Call to Order
The regular meeting of the Board of Trustees of School District No. 26, Lockwood Schools, Yellowstone County, was duly held in the Board Room, 1932 U.S. Highway 87, Billings, Montana, on Tuesday, January 10, 2006. Chairperson Stroebe called the meeting to order at 7:00 p.m. and led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The following trustees and officers were present: Trustees: Teresa Stroebe, Thomas Jones, Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker and Tim Trafford, and District Clerk Diane Brook. Trustees Barbara Forrester Frank and Greg Bochy and Superintendent Eileen Johnson were absent.
Staff members present were: Mike Bowman, Dave DeBoer, Mike Sullivan, Art Anderson, Don Christman, Denise McGough, Diane Slagsvold, Kim Schreiner, and Joly Boheman.
Registered guests present were Evelyn Pyburn of Yellowstone County News, Pam Malek of Exxon Mobil, Holly Sather and Tim Sather.
Mrs. Stroebe welcomed visitors and advised the following:
If you wish to speak to the Board of Trustees at this meeting about agenda
items, please complete a form and give it to the Board Chair or the clerk.
Any person present, who wishes to do so at this point in the agenda,
may address the board or raise any question about public school district
matters or governing policies. No discussion of personnel or individual
students is permitted at this time. A limit of three minutes is placed
on each speaker. Persons who want more time may make arrangements
to be placed on a future agenda.
A. Study Circles
Evelyn Pyburn announced that she is a member of the Montana Women’s Run Board. She encouraged a group of participants to get together to represent Lockwood in a challenge team up. She said their goal this year is 5,000 participants. Anyone who wants further information can contact her.
PUBLIC WRITTEN REQUEST TO BE PLACED ON THIS AGENDA
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.
Tim Trafford moved to approve the December 13, 2005 regular board meeting minutes and the December 19, 2005, special board meeting minutes as presented and the payment of all bills and wages and extracurricular bills. Thomas Jones seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Thomas Jones, Sue Vinton, Tim Trafford, and Gayle Walker voted yes; the motion passed five to zero.
A. Letter from the Department of Transportation regarding warning lights on Highway 87
Mrs. Johnson had advised the trustees that after many letters to various personnel in transportation about the bouncing lights on Highway 87, this reply had been received. Chair Teresa Stroebe read aloud the letter. There was no further discussion.
Intermediate Principal Dave DeBoer introduced Kim Schreiner to the Board of Trustees. Mr. DeBoer advised that the hiring of Mrs. Schreiner as a special education teacher was in the personnel portion of the agenda. He introduced here at this point in the meeting so she could leave for a previously scheduled engagement.
B. Letter of Resignation from Kristi Handlos
Supt. Johnson had recommended acceptance of the resignation of Kristi Handlos. Tim Trafford moved to accept the letter of resignation. Gayle Walker seconded the motion. The trustees wished her well in her future endeavors. Gayle Walker, Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Thomas Jones, and Sue Vinton voted yes; the motion passed five to zero.
EDUCATION AND BUSINESS
A. Guest to Discuss Bonding Procedures
Bridget Ekstrom, Vice President of Public Finance with D.A. Davidson, was present to provide the Board of Trustees with information for bonding procedures in Montana schools. Bridget gave an overview of the bonding process.
She advised, after the bond election is passed, schools must go through a competitive bond process. Whoever bids the lowest interest rate is awarded the bonds. There are two components, the principal amount borrowed and the interest. School bonds are presently in the low four percent range. Schools can borrow with less interest than individuals. The rates are low because the investment income is exempt from Federal and State income tax. This is a good time to borrow because interest rates are low. The maximum term for school bonds is 20 years.
Ms. Ekstrom reviewed the Lockwood Elementary District Estimated Debt Limitation Calculation sheet that was attached to the agenda. She noted that the district’s maximum bonding capacity based on last year’s ANB of 1203 would be approximately $13 million dollars. Bridget advised that she had sent this information to the Office of Public Instruction. OPI provided her with the Estimated State Advance for School Facilities worksheet that was attached to the agenda. This worksheet estimated state aid at $175,744.73. She advised that this is an estimate because there are new numbers each year. The maximum entitlement is based on ANB. Currently the state share is 56 percent and the district share is 44 percent.
