Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - January 7, 2015

Minutes - January 7, 2015

1.  Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 6:03 p.m.

2. 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. Jones seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 6:03 p.m. Mr. Jones moved that the Board enter into executive session in accordance with 1 VSA §313 to discuss contract negotiations. Ms. Phillips seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 6:03 p.m. On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 6:42 p.m.

a.  Contract Negotiations

3.  Return to Open Session 7:00 p.m.

4.  Adjust/Review Agenda No changes.

5.  Public Comments None.

6.  Student Presentation Four recent MHS graduates shared their thoughts with the Board on how their experience in the Montpelier schools prepared them for their current experiences and life beyond high school. Mr. VanDerlip thanked the former students for attending and expressed the value of the feedback they shared.

7.  Discuss Recommendation from the Leadership Team in Regard to Bussing Superintendent Ricca provided a copy of the policy on transportation, noting the District is not in compliance with said policy. He recommended that the Board – despite the age of the last policy revision (1987) - task the Leadership Team with grandfathering the remainder of the current year with the current model of bussing in place (K-5), reviewing what implications would result with full compliance of the policy as written, and returning to the Board with further recommendations and updates to the policy. He recommended no further changes to the current bussing model. Superintendent Ricca said he wanted more time to review the bussing policy holistically K-12 to evaluate what the District might do better and then return to the Board with a more appropriate bussing policy. Discussion ensued. Mrs. Braun said she believed the District needed to solve the problem parents are contending with right now and asked for a plan before August to find out what a reasonable bussing situation might look like. Superintendent Ricca replied by saying that something hastily put together would not be in the District’s best interest and the prudent step would be to do it thoughtfully. He went on to say that if the Board was looking for a comprehensive review within the confines of the current budget, he would be remiss to recommend anything but a slow process. Mr. VanDerlip commented that climate, i.e., social and behavioral issues on busses, should be considered in developing any new policy. He said he saw nothing wrong with asking the bus service what it would cost to provide bus transportation for grades 5-8 just to get a number. This would allow the District to get a better idea of what they were looking at. The private auto versus public transportation argument was also discussed.

Mrs. Aldrich said she saw no solution to the current bussing concerns other than to add busses which would add expense. If the District provides bussing for grades 5-8, everyone will just get on the bus and she believes this will be counterproductive. She cautioned that the Board needs to be careful with what they are charging the Leadership Team to look at, as it may result in an outcome they do not want to foster. Mr. Phillips agreed, adding that expanding bussing for grades 6-8 clouds the issue and he was set on focusing on just the fifth graders. He said he wanted a reasonable approach to the problem and expects that in the course of research the District will figure out if they need to be bussing more than grades K-5. He believes the administration’s proposal to study the issue addresses the problem. Mrs. Bean believes the Board needs to revisit this policy given all of the new information it has and design a policy that makes sense for the District in the long term rather than jump to a decision which leads to a bad result. Ms. Paquette said she tends to jump to the band-aid and the band-aid in this situation is kids get to take a bus to UES.

Principal Arnold believes the current policy, although outdated, contains valuable information. She said for her the issue of bussing is less about grade and more about identifying those areas within the city of Montpelier where kids need to be transported.

Following discussion, Mr. Phillips moved, seconded by Mrs. Bean, that the Board grandfather for the remainder of this year and continue to use the current model of bussing K-5 students with the understanding that the administration will study the present policy to determine to what degree it is appropriate to continue with it and expect a recommendation from the administration for updates to the policy by the first meeting in May. Motion carried unanimously.

8.  Policy - Second Reading

a.  Federal Child Nutrition Act Wellness Policy Other than formatting, there were no further changes to the proposed policy since the first reading. Superintendent Ricca explained that this policy needs to be finalized and on the record in advance of an upcoming audit. Mr. Jones inquired as to whether or not the proposed policy had been floated by the food service manager since she will have the ultimate responsibility of complying with its terms. Superintendent Ricca confirmed that review of the proposed policy by the food service manager had in fact occurred. The policy will be warned for adoption at the next scheduled meeting.

9.  Discuss FY16 School Budget Superintendent Ricca presented the second draft of the FY16 budget with the adjusted CLA figure. This was the only change to the proposed budget presented previously. A new tax summary sheet was provided and reviewed. The proposed new general fund budget totals $17,428,877. Superintendent Ricca provided the Board with an explanation as to how he arrived at the District’s adult-to-student ratio of 4.91. Mr. Jones commented that while that number was good for state communication, he was more interested in how the administration was addressing small class sizes. He said he had no qualms with certain classes having a small number of students, but felt additional discussion was needed in order to satisfy the priority set by the Board in this regard. Principals Arnold, Bunting and Hennessey reported on class size scenarios at their respective schools. Mr. Jones requested that Superintendent Ricca circulate those numbers so that board members could discuss them. Following that discussion, Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the proposed FY16 general fund budget in the amount of $17,428,877 which includes using $150,000 from the fund balance to defray tax costs. Motion carried unanimously.

10.  Consent Agenda

a.  Minutes of December 17, 2014

b.  Warrants

c.  FY16 Tuition Rates

d.  School Choice Agreement

e.  Audit Services Contract

f.  Special Education Line Item Transfer

Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Ms. Paquette, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the December 17, 2014 regular meeting, Warrants 36, 37 and 38 dated January 15, 2015 in the amounts of $531,954.58, $33,094.38 and $53,356.60 respectively, FY16 maximum tuition rates in the amounts of $11,000 for grades K-6 and $16,011 for grades 7-12, the Winooski Valley school choice agreement, the proposal for audit services from Fothergill, Segale & Valley for FY15-FY17, and a line item transfer in the amount of $36,498.00 from contracted services to supplies in the special education budget. Motion carried unanimously.

11.  Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

 -    Ms. Paquette commented that while preparing payroll for her local restaurant business this week, she realized that she has 15 MHS students working for her currently. She said they are amazing, responsible kids with a great work ethic and she feels very fortunate to have them in her employ.

 12.  Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:05 p.m.


Heather Michaud



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