Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - September 17, 2014

Minutes - September 17, 2014

1.  Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 6:15 p.m.

2.  Executive Session On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to enter Executive Session at 6:15 p.m., with the superintendent remaining. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 7:04 p.m.

a.  Contract Negotiations

3.  Return to Open Session 7:08 p.m.

4.  Adjust/Review Agenda No changes.

5.  Public Comments None.

6.  Presentation from Main Street Middle School MSMS Literacy Coach Patti Magoon and teachers Lisa Moody, Kim Scott and Eli Rosenberg discussed and demonstrated ways they have modified and adjusted instructional strategies for implementing the Common Core.

7.  Report from Director of Facilities Thom Wood

a.  Status of Bond Projects Mr. Wood provided the Board with an update on the status of bond projects. A handout was provided. There is currently about $70,000 of bond money not allocated to any one project based on the over/under of other projects.

b.  Completed Summer Work Mr. Wood briefly reviewed the routine repair/maintenance projects completed at each of the buildings over the summer. A handout was provided. Projects that still need to be completed were also discussed.

c.  Cost Analysis Regarding Relocation of the Fifth Grade to Main Street Middle School Mr. Wood has been working with Black River Design to come up with a plan for performing selective renovations at Main Street Middle School to accommodate moving the fifth grade to that building. Black River Design has given the District two budgets. Their first pass was a very comprehensive plan that included renovating the entire ground floor area of the addition. The estimated cost of that work was $479,029. This amount was substantially more than what the District anticipated, so Mr. Wood went back to Black River Design to work with them on getting something more affordable. He has been working with them on an alternate solution and a more realistic budget for the renovation work. Based on those conversations, Black River Design returned an estimate of $250,000 for performing the renovations on a reduced scope. Mr. Wood is confident that he can work with Black River Design to perform the renovations for that price and that the work can be completed during next summer's construction season. Mr. Wood has asked Black River Design to generate a hard plan, as well as a very detailed estimate of probable costs, by November 1, 2014. Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to recognize the need to move the fifth grade to the Main Street Middle School and authorized the District to take the steps necessary to make that happen. Motion carried unanimously. A communication plan for notifying families and addressing concerns about the relocation of the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School was discussed.

8. Superintendent’s Report on End #1 A written report was provided. Superintendent Ricca asked board members if the information provided in his report was what they were looking for. Mr. Jones opined that static snapshots of proficiency work are not truly indicative of how the District is doing and cited the need to see and understand longitudinal change data. He said in the future he would like information presented that way. Mr. Phillips agreed, indicating he needs to see what happens over time in order to evaluate whether or or not progress is really being made. Superintendent Ricca acknowledged that the type of reporting Mr. Jones was asking for would also help internally and agreed to make this year's data the baseline for next year's End #1 report.

Mr. Phillips asked for some future analysis on the drop in writing scores at the middle school. Mrs. Braun asked Superintendent Ricca if there was anything in his data that appeared significant to him. Superintendent Ricca said it was clear that the District was not meeting the needs of its most needy students, especially the boys, and needed to work on that. Mr. Jones suggested that the report for End #1 might be enhanced with the inclusion of portfolio data. Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, that the Board instruct Superintendent Ricca to provide them with information about how the report for End #1 will be improved for future years based upon the District's movement toward portfolio development for its students. Mrs. Braun questioned whether the language for End #1 should be adapted to reflect Mr. Jones' request. Following discussion, it was decided that the language is fine as is. Superintendent Ricca said he believed that including portfolio data as another indicator for End #1 would be an excellent step in the right direction, as portfolios can capture much more meaningful information. He went on to say that it is how the District should be fully assessing its students – around improvement and growth – and he would be proud to come back and begin a real conversation around this. Motion carried unanimously.    

9.  Discuss Board Communications Plan Mrs. Aldrich announced that Vibrant and Affordable Montpelier (VAM) will be conducting another informational type meeting on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting will take place at Noble Hall at Vermont College. Mrs. Aldrich plans on attending the meeting to inquire of city residents as to their priorities for the schools. Mrs. Aldrich reminded the Board about Val Gardner's recommendation to step up efforts at communicating and getting feedback from the community. She said the VAM meeting is an opportunity to do that. Superintendent Ricca asked what other venues would be helpful to have outreach ahead of hard budget numbers. Mr. Phillips suggested reaching out to the Senior Center and to Rotary. He volunteered to attend the informational meetings that are going to be set up by Principals Arnold and Hennessey in regard to the fifth grade move. Mrs. Braun suggested the Montpelier business association and neighborhood associations.

City resident Page Guertin suggested a regular article in The Bridge to communicate information about the schools. Superintendent Ricca explained that he and Director of Curriculum & Technology Michael Martin have this year begun the process of being more thoughtful and purposeful about use of the school pages in that paper to give people a better understanding of what is happening in the schools.

10. Preliminary Discussion Regarding FY16 Budget Superintendent Ricca reported that the Leadership Team has started to have very preliminary conversations around the FY16 budget. He said it would be helpful for the team to know what priorities the Board is interested in pursuing as they make decisions and shape the budget, knowing it will be a complicated one. Mr. Phillips said he would like to set institution of a foreign language program at the elementary school as a priority. He said he did not believe it would be incredibly expensive based on the previous study that was conducted. Mr. Phillips also asked to look at Community Connections. Mrs. Aldrich said she thought the Board should have an official priority setting meeting. She asked board members if their preference was to do that during one of the next regularly scheduled meeting after some community outreach or if they wanted to have a separate meeting. Following discussion, it was decided that developing a process for establishing priorities would be included as an agenda item for the next scheduled meeting on October 1, 2014. An at-home viewer suggested adding National Life and CVMC to the list of organizations for community outreach. Group assignments for community outreach were made. Mrs. Aldrich and Mr. Phillips will attend the VAM meeting. Mr. Phillips will contact Rotary. Ms. Paquette will contact the Senior Center. Mrs. Braun will contact the capital area neighborhoods. Mr. Jones will contact City Manager Bill Fraser or Mayor John Hollar for some time on the City Council agenda. Mrs. Bean will contact Montpelier Alive.

11.  Consent Agenda

 a.  Minutes of September 3, 2014

 b.  Warrants

 c.  Unpaid Leave of Absence Request

Mr. Jones moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the September 3, 2014 regular meeting, Warrants 16, 17 and 18 dated September 25, 2014 in the amounts of $920,358.64, $37,678.19 and $122,272.86 respectively, and an unpaid leave of absence request. Motion carried unanimously.

12. Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

-          Pleased to see the middle school had a strong cross country showing.

13. Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:08 p.m.


Heather Michaud





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