PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
EXECUTIVE SESSION - 6:30 P.M
The trustees and superintendent met in Executive Session for the Superintendent's evaluation. The session ended at 7:02 p.m.
CALL TO ORDER - 7:05 P.M
The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 26, Lockwood Schools, Yellowstone County, was duly held in the Lockwood School Board Room, 1932 U.S. Highway 87, Billings, Montana, on Tuesday, February 10, 2004, at 7:05 p.m.
Chairperson Tim Trafford presided. He led those present in the pledge of allegiance.
The following trustees and officers were present: Trustees: Gayle Walker, Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Superintendent Eileen Johnson and District Clerk Diane Brook. Robert Guenther was absent.
Staff members present were: Dave DeBoer, Mike Sullivan, Mike Bowman, Carol Dyk, Denise Lemke, Hank Yasenak, Karla Shaw, Shad Fancher, Lottie Eggen, Whitney DiFronzo, Susan Andersen, Pam Richau, Darlene Hess, and Diane Slagsvold.
Registered guests were: Evelyn Pyburn, Pam Malek, Julie Gauger, Bruce Brodie, Thomas Jones, Holly Sather, and John Fitzgerald. The school district attorney, Larry Martin, was also present. Attorney Jim Murphy and Dale Myers were also present.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES AND PAYMENT OF BILLS AND WAGES
The Board received a copy of the summary of paid bills by account. The summary included a detailed statement of all expenditures of money with the name of the person or business to which payment is made, showing the service rendered or goods furnished.
Becky Webber moved to approve the January 13, 2004 regular board meeting minutes and the January 20, 2004 special board meeting minutes as presented and the payment of all bills and wages and extracurricular bills. Greg Bochy seconded the motion.
Chairman Trafford asked if there was any discussion.
Teresa Stroebe referred to the Northwest Energy bill on Page 4 of the bill listing. She requested a listing with comparisons of usage and rates for one or two years.
Eileen said she would put this information request on a future agenda. She advised that she has already compiled some of this information for gas and electricity.
Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, and Teresa Stroebe voted aye; the motion passed six to zero.
PUBLIC WRITTEN REQUEST TO ADDRESS THE BOARD
There was no written request to address the board.
Retirement/Resignation from Lottie Eggen and Kathy Waldorf
Supt Johnson recommended the acceptance of the retirement/resignation of Lottie Eggen. Mrs. Johnson noted that Lottie has given many productive and caring years to the students of the Lockwood community.
Chairman Trafford read aloud Lottie Eggen's letter. Tim said the board is happy for her and wishes her well.
Eileen thanked her and said she had made the new program very successful.
Trustee Greg Bochy moved to accept Mrs. Eggen's retirement, which terminates her employment with Lockwood Schools at the end of the 2003-04 school year. Jim Painter seconded the motion. Teresa and Gayle both expressed their appreciation and best wishes. Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, and Teresa Stroebe voted aye; the motion passed six to zero.
Chairman Trafford read aloud the letter of resignation from Kathy Waldorf. It was noted that Mrs. Waldorf has been on a leave of absence during the 2003-04 school year. Greg Bochy moved to accept Kathy Waldorf's termination of employment from Lockwood School District No. 26. Gayle Walker seconded the motion. Becky Webber said she is very sad to see her go, but she is happy for Kathy. Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, and Teresa Stroebe voted aye; the motion passed six to zero.
Cheryl Laird Robinson and Lori Schmitt are returning for 2004-2005.
Mrs. Johnson advised that no action is necessary, but we are happy to welcome back Cheryl Laird Robinson and Lori Schmitt to our teaching staff after a year leave of absence.Eileen Johnson informed the board that Mindy Kohn asked to be released from her contract in about two weeks. She advised that she was providing this item as information only; Mindy's official request will be on the March agenda. Eileen said she and Mr. DeBoer would make arrangements for a substitute teacher, which will be contracted because their term of service will be longer than 35 consecutive days.