Bridget showed the impact of the proposed bond to Lockwood School taxpayers by reviewing the sheet entitled Lockwood Elementary Schools Mill Levy Impact Analysis $13,000,000 G.O. Bonds 20-Year Term that was an agenda attachment. She estimated the impact for a home valued at $100,000 (2005 Phased-In Value of Residential Property) would be approximately $11-$12 per month.
She briefly discussed the law change that allows passage of a bond by a simple majority when bond elections are held in conjunction with primary or general elections. She talked about mail ballot elections also.
Bridget said it may be good to get an outside building committee formed to help get word out to the public. She advised that she has examples of brochures other schools distributed to the public about their proposed bond.
Trustee Tim Trafford asked what affects the interest rates.
Bridget responded that there is a rating process, which is an independent analysis of credit quality, or municipal bond insurance can be purchased instead of going through the rating process. The insurance costs less and gives the highest credit quality. Items that affect the interest rates are: economic condition in Lockwood, financials, demographics, enrollment trends, and the state system of funding. Reserves as a percent of expenditures in the general fund are also a consideration. She advised that Montana usually receives lower interest rates than the national averages.
Tim asked if shorter terms have lower rates. Bridget said yes. Interest rates would probably be about one-quarter percent lower for fifteen years instead of twenty. She said it is good to go with the lowest term that you think the voters can afford.
Teresa asked what companies are competitors of D.A. Davidson. Bridget responded that D.A. Davidson is the only bonding agent in the state that does financial advisory work. The underwriting side becomes competitive. There are about eighty prospective bidders. There were nine bidders for Billings and Laurel’s last sale.
Teresa asked about Bozeman’s bond. Bridgett said they can now go ahead with a February sale. It is felt that they have solid footing now since they have the letter from the attorney general. They had to go back to the Supreme Court and the plaintiff said it wasn’t the intent of the MQEC Lawsuit to hold bond issues hostage, so the Supreme Court said they could go forward.
Teresa commented so this is your area of expertise. Bridgett said yes, there are so many rules and requirements for anything over one million dollars. She said they have three goals: Issue the bonds in accordance with state and federal laws; market and sell the bonds at the best interest rates; do the best for the schools and their goals. They charge no fee for this assistance. Once the election passes, then they enter into a set contract with the school district.
Trustee Thomas Jones commented about the phase-in value being the re-valuation of your property that is phased in over six years. Bridgett said it is a challenge to help the public understand about their property values and how they are taxed. She commented that at Red Lodge they brought in computers, accessed the state website with property values, and helped taxpayers see the actual impact to them.
Ms. Ekstrom noted that schools can pre-pay or call bonds after one-half the term. This is basically a re-finance for a lower rate.
Trustee Gayle Walker asked why we have to deduct the Building Reserve amount for 2006/07. Bridgett said they consider that a debt outstanding.
Bridget advised that the trustees need to pinpoint the election question. What are you going to present to voters? The board will need to decide how specific they want to make the election question. Items to be included in the election question are: the project, the dollar amount, the term, whether or not the school is eligible for state aide, and possibly interest parameters. Cost to the voter is not required on the election question, but that information should be presented to the public at informational meetings.
The trustees thanked Bridget for the information and she left the meeting.
B. Future Growth of Lockwood Schools
The Trustees will continue with the work on solving the issue of space for the schools. Teresa Stroebe would like the Board to consider participation by Lockwood Schools in the Community Growth Survey in conjunction with the County Planning Office. Wyeth Friday had said they would be conducting a survey in the near future. This is a good opportunity to reach more people in Lockwood and I would concur with this.
Teresa advised that there would be a special meeting on January 23, 2006 for discussion of the Future Growth of Lockwood Schools.
There was a consensus of the trustees present that it would be in our best interest to participate in a survey if there is going to be one conducted by the County Planning Office. This item will be discussed again January 23, 2006.
Trustee Gayle Walker asked if the type of renovation or remodeling that needs to be done to the present buildings has been discussed in detail. She said they are thinking about in May or June of this year doing a sewer election. Do we need that sewer in prior to planning a building?
Facilities Director Art Anderson said right now we are not having problems even though the drain fields and systems are aged. Based on the history of the drain fields, he doesn’t anticipate problems. He thinks a new building would probably have its own drain field. Food Service has its own septic system with a grease trap. He doesn’t foresee any problem, but that could turn quickly. A wet spring could change that.
