MEETING OF THE
MONTPELIER BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS
March 18, 2015
Minutes Approved: April 14, 2015
Board: Sue Aldrich, Michele Braun, Steve Hingtgen Ken Jones, Tina Muncy, Carol Paquette, Lowell VanDerlip
Administration: Superintendent Brian Ricca, Director of Facilities Thom Wood
Students: Theresa Noonan, Alex Stetter
Public: Anne Fraser, Bill Fraser, Nathan Suter, Anne Watson
Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m.
Adjust/Review Agenda Addition of a teacher contract to the Consent Agenda. Also, the amount of the requested Special Education Line Item Transfer in the Consent Agenda was adjusted from $18,939.25 to $25,812.78.
Public Comments None.
Student Presentation Members of Cailin O’Hara’s Honor Choir class performed two numbers for the Board.
Discuss Solar Panels for MPS MHS science teacher Anne Watson and her physics students have been exploring ideas for reducing the energy demand for the school and making it more renewable. There are currently tax incentive programs encouraging the use of renewable electricity, both at the federal and state level. Ms. Watson and physics student Alex Stetter presented the Board with a student-led initiative to issue an RFP to solicit proposals for a net metering solar agreement. In addition, Director of Facilities Thom Wood explained that there is also a consortium of school districts and supervisory unions putting together a collective RFP for a net metering solar agreement.
Mr. Wood provided information as to the District’s energy consumption. Over the last five years the District has reduced its energy consumption by 25% and is continuing to look at opportunities to reduce even further.
Superintendent Ricca reminded the Board that the purpose of this discussion was to gauge interest on the possibility of pursuing: (1) the stand alone RFP developed by Ms. Watson and her class specific to the needs of the District; (2) the collective RFP developed by the consortium of school districts and supervisory unions; or (3) both RFPs simultaneously. Mr. Jones reminded board members that an RFP does not obligate the District to any specific relationship, but rather simply poses the questions. Discussion regarding renewable energy credits, siting, and timelines ensued. Following that discussion, the overall sentiment and the recommendation from Mr. Wood was to pursue both RFPs simultaneously. Ms. Watson will continue to work with Superintendent Ricca on the process going forward.
Follow-up Discussion Regarding Fundraising Superintendent Ricca asked the Board for guidance on how to proceed in order to keep this item from losing momentum. Mrs. Aldrich suggested that it might be a good idea for a few board members to meet with the Boosters and then report back to the full Board. Mr. Jones suggested the possibility of a coalescence of the various musical and theatrical groups in Montpelier to better understand their needs and wants, and to also explore the possibility of them playing a significant role in a foundation or fundraising effort. Mrs. Aldrich volunteered to approach Lost Nation Theater. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Aldrich will meet with the Boosters. Mrs. Aldrich will let Superintendent Ricca know when that meeting is going to occur so that it can be properly warned. Mrs. Braun has spoken with and obtained information from Green Mountain Youth Symphony. Updates will be provided as conversations occur.
Review and Discuss “Gold Policies” The history and purpose behind the gold policies was reviewed. There was consensus that there was no need to look at any of the gold policies individually since there were no concerns about any of them at this time. Superintendent Ricca will explore the process for removing these policies from the superintendent limitations policies and including them as part of the District’s local and mandated policies so that they are easily identifiable and accessible.
The Board also discussed the path for dealing with the class size policy. Mr. VanDerlip suggested the drafting of a charge to guide the process and Mr. Jones offered to do that work. Following further discussion, it was decided that discussion of the proposed charge, as well as discussion as to what the committee will look like, will be warned as an agenda item for the April 1st meeting. The agenda for the April 14th meeting will include setting the committee, possibly amending the charge, and obtaining opinions and perspectives on class size from members of the public, board members, etc. to share with the committee as a starting point for their work on the policy.
