Call to Order
The special 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 Monday, December 19, 2005. Chairperson Teresa Stroebe led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance and called the meeting to order at 7:01 p.m.
Trustees and officers present were Trustees: Thomas Jones, Susanne Vinton, Teresa Stroebe, and Tim Trafford, Superintendent Eileen Johnson and District Clerk Diane Brook. Trustees Greg Bochy, Barbara Forrester Frank, and Gayle Walker were absent.
Other staff members present were Karen Bingham, Charles Harvey, and Art Anderson.
Guests on the sign-in sheet were Wyeth Friday from Yellowstone County Planning Department and Evelyn Pyburn from Yellowstone County News, Holly and Tim Sather, and Sandra Hopkins.
DRAFT LOCKWOOD COMMUNITY PLAN
Wyeth Friday, Yellowstone County Planner, was present to discuss the Community Plan with the trustees. He said he and members of the Steering Committee have attended several community meetings to present the Community Plan.
Mr. Friday commented that potentially each service district could adopt it in some fashion. The governing body that would adopt the plan is the Yellowstone County Commissioners.
Wyeth reviewed the adoption schedule with the trustees. The trustees present indicated that they had read the document.
Trustee Thomas Jones said he thought the document was well done; particularly the mapping. He commented that the portion of the document referring to school issues was on target.
Eileen asked if the planned community meetings would be at the school. Wyeth said he hoped to have them in the Blue Room.
Chairperson Stroebe asked if there were plans for more outreach, to get more people involved. Wyeth said they plan to do a post card mailing to every household within the school boundaries. They also may go door to door in some neighborhoods.
Wyeth advised that it is difficult to get people to attend the meetings. He commented that even with mailings that have been sent out, they are not getting responses or anything back from the public. He said another mailing would go out in January to invite people to the community meetings.
Trustee Tim Trafford asked what this community plan blueprint will mean in later years. Wyeth responded that it is a guiding document not a regulatory document. A table reference with timelines is being developed, so it can be revised as time goes on.
Teresa asked if they used the visioning document done by MSU Lockwood Visioning Project 2002 as a foundation for this document. Wyeth said yes, many items in it were followed.
Teresa asked about their budget for public notification. Wyeth said providing this type of notification is a new thing; earlier we sent things home from school with kids. The direct mailing will be done regardless of cost. We will only do it once. We have money available through the planning department to complete this project, including the mailing. He said they will also use volunteer time.
Mr. Friday said poor public turnout is a problem. Teresa said that has been a problem for the school district also. Wyeth said they are considering having small group neighbor-hood meetings for 45 minutes to one hour that are hosted at a person’s house in the neighborhood.
Teresa asked for public input from the audience. No one spoke.
Mrs. Stroebe asked if there was any new information about the sewer that is not currently in the draft document. Wyeth said the sewer district is renewing the agreement with the City of Billings for waste treatment, and they are planning another vote. He thinks another vote may be held in July or August.
Thomas Jones asked about businesses getting together to form a sewer district. Wyeth said he has heard about it, but he does not know any specifics.
Teresa said the sewer election timeline is important to the school district.
Evelyn Pyburn advised that the water sewer district is going to have Wednesday meetings about the election from now on. At the last meetin
The maps within the planning document identify areas for certain uses in the future. They tried to not be too specific. Current landowners may have different ideas than these uses, so they wanted to keep it pretty general.
Teresa asked where a town center would be. Wyeth noted that the visioning document mentioned a community center near the fire station new land. It might be located off the Johnson Lane area.
Teresa said a plan could help development be done in an anesthetically pleasing manner. Planning ahead and being proactive is better than being reactive.
Teresa asked about 100-year flood plain; she wanted to know if it is identified on the maps. Wyeth said a couple of the new developments had to design a plan that would take the flood plain into consideration. She also asked about designated park and school lands. Wyeth said that developers can give cash in lieu of land for parks, and some of them are addressing it in this manner.
There is no mechanism to maintain the land designated as parks right now. There are seventy acres of park land, but no way to develop or maintain them. Some drainage areas have been designated as parks. Teresa asked about swapping some lands now identified as parks with some other areas. Wyeth said it might be a possibility.
There was a brief discussion about ongoing housing developments.
Wyeth said the Billings Gazette has been covering some of the Lockwood issues, which is good for giving information. Yellowstone County News has been covering Lockwood for a long time and providing information to the public.
The Community Plan discussion ended at 7:54 p.m.
LOCKWOOD SCHOOL FACILITIES AND FUTURE GROWTH
Chairperson Stroebe briefly reviewed the results from previous meetings. She advised there was consensus on the board that Lockwood Schools has an overcrowding problem.
There was discussion about the information provided by the Laurel business manager, superintendent, and trustees regarding their process for bonding and completing a building project.
Tim commented about the Laurel timeline and how long it took. There was a point when they had an amount of community involvement and they went forward. He talked about not getting bogged down and moving forward.
Trustee Sue Vinton said she garnered from Laurel’s presentation that the community involvement exceeded the involvement of the board. She understood that the committee drove the project. She would like to see that in Lockwood. She commented that there are a lot of resources in our community, and if we could get some of those people to serve on a committee that would be helpful.
Teresa said she believes they got bogged down by not having the community feedback. It would be really nice to have a committee working on this project.
Mrs. Vinton asked, “Why don’t we invite people to be on a committee.”
Teresa said we should each contact four people and ask them to serve on a planning committee.
Tim responded that he had asked four people, and they said they were interested but were too busy, and they trusted us. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, but they were too busy.
