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


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January 20 , 2004

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CLOSED SESSION

6:00 P.M.

The Trustees will meet in closed session for the annual evaluation of the Superintendent.
Gayle Walker, Greg Bochy, Tim Trafford, Jim Painter, Teresa Stroebe, Becky Webber, and Robert Guenther were present. Closed session ended at 6:58 p.m.

OPEN SESSION 7:00 P.M.

The special meeting of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 26, Lockwood Schools, Yellowstone County, was duly held at the Lockwood Board Room, 1932 U.S. Highway 87, Billings, Montana, on Tuesday, January 20, 2004, at 7:07 p.m.

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

The following staff members were present: Mike Bowman, Dave DeBoer, Stephanie Smith-Miller, Mary Kay Rottrup, and Harold Hagen.

Registered guests were: Becky Shay, Dale Myers, Cyndi Smith, Holly Sather, Jamie Jawort, Jim Murphy, Clint Reynolds, Shellie Sannon, Jim Sannon, Connie Hagen, John Capron, and Evelyn Pyburn.

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

EDUCATION AND BUSINESS

   A. Easement Issue with Myers, State, and County

In 1998 an easement was given to Dale Myers, the State, and the County through the school parking lot. The discussion this evening will center on the possibility of moving that easement out of the parking lot to another portion of school property.

The trustees distributed copies of information that Attorney Larry Martin had provided to everyone at the meeting. The information included: Proposed Easement motion, Quit Claim Deed, and possible wording for a motion.

Chairman Trafford asked those who speak to please identify themselves for the record

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Holly Sather, resident of Hillside Village, spoke. She asked how safety issues would be addressed during times during the day or night that are not specifically stated in the easement.

Jim Murphy, attorney for Myers, spoke. He said he would like to respond to the question he was asked by Teresa Stroebe at the January 13, 2004 board meeting. She had asked whether moving an easement changed the easement, and would restrictions on the current easement apply to the moved easement. Since that time, he has investigated the easements and found the existing easement has no restrictions.

Clint Reynolds, owner of Hillside Village, spoke. He had a copy of the existing right-of-way and he read it aloud. Mr. Reynolds said he could not believe that he and the School Board have become almost enemies over this easement issue. At one time, they joined forces to try to stop the gravel mine. He asked the board to think about how this will affect the community and how it will affect the kids in the summer when they are coming to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Clint said he felt the board would be making a real mistake if they grant Mr. Myers an easement. He said, “You are undermining the case the mobile home court and county has.” Mr. Reynolds said that the board in the past had said they have no other choice. He said you could stall; you can wait. Mr. Reynolds concluded by saying that he hopes the Board of Trustees will stand up and voice their disapproval of a having a gravel pit near the school.

John Capron spoke: He advised that he had spoken to Superintendent Johnson about the easement issue. She told him that crossing guards would be provided at the easement site during school hours. He said after school hours, it is not the school’s responsibility. He believes it is the parents’ responsibility. Mr. Capron hopes the mining laws are in effect so that whatever is torn up by the mine is put back.

Cyndi Smith, resident of Hillside Park, said she disagrees that only the parents are responsible after hours. She said according to the Middle School Handbook, the school is responsible for students until they get home. She said we elected you, but there is another vote coming up. She asked, “What is going on? Have you already voted on this issue?”

Chairman Trafford responded that there had not yet been any board action on the easement issue.

Mr. Trafford asked Attorney Martin to bring everyone up to date on the lawsuit.

Mr. Martin said the condemnation lawsuit was filed sometime ago. He advised that the school district has not been required to respond to the lawsuit based on an agreement with

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the Myers lawyer. He advised we have this understanding while a method of resolution or attempted settlement is on going. Nothing else has happened directly with that suit, except Mr. Reynolds has filed to intervene. Attorney Martin commented that Mr. Myers’ counsel, Mr. Murphy, intends to object to this intervention.

