Montpelier Board of School CommissionersMinutesMinutes - January 21, 2015

Minutes - January 21, 2015

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

2.  Adjust/Review Agenda Addition of a resignation to the consent agenda.

3. Public Comments Several parents spoke in opposition to the planned elimination of looping for grades 2-4 and to slightly larger than average class sizes for the third grade at Union Elementary School for the 2015-2016 schoolThey expressed frustration with having learned of the proposed changes for next year at a budget meeting and asked for more transparency going forward. The parents strongly encouraged the Board to maintain the same number of teachers for next year’s third grade class and requested that the item be added to the next agenda. Mrs. Aldrich sought input from other board members on this request. Receiving no response, she replied by saying that she believed the Board needed to discuss class sizes, as well as the corresponding policy, before any discussion occurs.

4.  Review FY16 Budget Process Board members reflected on the budget process, citing a positive experience overall. The Board thanked Mrs. Braun for leading them through the priority settingMrs. Braun asked if the budget process served the administration’s needs. Superintendent Ricca responded by saying that the Leadership Team was very happy with the process. His only request was that they be present the next time priorities are set.

Regarding the planned changes at UES for FY16, Mr. VanDerlip said the Board needs to be more aware when there is going to be a structural change. Superintendent Ricca said he fully supported the process used by Principal Hennessey and that he and Principal Hennessey are strategizing on ways to improve in terms of collecting feedback when future changes occur. He asked the Board for their assistance in crafting a good class size policy so the administration will have guidance when a situation like this comes up. Superintendent Ricca said he believes there are better class size policies out there that more accurately reflect the values of this community.

Mr. Phillips said what bothered him the most was that the parents at tonight’s meeting did not feel heard and the Board had missed the opportunity for a good, open discussion. He said resisting the parents’ request to be put on the agenda really worked against the Board. He said he was prepared to support the administration’s decision but did not have the opportunity to do so. He said he believed there were strong, valid reasons for the administration’s decision and he wanted an opportunity to discuss with the parents why he was not going to change his mind. Mr. Jones agreed with Mr. Phillips, saying it was time to put the matter on the agenda. Mrs. Aldrich wondered if putting the matter on the agenda would only give the parents false hope. Similarly, Mrs. Braun questioned the value of putting the matter on the agenda if board members were not going to change their mind about supporting the administration’s decision. Mr. VanDerlip believes the matter should be on the agenda so board members can be genuine and respond, rather than just listen. He said having the matter on the agenda would allow board members the opportunity to provide justifiable reasons for why they were choosing to follow the advice of the administration and staff. Mr. Jones suggested ground rules for the meeting if the matter is put on the agenda.

Mr. VanDerlip requested any additional information to help him better understand why this decision was made. Mr. Jones agreed, saying he would like to hear the perspective of Principal Hennessey and the team. Mrs. Bean also recognized the importance of parents feeling heard, but believes the Board needs to have the conversation in context of the policy. She said it was a good time for the class size policy to be discussed and that the District needs a policy that will stand the test of time. She said the policy discussion needs to be deliberative and slow, and board members need to take time to think about it, to ask questions, and to listen to the people. Superintendent Ricca agreed with Mrs. Bean’s assessment of how to go forward with the class size policy.

5.  Review Board Calendar Superintendent Ricca reported that some of the superintendent limitations policies appear on the calendar twice and asked the Board if it was truly their desire to receive reports on those policies twice a year. Mr. VanDerlip replied by saying that the reporting dates were taken straight from the policies. It was suggested that Superintendent Ricca check in with the Board the month before a scheduled reporting to preview the policy and determine whether or not the Board is actually interested in hearing about it. Following discussion, there was consensus to proceed in that fashion. It was also suggested that the calendar be used as a means for regular policy review once all of the mandated policies have been updated.

6.  Discuss Board Participation During Legislative Session Superintendent Ricca asked for board member volunteers to keep tabs on the session and report as appropriate. Following discussion, it was decided that when a relevant item comes from the VSBA, Superintendent Ricca will include it on the agenda for discussion.

7.  Policy - Second Reading  No further revisions requested; the policies will be warned for adoption at the next scheduled meeting. 

a.  Board Member Conflict of Interest

b.  Participation of Home Study Students

c.  Limited English Proficiency Students

d.  Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act

8.  Action Item

a.  Approve Articles for City Vote Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mr. Phillips, to approve the articles as presented. Motion carried unanimously.

b.  Adoption of Policy – Federal Child Nutrition Act Wellness Policy Mr. VanDerlip moved, seconded by Mrs. Bean, to adopt the Federal Child Nutrition Act Wellness Policy as presented. Mrs. Braun said she recognized the need for this policy to be adopted tonight in advance of the upcoming audit. However, she went on to say that she would like the policy to reflect more ambitious 21st century physical activity goals and procedures promoting something much more consistent with what the District actually does and requested that the Board revisit this policy at some point in the near future. Motion carried unanimously.

9.  Consent Agenda

a.  Minutes of January 7, 2015

b.  Warrants

c.  Resignation

i.  Karen Rodis

d.  Financial Report

Mr. Phillips moved, seconded by Mrs. Braun, to approve the consent agenda including minutes of the January 7, 2015 regular meeting with one correction as requested by Mr. Phillips, Warrants 39, 40 and 41 dated January 29, 2015 in the amounts of $752,337.36, $38,096.86 and $15,402.55 respectively, a teacher resignation, and the FY15 second quarter financial report. Motion carried unanimously.

10.  Announcements/Review Meeting (+/∆)

-      Superintendent Ricca read an unsigned letter from the Chair of the U-32 School Board and the Chair of the Washington Central Full Board indicating the U-32 Board had agreed at its January 7, 2015 meeting that Washington Central needs to finish Phase II of its Efficiency Study and then the Washington Central Full Board would discuss how to move forward with that information. The Chairs believe their boards would be open to meetings between the Montpelier School District and Washington Central Supervisory Union starting in late spring or early summer. In the meantime, they acknowledged that both of the superintendents meet regularly and would keep their boards apprised of the discussions at each board.

11. Mr. Jones moved that the Board find that discussing contract negotiations in open session would put the Board at a substantial disadvantage.  Mrs. Braun seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 8:55 p.m.  Mr. VanDerlip moved that the Board enter into Executive Session in accordance with 1 VSA §313 to discuss contract negotiations.  Mrs. Braun seconded and the motion carried unanimously at 8:55 p.m.  On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to leave Executive Session at 9:20 p.m.  

a.  Contract Negotiations

12. Adjournment On a motion duly made and seconded, the Board voted unanimously to adjourn at 9:20 p.m.



Heather Michaud



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