PROCEEDINGS OF THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES
LOCKWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT #26
YELLOWSTONE COUNTY, BILLINGS, MT
Regular Meeting


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Jan 13, 2004

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CALL TO ORDER              JANUARY 13, 2004

The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 26, Lockwood Schools, Yellowstone County, was duly held in the Lockwood School Cafeteria, 1932 U.S. Highway 87, Billings, Montana, on Tuesday, January 13, 2004, at 7:07 p.m.

Chairperson Tim Trafford presided. He led those present in the pledge of allegiance.

Mr. Trafford advised that there would be time for public comment and asked anyone who wanted to speak to please fill out a “Public Comment” form and submit it to the board. He noted that the meeting was being recorded for assistance is keeping board minutes. Tim asked that those speaking stick to the issues and be respectful of each other if there is disagreement.

The following trustees and officers were present: Trustees: Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Superintendent Eileen Johnson and District Clerk Diane Brook. Trustee Robert Guenther arrived at 7:40 p.m.

Staff members present were: Dave DeBoer, Mike Sullivan, Mike Bowman, Katie Notis, Keith Tresch, Mindy Kohn, Stephanie Smith-Miller, and Mary Kay Rottrup.

Registered guests were: Becky Shay, Stacie Firman, Sue Sebastian, Cyndi Smith, Holly Sather, Mary Emter, Lois Logan, Ken Mayo, Carlotta Hecker, Gary Hecker, Dale Myers, Thomas Jones, Clint Reynolds, Carol Hardy, Connie Hagen, and Evelyn Pyburn.

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.

Greg Bochy moved to approve the December 9, 2003 board minutes as presented and the payment of all bills and wages and extracurricular bills. Jim Painter seconded the motion. Chairman Trafford asked if there was any discussion. Teresa Stroebe wants to examine the bill and review the detail of the services provided by Felt, Martin, and Frazer, as she may want to object to part of it. Eileen said she would provide her with that information.

She requested that approval on this item be held until she has an opportunity to peruse the bill. She asked if any services had been performed with regard to the Myers’ case that had not previously been approved by board action.

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Eileen said the Felt Martin bill could be pulled from the list of bills approved tonight and approval could be considered at a later date.

Teresa said perhaps a second legal opinion from MTSBA regarding the appropriateness of the services in relationship to defending the case is needed.

Greg Bochy moved to amend his motion to approve the December 9, 2003 board minutes as presented and the payment of all bills and wages and extracurricular bills, with the exception of the bill for Felt, Martin, Frazer, which is Warrant No. 27510557.

Tim asked if there was any discussion about the amended motion. Seeing none, Chairman Trafford said the amended motion stands. Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, and Teresa Stroebe voted aye; the motion passed six to zero.

Eileen asked whether or not the board wanted to change past practices and have the payment of bills suspended until after board approval.

Chairman Trafford responded in the future he would like questions trustees may have about a bill posed to the superintendent prior to the board meeting. That would give Eileen and the business office time to research, provide information, and facilitate discussion of the bill in open session during the meeting.

Teresa said she would take that into consideration next time she objects to a bill.

PUBLIC WRITTEN REQUEST TO ADDRESS THE BOARD

There was no written request to address the board.

Mr. Trafford advised that this item differs from the public comment sheets given out. Those are for people wanting to speak this evening about a particular agenda item.

CORRESPONDENCE

Tim Trafford read aloud the thank you from the Lockwood Fire Department for food sent over.

Chairman Trafford read aloud the letter of retirement from Lottie Eggen. He said he is sad for Lockwood Schools and happy for her.

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EDUCATION AND BUSINESS

  A. Myers Easement Issue

At this time the Trustees will consider moving the Myers, State and County easement to the area east of the buildings along the ditch.

Tim gave an explanation of how the board meeting would be conducted. He said the public is invited to address the board, and after that the board would consider the item. He advised that a limit of three minutes is placed on the speaker, and there will be no discussion of personnel. He asked them to leave names out and stick to the issue.

Clint Reynolds spoke. He asked the board to not make any decisions at this time. He asked them to let the process take place and hold off on an easement at this time.

Cyndi Smith read her statement. She said what difference would it make? Would life go on as usual? She said the future should be considered. Cyndi said, obviously the school cares about our kids’ safety. She asked, “Can you say that you are completely committed to granting this easement knowing that later we cannot take back what we grant.” She doesn’t believe that Myers’ have found the only access into their property. She asked that trustees keep the quality of the school. “Please don’t grant the easement.”

Carol Hardy, attorney representing Clint Reynolds and some of the other neighbors living in Hillside Village, spoke. She asked if the board’s attorney was present; Tim responded no. She asked about procedures, and wanted to ask a question of the board. She asked, “Is the board considering granting an easement to someone in the Myers family along the edge of school property for access to mine gravel, for access to Myers’ home, and other access purposes in exchange for dismissal of a lawsuit, which Myers’ have brought against the school board for condemnation of property in that same area?”