Mr. Martin relayed information regarding the two other lawsuits regarding the gravel mine. He said Mr. Myers filed a lawsuit against the Yellowstone County Commissioners to try to have the conditions they had placed on the mining permit declared invalid.
The Reynolds’ interest has filed suit seeking to have the mining situation declared unlawful because it does not allow them to live in a clean and healthy environment. Mr. Martin advised that the trial is scheduled for sometime in April. He concluded his update saying that is where the litigation situations are at this point.

Larry asked for questions. Teresa Stroebe asked about the consolidation of those lawsuits. She asked, “What if we were to wait until those were settled? She wanted to know if there is a rush to answer the condemnation lawsuit.

Larry responded that if the trial is held in April, the judge’s decision probably would not be made until this fall. He also noted that if it goes to the Supreme Court, it could be another whole year before a final decision is made.

Mr. Martin advised that if settlement is not achieved, we will be asked to file an answer to the condemnation lawsuit and we will be involved in litigation. Attorney Martin counseled that if a settlement is appropriate, it is better to do it now rather than later to save resources. He said, “But that is a board decision.”

Larry Martin commented that he hopes everyone is clear that granting an easement does not mean gravel trucks will start rolling down the road. Mr. Myers will have to overcome both lawsuits to begin mining gravel. If this easement is settled, he will no longer have a right to come through the parking lot. Just granting the easement does not mean mining will begin.

Teresa Stroebe asked, “Is there a deadline? Is there any reason not to wait?” Larry said there is no guarantee that the other two suits would be adjudicated before our condemnation case, so it is possible that no resolution from those lawsuits would happen prior to our going to court to defend the condemnation.

Teresa asked again, “Is there a deadline at this moment?” Larry Martin responded, “We will not file an answer until Mr. Murphy requests it. He has held off doing that because of continuing negotiations.”

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Trustee Greg Bochy said there is not an unlimited supply of gravel there. If they had gone ahead and mined it 1998, it would probably be done. He said it is not going to be mined forever. After the gravel is mined, it may be subdivided or have other uses, which could have tax advantages for the district.

Robert Guenther asked Larry Marin, “In your opinion what bearing does the proposed action have on the other two lawsuits?”

Mr. Martin responded that it is hard to say, theoretically none. He said it is difficult to predict if the Commissioners might change their minds about the restrictions on the permit, or they might say we believe these restrictions are appropriate and we will stick to our guns. He said he has no way of knowing.

Trustee Guenther said this proposed action would be moving an easement from one spot to the other. He noted that there would be restrictions on new easement, where there are none on the current one.

Mr. Martin said with the current easement through the parking lot, he believes there could be a good case made that it does not include the right for Mr. Myers to bring gravel trucks through the lot. However, that position would have to be litigated. The new easement does allow gravel trucks, because that is the nature of the beast.

Larry explained that Mr. Murphy’s position might be that Mr. Myers does have the right to run gravel trucks through the parking lot. Attorney Martin said having Mr. Myers traversing the parking lot, even without his gravel trucks, is not an ideal situation.

Chairman Trafford said, for this item, they would have discussion prior to a motion, which is contrary to normal procedures.

Trustee Becky Webber said this has been an issue that we have dealt with for a long time. This came up before we were voted in. She explained that a former board made the decision to have the easement through the parking lot. She showed everyone a large file she keeps on the subject of the easement. She said in the whole file, one piece of information stands out and is the basis for her opinion on this issue. The piece of information is minutes from the Yellowstone County Commissioners meeting held regarding the easement on April 21, 1998. She read aloud an excerpt from those minutes:

Commissioner Kennedy noted that Mr. Meyers (who owns a construction business) came forward a few weeks ago, to the Commissioners, with concerns about moving heavy equipment on and of his property. How would this affect the school? Rick noted that currently Mr. Meyers’ property is serving as residential, and at the point of time when it would be used more commercially (through a zone change), Mr. Meyers and the School

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Board could explore relocating the access. Mr. Haugen stated they are taking things one step at a time – the School will always be concerned over the safety of the students first, but when Mr. Meyers decides to use his land commercially, the School Board will certainly work with him in offering a new easement.

