Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - January 22, 2014

Minutes - January 22, 2014

1.       Call to Order  The meeting was called to order at 3:02 p.m.

2.   Adjust/Review Agenda  Addition of an action item to approve the Articles for the city warning.

3.  Discuss FY15 Budget  Superintendent Ricca presented two scenarios for reducing the proposed FY15 budget by $200,000 per the Board’s directive.  Scenario #1 called for teacher reductions in the music, math, science, English, physical education and foreign language departments, elimination of a social worker, a reduction in the SOAR program, elimination of the high school baseball and boys’ tennis teams, and elimination of the middle school baseball team.  Scenario #2 called for additional cuts to the Community Connections program beyond the cuts already proposed, as well as use of additional money from the fund balance.  Following his presentation, Superintendent Ricca said he and the Administrative Team did not recommend either of these options as they would negatively impact teachers, staff, students, and educational programs. 

Mr. Phillips said he was uncomfortable with the cuts presented by the administration and that he was not opposed to using more money from the fund balance for next year’s budget.  He also suggested capping the experience level of two new hires for next year as a way to save money.  He said limiting the hiring level for the new sixth grade teacher at BA+3 and limiting the contract days and the hiring level for the assistant principal at Main Street Middle School at M+3 would amount to approximately $35,000 in salary savings.  He suggested using those savings and an additional $100,000 of money from the fund balance as a way to reduce the budget for next year without eliminating programs or reducing teachers. 

Discussion regarding class size, proposed teacher and extracurricular reductions, and Community Connections ensued.  Following that discussion, Mr. Jones said he felt it was important for the Board to express their complete sentiment on Scenario #1 and Scenario #2 as proposed by Superintendent Ricca and asked board members to entertain a motion.  Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to accept the $200,000 of reductions presented by Superintendent Ricca in Scenario #1.  The motion was defeated 0-7. 

Mr. VanDerlip acknowledged that the tax increases over the last two years could not be ignored and were not sustainable.  He said he felt the Board needed to take any meaningful steps possible to acknowledge the realness of that concern, but was puzzled how to do it without impacting programs offered to children. He said he appreciated the fact that the Administrative Team followed the Board’s directive and came back with a reasonable budget, but the resultant tax impact raised some concerns.  He offered a motion.  Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to accept the administrative budget proposal with $100,000 from the fund balance to reduce taxes, and to follow up on Mr. Phillips’ idea to cap hiring of the new sixth grade teacher at the BA+3 level and limiting the contract days and experience level for the assistant principal position at Main Street Middle School.  The motion was made with the caveat that if qualified candidates are not able to be hired with these limitations, the Board will explore other options.  This amounts to approximately $135,000 in savings in the budget. Mr. VanDerlip said the motion makes a statement that the Board is concerned but minimally impacts programs.  Mrs. Aldrich commented that the amount of savings is not worth it and represents a big change in terms of the hiring policy.  Mr. Phillips offered that this proposal does not cut anything the administration is asking for, but rather only limits the amount of money to be spent.  Mr. Jones recognized the need for the Board to come to a number and asked for a discussion about what happens after agreement on a number.  If $100,000 is going to be used from the fund balance, Mr. Jones asked that any savings recognized as a result of the hiring process be used to restore the fund balance.  Mrs. Aldrich said she hated the idea of limiting the hiring of teachers to teachers with less experience.  Mr. Jones replied that there are real positives to hiring teachers with less experience.  Montpelier resident Carolyn Herz urged the Board to accept the budget as originally proposed by the administration and let the voters speak.  A suggestion was made to vote on Mr. VanDerlip’s motion and if the motion is defeated, to vote on another proposal.  The motion was defeated 2-5, Mr. Phillips and Mr. VanDerlip voting in favor; Mrs. Aldrich, Mrs. Bean, Mrs. Braun, Ms. Paquette and Mr. Jones voting against. 

Mr. Phillips moved, seconded by Mr. VanDerlip, to approve the proposed FY15 general fund budget as recommended by the administration.  The general fund budget totals $17,370,991.  Mrs. Aldrich moved to amend the original motion to increase the proposed budget by $3,500 to provide funding for the debate team at the high school.  The motion to amend passed unanimously.  The motion as amended passed 6-1, Mr. Jones opposing. 

4.       Public Comments

5.       Consent Agenda  Passed over. 

a.       Minutes of January 15, 2014

6.   Adjournment  On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 4:40 p.m.

7.       Re-Open Meeting  Mr. Phillips re-opened the meeting as Acting Chairman at 4:42 p.m. 

8.       Action Item

a.   Approve Articles for City Vote  Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Jones, to approve the articles as presented with insertion of the numbers discussed (copy attached).  Motion carried unanimously.    

9.   Adjournment  On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 4:45 p.m. 


Heather Michaud


School Articles for City Warning




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