Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - November 19, 2014

Minutes - November 19, 2014

1.  Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m.

2. Adjust/Review Agenda Mr. Phillips requested a few minutes to report on his visit with members of the Senior Center.

3.  Public Comments None.

4.  Update from Director of Facilities Thom Wood Regarding Fifth Grade Relocation to Main Street Middle School Mr. Wood provided a summary of the physical changes necessary to accommodate moving the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School. Mr. Wood has been working with Black River Design on the scope of the work, as well as a design package. Proposals for general construction work were solicited from general contractors and three bids were received. A summary of the bids was provided. The low bidder was Spates Construction and it was Mr. Wood’s recommendation to the Board to enter into a contract with them to perform the necessary renovation work.

Actual timing of the work was discussed. All three bidders proposed similar construction schedules. Spates Construction proposed a February 21, 2015 start date, with projection completion in May. Mr. Wood reviewed the benefits of this timing.

Prior history with Spates Construction was discussed, as well as concerns about school happening simultaneously with a construction project. Mr. Wood explained that the project area is conducive to this occurring, in addition to the fact that Spates Construction has provided assurance that they will do whatever possible to minimize noise, dust, etc.

Mrs. Aldrich raised the question of background checks for the construction workers. Following discussion, it was decided that Mr. Wood will follow-up with Spates Construction to see what safeguards may already be in place on school construction projects to assure the safety and security of students. He will report back to the Board on this issue before the projected start date of February 21, 2015.

5.  Discuss Use of Fund Balance to Pay for Relocation of Fifth Grade to Main Street Middle School Project cost details were reviewed. Spates Construction’s base bid is $193,300. With an additional $20,000 in design and engineering costs, $2,425 for provided support (field labor for furniture moving, building permit and builders risk insurance), and a recommended 8.20% contingency in the amount of $19,275, the total project cost is $235,000. Mr. Wood requested that the Board authorize the use of fund balance resources for pay for the entire project. Mr. VanDerlip asked for an update on the fund balance. According to Superintendent Ricca, the unaudited amount is $948,225. Using $235,000 for the fifth grade relocation project would leave a remaining balance of $713,225, or approximately 4%, which is well above the 2% minimum required by policy.

6.  Actions Items

a. Approve Bid for Construction Work for Fifth Grade Relocation to Main Street Middle School Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the bid from Spates Construction for the necessary work for moving the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School, with work to commence on February 21, 2015. Motion carried unanimously.

b.  Approve Use of Fund Balance Resources to Pay for Relocation of Fifth Grade to Main Street Middle School Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mrs. Bean, to authorize the use of $235,000 for the renovation work to move the fifth grade to Main Street Middle School to be paid for from the school district’s fund balance. Motion carried unanimously.

7.  Discuss FY16 Budget Superintendent Ricca provided the requested 0%, 3% and 5% budget scenarios. Based on current information, Superintendent Ricca recommended that the Board direct the Leadership Team to return with a total budget increase of no more than 3% and an Act 68/per-pupil expenditure increase of no more than 4.35%. He said he has no idea what the numbers are going to look like when the actual state numbers come in and he is trying to stay as conservative as possible at this point based on last year’s state numbers. He believes conservative is the more prudent way to go. Superintendent Ricca acknowledged that while this is a conservative recommendation, there are also other costs to consider, i.e., preschool, and money that needs to be allocated around priorities. Superintendent Ricca hopes to be able to discuss preschool requirements more articulately at the next meeting.

Mrs. Aldrich said she was more than happy to take Superintendent Ricca’s recommendation, but at the same time expressed worry about the shock factor in regard to what the numbers are going to mean in terms of loss. Mr. Phillips supports the administration’s recommendation, acknowledging that it’s a good starting point and there are many pressures that are going to shape the conversation. Mrs. Braun expressed hope that the Leadership Team will be as up front and transparent as possible. Mr. VanDerlip asked if a 3% increase was fairly close to a rollover. Superintendent Ricca acknowledged that it was, but when you factor in mandates and priorities then some adjustments in the way the rest of the program looks are warranted. Mr. VanDerlip said he was interested in starting with a 3% budget.