Review Superintendent Limitations Policy 2.8 – Communication and Support to the Board Mr. Jones highlighted item #2, specifically putting the District’s work in the context of the state and national discussion. He explained his reasons for being particularly interested in this were because he really wanted to talk more about education, in part because it was a foundation for the ends, but also because it helped when talking about things like the budget. He cited the Common Core as an example. Mrs. Aldrich said it seemed Mr. Jones was asking for the periodic discussions with the principals to be enriched. Mr. Jones said he appreciated the leadership role taken by the District in developing some of its own stuff, but that putting its work within the context of the national discussion would really allow the District to talk about its schools. Ms. Muncy suggested an educational presentation at board meetings similar to how the student presentations are done. Mr. VanDerlip reminded board members that embedded within the Board’s annual calendar are reports from principals and reports on ends policies which provide the context for having educational discussions. Mrs. Braun pointed out that those repots do not go out to state and national trends. Mr. VanDerlip replied that they could, citing the opportunity to push the conversation in that direction when previewing ends reports with Superintendent Ricca if that is what the Board thinks would be helpful. Mrs. Aldrich said she sees the information coming from the principals.
Mr. Hingtgen said he was looking forward to the next budget. He believes having evidence that is as objective and quantifiable as possible on each end and having it related to peers and national and state scenes is important in order to justify value in the District. He said value is what the District is trying to provide and it needs to be able to demonstrate that beyond a shadow of a doubt. This requires a lot of homework and lot of numbers and the more it can get, the better.
Superintendent Ricca said he remembered board members not being particularly excited about state and national numbers in the past when he reported on end #1 and expressed a desire to hear more about growth from year to year. He acknowledged that the next report will need to be a balance between the type of information that is now being asked for (the dry information) and what has been provided in the past (what the District is actually doing) in order to provide board members with the good information they are seeking. Superintendent Ricca will also solicit feedback on items board members want to hear about in advance of future principal visits in an attempt to flush out some of this information.
Appoint Board Representative(s) to MEA Bargaining Committee Superintendent Ricca asked for volunteers to finish current contract negotiations with the Montpelier Education Association given the fact that the two prior representatives (Mrs. Bean and Mr. Phillips) are no longer on the Board and in light of a proposed mediation date of July 8, 2015. There was discussion as to whether the request for a representative was for just current negotiations or current and subsequent negotiations. Superintendent Ricca confirmed that it was just for current negotiations and that a similar request would be made when the next round of negotiations occurs. Following discussion, Mr. Jones volunteered for the task.
Action Item Superintendent Ricca thanked Superintendent Nancy Thomas of Washington Northeast Supervisory Union and Superintendent Bill Kimball of Washington Central Supervisory for their collaboration efforts on the proposed calendar for the 2015-2016 school year. Superintendent Ricca said he was very proud of the calendar he was presenting as it represented a positive step in the direction of uniformity (only three days off) among the three supervisory unions and school districts so as to provide students with the most opportunities. Changes from 2014-2015 were reviewed. Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mrs. Braun, to approve the calendar for the 2015-2016 school year as presented. Motion carried unanimously.
Approve 2015-2016 School Calendar
Minutes of March 4, 2015
Unpaid Leave of Absence Requests
Special Education Line Item Transfer
Systems Manager Line Item Transfer
Mrs. Braun moved, seconded by Mr. VanDerlip, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the March 4, 2015 regular meeting, Warrants 48, 49 and 50 dated March 26, 2015 in the amounts of $824,064.75, $23,749.59 and $20,326.71 respectively, the recommendation to offer a teaching contract to Andreah Ustianov (special education – UES), two unpaid leave of absence requests, a line item transfer in the amount of $25,812.78 from tuition to supplies in the special education budget, and a line item transfer in the amount of $7,981.06 from travel to contracted services in the systems manager’s budget. Motion carried unanimously.
Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)
The first pop concert at the middle school last night was very good, a lot of student participation.
MHS was recently visited by a team from the Hall-Dale High School in Maine who chose to visit MHS based on its blend of personalized learning plans and work towards proficiency-based graduation requirements. Of the six schools visited, the team cited their visit to MHS as the highlight of their trip, being the most impressed by the amount of student engagement they saw.
Congratulations to the Debate Team on their performance at the State Tournament and best of luck as they head to the District Tournament in Pennsylvania at the end of March.
Executive Session Mrs. Braun moved that the Board find that discussing contract negotiations in open session would put the Board at a substantial disadvantage. Mr. Jones seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 9:21 p.m. Mr. Jones moved that the Board enter into executive session in accordance with 1 VSA §313 to discuss contract negotiations. Mr. VanDerlip seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 9:21 p.m. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 9:46 p.m.
Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:46 p.m.