Tax reduction request from Exxon/Mobil
Tim Trafford gave a brief explanation about the meeting he attended at Exxon with the County Commissioners. One Commissioner said there was only one time out of the 30 tax reductions they had granted that caused controversy, and it was with a school. So, the Commissioners and Exxon wanted to be sure to include Lockwood Schools in the meetings and details regarding the tax reduction request.
Supt. Johnson introduced Bruce Brodie, Refinery Manager from Exxon. Mr. Brodie introduced Julie Gauger and Pam Malek who also work at Exxon.
Mr. Brodie explained that Exxon had applied for the new and expanding business tax incentive. This incentive is to provide enticement for businesses to invest in the local area and expand. The incentive impacts taxes on new equipment such as that at the new low sulpher facility, which is valued at about 77 million dollars. The facility will reduce the sulphur in the gasoline produced. Bruce Brodie noted that the construction of the facility had provided jobs for many people and paid out over $19 million in wages. Exxon has hired eight more people permanently to staff the unit.
Bruce noted that the tax incentive does not impact base taxes, only new taxes on new equipment. He said the greatest reduction of taxes is in the beginning then the taxes increase by percentages over a period of years. The Lockwood School district will receive additional tax revenues from this investment.
Eileen said Exxon was very excited because they thought they could just give the school the additional tax revenue, but they cannot do this. The additional taxable valuation does not affect the funding formula or the amount of our budget. The mills levied will get lowered because the taxable value goes up.
Mr. Brodie reported that Exxon makes each business area stand on its own merit. This investment, the sulphur reduction plant, doubles what the Billings plant has for debt on the books. He said typically returns are less from refineries like Billings than outfitting a drilling platform in Nigeria. He was very pleased that the corporation decided to make that investment, because that probably means Exxon plans on the refinery being here for quite a long time. The Billings refinery needs to be creative in making a return to the company for the cost of this investment; that is why this tax incentive is important.
It was pointed out that the taxable value of the plant, especially in light of this increased value is a significant percentage of the total taxable value of the school district.
Mr. Brodie noted the tax incentive stays at 50 percent from years one through five, then it ratchets up at ten percent per year until it is at the full 100 percent.
Teresa Stroebe explained that this sulphur reduction plant is taking the sulphur out of the gasoline, not reducing sulphur from the plant emissions. She said the federal government is requiring the sulphur reduction for gasoline.
Teresa said she prefers the endowment type of taxes. She prefers seeing something tangible. She wants to look at it in the whole scheme of things in relation to school funding.
Chairman Trafford explained how the tax incentive would work. The increased taxable valuation for Lockwood will reduce taxes, however they will not be reduced as much in the beginning. This is because the refinery would receive their incentive and the total taxation to them will be "phased in" over time.
Tim said he believes there needs to be a signal to Exxon that the community supports them and wants them to continue operating the plant in Billings. He thinks granting this incentive would provide that signal.
Evelyn Pyburn requested an opportunity to speak. She summarized the tax incentive by sayings Exxon will pay $9 million more in taxes in the beginning, rather than $12 million.
Bruce advised that no one would pay more taxes than they pay today; in fact they will pay less.
Teresa said it is our obligation to understand all of this, even though it is complicated.
Becky Webber expressed appreciation that Mr. Brodie had provided the Board with this information.
Supt. Johnson advised that the County Commissioners would consider the tax incentive for Exxon on March 9, 2004 at 9:00 a.m. in their office at the courthouse.
It was noted that anyone could go to the meeting and voice opinion, including individual board members.
EDUCATION AND BUSINESS
Documents for the Myers Easement
Larry Martin spoke. He reported that at the January 13, 2004, meeting the Board had set some conditions for an easement. These conditions were a revision of an easement document, Quit Claim Deed, and mutual release and withdrawal of the condemnation lawsuit.
Mr. Martin reviewed the actual survey drawing with the Board. He noted that it includes a 20-foot easement for the ditch company, which is satisfactory to them. He said the 60-foot wide easement and the additional 20 feet fit within the space on the far side of the fence. The roadway runs directly into the park land, and that works for Mr. Myers. Mr. Myers would come into the park land, then onto his property. He has an easement with the park, so he can do this.
