshop: “Promoting independence for your child at home: organization, time management, and perseverance”
Monday, March 31 – PTA Committee Planning Meetings, 8:30 AM and 6:30 PM
April 7-11 – Book Fair
Tuesday, April 8 – ArtsFest Exhibition Night
Wednesday April 9 – Walking Wednesday
Saturday, April 12 – Spring Clean Up
Thursday, April 17 – Talent Show Tryouts (note this is the day before the start of April vacation so plan accordingly if you want your children in the Talent Show)
Thursday, May 1 – Multicultural Potluck
Monday, May 5 – Site Council Meeting, 7:45 AM
Wednesday, May 7 – Walking Wednesday
Friday, May 9 – Talent Show
Tuesday, May 27 – PTA Volunteer Appreciation Night, Elections
Thursday, June 5 – End-of-the-year Barbeque
Thursday, June 5 – Field Day (raindate Monday June 9)
Monday, June 9 – Site Council Meeting, 7:45 AM