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School Board Minutes 03/25/13 Special Meeting

LAKE REGION SCHOOL DISTRICT
SPECIAL MEETING
March 25, 2013

There was a Special Meeting of the Lake Region School Board on Monday,
March 25, 2013 at 6:30 p.m. in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center.

CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL

Jody Gray called the meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.  Board members present were:  Janice Barter, Karen Eller, Elaine Heuiser, Cindy LeBlanc, Peter Morrison, Donna Norton, Erica Pond Green, Joseph McMahon, Richard Merritt, Philip Shane, and Karla Swanson-Murphy.  Beth Chaplin was absent.

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Karen Eller, to approve the agenda with the following changes:

Add 4. Public Comments on Agenda
    6. Public Comments on Non-Agenda Items

Motion carried unanimously.
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PRESENTATION

Leadership Team Alternate Budget Recommendation to the Board

Superintendent Beecher distributed the following documents:  

Leadership Team Original Proposal – dated March 18, 2013 (pink)
Finance Committee Proposal – dated March 18, 2013 (yellow)
Revised Leadership Team Proposal – dated March 20, 2013 (blue)

The original proposal was a needs-based budget which had been requested by the Finance Committee.  This budget was reviewed by the Leadership Team, and reductions of about 1%, $260,000, were made.  The budget was presented to the Finance Committee with a 8.74% increase.

The Finance Committee made some recommended changes (yellow sheet). The result of the changes were a 7.5% increase. ~The increase includes the following:  3.3% for the Governor’s retirement proposal; bonding interest; and 1.7% for existing employees projected salary and benefit increases.  Superintendent Beecher explained that it would be fiscally irresponsible to not include the retirement amount in the budget as the State had already provided the amount to the District.

The Leadership Team met and discussed the budget following the Public Hearing and Board discussion on March 18.

The following revisions were made and included on the blue sheet:

  • The ELL teacher was reduced from full-time to .60 as the District currently only has 8 ELL students. ~
  • The part-time In-School Suspension position (.60) was added back in.
  • The stipend amount for the 6 Academy Leaders was reduced to 4 Academy Leaders.
  • The part-time Art Teacher (.40) was eliminated.
  • The Educational Technician for the Alternative Education Program was eliminated.
  • The Grade 3 Teacher at Songo Locks School was included in the budget. ~
  • The Pre-Kindergarten Program for $100,000 was eliminated.
  • Middle School projectors were eliminated.
~
This proposal equals a 7% increase.  Five percent (5%) is due to the retirement proposal, bonding interest, and salary increases of existing employees, and two percent (2%) represents new staffing and all other expenses i.e., fuel, out-of-district placements, etc.

The meeting was opened for questions to Administrators.

How is the high school going to go from 6 to 4 Academy Leaders? ~

  • Mr. Finn explained that there were actually 9 academies this year. ~The Academies will be clustered into 4 as follows:
  • STEM Academy – will encompass Design and Engineering; Natural Sciences, and Sports/Health and Wellness
  • The Academy of Visual and Performing Arts
  • The Lakers in Action Academy (which will encompass Community Service/Public Relations; Leadership; and Global Studies
  • The Vocational Academy
Are there any other programs we could combine to make the budget smaller?

  • Mr. Finn responded that we should not condense the programs any more.  
The high school is finally getting recognition for being a performing academy.  We need to sustain the elements of the SIG Grant.

June Conley was asked to speak to the need of the additional teacher.

  • June Conley responded that looking at the students’, specifically, the challenging behavior of the students with specific needs, the need for giving individual interventions, and the classroom sizes in the K-1 wing, there would not be enough room for 21-22 students. ~Also, specialists dealing with students, i.e. physical education, having enough equipment for everyone in the class would be an issue.
LRVC – Student Services Coordinator – will the position be cut to half-time?

  • Ms. Schacht responded that depending on how many programs go to half-time and the value of the program, there could be money left to add other programs.
  • If programs were reduced to half-time, and you did add a new program, would you choose a program over this position?
  • Ms. Schacht responded that April 11 is the first cut-off date for Vocational Center program choices.  Decisions will need to be made after that date.
What would happen to the money budgeted for the retirement piece if the Legislature does not vote to include the amount in the districts’ budgets.