Teresa said maybe we could get some old photos or maps for some visuals on walls when we are discussing facilities. Teresa said we need to keep our focus and our perspective; we need to focus on what is our ability to fix.
Art said they had gone through and established some priority needs and some of the types of renovation that would be necessary. It is not real major; he does have those figures. He will be sure to have those figures available at the January 23rd meeting. Art said adding air conditioning was discussed, but it was a very costly item. Some other things discussed were: relocation of the library, development within that area of learning labs, changing rooms back to their original intent, multipurpose areas, etc. We need to be aware of all of those things.
It was noted by someone in the audience that it is very important that the remodeling and renovation would be part of the bond election question put to the voters.
Teresa said this board has been very particular about keeping the public informed.
C. Set up a Negotiating Team from the Board
Mrs. Johnson had advised: The Board will be working with the Lockwood Education Association this year to reach an accord on a new contract. The current three-year contract expires June 30, 2006. Last spring we discussed the possible setup of a team to listen to other employees in the district concerning their issues. I suggest a team of three Trustees to work on both of these very important items. Then this team can make recommendations to the entire Board in the spring. Since funding for next year is somewhat secure, the earlier these are addressed the better it will be for our employees. The only unknown at present is the decision on running a general fund levy and whether it will pass. During the next few months Diane Brook and I will work on these issues to present to you.
Teresa read aloud Eileen’s above-mentioned comments. She said that Greg, Sue, Tim, and Thomas had expressed interest in serving on the Negotiating Team. Thomas Jones said the time commitment could be difficult for him to meet. Teresa appointed these following trustees to the Negotiating Team: Tim Trafford, Greg Bochy, and Sue Vinton. She noted that Greg’s appointment is tentative at this time until she has an opportunity to discuss the time commitment with him, as he was absent.
D. Proposal from Trustee Stroebe to Purchase Two Aluminum Lions
Teresa Stroebe asked to put this item on the agenda. The lions were at Southside Pawn. Mrs. Johnson asked the trustees to give guidance on the funding source if the trustees voted to approve the purchase.
Chair Stroebe said she does not want any instructional money used for this. We should find a source that wouldn’t take any instructional money away from the kids to do this. It was noted that they would need bases. Teresa said she will take pictures of the lions and take this item to the PTA.
The agenda order was changed so that Item D was considered first.
D. Consideration of Termination of Employment for Probationary Employee
It is recommended that an employee not be recommended to continue beyond the probationary period; and therefore will not receive a contract for the remainder of the 2005-2006 school year. My recommendation is that the Trustees discuss this in closed session for the privacy protection of the employee. Action will then take place in open session with the name of the person in the motion.
The board chair closed the meeting at approximately 8:30 p.m. as the individual’s right to privacy exceeds the public’s right to know.
The session was re-opened at 8:39 p.m.
Tim Trafford moved for the termination of a probationary employee without cause. It was pointed out that the name of the employee must be included in the motion.
Teresa re-asked for the motion in consideration of termination of Jalona Boheman.
Tim Trafford moved to term probationary employee Jalona Boheman without cause. Thomas Jones seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, and Thomas Jones voted aye. Sue Vinton abstained. The motion passed with four votes in favor and one abstention.
A. Updated List of Substitutes
Gayle Walker moved to hire substitute teachers Larry Field and Calli Rusche. Tim Trafford seconded the motion. Thomas Jones asked if they had been fingerprint background checked. Diane Brook answered affirmatively. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Gayle Walker, Sue Vinton and Thomas Jones vote yes; the motion passed five to zero.
B. Hiring of Staff, including Spouse of a Trustee
Mrs. Johnson advised the following: If the personnel procedures are completed I will have some staff recommendations at the meeting. Since Penny Jones is the spouse of Trustee Thomas Jones, the nepotism laws apply.
The first item considered was hiring Penny Jones for Food Service. Penny Jones is the wife of Trustee Thomas Jones. The consideration of this hiring was advertised in the Billings Gazette per Montana law. In order for the spouse of a trustee to be hired, Montana law requires that all trustees (except the spouse) vote on the issue. Since Trustees Greg Bochy and Barbara Forrester Frank were absent from the meeting, they were going to listen to deliberations on this item and vote via speaker phone connection.
Barbara Forrester Frank was unavailable via phone at this time, so this item was tabled until later in the meeting.