Becky said a former board made a promise, and she believes that this board has to be responsible and do the right thing.

Mr. Bochy said that having the easement over where we propose would be much better than where it is currently. With the current easement situation, the school district can’t use the fields and parking lot the way we want.

Mrs. Stroebe said she has a piece of information in her file that shows that the School Board asked the County to come to our aid. She said it is not within our authority to give Myers an easement for a gravel pit. She wants the easement moved; however she believes it is our responsibility to try to stop the mine. Teresa said she wants the Board of Trustees to follow through on the condemnation lawsuit. She doesn’t want to in any way inhibit the other lawsuits. She is not afraid of losing the lawsuit. She said others on the board are worried about that, but she is not. She said, “We are between the devil and the deep blue sea on this issue, and I choose the deep blue sea.”

Becky Webber responded by saying the school board was not talking to the county about an easement, we were asking for help regarding the gravel mining.

Trustee Gayle Walker asked for clarification about the $23,000 value of the property.

Chairman Trafford said the condemnation suit said the value of the property that is requested to be condemned is $23,000. Should Myers prevail in that suit, they would pay the school district $23,000 for that property and they would become the owners. That value is not stated in the proposed easement, as it would be a trade of one location for another, and the property involved in the easement is still owned by the school district.

Trustee Painter said in 1998 Mr. Myers took the school board’s word for his future and I have a problem with that. He believes Mr. Myers was promised something; and if that promise had not been made, Mr. Myers may not have agreed to the closure of Piccolo and the current easement situation.

Robert Guenther said that he believes the fact that a previous board and superintendent made a promise is a major determining factor. He said nobody wants a mine back there, and he doesn’t believe any one on the board does.

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Teresa Stroebe said she is not opposed to moving the easement; she just does not want the easement to mention gravel trucks.

Gayle Walker asked about the state using the easement. She wanted to know if that had been taken care of.

Larry Martin said no. He stated his intention, should this easement be approved, is to take it to the state and county for review at that time. The next step would be to reach resolutions with the county and state to move their easements. He hopes the end result of all this would be no easement of any kind running through the parking lot of the school district.

Gayle Walker asked if Mr. Myers has a problem with the easement being a public access. Mr. Martin responded no; Mr. Myers has agreed to maintain it and suppress weeds and dust, even with the public having a right to use it.

Chairman Trafford reviewed a map showing the proposed location of the easement with those present. He said the Lockwood Irrigation District has a right of way along the ditch. The proposed easement has been discussed with Carl Peters, and he is comfortable with it.

Teresa Stroebe asked if the easement has been discussed with the Highway Department. She was advised that contacting the Highway Department would be something Mr. Myers or his lawyer would need to do if the easement is granted.

Teresa asked if all the tracts are zoned agriculture open? She also asked if you have an easement, can it go from one tract to the other tract?

Larry gave an explanation of the map. He explained that D3 had been subdivided into two additional tracts. He suspects one is for Myers’s home and one is for the mine. He believes the request is for the easement to be granted for both tracts.

Mrs. Stroebe said she wants the tracts and the exact owners mentioned specifically before a vote on the easement.

Mr. Martin advised that very shortly Terry and Dale Myers would be the title owners of the property. They are in the process of purchasing it, and they have only a couple payments remaining.

Larry noted that an easement stays with the land, if the land is sold.

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Superintendent Johnson spoke. She said she has spent 43 years caring about the welfare of children. She believes she has to be visionary regarding this issue. If the two lawsuits are lost, that day the gravel trucks will go through the school’s parking lot.

Eileen said when she attended meetings with the county, she heard the County Commissioners say that it is almost impossible to stop gravel mining in Montana. She advised that at least with the proposed easement, we have some control. She said if someone else purchases the land and wants to put any other business back there, they would have an easement through the parking lot.

