Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - November 5, 2014

Minutes - November 5, 2014

1.  Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 6:30 p.m.

2.  Executive Session Mr. VanDerlip moved that the Board find that discussing contract negotiations in open session would put the Board at a substantial disadvantage. Mr. Phillips seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 6:31 p.m. Mr. VanDerlip moved that the Board enter into executive session in accordance with 1 VSA §313 to discuss contract negotiations. Mr. Phillips seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 6:31 p.m. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 7:01 p.m.

a.  Contract Negotiations

3.  Return to Open Session 7:03 p.m.

4.  Adjust/Review Agenda No changes.

5.  Public Comments Montpelier resident Jim Hutton presented on behalf of a group of UES fourth grade parents. He addressed the issue of the elimination of bussing for fifth graders with next year’s transition of the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School. He asked the Board to consider that oversight as it will have a significant impact on parents. Mr. Hutton went on to say that it would be a huge advantage for the Board to consider the possibility of bussing for all students at the middle school. He said not have bussing for kids in outlying areas was fairly regressive policy. Another parent, Dustin Rand, also shared his frustration with the lack of bussing for middle school students.

6.  Student Presentation Regarding Enrollment Projections MHS student Isaac Mears shared enrollment findings from his CBL project work with Mr.

7.  Discuss Superintendent Limitations Reports

a.  2.3 Financial Condition and Activities A written report was provided. Superintendent Ricca invited questions, comments, and feedback on the report. Mr. VanDerlip said he was not interested in having Superintendent Ricca spend an inordinate amount of time on a report that may be of marginal value. Mr. VanDerlip went on to ask Superintendent Ricca for more information about one item in the report dealing with overspending in regard to substitute teachers. Superintendent Ricca replied by saying this was a difficult number to estimate due to the lack of trends in this area and the number of variables that go into the number. Mr. Jones does not interpret this limitation as one that requires the superintendent to ask for permission to overspend or prohibits overspending. He simply asked to be made aware when overspending occurs and suggested providing that information through the quarterly financial reports.

Mr. VanDerlip again asked for more commentary and conversation in regard to quarterly financial reports. Following discussion, there was not full Board support for this request and it was decided that for now financial reports will remain on the consent agenda. If a board member has specific questions about an item or items on a financial report, a request will be made to remove the report from the consent agenda so that further discussion can occur.

Mr. VanDerlip inquired about the use of "green" products in the schools. Mr. VanDerlip supported and Mr. Phillips seconded the idea of developing a thoughtful strategy for effectively attracting tuition paying students to the District. Following discussion, it was determined that there are current efforts in this area. With that information, it was suggested that this be included as a future agenda item for an update on current efforts and further discussion.

b.  2.4 Financial Planning and Budgeting A written report was provided. Superintendent Ricca invited questions, comments, and feedback on the report. Discussion ensued in regard to the intent to connect the budget presentation to the Ends priorities or to the Board's priorities.

8.  Action Item

a.  Rescission of Policy: Field Trips Superintendent Ricca recommended rescission of said policy provided there is notice to the Board as to which trips are occurring and feedback as to the content and quality of said trips. Mr. Phillips moved, seconded by Mrs. Braun, to rescind the Field Trips policy. Mr. Jones reiterated the importance of ensuring that low income students be given as much of an opportunity as possible to participate in these trips. Motion carried

9.  Discuss Update to MPS Board Policies Superintendent Ricca reported that he and Mr. VanDerlip met this week and identified a number of mandated policies that are not yet on the District's books. Superintendent Ricca and Mr. VanDerlip will be reviewing those policies and will bring them to the Board in a timely fashion so that they are properly warned and the appropriate number of readings occur. Once the mandated policies are up to date, Superintendent Ricca and Mr. VanDerlip will look at the recommended policies and follow a similar process. The District is currently lacking ten mandated policies.

10. Review Class Size Policy With moving the fifth grade from Union Elementary School to Main Street Middle School, Superintendent Ricca reported that the District will be within its class size policy for average class size for every grade K-8. The only place not in compliance with the policy is at the high school, where class sizes are just a tad bit under. Superintendent Ricca's recommendation in terms using the class size policy in the development of the FY16 budget is to use the policy that currently exists as a guideline and to save any comments, revisions, or rethinking on the policy until after the FY16 budget has been settled. He said changing the policy and preparing the budget at the same time would be counterproductive and counterintuitive and would not be in the best interest of having a draft budget on time that is attentive to policy. Mr. VanDerlip agreed, with the caveat for justifiable class sizes as needed as suggested by Mr. Phillips. When the time comes for the policy to be revised, Superintendent Ricca suggested that the Board make it a policy that works for them, acknowledging that exceptions arise all the time. He suggested providing an opportunity to hear from the community on this policy after the budget is

11. Discuss Priorities for FY16 Budget Superintendent Ricca reported that he shared the list of Board priorities with the Leadership Team. The Leadership Team has asked the Board to remain mindful of the fact that the District is still identified as a school in need of improvement. Superintendent Ricca asked board members for their acknowledgement and understanding that their priority on the arts will most likely have some "consequences" in terms of core class sizes elsewhere throughout the District. Following discussion, there was consensus for the possibility of larger core classes at the middle and high school levels in order to preserve the Board’s priority on the arts.

Adult to student ratios for MPS from 2013-2014 were distributed and discussed.

Mr. VanDerlip expressed interest in examining the size of the impact on the local tax rate based on the three budget scenarios requested, i.e., 0%, 3.5% and 5%. He requested this information early in the budget process rather than later. Superintendent Ricca explained that some assumptions from last year will have to be used – last year’s base education payment amount, equalized pupil, tax rate, and CLA – in order to provide the information requested by Mr. VanDerlip. Mr. Jones cautioned that while this will provide information as to the proportional change, it will not produce the actual dollar amount that will end up on tax bills.

12. Consent Agenda

a.  Minutes of October 15, 2014

b.  Minutes of October 22, 2014

c.  Warrants

Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the October 15, 2014 special meeting, minutes of the October 22, 2014 regular meeting, and Warrants 25 and 26 dated November 6, 2014 in the amounts of $1,019,428.46 and $23,787.89 respectively. Motion carried unanimously.

13. Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

-     Mr. Jones asked to review the budget schedule for the next few meetings as he is unable to attend the next scheduled meeting on November 19th. Superintendent Ricca offered that the audit is scheduled for December 3rd, with the first draft of the budget coming on December 17th.

-          The middle school craft fair is scheduled for November 15th.

-          The MHS musical is earlier this year – November 13th, 14th and 15th.

-      Congratulations to both the girls and boys cross country teams on successful seasons and best of luck to the boys this weekend at the New England Championships.

14. Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 8:38 p.m.


Heather Michaud






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