MEETING OF THE
MONTPELIER BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS
October 1, 2014
Minutes Approved: October 22, 2014
Board: Sue Aldrich, Jennifer Cahill Bean, Michele Braun, Ken Jones, Carol Paquette, Charlie Phillips, Lowell VanDerlip
Administration: Superintendent Brian Ricca
Student: Alex Stetter
Public: Emma Bay-Hansen, Christopher Curtis, Alisa Dworsky, Jed Guertin, Page Guertin, Aaron Heyerdahl, Barbarina Heyerdahl, Anthony Iarrapino, Kairn Kelley, Scott Lewins, Jen Matthews, Lyn Munno, Anthony Pollina, Leah Sagan-Dworsky, Tanya Serota-Winston, Peter Sterling, Nathan Suter, Andrew Tripp, and others
Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 7:04 p.m.
Adjust/Review Agenda With a sizable crowd in attendance, Mrs. Aldrich extended the public comments portion of the meeting to allow those who wished to do so an opportunity to weigh in on their desired priorities for the upcoming budget. Mrs. Aldrich asked that once the public comments portion of the meeting has ended, the Board be given an opportunity to do their work without any further public input at that point.
Public Comments Resident Chris Curtis asked the Board to resist any temptations to cut the budget. He identified priorities of more custodial staff and additional playground supervision at UES. He urged the Board to resist any temptation to remove the Community Connections program from the school budget. He also urged the Board to not go down the road of whiplash budgeting. He said anything that could be done in terms of early intervention would save down the road. Mr. Curtis said he was unconvinced that the program/finance committee should be the body to decide which direction the budget should go. Another Montpelier resident said she, too, was uncomfortable with the concept of a budget committee making decisions about the budget. She said Montpelier needs a strong, robust school system and it is the experts (i.e., the School Board and the administration) who should say what the students need to be the best they can be. She said the residents of Montpelier need the opportunity to vote for the best budget for the school system. Peter Sterling encouraged the Board to think about what resources it needs to give the children of Montpelier a 21st century education. Another resident said she does not think cutting the budget should even be up for discussion.
Resident Andrew Tripp believes the Board should be a source of leadership and needs to identify new sources of revenue. Nathan Suter expressed concerns about deficiencies, particularly technology. He said technology is critical in today's world and Montpelier needs a 2014 education for its students. Mr. Suter said the more we defer staffing, technology, etc. now, the more we pay the piper later. He believes past budget increases have been extraordinarily modest. He said the Board needs to be vocal and mature about its needs and revenue sources.
MHS student Leah Sagan-Dworsky presented her argument for including funding for the debate team in the budget. Kairn Kelley believes the students should be the primary focus whenever talking about changes to programs. She apologized to the Board for taking the whole budget process for granted in the past and promised to take the time to communicate to colleagues, friends and neighbors to be sure voters support what the Board says they need as long as they keep up the good work. Alisa Dworsky offered her support to advocate for keeping programs strong.
Anthony Iarrapino said he appreciated the Board's instinct toward frugality, but at the same time was ashamed about the physical condition of the schools. He believes the Board may have conditioned the voters to artificially low budgets but they needed to break that habit and be honest about what the needs really are. He wants to support a budget that he can be proud of, one that is focused on the students. Resident Lyn Munno said she fears losing students to neighboring communities with better offerings and opportunities. It is her hope for the Board to look at what is a great education for children in Montpelier for 2014 and the future and to create a budget for that. Resident Aaron Heyderdahl said his family moved to Montpelier because the schools are vibrant, healthy and strong. He said his children have been in seven different school systems and by comparison the experience at MHS has been the most engaged, happiest of any system his children have been in. He believes the art, music and Community Connections programs are the pieces that really bring life to the school and create passion for the kids and he urged the Board against any cuts to those programs.
Discuss Field Trip Passed over.
