minutes 2011 Oct 12

I. Call to Order – Nancy Sherburne called the meeting to order at 7:39 pm. The
following Board members attended the meeting: Bill Guthlein, Nancy
Sherburne, Caroline Jarvis, Cynthia Overman, and Valerie Ryan. Two other
PAC members were in attendance, as were Pupil Services liaisons, Julie
Towell and Matt Kidder and School Committee member Paul Murphy.
II. Approval of September Minutes – Nancy mentioned that there is a need for an
additional measure of compliance with the most recent Open Meeting Law
changes. Val explained that the minutes would be distributed to the board
prior to the next meeting as has been done previously. In order to more
strictly comply with Open Meeting Law any comments submitted prior to the
next board meeting will be distributed to the executive board in preparation
for formal review at the next board meeting.
The group discussed several changes to the September minutes submitted by
Nancy via e-mail to the executive board on October 7, 2011. The e-mail
detailed the proposed changes as shown below:
1. I think Bullet III.B.4.a. should be clarified to read, “The
Department of Education has stated that providing a summer camp
experience for special education students is not a legal mandate.” I
don’t think DESE has stated that an integrated summer program is
not a mandate. The info Liza shared with Bill and myself was that
a summer camp experience was above and beyond the call of duty.
2. Also in paragraph III.B.4. the minutes should be changed to
reflect that Caroline said she would email Julie a copy of the
Shrewsbury summer program immediately following the PAC
meeting. I think the minutes should only reflect what was said in
the meeting not actions that may have been taken following the
2. In paragraph III.A. the “Friends” organization is actually titled
Friends of AB SpEd PAC, Ltd not Friends of the PAC. I think it
would be better to reference it as “Friends” or “Friends of AB
SpEd PAC” instead of FOP. Also in that paragraph the Friends
meeting should be changed to a Business meeting not a Board
meeting (see Sept. meeting agenda).
3. In paragraph VI. I believe the three main PAC priorities I
identified in the last meeting were 1) the Survey Analysis, 2) the
MCAS Analysis and 3) the redesign of the AB SpEd PAC website
(which is a very specific outreach task). Identified as secondary
areas of interest, time allowing, were building a list of local Page 2 of 4
resources to include on the website and offering more
opportunities for families to connect socially ( which Heidi has
kindly offered to help us with). My concern was that the website
redesign is a huge undertaking and I didn’t want to see us bite off
more than we could chew for deliverables this year. The broader
goal of social outreach encompasses a lot of things I don’t think
we’ll have time to fully accomplish this year.
Discussion regarding the PAC priorities took place. A parent present
suggested that a general goal of developing a parent outreach program was
relevant. It was agreed that a fourth priority titled “Increase parent outreach”
could be added. It was also agreed that goal four described in the September
minutes (Building a list of resources vetted by the local special education
community) could fall under the goal of redesigning the website.
No additional changes were proposed. A motion was made to approve the
minutes with the above changes, the motion was seconded and all were in
III. Organizational/Business Issues
A. Review and Approve Revised By-Laws – Nancy referred to the document
titled By-Laws: Acton and Acton-Boxborough Special Education Parent
Advisory Council As amended October 7, 2011. The document had been
e-mailed to the executive board on October 7, 2011 and was available at
the meeting. Nancy mentioned that the revised by-laws reflect changes in
a) officer organization and b) grants, donations and fundraising as a result
of the establishment of the Friends of the AB SpEd PAC organization and
501(c)(3) status. Nancy asked if there were any comments on the
revisions. No comments were made. A vote was taken to approve the
revised by-laws. All were in favor and the revised by-laws were
unanimously approved.
B. AP SpEd PAC Survey Discussion – Bill referred to the document titled
Acton-Boxborough Special Education Parents Advisory Council 2011
Parents Survey Summary of Findings October 2011. The document had
been submitted to the executive board on October 7, 2011 and was
available at the meeting. A review and discussion of the Executive
Summary portion of the document took place. Bill proposed three PAC
initiatives as follows:
1. Pursue development of a special education progress reporting
system that conveys how well the student is performing relative to
IEP goals and to the standards for performance of a typical child.
2. Pursue making before and afterschool and summer extracurricular
programming more available (with appropriate supports) for the
special needs population.Page 3 of 4
3. Develop a plan for effective communication with the group of
parents who indicate concern about negative consequences if they
disagree with the Administration.