In order for Mr. Myers to go directly onto his property without crossing the park land, he would have to construct a culvert to specifications of Condition I on Page 3 of the Easement. The Easement document provided is basically the same as that provided on January 13, 2004, other than changes that were necessitated by property descriptions, wording changes adopted, and Condition I. It was noted that acceptance of Condition I would mostly be up to the ditch company.
Mr. Martin believes the county and state lands will probably use the new easement and release their other easement.
He said the only other document needed is a mutual release, which has not yet been prepared.
Larry Martin said that the Board Chairman must sign the easement and the release in order to finalize the agreements. He noted that Merlin and Marcia Myers and Dale and Terri Myers would all sign the release and quit claim deed. Merlin and Marcia Myers are co-trustees and they live in Lewistown. He suspects all pieces will not be signed until next week.
Attorney Martin advised that tonight, the Board of Trustees could authorize the Chairman to sign the documents when they are completed.
Another issue was brought to light by Mr. Martin. He said that as soon as the agreements are signed, the Myers' have no right to go through the parking lot. It is the middle of winter, so that could be a problem. Myers' would like to get a permissive-use agreement for a period of time until construction work on the easement roadway can be completed. The school district can regulate the use by the Myers'.
Attorney Jim Murphy said he thinks it could be handled very easily with a letter of agreement for permissive use until May 31, 2004. It would be a permit with conditions.
Tim Trafford asked about the request for the Myers' to drop the condemnation suit. Larry said nothing has happened on it, and that is part of the package that needs to be put together before the whole deal gets done.
Mr. Murphy said he has the document providing for the discontinuation of the condemnation suit.Chairman Trafford called for a motion.
Greg Bochy moved to accept the easement as presented by Attorney Martin. Jim Painter seconded the motion.
Teresa Stroebe said she still objects to giving an easement to a gravel mine; she has no problem with giving it to a resident.
Mr. Trafford said he has no problem with the addition of Condition I on Page 3 of the Easement, which would allow Mr. Myers direct access to his property. He also said that providing the permissive-use agreement is just being realistic since it is winter.
Gayle Walker asked if it is necessary to specifically include Condition I in the motion. Eileen said a copy of that document would be included as part of the minutes.
Tim said he feels that the easement reflects what had been agreed to previously, with the addition of Condition I.
Trustee Stroebe asked that her objection to granting an easement for a gravel mine be noted.
Becky Webber, Greg Bochy, Jim Painter, Gayle Walker, and Tim Trafford voted aye. Teresa Stroebe voted no. The motion passed five to one.
Attorney Larry Martin suggested two additional motions: 1) Authorize the board chairman to execute the Easement and the Quit Claim Deed, only after all the conditions have been met. 2) Authorize the Board Chairman to execute the Permissive-Use Agreement.
Becky Webber moved to authorize the Board Chair to execute the Easement and the Quit Claim Deed subject to mutual agreement to the release of the condemnation lawsuit and the extinguishing of the existing easement. The motion was seconded by Gayle Walker.
Becky Webber, Greg Bochy, Jim Painter, Gayle Walker, and Tim Trafford voted aye. Teresa Stroebe voted no. The motion passed five to one.
Mr. Martin suggested a permission document for access through the parking lot until May 31, 2004. The document needs to include only the uses the board wants to permit. It should say for residential purposes and only commercial purposes for which it has been used up to this date. Larry said they would need to get that document written and reviewed.
Larry said the motion would be to grant a use-permit for a period of time subject to restrictions. He asked the trustees if they want to peruse it first or authorize the superintendent to review it and the board chair to sign it.
Superintendent Johnson said she could distribute the documents to the board. If there is a problem, the final approval will go on the March agenda.
Becky Webber moved to grant Myers a use-permit for the current easement route through the parking lot by current personal and commercial vehicles (owned by Myers) through May 31, 2004.
Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe, and Gayle Walker voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.
Larry said he assumes that a packet of documents will be sent to each board member and the authority to sign carries through.