Lonesome Lake – Myles Chater
Update on Board Communications Plan Mrs. Aldrich reported that she, Mr. Phillips and Mr. VanDerlip attended the VAM meeting and the turnout was good. Mrs. Braun said she got a "thanks, but no thanks" message from the two neighborhood organizations she was able to connect with. She asked for other neighborhoods with leaders to get in touch with her. Ms. Paquette contacted Montpelier Alive and was put on their agenda for October 9th at 5:30. Unfortunately she cannot attend that meeting and asked for others to attend; Mrs. Aldrich and Mr. Phillips volunteered. Mr. Phillips contacted the Senior Center and they have set him up with a table where people can stop by on November 7th from 11:30-1:00. Mr. Jones called the City Council and is on their agenda for next Wednesday, October 8th. Mr. VanDerlip said he is happy to help out wherever given the fact that he missed the last meeting and did not receive an assignment. He volunteered to write letters, commentaries, or information pieces for the papers from a board perspective. Mr. Phillips said he had not yet had an opportunity to contact the Rotary and Mrs. Braun volunteered to do that.
Discuss Process for Priority Setting for FY16 Budget Since the first draft of the budget will come before the last scheduled meeting with stakeholders, Superintendent Ricca reminded the Board of the need for expenditure parameters or per-pupil parameters to guide his upcoming work. Mr. Jones reminded board members of a discussion regarding the possibility of another meeting off schedule for the purpose of priority setting and suggested October 15th as a possibility. Superintendent Ricca is unable to attend a meeting on that date. Following discussion, it was decided that the Board will meet again on October 15th absent Superintendent Ricca to determine priorities to put resources toward. Once set, the Board will provide those priorities to Superintendent Ricca.
Discuss Superintendent Limitations Report
2.0 Global Superintendent Constraint A written report was provided and discussed.
Discuss Process for Board Completion of MPS Governance Policies Mrs. Aldrich recognized the need to set up a timeframe for reviewing and revising existing policies. Mr. VanDerlip volunteered to work with Superintendent Ricca to identify which policies need revisions, as well as a calendar for bringing the identified policies to the full Board for discussion.
Update on Program/Finance Committee Mr. VanDerlip reported that the committee had met earlier that evening and heard reports from committee members in regard to dual enrollment and distance learning. The committee also discussed the content of its report to the Board and how that report is going to be delivered. Mr. VanDerlip reported that the committee is prepared to provide data in regard to class size. The committee's report will include information about dual enrollment and will also address distance learning. The report is going to suggest that attention be given to any opportunities for collaboration with U-32 or other neighboring high schools. The report is also going to request that attention be given to examining revenue sources. One committee member wants the Board to look at the budget in terms of outcomes. The committee will meet again on October 15th to pull together the various pieces that committee members have been working on, with a final report to the Board hopefully on October 22nd. Mrs. Aldrich reminded everyone that the items suggested by the committee in their report to the Board are not necessarily going to happen. She said each item will be viewed as a suggestion and that the Board will not direct the Leadership Team in any direction until such time as there is a formal vote.
Minutes of September 17, 2014
Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the September 17, 2014 regular meeting and Warrants 19, 20 and 21 dated October 9, 2014 in the amounts of $545,225.56, $25,046.21 and $170,012.40 respectively. Motion carried unanimously.
Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)
Mr. Jones distributed a proposal to move forward in joining Montpelier middle and high schools with U-32 with a request to include this as a discussion item on the agenda for the October 22nd meeting.
Mr. Jones distributed and interpreted additional NECAP score data.
Mrs. Braun congratulated Dr. Ricca on being named one of 25 national emerging leaders by Phi Delta Kappa International.
Superintendent Ricca congratulated MHS math teacher Whitney Machnik and her Intro. to Computer Science class on their hands-on involvement in a local start up.
Mr. VanDerlip announced that he will be attending a series of technology workshops through the Senior Center which will be taught at the middle school by middle school students.
Mr. Jones presented the possibility of working with the Barre Technical Center to develop a technical education program at MHS.
Mrs. Braun announced that local composer Erik Nielsen has been working with kids in the orchestra at MSMS.
Alex Stetter announced that there are two candidates for the second student representative seat and hopefully one of those candidates will be attending the next meeting.
Executive Session On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to enter Executive Session at 8:35 p.m., with the superintendent remaining. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 9:28 p.m.
Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:28 p.m.