Presently, we have problems with the Myers’ access being blocked every time we have a concert or the parking lot is rented for some activity. Frankly, having my access blocked to my home would make me upset also. We definitely had problems when Mr. Myers went ahead with mining and running the trucks through the parking lot when he had no mining permit. This situation may have been easier had that not happened.

Eileen declared “I don’t want a gravel mine in our backyard either; no one does.”

Gayle Walker asked for confirmation of the times the crossing guards would be on duty.

Eileen responded that they would be on duty at the proposed easement location during the same hours in the mornings and afternoons they are at the Highway 87 location.

Chairman Tim Trafford said the board has some choices. “We could do nothing. We could push it through to litigation, and if we lose, we end up with a pretty bad deal. Mr. Myers’ would have a totally unrestricted access, and the school district would still have public easement through our parking lot.”

Tim said he thinks taking control of this issue is in the best interest of the school. He said he doesn’t want to extend or abuse the board’s authority. He believes if the other lawsuits have merit, they will stand on their own. If we do nothing and gravel mining doesn’t happen, Mr. Myers could sell the land to some sort of a commercial enterprise. At that point, he would have no motivation to move the easement. The school could then have another type of commercial traffic traveling through the parking lot. In the future there could also be a subdivision back there; that could be part of the vision. We would want a different easement for a subdivision, so homeowners didn’t drive through our parking lot

Chairman Trafford said he wants the easement to be the absolute legal authority. Larry responded that the condemnation lawsuit would be dropped and mutual releases of liability would be part of the agreement.

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Tim said he understands the reason they would want gravel trucks mentioned in the easement.

Trustee Webber said she would be more comfortable with the wording “commercial vehicles.”

Gayle Walker agreed.

Teresa Stroebe said she doesn’t want any wording about gravel trucks or mining in the easement.

Becky Webber said using the terms “commercial ventures” or “commercial vehicles” would cover it without mentioning it.

Larry said the condemnation lawsuit mentions the gravel mine, and that is what the lawsuit is about. The Myers’ and their attorney may want gravel trucks or mining specified in the easement in order to settle. He can’t speak for Myers’ attorney.

Mr. Martin emphasized that the language of the easement states uses of the easement must be permitted by law.

Eileen noted that if we lose the suit we lose the land and the ability to place any restrictions. If we lose, the state, county, and Myers could still come through the parking lot.

Robert said commercial purposes or gravel mine is a matter of wording and makes no difference.

Becky said it makes a difference to her to change the wording.

At this point, Teresa Stroebe moved to follow through on defending against the lawsuit. The motion died for lack of a second.

Trustee Walker asked about the required procedure of condemning school property before it is sold. Mr. Martin advised that providing this proposed easement would not be selling school property. It is a matter of exchanging one easement for another. The school district would continue to own the property of the easement.

Attorney Martin explained that he had provided a proposed motion to cover several issues that need to be a part of and attached to the easement. He noted that he had just received a plat of the easement from Engineering Inc, which would be attached to the easement. Larry reviewed the wording of the proposed motion, noting the four stipulated

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items. He suggested that the board could give authorization for the Board Chairman and the superintendent to execute the final documentation on behalf of the school district, without further action of the trustees, providing there are no substantive changes. Of course, if there are substantive changes it would need to come back to the board.

Larry commented that they might want to change the easement language by striking the words gravel mining from the document.

Becky Webber made the following motion:

I HEREBY MOVE that the School District grant to Merlin Myers, Trustee of the Merlin Myers Trust, Dale Myers, and Terri Myers, the Park Board of Yellowstone County Montana, and the Department of State Lands of the State of Montana, a 60-foot, nonexclusive easement for ingress, egress and access to their property, such easement to be located within the area bounded by the eastern edge of the School District’s property in Tract D1 and D4 of Certificate of Survey 904 Amended and the newly constructed fence paralleling such edge approximately 80 to 90 feet from such edge at a precise location to be established by survey and plat.