Technology report from Pam Richau and Darlene Hess
Pam Richau and Darlene Hess were present to share some information on the technology curriculum.
Darlene Hess presented a movie about security.
Pam Richau advised that she has developed the best settings for Power School access. One important item is to get the most updated browsers. She has a sheet to distribute to help parents to get the best way to access Power School.
Gayle suggested that the IGA machine be checked. Pam said she would do that.
Diane Slagsvold is teaching ISAFE to fifth graders and Darlene Hess is teaching it to seventh graders. ISAFE was developed by the Department of Justice.
Darlene said it is a K-12 curriculum; it has professional development available, and a community component.
Becky said she thought the community component would be important.
Pam said they could put a link on the Website to ISAFE. Pam talked about Mr. Leaphart teaching a Community Education class on Internet Security.
Diane Slagsvold said ISAFE is a five-part unit; the SRO will teach the fourth component.
Gayle asked what the plan is for implementing this curriculum. She would like to see it taught in all grades.
It was noted that getting staff trained and adding it into the curriculum, which is already heavily burdened, would take some problem solving and work.
Principal Sullivan explained that Darlene Hess is giving up several weeks of one of her prep periods to teach ISAFE to the seventh grade students.
Pam Richau noted that pre-tests and post-tests are required.
Tim Trafford said he is glad they are teaching this. It is wonderful that ISAFE is provided free at this time.
Fifth Grade Staff Request to Departmentalize
Teachers from the Intermediate staff were present to request a change in the delivery of instruction to the fifth grade students.
Mrs. Johnson advised that as they have worked through this she has been updated on the request, and it has my approval. This is a move they have been discussing for several years. Curriculum at this level continues to get more detailed and cumbersome.
Eileen said the plan is to divide up the curriculum. Each teacher would teach a different subject area, according to his or her strengths and interests. She noted this is not unusual; it is done all over the country.
Karla Shaw said there are five fifth grade teachers and the curriculum would be divided into five subjects. It would be a type of block scheduling. The students would have a lot more time with their "base" teacher at the beginning of each day and at the end of each day. This home base teacher hopefully can provide the "arms around the student care," which is so important.
Hank Yasenak compared the scheduling to the three-day schedule they have for specialists. He said they were trying to impact others as little as possible and not change the specialists schedule at all.
Teresa expressed concern about special needs and resource kids.
Karla Shaw said they spoke with special education teachers, Heather Richard and Vickie Jury, about this. The special needs and resource students would have communication arts and math every day.
Hank Yasenak explained that this type of scheduling is not ability grouping; it is departmentalizing. There would not be as much freedom as middle school.
Trustee Gayle Walker asked about Title 1 students.
Karla Shaw responded that she hoped there would be a title teacher with the reading teacher and the math teacher.
Principal Dave DeBoer said he thought this education delivery plan would be more beneficial for the Title 1 students.
Mr. Trafford asked if all five fifth grade teachers, the principal, and the superintendent agree with this plan. They all said yes.
Hank said he talked to the kids about it and they came up with some of the same positives and negatives that the teachers had thought about.
Positives: longer periods, all subjects will get the same amount of time, different teachers, one teacher gets to be an expert, more experience, relaxation time between subjects, homework easier to keep track of.
Negatives: conflicts with other students, locker situation, carrying too many supplies to class, don't shorten recesses, stricter schedule, teachers will have more grades to do, more students, parent teacher conferences, new kids might have a harder time adjusting.
Chairman Trafford asked how they plan to measure the new program. Tim said that part of it should be establishing a measurable result.
Mike Sullivan said if a group of teachers wants to do this; they will not fail. The sixth grade teachers could help also.
Eileen said part of that assessment would be how well these students transition into sixth grade. She said we have enough tests.
Principal Sullivan said teacher satisfaction is important and it rolls over to the kids.
Greg moved that they try this new system and see how it goes. Teresa seconded the motion to departmentalize.
Gayle wants the program to be evaluated and have a report presented to the board.
