CALL TO ORDER
Chairperson Stroebe opened the regular meeting, called it to order at 7:01 p.m., and led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.
The following trustees and officers were present: Trustees: Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Greg Bochy, and Sue Vinton, Superintendent Eileen Johnson and District Clerk Diane Brook. Trustees Becky Malenowsky, Thomas Jones and Barbara Forrester Frank were absent.
Staff members present were: Mike Bowman, Dave DeBoer, Mike Sullivan, Don Christman, Johanna Freivalds, Darlene Hess, Pam Richau, Nikki Alt, Nancy Kaderavek, and Judy Guenther.
Registered guests present were: Luella Brien (Billings Gazette), Evelyn Pyburn (Yellowstone County News), Pam Malek (Exxon Mobil), Peter Freivalds, Jason Hamrick, Tim Sather, Holly Sather, and Terry Sukut, AIA, (JGA).
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.
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.
Sue Vinton moved to approve the minutes of the March 13, 2007, Regular Board Meeting, and the bills as presented. Tim Trafford seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted yes; the motion passed four to zero.
A. Letter from the Human Rights Bureau
Trustee Tim Trafford read aloud the letter from the Human Rights Bureau. Per this letter that was attached to the agenda, the investigator found no evidence of discrimination in the case filed by Dara Fladmo.
It was noted that the following two letters were received after the agenda was mailed.
Tom Ramlow submitted a letter of resignation effective at the end of the 2006-07 school year. Chair Stroebe read his letter and wished him well.
Chair Stroebe read aloud Jennifer Brackney’s letter of resignation effective at the end of the 2006-07 school year; the board wished her well.
EDUCATION AND BUSINESS
A. Update on Middle School Building/HVAC Project
AIA Terry Sukut from JGA was present to provide an update on the project. He said they have been meeting with middle school staff members to get their input on the needs and design of the learning spaces.
Terry discussed the HVAC project also. He advised that Engineer Keith Campbell and others have been going room to room and documenting what equipment will be replaced. They are looking at different options for bringing “make-up” air into the rooms; they hope to go through the walls instead of the roof. Their goal is to understand exactly what the impacts will be to the classrooms when the new equipment is installed. This is an ongoing process, and they will come back with recommendations for how to best complete the project within the budget limits.
Mr. Sukut reported that the drain field percolation tests are finished. He did not have a report from Engineering Inc. yet. It is hoped that we are not dealing with ground water in the building area; if there is no ground water, it will save money in the project budget. He is also waiting for the survey report from Engineering, Inc.
Terry also discussed some of the access roads and plans for extension of water and utility services.
Eileen advised that there will be a bid opening at noon on May 22, 2007, and a quorum of the Board of Trustees needs to be present. The bid is for work that will be completed this summer on the parking areas and possibly the pad for the new building.
Trustee Bochy and Peter Freivalds asked questions about the parking lot configurations and how much pavement will be added.
Mr. Sukut advised that they are waiting for a report from Terracon regarding the boring samples taken from the area on which the building will be placed. The sample data is a significant piece of information. He advised that they are not seeing a good solid base material to work with, so they will probably have to pack it better. A possible option would be to layer in a compacted beam of material and grid. They did this at the College of Technology and at Laurel. This will also impact the cost because additional foundation materials will be needed.
The have been investigating the possibility of roto-milling the existing pavement. Engineering, Inc. who discussed this with JTL Construction said expense to mobilize the equipment may cost more than just hauling the pavement away. Terry is not happy with that answer, so he is still pursuing it. JGA wants to be as environmentally friendly as possible, so they are hopeful to have a different plan than just hauling away all the materials.
Trustee Bochy asked about the HVAC system in the primary building.
Architect Sukut advised that they will install new classroom unit ventilators, which will be connected to piping through the tunnels and to the new boiler system. Currently they are in the process of looking at the geometry of the spaces and planning how to join to existing cabinets, etc. It is their desire to save costs by just installing HVAC systems, without having to do much remodeling.
Supt. Johnson commented that the HVAC bid will go out this fall.
Teresa said the environment for the students is the most important thing.
Last week they had round one meetings with the teams from Grades 6, 7, and 8, and library and science teachers. They talked about what they have now and how things will fit. Terry advised that there is a great deal of refinement and balancing to do yet. There will be several more meetings with staff this week.
Some of the concerns discussed during these meetings were: a) fitting all the library activities in the library; b) size of the science rooms for student counts of 30-32 students; c) comparing existing space to planned space for band and music.
Chair Stroebe asked about windows, lights, and light sources in the new building. Terry responded that each of the classrooms will have three and one half feet to four feet square windows that can be opened for ventilation.
Sue asked about incorporating high windows into the design, so wall space can be maximized. Terry said there are plenty of options to examine for providing light at an economical cost.
Terry advised that they are looking for consistency throughout all the classrooms. There will not be sinks in the rooms, because drinking fountains and bathrooms will be very close to the rooms in the pod areas.
Trustee Trafford commented that we have 13.4 million dollars to spend; he asked if the budget line between the building project and the HVAC project is movable. He stated the opinion that once the building is constructed, it is in concrete; if it is too small, there is no fixing it. He said we can work on the HVAC in the future. If we can’t bend the line and take some [money] from the HVAC project and put it into the building, we’re making a mistake.
