minutes 2009 Sept 9

Nancy Sherburne called the meeting to order. The following Board Members
attended the meeting: Nancy Sherburne, Caroline Jarvis, Sasha Stavsky,
Lynne Zawada, and Valerie Ryan. Also in attendance were SpEd PAC
members: Kim Nolan, Pupil Services Representative: Julie Towell; and
School Committee Representative: Mike Coppolino.
Minutes from the May 2009 board meeting were reviewed. Nancy
volunteered to address the Executive Session section of the minutes. She
explained that a community member had threatened to take legal action
against the PAC. An executive session was called to discuss how the PAC
should go about seeking legal representation. The school district generously
allowed the PAC Board to speak with their council regarding this matter.
Nancy went on to say that the legal issue has been resolved and no legal
actions were taken against the PAC. The open question of whether or not a
PAC can be sued remains to be answered by the district’s council. A motion
was made to accept the May minutes, the motion was seconded and they were
unanimously accepted. Minutes from the June 2009 Annual Meeting and
Election of Officers were reviewed. A motion was made to accept the June
minutes and the motion was seconded. The June minutes were unanimously
Action Item:
Nancy and Bill to follow-up with the district’s council on open question.
A. Fundraising Opportunities: Nancy explained that while fundraising is not
a primary focus of the PAC, we are pursuing it this year due to the dire
economic situation and anticipated budget cuts. The PAC is pursuing
several fundraising opportunities: flower bulb sales, the Oktoberfest 5K
race, and a grant proposal to the Astra foundation. Selling flower bulbs
through Dutch Gardens and Flower Power Fundraising was presented as a
good opportunity as 50% of all sales come back to the PAC. Nancy
handed out sales kits to the group and encouraged everyone to join in
trying to sell bulbs for the PAC. Additionally, Nancy has sent an e-mail to
the rest of the PAC membership encouraging them to sell and/or buy bulbs
to benefit the PAC. Other suggestions were to set-up tables at the Back-toSchool Open Houses; to approach the PTOs for use in planting projects; Page 2 of 5
and to sell bulbs at the West Acton Farmer’s Market. Nancy also
mentioned an offer from the Middlesex West Chamber of Commerce
(MWCOC) to partner with area non-profits for fundraising. The MWCOC
is sponsoring an Oktoberfest 5K Run/Walk in West Acton on Saturday,
October 3 in conjunction with the West Acton merchant Oktoberfest. For
every person registering for the event and identifying himself or herself as
an AB SpEd PAC supporter, $5.00 of their $15.00 registration fee will be
returned to the PAC. Julie mentioned that she lives close by the main area
of the Oktoberfest and that we are welcome to set-up in her yard to help
support the fundraisers. In addition to the flower bulbs and 5K, Caroline is
writing a grant proposal to the Astra Foundation to solicit annual funds
and to support publication of the SpEd PAC handbook. Mike reminded all
that the School Committee had agreed to fund publication and distribution
should we need it to.
Action Items:
1) All board members sell bulbs and give orders to Val by October 9
2) Val will compile sales forms and funds into one order and submit it to
Dutch Gardens by October 23, 2009
B. Upcoming Events and Educational Speakers: Several of the events
scheduled were discussed as follows:
• September: The AB SpEd PAC Back-to-School Picnic to be held at
Danny’s Place on September 30. The picnic provides an opportunity
for families to connect with one another, PAC representatives and
Pupil Services staff in an informal social setting.
• October: 1) The Acton-Boxborough Youth Advocacy Symposium
co-hosted by Pupil Services and the Acton-Boxborough Coalition
for Healthy Youth. Ron Bell, Director of Community Affairs for
the Deval Patrick administration, is the keynote speaker at the
Symposium. Julie stated that the goal of the Symposium is to bring
the community together in support of youth. 2) The Bullying
Prevention Panel co-sponsored by the PAC, Pupil Services, The
Community Alliance for Youth, and No-Place for Hate. Dr.
Elizabeth Englander, Director of Massachusetts Aggression
Reduction Center will lead the panel. 3) A parent workshop titled
“An IEP for my Child” presented by The Federation for Children
with Special Needs and hosted by the PAC.
• November: The Parent Guardian Workshop, co-sponsored by the
PAC and Pupil Services will be heldon Nov. 6
. Julie scheduled
Rick Lavoie as the keynote speaker. Rick Lavoie is a highly
regarded speaker and author on social skills building for special
needs students.
• December: On Dec. 9
the PAC will host a parent workshop titled
“Basic Rights” that will be presented by The Federation for
Children with Special Needs.Page 3 of 5
Nancy also mentioned that the first SpEd PAC Board/Pupil Services
Quarterly meeting is tentatively scheduled for November 3
. She
reminded the group that this was an opportunity to discuss issues and
provide feedback to the district. Nancy asked that suggestions for topics
be sent to her and that an agenda would be put together as the meeting
date gets closer. Nancy also mentioned that Bill had suggested that we
approach new superintendent, Stephen Mills, and inquire about meeting
with special education parents regarding his perspective and ideas.
Additional presentations such as a transition workshop are being pursued.
Action Item:
Val work with Nancy work to schedule Stephen Mills.