FURTHER, I move that such easement be granted subject to: (1) the terms and conditions and restrictions of the draft easement document attached hereto; (2) Myers extinguishing their right, title and interest to the right-of-way easement granted Dale Myers across the School District’s parking lot in April 1998; (3) the dismissal of Myers condemnation action against the School District; and (4) a mutual release of liability.

FURTHER, I move that the words gravel mining are eliminated from the easement.

Greg Bochy seconded the motion.

Trustee Robert Guenther asked Becky if she intentionally left off the last paragraph of the proposed motion, giving the superintendent and district counsel authority to execute the final documentation on behalf of the School District without further action. Becky responded yes; she wants to see the document when it is finalized.

Greg Bochy said he thinks this is the right thing to do.

Robert asked Larry if this easement is done in such a manner as to not encumber a future board. Larry said we are clearly not leaving something to be done in the future.

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Robert asked for the timeframe. Larry said he now has the actual easement plat. He needs to get the blanks on the easement filled in, make sure the parties names are correct, run it through the county and the state. He suspects it will take one to two weeks. He said it is possible that it may be held up by the condition that Becky placed on it.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Martin discussed the wording change and whether that would be acceptable. Mr. Murphy tentatively agreed to the change.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Martin reviewed the document together to determine the best way to implement the revised the wording.

After this review, Becky Webber amended her motion as follows:

I HEREBY MOVE that the School District grant to Merlin Myers, Trustee of the Merlin Myers Trust, Dale Myers, and Terri Myers, the Park Board of Yellowstone County Montana, and the Department of State Lands of the State of Montana, a 60-foot, nonexclusive easement for ingress, egress and access to their property, such easement to be located within the area bounded by the eastern edge of the School District’s property in Tract D1 and D4 of Certificate of Survey 904 Amended and the newly constructed fence paralleling such edge approximately 80 to 90 feet from such edge at a precise location to be established by survey and plat.

FURTHER, I move that such easement be granted subject to: (1) the terms and conditions and restrictions of the draft easement document attached hereto with the exception of replacing the words “mine gravel” with “pursue commercial ventures” in the second “whereas” clause on Page 1 and deleting the phrase “which shall include, but not limited to, access for development and operation of a gravel mine and the development of a residential subdivision” in Paragraph 3 A, on Page 2; (2) Myers extinguishing their right, title and interest to the right-of-way easement granted Dale Myers across the School District’s parking lot in April 1998; (3) the dismissal of Myers condemnation action against the School District; and (4) a mutual release of liability.

Chairman Trafford asked if there is dissension to the motion? Seeing none, he called for a vote on allowing Becky to amend her original motion. Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Robert Guenther, Gayle Walker, and Tim Trafford voted aye; Teresa Stroebe voted no. The motion passed by a vote of six to one.

Tim advised the Board of Trustees that the current motion on the floor is the amended motion made by Becky Webber. He asked if there was further discussion.

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Robert Guenther asked Becky Webber whether she wanted to add the last paragraph of the proposed motion provided by Larry Martin to her amended motion. Becky Webber said no, she wants to see the final document.

Mr. Trafford called for the vote for those in favor of the motion to grant the easement with the wording changes. Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Robert Guenther, Gayle Walker, and Tim Trafford voted yes; Teresa Stroebe cast a dissenting vote. The motion passed by a vote of six to one.

Trustee Webber moved that the final document would be presented to the board prior to execution of the easement. Greg Bochy seconded the motion. Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Becky Webber, Robert Guenther, Gayle Walker, Teresa Stroebe, and Tim Trafford voted yes. The motion passed unanimously.

Larry Martin left the meeting at 8:44 p.m. Several other people also left the meeting.

The Board took a short break from 8:45 p.m. and 8:55 p.m.

Chairman Trafford said he had a request to change the order of the remaining two items, so that Item C. could be considered first. He asked if anyone had any objections to the change. Seeing none, he moved to Item C - Parking.