A discussion took place regarding initiative 3. Suggestions made
included: further breakdown of data and follow-up with parents as it
relates to the topic.
Bill asked if there were any additional ideas regarding initiatives the PAC
should focus on as a result of the survey results. There was agreement that
the areas Bill proposed were viable and that they would be prioritized in
the same order as proposed. It was suggested that the response to the
survey question regarding feeling safe at school as it relates to bullying
should also be addressed. In addition, a suggestion was made to integrate
responses to the question “Did my child meet IEP Goals and if not was it
Addressed?” into the progress reporting initiative.
Bill stated that the target date to present the results and report to the school
committee is the November regional meeting.
C. Review District Smart Goals – Nancy passed out copies of the document
APS & AB School District Goals: District-wide K-12 S.M.A.R.T. Goals
2011-2012; mid-year update 2/13 final update 6/12. The document was
reviewed with particular focus on the Pupil Services goal ‘Program
Development and Fiscal Responsibility Strategies and Measurable
Outcomes’. Nancy mentioned that a parent had called with concerns
regarding the measurable outcomes that are stated without qualification
regarding the quality and quantity of services. In particular, Measurable
Outcome 5. was mentioned as concerning by the parent. This outcome is
written as follows: “Reduced rate and frequency of referral to special
education.” Matt noted the goal to provide the least restrictive
environment when appropriate. Nancy mentioned that the PAC’s
feedback would be that the measurable outcomes be put in context so that
the implication that the district is cutting services is not made. It was also
agreed that receiving draft copies (i.e. pre-vote) of the S.M.A.R.T Goals is
D. Website Design Update – Nancy mentioned that she and Karl are looking
at various templates using public access software designed for blogging
but adaptable to website format. A parent present suggested that one of
her husband’s Boston University students might be able to help should it
become necessary.
E. Movie and Pizza Night Update – Caroline and Heidi updated the group on
their work in organizing a social event for parents. The event will feature
the movie Rio and will be held in the youth room of the Acton
Congregational Church. Options for most viable dates and times were
discussed. It is hoped that the event will take place in November.Page 4 of 4
F. Speaker Update – Nancy mentioned that she had attempted to contact the
Federation for Children with Special Needs and Family Ties in order to
schedule presentations. A parent present with connections to the
Federation volunteered to follow up with that organization. Caroline
suggested that Beverly Montgomery from Lex Communicate may be
willing to present on the topic of pragmatic speech and that she will follow
up on that possibility.
G. Handbook Update – Nancy is waiting for feedback from Dr. Mills and the
Pupil Services staff. Matt provided the following feedback:
1. A point of agreement among Pupil Services reviewers was that the
document is long.
2. Due to the length of the document a test run might be useful to see
if it needs streamlining for ease of use.
3. In the ‘Parts of an Education Plan’ section it might be useful to
refer to the format used in the Federation for Children with Special
Needs’ handbook.
4. Provide more links to other resources, the Department of
Education, for example.
5. There are some more minor edits to be reviewed such as the
misnaming of a program, for example.
Nancy mentioned that she is interested in distributing the handbook as
quickly as possible. Nancy and Matt agreed to meet to review the more
minor edits. Review by PAC board members was also suggested.
H. Friends of AB SpEd PAC Update – Cynthia updated the group on the light
bulb fundraiser. Cynthia mentioned the need to reach special education
families. Special education families will be targeted vs. all parents to
avoid conflicting interests with schools already running or planning to run
this fundraiser. A discussion took place regarding options for distribution.
Julie suggested that we coordinate with Liza’s next e-mail distribution in
order to avoid sending too much to parents from Pupil Services. It was
also suggested that Nancy could send fundraiser information via her email list. Other suggestions included making the information available at
the Movie and Pizza night and utilizing the PAC’s website. Cynthia
offered to take orders for the light bulbs by phone and e-mail.
IV. Adjournment – A motion was made to adjourn the meeting, that motion was
seconded and unanimously approved. The meeting was adjourned at 10:15
Next Meeting – AB SpEd PAC Board Meeting Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at
7:30 pm in the R.J. Grey Junior High Library.
Respectfully submitted by Valerie Ryan, Secretary

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