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that the funds would be carried forward and not used.
The increase for projected salaries and benefits for existing staff equals 1.7%?  

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that 1.7% is the projected amount.
  • What if we don’t spend it all?
  • The remaining amount would be carried forward.
  • How soon would we know?
  • It would depend on when negotiations are completed.
Janice Barter explained the $500,000 bond interest, the $450,000 interest credit, and the Governor’s retirement proposal.

Donna Norton commented that it is really important that the Board get out to taxpayers, that their assessment percentage is different from the expenditure budget percentage. ~The 7% budget increase is an increase over last year’s budget.

The blue sheet includes all of the new positions. ~Have we looked at current programs to see if anything could be eliminated?

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that the administrators look at programs every year.  
  • She reminded Board members that the budget is at the same level as it was in 2007-08.
Mr. Finn was asked to speak to the part-time Art teacher position.

  • Mr. Finn explained that students registered a lot earlier this year than normal. ~Students signed up for classes instead of study halls to take advantage of what is available. ~
  • A music teacher who was .8 at the high school this year will be full-time next year.  The Fine Arts choices were reviewed to look at ways to be creative and use existing staff.
Can someone speak to the 504 situation?

  • Superintendent Beecher explained that a permanent substitute needs to be assigned to work with a staff member so there is a need for an additional permanent substitute who can be assigned to different rooms, as needed.
Why was the Alternative Education Technician eliminated?
 
  • Mr. Finn responded that he spoke to Brian Clark, one of the Teachers in the Alternative Education program and it was determined that they can make due without an additional educational technician.


Elaine Heuiser asked what the per pupil cost is for the District?  

  • Ms. Small will email this information to Ms. Heuiser.
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PUBLIC COMMENTS ON AGENDA ITEMS

There are three new teachers budgeted at approximately $55,000.  What is a beginning teacher’s salary?

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that it is approximately $30,000.  Sherrie Small added that the District budgets an average amount between a beginning and mid-scale salary plus benefits.
Do you consider new items removed as cuts?  

  • No~~~~~~~~~~
ACTION ITEM

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Karla Swanson-Murphy, to approve the 2013-14 budget recommended by the Leadership Team with a 7% budget increase. ~~

There was a discussion on the motion as follows: ~

Erica Pond Green requested that the amount budgeted for new laptop computers for K-6 teachers be replaced with the $47.00 4-year old laptops.  The net reduction would be $20,000 per year for 4 years.

Will the older computers work?  

  • Mr. Sturk responded that the computers would work for a year.  After that it is not known, as there is a lot of curriculum initiatives and professional development going on.
It was requested that a stipulation be made that the funds budgeted for the retirement payment and the bonding be only used for those purposes.

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that the Board would need to vote on anything new.
If the budget fails, would the District’s next step be to look again?

  • Superintendent Beecher responded that if the budget is not approved the District has to do the whole process over again.  There has been a request to do exit polling, which would help the District determine why the budget was not approved.  
A question was asked as to how many voters are District staff and paid by the District?

  • Janice Barter responded that this was asked in Kennebunk and the Superintendent was fired. ~They actually wanted to know why staff were not voting.

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Karla Swanson-Murphy, to accept Erica Pond Green’s proposal to reduce $20,000 from the budget to purchase 4-year old computers instead of new computers for the K-6 teachers.  

There was a discussion on the motion and it was revised as follows:

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Karla Swanson-Murphy, that the general fund budget of $27,928,764 be sent to the taxpayers, with the understanding that the money attributed to the Governor’s change in teacher retirement and the bonding interest money not be used for anything else.

Vote: 11-Yes, 1-No.  Motion carried.

Superintendent Beecher mentioned that she was writing her own letter regarding the District being required to pay 100% of the 2.65% of the Maine State Retirement cost.  She told Board members she would draft a letter for the Board and send it to them to review.  
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PUBLIC COMMENTS ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS

None.

ADJOURNMENT

A motion was made by Janice Barter, seconded by Karla Swanson-Murphy, to adjourn.  Motion carried unanimously.  

The meeting adjourned at 7:45 p.m.

                                                                ________________________________
                                                                           Secretary

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                                                                      Date Approved