8.  Discuss End Policy #3 Superintendent Ricca asked board members for feedback on what evidence to use to demonstrate the District is fulfilling end policy #3. Mr. VanDerlip said it was hard to imagine what this would look like without some feedback from the students. Mrs. Bean suggested taking the opportunity to talk to recent graduates again, and not just the people in college. Mrs. Aldrich suggested that each grade have a discussion about what their classes mean to them and then each grade choose one student ambassador to report out to the Board on it. Mrs. Braun commented that it would be great to be able to describe the District’s philosophy on differentiated learning. Following further discussion, there was consensus that direct student feedback is vital in the assessment of end policy #3. It was decided that Superintendent Ricca will return in two weeks with a plan for capturing the information and will then schedule a timeframe for accomplishing the plan.

9.  Update on Mandated Policies Superintendent Ricca explained the process for updating existing policies and getting new required policies on the books. Some of the policies will require limited effort of just dropping in new language and renumbering, while others will require a bit more work. It is the work of the Board to read through the policies and work through the appropriate number of warnings and adoption as mandated.

10. Policy – First Reading

a.  Board Member Conflict of Interest

b.  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Compliance

c.  Limited English Proficiency Students

d.  Participation of Home Study Students

e.  Federal Child Nutrition Act Wellness Policy

Mr. VanDerlip suggested that board members email him or Superintendent Ricca with suggested changes to these policies before the next scheduled meeting on December 3rd. Superintendent Ricca reminded board members that these are mandated policies and therefore not much room for wordsmithing. Mr. VanDerlip offered that it might be wise to look at these policies in terms of what they require the administration to do in order to ensure that the Board does not commit itself to something that is not doable.  

11. Update on Board Communications Plan Mr. Phillips reported on his meeting with members of the Senior Center. There were about 30 people in attendance for the lunch, with six people choosing to stay and meet with him after the lunch. Mr. Phillips said there is a real appreciation for the quality of the education that is provided in Montpelier. There were four recommendations that came as a result of the meeting, the first being that there should be a special school, perhaps shared with neighboring schools, for the lowest performing students or students whose presence distracts from the education of other students. The second recommendation was that the Board needs to limit the number of small classes, particularly at the high school. The third recommendation was that administrator costs are too high. The fourth and final recommendation was that there is a real lack of communication from the schools in regard to school events, particularly drama and music. Discussion in regard to methods for enhancing communication ensued. Mr. Phillips offered to meet with the group again after the FY16 budget is solidified.

12. Consent Agenda

a.  Minutes of November 5, 2014

b.  Warrants

c.  Co-Curricular Contracts

Mr. Phillips moved, seconded by Mrs. Bean, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the November 5, 2014 regular meeting, Warrants 27, 28 and 29 dated November 20, 2014 in the amounts of $831,400.71, $25,224.45 and $15,103.48 respectively and co-curricular contracts (see listing). Motion carried unanimously.

13. Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

- Negotiations with the teachers' union opened today.

- Great, packed music show at the middle school last night.

The MHS musical was a great show too.

The Board is scheduled to visit with the Rotary on January 12th at lunchtime. Anyone who wants to attend is welcome to do so.

- A test of the District’s messaging system will occur this Friday at 4:00 p.m.

George Huang and Omeed Fallahi of the MHS Debate Team obtained second overall place (out of 23 teams) at the Hanover High School tournament.

Congratulations to the Montpelier Clicks Robotics Team on their second-place trophy at the Vermont State Tournament held at Norwich University. They competed with 29 other teams.

14. Executive Session Mr. Phillips moved that the Board find that discussing contract negotiations in open session would put the Board at a substantial disadvantage. Mr. VanDerlip seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 8:05 p.m. Mrs. Braun moved that the Board enter into executive session in accordance with 1 VSA §313 to discuss contract negotiations. Mrs. Bean seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 8:05 p.m. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 8:41 p.m.

a.  Contract Negotiations

15. Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 8:42 p.m.

Heather Michaud




Co-curricular Appointments


Tibbetts, Patrick

Basketball, Boys: JV Coach


Zurowski, Kerri

Unified Sports Coordinator










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