C. PAC Representatives to Speak at School Open Houses:
A brief discussion took place regarding increasing awareness of the PAC
by presenting information about the organization at each school open
house. This idea had been discussed at the last general meeting. Nancy
recommended that those who had volunteered to present information at the
school open-houses contact the respective principals and PTO Chairs to
coordinate their presentations. It was suggested that the volunteers
mention the upcoming events and bring PAC pamphlets and Flower Power
brochures with them.
Action Items:
1) Representatives work with respective schools regarding scheduling.
2) Nancy to e-mail write-up regarding main points to present.
3) Nancy to provide PAC brochures for the representatives to bring to
the open-house events.
D. Autism Program Review:
Nancy mentioned that at the September 3
, 2009 school committee
meeting, Liza had proposed a comprehensive action plan in response to the
PAC survey results showing a significant difference in the level of
satisfaction among parents of children in this group. Nancy mentioned that
the proceedings of the school committee meeting could be seen in detail on
the districts website (http://ab.mec.edu/about/meetings.shtml#sept). It was
agreed that focus groups with parents of spectrum children regarding their
experiences and suggestions for improvement would be a valuable
endeavor for the district.
Action Item:
Nancy and Bill will meet with Liza to discuss her action plan.
E. Bullying Policy Task Force: Nancy noted that there was general
agreement among school committee members at the September 3, 2009
school committee meeting that the districts policy is out of date and needs
revision. Dr. Mills encouraged the PAC to participate on the Task Force Page 4 of 5
that Liza will be chairing. Mike suggested that it might make sense for an
equal number of parents and staff to participate on this task force to ensure
that the parent perspective is well represented. Nancy shared that Dr. Mills
recognizes the essential nature of parent involvement on the task force.
F. PAC Parent Handbook: Nancy and Val are working on portions of the
handbook and the goal is to get it out in the 1
quarter. Nancy mentioned
that the Federation has a draft revision of their handbook and that it may
be beneficial to dovetail our handbook release with theirs to ensure
content accuracy.
G. Pursuit of MA non-profit Status & 501(c) 3 status: Nancy mentioned that
the paperwork had not yet been filed for MA non-profit status (she had
previously believed that it had). She stressed the importance of the PAC
having this status if we plan to do more significant fundraising, as it will
allow donors to receive tax deductions for their contributions. There is a
minimum $25.00 annual filing fee to maintain 501(c)(3) status.
Action Item:
Sasha and Caroline to complete filing.
H. Technology use in IEP Development: The next meeting of the
Technology Task Force is scheduled for September 24
A. Combining Outside Specialists’ Evaluations/Recommendations with
District Evaluations/Recommendations and appropriately incorporating
specialists’ recommendations into the IEP: Julie mentioned that the next
Pupil Services Leadership Team meeting is Monday, Sept 14
and that
she’ll get back to us with a date for the IEE meeting following that.
B. Mandatory Special Education Training/Professional Development for
Regular and Special Education Staff: Mike spoke about the recent school
committee discussion regarding budget line item expenses. When
compared with other districts, our professional development expenditures
are very low. Mike went on to say that as Dr. Mills puts together a budget,
some school committee members support increasing professional
development expenditures to be more in line with other districts. Mike
pointed out that better education of teachers can lead to reduced costs in
other areas. Lynne asked if there were specific areas planned regarding
teacher education. Nancy suggested that it was important for all staff,
regular and special education, to be trained in how best to educate the
population of students they’re being asked to teach, including autism
spectrum disabilities, language based learning differences, specific
learning disorders, and physical impairments. Mike pointed out that there
is an inherent benefit to the children in making the teaching staff more
sensitive to different learning styles.Page 5 of 5
C. Enhanced Summer School and After School/Extracurricular
Programming: Nancy briefly mentioned that Caroline had an interest in
this and that contacting PAC member Shu-Fang to discuss her ideas would
be a good next step.
Action Item:
Caroline will contact Shu-Fang Lin to discuss her ideas presented at the
June 2009 General Meeting.
D. Increased use of Technology in IEP Development/Revision Process: A
general discussion took place regarding ideas in addition to use of Smart
Boards at IEP meetings. Ideas included the following:
• Use of Smart Pens for students may be beneficial as they record
the voices of the teacher and students. Julie will look into whether
this is legally allowed in the schools.
• Use of technology to enhance general communications such as
home logs. This might help with regard to the lack of contact
opportunities parents have with certain special education staff (for
example, classroom assistants, S/L and OT therapists).
• A suggestion was made that improvements in speakerphones for
IEP/Team meetings were badly needed. The ideas of video
conferencing or Skypeing were also brought-up. Julie cautioned
against using technology via the internet due to privacy concerns.
• An improvement in teacher websites with regard to homework
expectations was also stressed as an urgent need. It was suggested
that special education liaisons might need to become involved in
getting this information to parents if teachers don’t have adequate
sites and that it be written into IEPs if necessary.
Action Item:
Julie will find out about Smart Pens
Val made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Sasha seconded the motion and all
were in favor.
The next meeting will be held October 14
at the Parker-Damon Library from
7:00 pm to 9:00 pm. It is a General PAC Meeting in which the parent
workshop, “An IEP for my Child” will be presented by the Federation for
Children with Special Needs.
Meeting Minutes Respectfully Submitted by Valerie Ryan, Secretary

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