   B. Parking Situation on Peters Street

Residents from Peters Street have raised concern about the parking along this street and problems that have occurred.

John Capron said that Peters Street is a county road, but they won’t touch it. They won’t put up signs or anything. He suggested releasing the kids out a different side of the school. He thought if the students were excused only from the east side of building, parents would no longer be parking on Peters street to pick them up. They would need to park in front of the building to get them. He thinks that would help.

Harold Hagen talked about people parking on the grass when there are soccer and football games. This is causing a big mud hole, and kids are tracking the mud into the buildings.

Connie Hagen suggested fencing along Peters Street and having openings for walkers. She also suggested completely fencing the lion’s lair, leaving one gate that is padlocked. She said she would be grateful if a way could be found to keep so many people from parking on Peters Street.

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Mary Kay Rottrup said she feels sorry for the Peter’s Street people. She wondered why the Lions Lair needed to be left open to the public; it is school property. She said she was active in the group that put in the Lion’s Lair, and they thought it would improve the property. When the community turned it over to the school, there was some money in the account from Friends of the Lion’s Lair. She wondered if part of it could be used to help with fencing.

Connie Hagen suggested putting the lights on a timer and black it out at night. Our neighborhood is getting a lot of younger families; she doesn’t want this to be a danger to them.

Stephanie Miller, LEA asked about the right of way on a county road. She wanted to know how far the right of way runs on either side of the road. No one was positive, but they believe it is approximately a 60-foot easement, so the right of way would be 30 feet or 35 feet from the middle.

These items were noted: Legally you could not tell someone they can’t park on the street. The parking area up next to the Lion’s Lair is school property. Walkways must not be restricted.

Evelyn Pyburn asked for a recap of the situation. Tim explained that there have been problems with the area along Peters Street. People have been parking on the grass damaging it and the sprinkler system. An ad hoc committee of Peters Street residents asked to address board about it. The board asked this committee to develop some suggestions and bring them back to the board. The trustees want open communication with the residents, so they are aware of any decisions made concerning this issue.

Stephanie Miller commented that there is rumor that the school placed sprinklers within the easement area. Harold Hagen, maintenance supervisor, said he does not know positively. He assumes that the company that installed the sprinklers had checked out the right of way and acted accordingly. Harold said the intent when they were installed was not to interfere with the parking area at all.

Dave DeBoer, Intermediate Principal, asked about the staff parking on Peters Street.

Chairman Trafford and Supt. Johnson advised that the school can do nothing about anyone who chooses to park legally on Peters Street, however staff parking on school property can be and is designated. Eileen said she put out an email to all staff giving direction as to where designated parking is located.

John Capron said “Don’t take it [lion’s lair and school play ground] away from the children, but address where the adults park and how it is used.”

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Trustee Guenther asked the Peters Street residents in attendance what their suggestions were for fencing. He said he believes the only way to control the traffic is to limit the number of openings in the fence. Mr. Guenther said fencing is an expensive proposition and suggested completing it in phases. Robert advised that not lighting the area could actually lead to more problems. He said if the sprinklers are in the right of way, they need to be moved.

Eileen said she would follow up on that, and have them moved if necessary.

Mr. Guenther also suggested the possibility of providing a gravel walkway.

Chairman Trafford reminded everyone that site improvements, such as fencing, are usually paid from the Building Reserve Fund. The Building Reserve Levy vote will be coming up again during this school election on May 5, 2004.

Tim asked Eileen how she felt about fencing. Mrs. Johnson said she thought fencing would be appropriate. She thought it would cost in the area of $15,000-$25,000.

It was noted that developing the soccer fields might also help the Peters Street parking problems.

Eileen briefed the Board about the risk management assessment completed recently that noted that staff parking in an undesignated area is a safety problem. It is an issue because there are no sidewalks from school owned property on Peters Street into the school grounds. Designated parking areas have to have sidewalks.