Chairman Trafford responded that the official Board action was to direct our attorney to defend the lawsuit.

Attorney Hardy asked what legal grounds might the board grant an easement, which is an interest in real property to a private person.

Chairman Trafford responded that answering is beyond the scope of the legal expertise of the board.

She said that it is her understanding that one of the reasons the board is considering granting this easement is because of the cost of defending the lawsuit Myers’ have brought against the district.

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Ms. Hardy said she understands that the board is now aware that Mr. Reynolds has moved to intervene in that lawsuit, and trustees have all received copies of that documentation including the proposed answer that was attached. The answer provided for quite a number of defenses that are available to that lawsuit.

She said the last time she checked the school board had not yet filed an answer to the lawsuit.

Attorney Hardy said she hoped that prior to granting the easement, the board would look carefully at the possible consequences if a taxpayer of the district were opposed to that action.

Ms. Hardy pointed out that at least the board has Mr. Reynolds on their side in defending the condemnation action. He is willing to share a lot of the legal bills to bring these defenses forward by paying his attorney to do that, so the school district wouldn’t have to incur those expenses in defending that lawsuit.

She cautioned the board to look at issues carefully, and to make sure you get what you think you’re getting.

Dave Riley spoke. He said he represented Citizens for a Better Lockwood, a local community action group. He thanked Tim and Eileen for attending their meeting and explaining the issues involved in the easement. He said they believe the real issue is who owns the property that is being talked about in this easement. He told the board if you allow the easement, you are giving up ownership of that property. He said this type of an easement would provide much less safety for the children, because the traffic would be mainly construction traffic.

Mr. Riley said Citizens for a Better Lockwood would like to request that the Board hold or table this issue and let the lawyers figure this out. Mr. Riley said what they are trying to do is correct old laws that put mining interests ahead of our kids; let the legal system take its course and try to correct this injustice.

Jim Murphy, attorney for the Myers family, spoke. Mr. Murphy said that the decision tonight is whether or not to grant easement, not whether or not there will be a gravel mine. He said there is still a question before the County Commissioners as to whether or not there will be gravel mine, and Mr. Reynolds has filed a suit that is in Judge Waters’ court on the constitutional issues of whether or not there is going to be a gavel pit.

Mr. Murphy said the question tonight is, will there be an easement where there is a present condemnation case. He noted that one of the advantages to the school would be that they get rid of the easement through the parking lot, and all the traffic would be moved on the other side of the fence.

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Attorney Murphy advised in 1998 when Piccolo Lane was abandoned Myers received, in its place, the easement through the parking lot. As part of the agreement that has been tentatively worked out, that parking lot easement would be totally abandoned. The end of that road is not track two where the certificate of gravel mining is petitioned to be, but it actually ends on track one where the Myers residence is.

Mary Kay Rottrup spoke. She said, “I understand that they have an easement; they’ve had an easement since 1997 when Piccolo was abandoned.” So I have a question for the lawyers. “We are not granting an easement, aren’t we just moving an easement? “

The response was yes.

Chairman Trafford advised that the school district attorney could not be here tonight, and Attorney Martin had advised that the board not make a decision tonight.

Mr. Trafford advised that a special board meeting was scheduled for Tuesday, January 20, 2004, and this item could be considered at that time. Mr. Martin can be present for that meeting.

Teresa Stroebe asked Carol Hardy for clarification about the school board not filing a response to the lawsuit. Ms. Hardy responded that the last time she checked at the courthouse on the condemnation action, the school board had not filed an answer. She said that is different than filing an appearance, which has been done.

Teresa Stroebe asked if moving the easement changes the easement. Mr. Murphy could give no definitive answer.

Chairman Trafford advised that these questions should be posed to Larry Martin, who represents the school district.

Since there was no motion regarding this issue at this time, Chairman Trafford said they would move on.

  B. Amendment to Lockwood Schools Flex Plan Document

Diane Brook wrote this explanation in the agenda: This amendment to Lockwood Schools Flex Plan Document is to facilitate FlexConnect Claims Rollover, which is a benefit that will allow employees who qualify and choose, the option to have claims for expenses covered but not reimbursed by the Blue Cross Blue Shield health plan transmitted directly from BC/BS of Montana to Employee Benefit Resources (our plan administrator) and submitted against their medical reimbursement account. This saves time and paperwork, because the employee will not have to complete and submit a flex claim form. This automatic processing will be very convenient and helpful for many staff members.

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Mrs. Brook and Mrs. Johnson recommended the adoption of Amendment No. Two to Lockwood Schools Flexible Benefit Plan and approve the Summary Plan Description Material Modifications as presented.

Gayle Walker moved to adopt Amendment No. 2 to the Flex Plan Document. Becky Webber seconded the motion. Gayle Walker, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Robert Guenther, Tim Trafford, and Teresa Stroebe voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.