The following people were recommended for hire: Chris Peterson, Title 1 Tutor; Kim Schreiner, Special Education Teacher; Judy Leligdowicz, Paraprofessional.
Tim Trafford moved to hire the above-mentioned people. Thomas Jones seconded the motion. Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe and Thomas Jones voted yes. The motion passed five to zero.
C. Superintendent’s Contract
Tim Trafford moved to extend Eileen Johnson’s contract as superintendent for one year. Sue Vinton seconded the motion. Tim said each year he points out that this is an existing three-year contract and this is adding one year to it. Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe and Thomas Jones voted aye. The motion passed five to zero.
Tim said he would like to have the superintendent’s evaluation tentatively put on the agenda of the special meeting on January 23, 2006. The other trustees agreed. It was noted that the evaluation would be conducted in closed session at 5:30 p.m. on January 23, 2006 on condition that Mrs. Johnson will be available at that time.
A. New Policy for Automatic External Defibrillators (AED) - Policy No. 8450
The superintendent had reported the following in the agenda packet: The new policy proposal from MTSBA is for districts to have in place when defibrillators are made available. We have been discussing this with Carol Blank, RN our school nurse. She would work on securing assistance for training. The placement of AED’s for public use has become quite common in the past few years.
Chair Stroebe noted that policy adoption would take three readings. Gayle Walker moved to adopt Policy 8450 as presented. Thomas Jones seconded the motion.
There was discussion about who would be trained to use the AED. Gayle noted that if you have been trained to use one type, you may not know how to use a different type of AED. Mrs. Walker also wondered who the medical director will be that will be monitoring the program.
Dave DeBoer asked if laws vary from state to state.
It was noted that the technology has evolved incredibly in the last few years, and automatic external defibrillators really increase chances of survival for heart patients.
Teresa Stroebe said between now and our second reading we can do more research. She called for a vote.
Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe and Thomas Jones voted affirmatively. The motion passed five to zero.
REPORTS AND MISCELLANEOUS
Since there was such a short time between the holiday and the return to school, supervisors and principals will be available to answer questions, but will not have a formal report.
A. Calendar of Events for Election
The official school election calendar for this spring was attached to the agenda. Diane Brook advised trustees that there was an error on the calendar. The last day to file a petition to run for trustee is March 23, 2006, not March 26, 2006.
It was noted that the terms of Sue Vinton and Gayle Walker are expiring in May 2006.
OLD BUSINESS OR FOLLOW UP INFORMATION
A. Information on the Funding from the Special Legislative Session in December
Worksheets resulting from the special legislative session were attached to the agenda.
Thomas Jones reported that Bob Vogel did a good job in reviewing the updates at the meeting he recently attended. He said there are many questions and a lot of confusion right now. No one realized the actual outcome until they came back home.
Teresa said they have a lot of work to do in the 2007 Legislative Session.
Barbara Forrester Frank arrived at 9:29 p.m. Hiring of Penny Jones was considered at this time.
B. Hiring of staff, including spouse of a Trustee
Trustee Greg Bochy was contacted by telephone and connected via speakerphone. Teresa said they were considering the hiring of Penny Jones as a Food Service Assistant. Greg Bochy moved to hire Penny Jones. Sue Vinton seconded the motion. It was noted that the consideration of hiring the spouse of a trustee has been advertised in the Billings Gazette and posted with the agenda.
Teresa called for the vote. Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Greg Bochy (via speakerphone), Teresa Stroebe, Barbara Forrester Frank voted aye. Thomas Jones abstained. The motion passed with six affirmative votes and one abstention. Greg Bochy hung up and disconnected the speakerphone.
After Tim Trafford’s request, there was consensus from the Board to have the administration contact Ken Tolliver to get an update on the McCracken lawsuit appeal.
It was noted that the Legislative update meeting attended by some trustees was helpful.
There will be a Special Board Meeting to discuss facilities growth issues on Monday, January 23, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. There will be a closed session from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for the purpose of evaluation of the superintendent.
The next Regular Board Meeting will be Tuesday, February 14, 2006 at 7:00 p.m.
Thomas Jones moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:31 p.m. Tim Trafford seconded the motion. Sue Vinton, Gayle Walker, Tim Trafford, Teresa Stroebe, Barbara Forrester Frank and Thomas Jones voted affirmatively. The motion passed five to zero.
Teresa Stroebe, Chairperson Diane M. Brook, District Clerk