Gayle Walker asked why staff is parking in the undesignated area.

Trustee Jim Painter said the number one reason he has heard is, they are afraid of falling in the parking lot.

Eileen pointed out that the parking lot is now being sanded and salted after it has been plowed. This has dramatically improved the icy conditions.

Robert Guenther made a motion to direct Superintendent Johnson to develop a fencing design along Peters Street and request estimates for such fencing. Greg Bochy seconded the motion.

Gayle Walker asked how the Peters Street residents would be notified of the possible fencing. Eileen replied that the fencing design and estimates would be a presentation at a board meeting.

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Trustee Stroebe voiced the opinion that fences are not going to hurt kids; they are going to help them by protecting them.

Robert reiterated that the direction is to get bids; we will have to determine if we have the funds and how to proceed. He doesn’t anticipate any fencing getting done until spring or summer.

Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Becky Webber, Jim Painter, Greg Bochy, Robert Guenther, and Teresa Stroebe vote affirmatively. The motion passed seven to zero.

   C. Follow-up Discussion on Early Retirement Incentives

Superintendent Johnson advised that last spring a request was made to have a discussion on early retirement incentives. The Trustees are looking for any ideas on this topic. This is not a negotiable item for the Master Agreement, just a consideration by the District.
Mr. Trafford communicated that the board is open for ideas from the teachers.

Eileen and Greg are scheduled to attend a MTSBA workshop on January 29, 2004. She thought perhaps they would pick up some ideas there. Superintendent Johnson said she had not been informed of any particular items the teachers want to explore.

Mr. Guenther said he believes the main issue that may hold people back from retirement is paying their health insurance premiums. Maybe that would be the incentive they need.

Mary Kay Rottrup said many teachers might think early retirement incentives are a negotiable item, so that is why Eileen hasn’t gotten any information from them. She knows that early retirement incentives are not a negotiable item, because she served on the negotiating committee.

Mary Kay remarked that paying health insurance premiums for one or two years, or paying a leaving teacher a half-year salary may be incentive ideas. She suggested that savings from hiring a less experienced teacher (thus reduced salary expenditure) could be
used to fund the incentives. She noted that when incentives are offered by the Billings School District, they give only a certain window of opportunity in which an individual may take advantage of them; she thinks that is a good idea.

Tim Trafford said there is one main consideration on any package: its effect on kids, and its effect on the budget. He asserted that personally he does not see any benefit to the school by offering an early retirement incentive package.

Becky said, “You might save money, but that may not be good for my kid.”

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Tim said, “There is something about a teacher that has been teaching 20-25 years that you cannot replace. If the district were in a horrible budget position, we might be more motivated. At this point, we have no reason to want to retire very quality and very qualified teachers.”

Sabbaticals were briefly discussed.

Eileen said she has seen many school districts offer a package. Some teachers retired just to take advantage of the package, and they were not ready. Many ended up being unhappy.

The superintendent said she has been advised emphatically to never include early retirement incentives in a master agreement, because it locks in something for which future funding may be difficult if not impossible.

Trustee Greg Bochy asked to be excused from the meeting; he left at 9:55 p.m.

LEA President, Stephanie Smith-Miller suggested formation of a committee of staff members and trustees to look into this issue.

Intermediate Principal Dave DeBoer wondered how many teachers would consider retirement if a health insurance payment incentive was implemented. He pointed out that not many teachers leave Lockwood Schools because most are very happy here.

Mr. Trafford believes there would have to be a budgetary issue precipitating an early retirement incentive package from the board. It would be a financial necessity, not a gift to long-term teachers. He advised that the board would look to Eileen and Greg to bring back ideas from their workshop.

Eileen explained that the only reason this item was on the agenda was a request from teachers in the negotiating process. It is not a negotiable item in the Master Agreement.

ADJOURN

Becky Webber moved to adjourn the meeting at 10:00 p.m. Jim Painter 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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