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School Board Special Minutes 03/29/10

Lake Region School District
Special Meeting
March 29, 2010


There was a Special Meeting of the Lake Region School Board on Monday, March 29, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. in the Cafeteria at Lake Region High School.

Call to Order and Roll Call

Chairperson Warner called the meeting to order.  Board members present were:  Janice Barter, Mody Botros, Kenneth Brown, Jean Clancy, John Fillmore-Patrick, Laura Ordway, Philip Shane, and Janet Ver Planck.  Beth Chaplin was excused and Jody Gray, Richard Merritt, and Nikki South were absent.  

Administrators present were:  Kathleen Beecher, June Conley, Andrew Madura, Guy Stickney, Joshua Sturk, Cheryl Turpin, Sherrie Weese, and Patrick Phillips, Superintendent of Schools.

Approval of Agenda

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Laura Ordway, to approve the agenda as presented.  Motion carried unanimously.

Public Comments on Agenda Items

Brian Clark explained that Jeff Porter, an Educational Technician on the Sophomore Team had back surgery and had some disks fused together near Thanksgiving in hopes that he would be back to school in January.   Unfortunately, an infection set in and Mr. Porter was out of work for and additional month.  He missed 20 to 24 days of work that were unpaid.  Mr. Clark has a list of people who are willing to donate a sick day so that Mr. Porter can be paid for his unpaid days.  

Linda Lauer, an Educational Technician, spoke in support of keeping the ½ hour/day which is being reduced from educational technicians.  Several educational technicians rely on food stamps and fuel assistance to get by and one has to work three jobs to pay the bills.   Educational technicians have to have two years of college.  The Educational Technicians are the lowest paid group in the District.  They provide direct services to the students.  It was requested that the Board look at other groups to see if they could take a pay cut or work a little less time to help the educational technicians out.   

Barry Johnson, President of the Lake Region Teachers Association, spoke in regards to the budget reductions.  The reduction of $87,000 for a staff work day is still being listed as a reduction.  This has not been negotiated yet.  How can it be included in the budget if it hasn’t been negotiated?   The amount should be included in the undetermined reductions as it hasn’t been opened up for bargaining, it should not be listed as a known item.  It would not be bargaining in good faith if this stays on the reduction list.  

Budget

After the Board took action on the budget on March 1, the process of looking at the expenditures and revenues for the coming year has continued.  News was received from the Department of Education that the subsidy was going to be increased for the coming year.  Also, the amount projected for Anthem’s health insurance increase was less than anticipated.   The Board needs to review these changes in expenditures and revenues before approving the budget.   The Finance Committee reviewed the information and would like to have the full Board’s input in making the decision.  
  

Overview by Sherrie Weese :

Two forms were distributed prior to the meeting:
  • Budget Approved at the Board Meeting on March 1, 2010
  • Assessments Adjusted by Recent Changes in Health Insurance and State Subsidy
Ms. Weese explained that several scenarios were included on the “Assessments Adjusted by Recent Changes in Health Insurance and State Subsidy” as follows:

  • the assessment amount from the original budget approved on March 1.
  • the assessments if the additional amount of State subsidy, $160,000, was used to reduce town assessments.
  • the assessments if the $181,000 savings from health insurance, budgeted for 10% and the increase came in at 2%, was used to reduce town assessments.
  • The assessments if the combined total from the increase in State subsidy and the health insurance were used to reduce town assessments.    
Current unknowns include the following:

  • Medicaid                                        $100,000
  • Negotiations of two bargaining units              ??
  • Retirement Incentive                        50,000
  • There are currently two teachers who will be retiring and two teachers who have tentatively expressed their intent to retire.  A total of five teachers are necessary to institute the retirement incentive.   
                
It was the consensus of the Finance Committee to not allocate the $341,000 to see what happens with the unknowns.   The Committee did not vote on a recommendation as they wanted the full Board to comment on the options.  

Superintendent Phillips mentioned that the $100,000 from Medicaid would probably not be realized based on news from the State.   Also, possible savings from negotiations may not be likely.

Discussion included the following:

  • The Finance Committee felt that given the uncertainties, it would not be advisable to pull things off the reduction list.  The towns are urging the Board to get more savings to help lower taxes, especially for the Town of Casco.    
  • Next year’s budget doesn’t look any better based on the following:
  • the loss of the federal stimulus funds
  • the beginning of the payments for debt service for the renovation project at the high school and vocational center.  
  • It was felt that it would be best to be cautious with the funds this year which will help reduce the balance forward the following year.   
  • The Board approved the budget in the amount of $25,340,000 at the March 1 Board meeting.
  • Concern was expressed regarding the loss of the Librarian at Lake Region Middle School.  The District will only have one Librarian in the District.  With the Lake Region High School news, the District needs to bolster the literacy program and reducing a Librarian may not be the best thing to do.  