Greg Bochy said he doesn't want to lose the personal touch.
Karla Shaw said they believe the nurturing can still take place with the homeroom scheduling.
Tim commended the fifth grade teachers for coming up with an idea and coming forward.
Sharon Harris said they had worked on it for several years.
Jim Painter said this is a true tradition of Lockwood School; that new ideas can be tried.
Teresa said she knows it will come back to the board for re-consideration if there are problems
Teresa Stroebe, Becky Webber, Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Greg Bochy, and Jim Painter voted aye; the motion passed unanimously.Eileen introduced reporter John Fitzgerald, who does the school beat for the Billings Gazette
Report from the Superintendent: This is a five-year contract with First Student for transportation. There is little change from previous years. The cost continues to be reflective of the cost of living at between 2/3% each year. The service has been excellent. The employees are local people who know and care for our students. Having the same service as District #2 makes it possible to work out individual situations to accommodate the new McKinney/Ventro law on homeless children. My recommendation is to approve the attached contract.
Becky Webber moved to approve a five-year transportation contract with First Student. Jim Painter seconded the motion.
Becky said she has been happy with their services and she is happy that they hire local people as bus drivers.
Eileen noted what an asset Diane Bomar is and how she is a resource for evaluating the impacts of housing developments.
Teresa Stroebe, Becky Webber, Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Greg Bochy, and Jim Painter voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.
A. Updated List of Substitutes
Gayle Walker moved to hire Susan Roberts as a substitute teacher and Clyde Buerkley as a support staff substitute. Becky Webber seconded the motion.
Teresa Stroebe asked if these people had had background checks. Eileen responded yes they each had a fingerprint background check.
Teresa Stroebe, Becky Webber, Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Greg Bochy, and Jim Painter voted affirmatively; the motion passed unanimously.
REPORTS AND MISCELLANEOUS
Mr. Bowman, Primary Principal, provided pictures of the Breakfast and Books. He said he had nothing to add to his written report.
Mrs. Johnson reported that last week when Mr. DeBoer and Mr. Bowman attended their state conference, Mike Bowman received his 20-year pin.
Principal Dave DeBoer said he had nothing to add to his written report.
Mike Sullivan, Middle School Principal, said he had nothing further to add.
MTSBA workshop on various issues including the early retirement incentives
Eileen summarized what she learned about early retirement incentives in two sentences: Use them only if you are trying to downsize. It is a gift not a retirement incentive because they are going to retire anyway.
OLD BUSINESS OR FOLLOW UP INFORMATION
Report of monthly LEA meeting from Trustee representative
Teresa Stroebe advised that she had attended the Professional Development meeting. She noted that the notes from the meetings are posted on First Class. They are getting ready for workshops and preparing the calendar. Rebecca Sitton will be making a presentation in September.
Teresa Stroebe gave a report on MTSBA & the MQEC lawsuit. She said the new buzz words are: Knowledge based decision making.Eileen advised that there were eleven schools that are the original plaintiffs; there are many schools that have joined since then.
Tim Trafford said he attended the monthly LEA meeting. He said it was noted that the parking lot is now being sanded and that was about it.
It was noted that there is a City County Planning Committee that is doing work with Lockwood. The first course will be to establish boundaries; using the school district boundaries as a start was recommended.
They will meet on February 26, 2004, possibly at the school. Eileen will e-mail when the meeting is confirmed.
Becky Webber advised that Destination Imagination would take place on February 21, 2004. Everyone thanked Becky for her work with Destination Imagination.
PUBLIC COMMENT ON SCHOOL ISSUES
Lottie Eggen thanked the Board for all the support they had given her in setting up the Family and Consumer Science Program. She loved teaching it.
All board members expressed their appreciation of Lottie's years of service as a teacher.
The next regular meeting is March 9, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.
ADJOURNGayle Walker moved to adjourn the meeting at approximately 9:50 p.m. Greg Bochy seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Tim Trafford, Jim Painter, and Gayle Walker voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.
Timothy Trafford, Chairman Diane M. Brook, District Clerk