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School Board Workshop Minutes 01/12/2015

LAKE REGION SCHOOL DISTRICT
SCHOOL BOARD WORKSHOP
January 12, 2015


There was a School Board Workshop on Monday, January 12, 2015 in the Great Room at Lake Region Vocational Center.  

CALL TO ORDER AND ROLL CALL

Janice Barter called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m.  Board members present were:  Debra Albert, Ben Bowditch, Allison Caulfield,       Beth Chaplin, Paula Grace, Jody Gray, Cindy LeBlanc, Joseph McMahon, Philip Shane, and Karla Swanson-Murphy.

Administrators present were:  Tonya Arnold, Lisa Caron, Kirsten Goff, Deborah Howard, Andrew Madura, Sherrie Small, Joshua Sturk,
Cheryl Turpin, and Alan Smith, Superintendent of Schools.

Barry Johnson, Julie Johnson, and Wayne Rivet were present along with approximately 75 community members.  

APPROVAL OF AGENDA

A motion was made by Karla Swanson-Murphy, seconded by Beth Chaplin, to approve the agenda as presented.  Motion carried unanimously.

ACTION ITEMS

Job Descriptions

Lead Intervention Teacher

A motion was made by Karla Swanson-Murphy, seconded by Beth Chaplin, to approve the Lead Intervention job description as a first reading.  Motion carried unanimously.

Academic Leader

A motion was made by Karla Swanson-Murphy, seconded by Beth Chaplin, to approve the Academic Leader job description as a first reading with the following change:

Terms:  FROM:  Established by the Lake Region Teachers Associations’
               Negotiated Agreement
          TO:  Established by the Superintendent

A question was asked as to whether the position would be a teacher position or an administrative position.  Superintendent Smith responded that it is neither a teacher position nor an administrative position.  The person has a Non-Professional Contract.   

Vote:  6–Yes, 0-No, 2-Abstentions.  Motion carried.
Superintendent’s Contract

A motion was made by Karla Swanson-Murphy, seconded by Beth Chaplin, to approve the Superintendent’s Contract.

Janice Barter shared that the Board met with Superintendent Smith at the last Board meeting to discuss his evaluation.  It is recommended that an annual annuity for $2,500.00 be added to the Superintendent’s contract.  His salary amount will stay the same for 2015-16.   Motion carried unanimously.

SCHOOL BOARD WORKSHOP

Superintendent Smith apologized for not getting information about the meeting out in a better manner.

Mr. Smith explained that when he was first hired, he was charged with taking a fresh look at the current educational needs and concerns of the District.  He reviewed all the previous studies and the options that have been offered before.

There are 5 potential options:

  • Status quo – don’t do anything for this year
  • Build onto current facilities
  • Repurposing current structures (White House, Crooked River)
  • Redistricting
  • Relocate all Grade 5 students to Lake Region Middle School
Mr. Smith shared the following information regarding moving grade 5  students to Lake Region Middle School:

  • This option wasn’t considered before.  It is an option that would relieve the overcrowding at Songo Locks School.
  • The Middle School has a capacity of 600 students.  There are currently 400 enrolled.
  • This option was proposed to the Facilities Committee prior to the Board meeting.  
  • There is enough space for the 5th grade to move to Lake Region Middle School.
  • A study was done last year to reopen Crooked River Elementary School for grades 4 and 5.  To repurpose this building, the District would have to bring the building up to all the Department of Education’s facilities codes.  The long-term costs over a 3 – 5 year period, would be $1,000,000 to $2,000,000.  Additional personal would need to be hired.  This would cost a minimum of $100,000 for salaries and benefits.
  • Mr. Smith has to wear 2 hats – Determine what is best for the communities’ students and also be fiscally responsible to all the tax payers in the District.
  • The Middle School would be restructured in tiers.  Grades 7/8 would be on the second floor, Grade 6 would be on the main floor, and grade 5 would be in the sub-floor area.  
  • Next year, there would be 7 – sixth grade classrooms and 7 - 5th grade classrooms.
  • Foreign language would be able to be offered to Grade 5 students.
  • Looping would be possible for grades 5 and 6.  Students in grade 5 could have the same teacher in grade 6.
  • A playground area would be added outside of the 5th grade wing.
  • The two structures in the parking lot will be moved to make more room for parking. It, also, may be possible to open up the front of the school to make room for 2 lanes of traffic.
  • Bussing is the bigger concern.  In order to keep ride times to about 40 minutes, it would be necessary to add an additional bus route.  
  • An option of changing the start time of the middle school to an hour later would need to be looked at.
  • Concern has been raised regarding having grade 5 students on the buses with high school and middle school students.
  • By moving the 5th grade to the Middle School, it would allow space at the other elementary schools for Pre-Kindergarten.
This meeting was a Workshop for the Board to hear the proposal for the first time.
  • Plans will be made to meet with staff members at the schools and also parents regarding this possibility.
  • A decision will be made by the full Board in early February so funds can be included in the budget as needed.   
There was a question and answer period as follows:

  • Parents were concerned with hearing about the meeting via Facebook.
  • If the 5th grade is taken out of Sebago, it will be reducing the number of students to 70 or 72 students at Sebago Elementary School.  Should the school remain open?
  • From an educational standpoint, it would be best to have all the 5th graders in one space.
  • The Facilities Committee has requested that an engineer look at the facilities options. Can a 2-story wing be added onto Songo Locks School?  Should Lake Region Middle School be added onto?  The District is heavily taxed, so the District will need to look at what the costs would be.
  • What is the rush?  The District should stay at status quo for one more year and take a year to plan.  Be sure the right decision is being made.
  • The Facilities Committee can wait a year, however, by next year a decision has to be made.
  • Looking at the District’s facilities, the District needs to spend some money on the facilities in the coming years.  All the schools need some kind of renovations.
  • A diagram outlining the proposed layout of the middle school was shared.
Do we have a 5, 10, or 20-year plan for the facilities?  
The Board has been working on what to do with the elementary facilities for a few years.
  • Mr. Smith would like to have a 5, 10, 20, and 30 year plan for the facilities.  When he leaves the District, he wants to know there is a plan in place.   
  • Concern was expressed regarding the age difference of students.
  • Was there a 5-year or 10-year plan when Crooked River was closed?  
  • Janice Barter explained that when Grade 6 was moved to Lake Region Middle School, Crooked River was closed, and students were moved to a portable at Songo Locks School.  The building was more crowded than expected due to the needs of students for programs such as special services, Title I, and other specialists.
  • The Middle School and Crooked River are 30 years old; Songo Locks School is 20 years old; and at some point, Sebago Elementary School will have to be closed.
  • A previous recommendation was to build a new elementary school on the Naples/Sebago line.
  • We have to do with what we have.
  • If Grade 5 is moved to the Middle School, the Middle School will be at full capacity.  This is only a 3 – 5 year plan.  
  • Evidence is available on the internet to show that combining grades
5-8 does work.  Mr. Smith’s previous District combined grades 5-8.  There were some educational challenges, however, they met the challenges.
  • It provides an opportunity for students who need to be challenged more to have additional educational experts available.
  • When grade 6 moved to the middle school, there was limited access to after school activities.  What will this look like for Grade 5 students?  This will need to be looked at.
  • Students are excited about being in 5th grade at their current school.
  • Will the Leadership at Lake Region Middle School be able to handle the additional students?   This will be a big part of the transition piece.  This will need to be looked at.  
  • Concern was expressed about the current effectiveness of the middle school.  What is the impact of adding another grade?  
  • The 5th grade team will need to be very strong.  Superintendent Smith will be part of what it will look like.  He has very high standards.  
  • 6th Grade students have different emotions than the 7th and 8th graders, concern was expressed for how the 5th graders would transition.
Mr. Smith commented that in his previous District Advisee/Advisor groups were set up with 5-8 students.  The students connected very well.
If the Board recommends a plan based on the Engineering study, the Board will need the support of the parents and community.
Putting older students with younger students, staff will need professional development on how to interact with students.  Will money be budgeted for this?  
  • How we transitional students to make them feel comfortable will be discussed with the staff.  Professional development will be available prior to the start of the school year.
  • By moving the 5th graders to the Middle School, the school will be overcrowded in 3 – 5 years.  Board members were asked to take a hard look at Crooked River.  
  • Have you explored putting other classes at Crooked River such as Kindergarten. With the current classes at Crooked River, it is not desirable to add elementary students.
  • Has the District looked at if the District is growing due to new construction or are people renting?
  • The Board needs to make a decision by February so money can be budgeted accordingly.  If there is a plan to move students, there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed prior to the start of school next year.
  • If the Board decides to move the 5th grade to the middle school and the budget fails in May, what would happen?  If the budget fails, the move would be made by cutting the budget.