 
  • Reducing the literacy specialist time is also a concern.  The District needs to keep the literacy specialist position as originally budgeted and have the person available over the summer to help make whatever changes are necessary in the curriculum at the high school to keep students from failing at the higher level.
  • The Lake Region High School Status Committee will be giving the Board some direction for the high school.  The direction from the Committee will not be received until after the warrants are signed for the budget meeting and budget referendum on April 5, 2010.  Information regarding the LRHS status is required to be shared with the Board by April 19 and there will be a Special Board meeting on April 26 to make the final decision.   The District should have some money in reserve.
  • The $87,000 for the furlough day should be moved to the Unknown list and taken off the reduction list.  
  • The middle school can survive with an Ed. Tech. III instead of a Librarian but the position will not be the same as it is now.  It was thought that the savings would by $28,000 but it is only a savings of $15,000.  It was not recommended as a reduction but it was included on the list.  
  • The $341,000, if not allocated, would just be used as carry over next year.
  • The $341,000 should be used to reduce the town assessments.
A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Janet Ver Planck, to reinstate the Middle School Librarian position, $15,000, and the Literacy Specialist (8 days above the teacher contract),  $2,600,  into the budget.  

An amendment was made by Laura Ordway, seconded by John Fillmore-Patrick to take the $87,000 staff work day off the reduction list and put it on the Unknown list and not change the bottom line of the budget.

Discussion included the following:

  • With the expenditure of $104,600 from the $341,000, the remaining balance would be $236,400.  The remaining balance would stay in the budget as undesignated funds to cover the cost of the unknowns, if needed, any curtailment the State may need in 2010-11, recommendations from the high school review, expenses from the high school and vocational renovation projects, or equipment for the new Educational  services building.  It is important to keep some money available.  If the funds are not needed, they would go towards reducing the Town assessments the following year.
  • Money is available for the high school project if the District goes at it right.
  • Every year, the Board keeps reducing the budget and is keeping things tight and then there is a $1,000,000 balance forward.  The Town of Casco will be upset.   This is the District’s chance to lower the tax burden a bit.
Vote:  7-Yes, 1-No., 0-Abstentions.   Motion carried.

Request for Extended Use of Sick Bank Days

Superintendent Phillips mentioned that, as Mr. Clark had mentioned, a request was made to donate sick bank days to Jeff Porter.

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Janet Ver Planck, to approve the use of up to 20 sick bank days to be donated by employees who have volunteered to do so.   

Superintendent Phillips mentioned that the Board has approved this kind of request in the past.  However, it is worth noting that the Board should be thoughtful in approving the request.  Mr. Porter was working under the Educational Support Personnel’s contract which allows the maximum of 20 sick bank days.  The previous case was approved as there was no sick bank available for the employee.  This is an unfunded liability for the Board.  The District has also paid for substitute time that wouldn’t be paid.  It is an expense and a liability.  

This was discussed at the Personnel Committee meeting and it was mentioned that the request would come before the full Board.

The cost of approving the sick bank days would be approximately $2,000.
This is not an annual type of request or something the Board does routinely.  The employee has worked in the District for a long time and hasn’t used the sick bank before.  People have come forward to donate days, it would be a good thing to do.

Vote:  7-Yes, 2-No, 0-Abstentions.  Motion carried.

Executive Session

A motion was made by Mody Botros, seconded by Janet Ver Planck, to go into Executive Session to discuss a student matter, pursuant to M.R.S.A. 405 6.B.  Motion carried unanimously.  

The Board went into Executive Session at 8:46 p.m.  Mr. Stickney, the student and the student’s parent and a family friend were invited to attend the Executive Session.  

The Board returned to Public Session at 8:48 p.m.

A motion was made by Janice Barter, and seconded by John Fillmore-Patrick, to suspend the student until a dangerousness risk assessment is done and then hold another executive session to determine if the Board will expel the student.  Vote:  5-Yes, 4-N0, 0-Abstentions.  Motion carried.  

Adjournment

A motion was made by Mody Botros, seconded by John Fillmore-Patrick, to adjourn.  Motion carried unanimously.

The meeting adjourned at 8:50 p.m.

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                                                                        Secretary

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                                                                        Date Approved