Becky Webber asked whether there should be board action to accept the resignation of Lottie Eggen. Supt. Johnson replied that at the February board meeting they could make a motion to accept it, since her retirement was not formally on this agenda.

  C. Superintendent’s Contract

This is the time of year to consider the rehire of the superintendent. Mrs. Johnson advised if trustees continue as they have in the past, adding another year would keep the contract a three-year agreement.

Becky Webber made a motion to renew Eileen’s contract. Teresa Stroebe seconded the motion. Robert Guenther asked about the contract being a three-year agreement, and whether it needs to be renewed each year by adding a year to the contract. Eileen responded yes. Gayle Walker, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Robert Guenther, Tim Trafford, and Teresa Stroebe voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.

Gayle Walker noted a correction to the agenda wording for clarification. The agenda should say contract instead of contact.

HIRING

  A. Updated list of substitutes

Superintendent Johnson advised the attached list of substitutes is presented for board approval; she also requested the addition of sixth grade boy's basketball coach, Chris Peterson.

Teresa Stroebe made a motion to hire Christopher Seiler, Sheri Spina, Amber Kelly-Nash, April Morgan and Chris Peterson. Gayle Walker seconded the motion.

Teresa asked if all of them had undergone a background check. Eileen responded, “Yes.”

Mike Sullivan said that Randall Rice could no longer coach, so it was necessary to hire someone for sixth grade boy's basketball immediately.

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Tim Trafford, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Teresa Stroebe, Greg Bochy, Robert Guenther, and Gayle Walker voted aye; the motion passed seven to zero.

POLICY

  A. Third Reading Policy No. 5140 - Classified Probationary Employment

Teresa Stroebe read aloud Policy No. 5140 and moved to accept it on third and final reading. Jim Painter seconded the motion. Chairman Trafford asked if there was any discussion. Seeing none, he called for the vote. Tim Trafford, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Teresa Stroebe, Greg Bochy, Robert Guenther, and Gayle Walker voted aye; the motion passed seven to zero.

REPORTS AND MISCELLANEOUS

  A. Principals’ Reports

Due to the holiday and Christmas programs, the principals did not provide formal reports this month.

All three principals were present at the meeting to answer questions.

OLD BUSINESS OR FOLLOW UP INFORMATION

None

TRUSTEE REPORTS

Teresa Stroebe advised that the MTSBA meeting date had changed. She said there was an upcoming MTSBA meeting on January 20, 2004. The MPEC hearing will be on January 22, 2004. There will be a General Membership meeting on the January 20, 2004.

PUBLIC COMMENT ON SCHOOL ISSUES

Chairperson Trafford said any person, who wishes to do so at this point in the agenda, may address the board or raise any questions about public school district matters or governing policies. No discussion of personnel is permitted at this time. No mention of names of students, teachers, or the public at large. We believe in public participation and also strongly believe in the right of privacy. A limit of three minutes is placed on each speaker. Persons wishing more time may make arrangements to be placed on a future agenda.

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Carlotta Ecker spoke. She asked whether the public will be allowed to attend the January 20, 2004, special board meeting.

Chairman Trafford replied affirmatively. He said the meeting would be held in the Board Room at the Administration Building. The session will be open to the public at 7:00 p.m. Mr. Trafford explained that there would be a closed session from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for purposes of conducting the superintendent’s annual evaluation.

NEXT MEETINGS

Chairman Trafford read aloud these meeting dates:

  A. A meeting/work session is scheduled for January 20, 2004 at 6:00 p.m. to work on the superintendent’s evaluation and at 7:00 p.m. to meet on the issues of the easement, parking problems, and to listen to ideas on early retirement incentives.

  B. The next regular meeting is February 10, 2004 at 7:00 p.m.

Eileen advised that attached to the agenda was the official school election calendar for this spring. She asked that trustees take note that the dates for filing for election are December 22, 2003 through March 25, 2004. The terms that expire this spring are for Trustees Webber, Guenther, and Trafford. At the March 9, 2004 meeting it will be necessary to declare resolutions for the May 6 election.

Mrs. Johnson briefly discussed the controversy about whether or not voters in a school election will be required to provide identification (i.e. driver's license) to vote. It has not yet been determined whether or not this new law for other elections pertains to school elections.

Superintendent Johnson advised that the SWAT team would be using the intermediate building on Wednesday, January 21, from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. for practice exercises.

Robert Guenther asked if the community was aware of his. He expressed concern that it may cause alarm among residents.

Eileen asked Evelyn Pyburn if she would put an announcement in the Yellowstone County News to alert community members about the SWAT team exercises at the school. Evelyn responded affirmatively.

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ADJOURN

Greg Bochy moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:10 p.m. Becky Webber seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Tim Trafford, Robert Guenther, Jim Painter, and Gayle Walker voted yes; the motion passed unanimously.

__________________________________           ________________________________

         Timothy Trafford, Chairman                            Diane M. Brook, District Clerk

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