  • Based on a previous experience in another state, concern was expressed for the grade 5 – 8 grouping.
  • If Crooked River was repurposed, there are three other programs that would need to be relocated; Adult Education, the Alternative Program, and the Special Services Office.
  • The Adult Education Program could be moved to the “White House”.  Superintendent Smith mentioned that the building is quite aged and there would be substantial costs for the building to be usable.
  • Instead of putting grades 4 and 5 at Crooked River, just put grade 5 there and keep it part of Songo Locks School.
  • Put a portable at Songo Locks School, before the District spends a lot of money on a temporary fix.
  • Community forums will be held so the public has an opportunity to give feedback on the various options and is aware of the needs of the District.  The Board will need to make the decision of what is best for the kids.
  • The Board was asked to not waste time and money on something that would only work for 3 – 5 years and make the top priority the kids.
  • The cost to correct the parking and traffic flow issue at Songo Locks School will be $800,000.  
  • There is a parking issue at Lake Region Middle School also – will be worse if you add another class at the school.
  • The portable at Songo Locks School is only good for another 6 – 7 years.  The District needs to take steps to move forward.
  • The goal of the Board Workshop was to get direction from the Board on how to move forward for the February meeting.   The Board will schedule Public Forums prior to the February meeting.
  • Board members were asked to do what is right for the kids without  moving them to the middle school.
  • Concern was expressed for 5th graders being on the buses and at bus stops with high school and middle school students.  Safety measures need to be put in place if 5th grade students will be going to the bus stops an hour earlier.
  • A huge part of the issue is educating the community.  Everyone was asked to share information with neighbors and friends. The District needs everyone to know that we need to start spending money to keep the schools in good condition.
  • Concern was expressed that there has been a great loss of high quality teachers at Lake Region Middle School.  We need to work hard to keep our good talent.   
  • Moving grade 5 students to the middle school is a bad idea.
  • Look into putting an addition on Songo Locks School.
As we have a timeframe of one year, need to look at construction right now.  In 3 -5 years, we will be bursting at the seams.
  • If we do construction at Songo Locks School, the District will need someplace to move the students.
  • Begin the construction plan now, do a more permanent, long-term solution.  Don’t spend money on a band aid.  
  • It can take from 1 to 2 years for engineering work to be done.  Need to get an engineer on board as soon as possible.
  • The Board needs to think about closing Sebago Elementary School once construction is done at Songo Locks School in approximately 5 years.
  • Check with towns on building permits issued to get a projection of growth.
  • The enrollment projections were done 2 years ago.  
  • It was suggested that the Board consider a couple of options and then make a decision.
  • Is it possible to move K-2 or grades 3–5 to Crooked River.  If students are moved to Crooked River, the Adult Education program, Alternative Education, and the Special Services Administrative Office would go.
  • Fifth graders are not old enough to be latch key children.  Where do they go after school??
  • Condition of Lake Region High School – a portable is still being used for the English wing.  It was kept after the construction project and it is used every day.  The gym, auditorium, and music room were not redone with the recent construction project.  The auditorium was updated about 15 years ago.  The school is not at full capacity at the current time.     
The community members were thanked for coming.

The Board had a short discussion following the question and answer session.

Comments were as follows:

  • Set dates for forums for next week and get the word out.
  • Move 5th grade for 3-5 years, do construction at the same time, find another place for Adult Education and the Alternative Education programs.
  • Meet with the community, review the options, and see what they are willing to support.
  • Set a Special Board Meeting for January 26 to review the outcome from the forums.  
  • The most inexpensive option is the option that was proposed.
ADJOURNMENT

The meeting adjourned at 9:15 p.m.

                                                                ___________________________
                                                  Secretary

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                                               Date Approved