Teresa said she thought Sue was right, but so was Tim. She said we could go call people and tell them we need them.
Thomas Jones asked the PTA member present, Sandra Hopkins, if this has come up in their meetings. She said no, but they do know more people are moving into the community because of the developments.
Tim said maybe it would be different if it was only a one night commitment versus a six-month long commitment. He said he doesn’t like those “what are we going to do” meetings.
Teresa said we don’t have to slow down to get people on board. It is wrong not to be proactive.
Eileen said planning ahead is better than waiting for the crisis. She advised that the design for any new building should allow for adjustment and expansion in the future.
Teresa said we should move ahead, but we should call and get participation.
Tim asked these questions: “What is our target? What are we shooting for? What is our timeline?”
Teresa pointed out the timelines for an election that Eileen had provided previously.
She advised that they need to be aware of other issues going on in the community, such as the sewer election, as they move forward with plans.
Trustee Trafford advised that Bridget Ekstrom from D.A. Davidson is coming to the January 10, 2006, board meeting, to discuss the bonding process.
Eileen asked the trustees about continuing to have special meetings for the purpose of planning.
Teresa asked the board, “As long as we are on this project, do we want to continue to have two meetings per month?”
Tim asked again, “What is our target?”
Teresa summarized the plan development phase by saying each board member needs to find people to serve on the committee.
Diane distributed the timelines that had been prepared detailing the steps to be taken in order to have a June or November bond election.
Susanne Vinton said she thinks the timeline is too fast. She is uncomfortable with the seven trustees telling others what to do. She wants more community involvement.
Thomas Jones said we need to get on the ball if we plan to call for an election on April 27, 2006, which is the deadline for a June 6, 2006, election.
Tim Trafford said he thinks they have been moving too slow. He said we started on this over a year ago, and he explained what has been done so far. Tim said if we don’t throw gas on the fire, we won’t get going.
Sandra Hopkins asked exactly what the election would be for. The response was a bond election for a new school building.
Tim said he thinks the board should say to the public: These are the things we are going to do; what do you think? He said we will continue to keep the community informed.
Mrs. Hopkins commented if you wait too long it is going to die down. It is hard to get people involved.
Eileen summarized everything since September 2004 that has been done for facilities planning. She advised that they had done a great deal of work. They have had special meetings and regular meetings. There is a huge amount of material showing what has been done so far.
Thomas Jones said maybe we should go forward, we do have a crowding problem.
District Clerk Diane Brook advised that she had constructed the timeline prior to talking with Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County Election Administrator. He had advised her that some of the dates may change, due to the necessity of getting the ballots printed. If the bond election is held at the same time as the primary election or the general election, all issues have to be on the same ballot.
Bridget Ekstrom from D.A. Davidson will walk the board through what needs to be done for the bonding process. Eileen said bonds are sold on the market. Teresa said it is a service only from D.A. Davidson; it does not guarantee them the bonds.
Chairperson Stroebe asked if there has been resolution of the issues due to the school funding lawsuit, so bonds can be sold. Eileen responded that steps were completed so that Bozeman could sell their bonds.
Tim said he was tickled Art Anderson is here at Lockwood, and he has the expertise to act as a project leader. Laurel had to hire someone to be project leader.
Teresa asked if there was any other discussion. There was none.
Tim thanked everyone for coming.
Susanne said she is not opposed to the earlier timeline. She is uncomfortable with ramming this down the throat of the community. She wants it to be successful. She would like to massage the process, so we get a positive result for the kids. Trustee Vinton said she wants it to be more than just us who want it to happen.
Sandra Hopkins said timing is important and people are busy. She believes that given the opportunity to vote, they would be there.
Holly Sather said when there was concern over the high school many people attended the meetings. Over time there was attrition, and after two months only four people attended the Billings board meeting to speak to the issue. Holly advised that spending more time doesn’t necessarily get more people involved.
Tim asked Art about his experiences as a trustee. Art said eventually you come to a point where you have to make a decision. Art said the board is elected to oversee the operation of the school. There is risk in taking the proposal to the public. The trustees can answer questions about the details, once the project is on the board.
Thomas Jones suggested that the trustees advertise a meeting saying: We are going to build this facility on this location. Come to the meeting, provide input, and discuss it.
Teresa said there is always a risk when you make a decision.
Eileen advised that the architect will hold community and staff meetings to provide information and get input about the building design.
One of the trustees suggested that the community members in the audience become committee members. Holly and Tim Sather and Sandra Hopkins agreed.
Teresa thanked everyone for their input and attending the meeting.
The next regular meeting will be at 7:00 p.m. on January 10, 2006. There will be a special closed session at 6:00 p.m. that same evening for the purpose of evaluation of the superintendent. Facilities will be discussed again on January 10.
A tentative meeting was set for Monday January 23, 2006. This will be a facilities planning meeting with potential action.
Eileen advised that it is necessary for every trustee, except Thomas Jones, to vote on the hiring of Penny Jones, which will be on the January 10, 2006, meeting agenda. Barbara Forrester Frank will not be present and it will be difficult for her to be available by speakerphone earlier in the evening. The trustees decided that the issue should be considered later in the agenda. Teresa will confer with Barbara so she will be available by speakerphone at a certain time. Per board policy, Barbara will need to hear all discussion concerning this item prior to casting her vote via speakerphone.
Sue Vinton moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:55 p.m. Tim Trafford seconded the motion. All trustees present, Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Thomas Jones, and Sue Vinton, voted yes. The motion passed four to zero.
Teresa Stroebe, Chairperson Diane M. Brook, District Clerk