Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - September 3, 2014

Minutes - September 3, 2014

1. Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 7:01 p.m.

2.  Adjust/Review Agenda No changes.

3. Public Comments None.

4. Review Leadership Team/Board Retreat Board members and Superintendent Ricca reflected on the recent half-day retreat between the Board and the Leadership Team and exchanged positive thoughts and comments about the meeting.

5. Hear Report on Meeting with Val Gardner Superintendent Ricca, Mrs. Aldrich and Messrs. Phillips and Jones reported on their recent meeting with Val Gardner. The meeting was held in order to bring Mr. Jones up to date on Ms. Gardner’s prior discussion with the Board since Mr. Jones was not able to attend that meeting. Role of the board, board priorities and policies were discussed. Ms. Gardner is interested and willing to continue working with the Board. Next steps will be for her to work with Superintendent Ricca and Mrs. Aldrich (and maybe Mr. Phillips) on agenda planning. She will also work with Superintendent Ricca on monitoring reports, limitations reports and superintendent reports.

6. Update on Program/Finance Committee Mrs. Braun and Mr. VanDerlip reported on the August meeting. Enrollment data from Montpelier and U-32 was obtained and one of the discoveries was that this data requires a lot of interpretation. A directive was given to administration to review enrollment for both schools and look at other details that do or do not make it possible to collaborate to maximize opportunities for students. The committee asked for a report back detailing where collaboration is already taking place, where it could take place, what are the hurdles that make collaboration challenging, and what needs to change in order for more collaboration to occur.

Mrs. Braun and Mr. VanDerlip also reported that the committee received a positive report on the Recreation Department. The Recreation Department was compared to others of comparable size and committee members were blown away by the number of people being served by the Rec. Department. Programs offerings were compared to the school and Community Connections offerings. It was found that there was no overlap, with offerings being complimentary and not duplicative. No significant opportunities for change were identified.

One committee member has been designated to report on what is happening in regard to distance learning, i.e., what the possibilities are and how to make this a more robust avenue for student learning. Ideas for enhancing revenue, i.e., being more aggressive about seeking students who do not have a designated high school, as well as foreign students, were also discussed. Mr. VanDerlip acknowledged that the committee had put the burden of finding out what is happening and what could change with distance learning, tuition paying students, etc. on the administration. The next meeting is scheduled for September 17th.

Following the report, Mrs. Aldrich, questioned whether the Board wanted committee members giving directives to the administration. Mr. Jones agreed, saying that was not the way the committee was set up. The committee was formed for the purpose of gathering information and making recommendations to the Board. Mrs. Braun clarified that the committee did not direct the administration to do anything they were not already doing. The directive was to gather information and look at it, not to take any action. She said the committee is still meeting and has not put together what their recommendations to the Board are going to be.

Mr. Jones opined that he does not believe the committee is going to be in a position to help with the upcoming budget. He said he wanted to plant the seed for considering what it would really take for the District to join with U-32 as a single high school educating unit. Mrs. Braun acknowledged that the committee took that off the table because it was too big of an issue. Mr. Jones wants to consider that specific opportunity. He said he was not prepared to make such a motion currently, but forewarned fellow board members that he would be prepared to do so in the next 4-6 weeks.

7. Preliminary Discussion Regarding FY16 Budget Superintendent Ricca asked the Board for parameters to follow in setting the FY16 budget, noting it would be most helpful to have some priorities and financial percentage guidelines. Discussion in regard to identifying priorities ensued. Mr. VanDerlip commented that the cost of moving the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School needs to be woven into the planning for next year. He said he also believes that the District needs to focus on what its per-pupil spending has been and is going to be.

Mr. Jones reviewed the plan for moving the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School as documented in the October 16, 2013 Minutes. On April 2, 2014, Director of Facilities Thom Wood requested and was granted approval to spend $12,000.00 on a fifth grade relocation study. Mr. Jones requested to see the results of that study before making a final decision on the matter. There was some difference of opinion between board members as to whether a final decision about moving the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School had already been made. It appears planning for the move has mistakenly been occurring absent a formal vote by the Board. Mr. VanDerlip noted the importance of an explicit decision on the matter rather than just letting it happen. He suggested hearing Mr. Wood’s report at the next scheduled meeting on September 17th, with a final decision on the matter thereafter. Six of the seven board members supported the idea of including this matter on the agenda for the September 17, 2014 meeting so that anyone wishing to weigh in on the matter would have an opportunity to do so.

Mr. Phillips identified resources for marketing the school system as a possible budget priority. He would also like to know if the District has adhered to its class size policy.  

8. Discuss Board Communications Plan Mrs. Aldrich noted the importance of thoughtful community outreach and asked for suggestions for going out in an organized way to see what people want for the schools. Mr. Jones suggested having Val Gardner identify successful strategies for accomplishing this. Mrs. Braun remembered that Mary Lundeen had suggested hosting coffee hours and then expanding. Mrs. Aldrich suggested holding another forum to engage the community. Mr. Phillips asked if it would be worthwhile for board members to be regular attendees at parent group meetings. Superintendent Ricca said he thought it would be in the Board’s interest to reach out to stakeholders other than direct beneficiaries. Mrs. Braun believes the Board needs to connect with direct beneficiaries as well since the Board may be considering budget reductions that could impact programs. She said the Board needs to be prepared to work with as many groups in as many ways as possible and wondered how to do that. Mr. Jones believes the ideal would be for the community to be part of the priority setting discussion. Mr. Phillips agreed, noting the importance of engaging the community before adopting a budget, not after. Following further discussion, it was agreed that the priority setting discussion will take place at the scheduled October 1st meeting. Mrs. Aldrich and Superintendent Ricca will work with Amy Nixon from The Times Argus on getting the word out. The Board will identify specific groups to meet with and delegate which member will speak with each group at their next scheduled meeting on September 17th.

9.  Consent Agenda

a.  Minutes of June 20, 2014

b.  Minutes of July 16, 2014

c.  Warrants

d.  Co-Curricular Contracts

Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mrs. Bean, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the June 20, 2014 special meeting, minutes of the July 16, 2014 regular meeting, Warrants 13, 14 and 15 dated September 11, 2014 in the amounts of $446,476.08, $16,417.96 and $120,183.94 respectively, and co-curricular contracts (see listing). Motion carried unanimously.

10.  Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

11.  Executive Session On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to enter Executive Session at 8:49 p.m., with the superintendent remaining. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 9:45 p.m.

a.  Contract Negotiations

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


Heather Michaud



Co-curricular Appointments


Bishay, Irene

Fall Play (Technical Director)


Facciolo, Irene

Auditorium Operations


O’Hara, Cailin

Fall Play (Music Director)


Pearson, Brooke

Debate/Forensics Co-Advisor


Pearson, Brooke

Scholars’ Bowl Advisor


Russo, Marijke

Debate/Forensics Co-Advisor


Vazquez, Amia

Fall Play (Choreographer)




© 2015 Montpelier Public Schools