Sue agreed with Tim. She said she is not a fan of air conditioning, and she doesn’t think we need it.
Tim advised slowing down on shrinking the size of the new building.
Greg said we told the public we would fix the HVAC problems in the existing buildings, and we should stand up to that.
Teresa asked about the exact wording of the ballot.
Eileen said we didn’t identify certain amounts of money for each project, however legally we have to live up to what we said.
Greg said we don’t have to do the whole campus, but we do have problem areas that must be upgraded.
Eileen said it is not possible to have two HVAC systems going at the same time. She advised that we would have to make a decision as to what areas we would upgrade. Supt. Johnson reminded trustees that part of the reason for the bond was to keep the old building functioning well. Upgrading the HVAC system is very important to keeping it in good shape. The HVAC project involves the heating and ventilation systems; it is much more than just air conditioning.
Sue said we need to look at how we can save money on the HVAC project as well.
Eileen said we are trying to the best that we can with the $13.4 million overall budget.
Mr. Sukut advised we are not planning for an extravagant building by any means, but we don’t want to make it too small either. He said we are just in the beginning stages, and we still have a lot of information gathering to do. We need to keep going; we should have much better information before the next meeting. He advised that he didn’t want to portray gloom and doom or for anyone to feel discouraged. He said these are all steps in the process, and there is a long way to go.
Terry left the meeting at 8:03 p.m.
B. Decision Concerning Holding the Trustee Election
Teresa asked candidates Peter Freivalds, Tim Sather, and Jason Hamrick to introduce themselves.
Supt. Johnson advised: Since there are three candidates for three open Trustee positions, the Board may decide about having an election. The possibility of a write-in candidate remains until April 12, 2007.
Sue Vinton moved to direct the district clerk to cancel the Trustee Election effective April 13, 2007, (25 days prior to the election date), and post notice per the governing statute, 20-3-313, MCA, if the number
of candidates filing for a position or filing a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate under 13-10-211, MCA, is equal to the number of positions to be elected. In this case Trustee(s) Election by Acclamation will be conducted. Greg Bochy seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted aye; the motion passed four to zero.
The Trustees expressed appreciation that these people stepped up to serve on the board.
C. K-5 Handbook for 2007-2008
The K-5 handbook that was provided to trustees for preview at the March meeting was presented for board approval.
Tim Trafford moved to adopt the K-5 2007-08 Handbook as presented. Sue Vinton seconded the motion.
Trustee Trafford mentioned that some signs posted in the district showing school hours need to be updated to reflect the actual hours of the school day as noted in the handbook.
Teresa called for the question. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted yes; the motion passed four to zero.
D. Resolution to Transfer End of the Year Transportation Funds to the Flex Fund
Prior to discussing the resolution, Eileen distributed a handout showing the estimated school funding within House Bill 363; the current bill in the legislature to fund schools. The increase for 2007-08 equals 2.32% and for 2008-09 the increase would only be .38%. She said [under the current funding bills] the only thing that can help increase our budget would be providing funding for all day every day kinder-garten. Mrs. Johnson also noted that at this time the all day everyday kindergarten initiative has not been passed.
Supt. Johnson advised that the ANB (average number belonging) student numbers are 24 fewer this year, which lowers funding for next year. She also explained that our funding can be affected considerably from year to year depending on the number of students in Grades 7 and 8. We receive more funding for 7th and 8th grade students than those in the lower grades.
Diane had prepared a worksheet with scenarios estimating the shortfall for the 2007-08 Budget under HB 363 and HB 417. The trustees discussed the worksheet and the estimated shortfall. The sheet is attached to the minutes.
The Board of Trustees considered the Resolution to Transfer End of the Year Transportation Funds to the Flex Fund.
Supt. Johnson recommended the following: As the Board has done previously and is allowed by law, it is recommended that the end of the year unused Transportation funds be transferred to the Flex Fund.
MCA 20-9-208 allows for transfers from fund to fund whenever the trustees determine, in their discretion, that the transfer of funds is necessary to improve the efficiency of spending within the district.
Diane estimated that there will be approximately $17,000-$18,000 remaining in the Transportation Fund at the end of the year. Transferring these funds to the Flexibility Fund will allow use of the money for any need of the district next year. Since it appears our budgets will be tight next year, this is a good tool to help stretch our dollars. The reasons we have unspent budget authority in transportation are:
1) we budgeted for additional crossing guards in the event they were needed; 2) we budgeted for worst case scenario for paying the bus fuel adjustment over contract limits of $1.72 per gallon. Since prices have bounced up and down, we will not use the entire amount budgeted. Currently we are paying an adjustment of $.7845 per gallon. The adjustment has been as high as $1.2376 per gallon and as low as $.4788 per gallon. If there are additional funds over the $18,000, these will be moved to the Transportation Reserves.
Sue Vinton moved to adopt a resolution to transfer a maximum of $18,000 from the Transportation Fund to the Flex Fund, authorized by MCA 20-9-208, to improve the efficiency of spending within the district for purposes of proper maintenance and operation of the school programs. Greg Bochy seconded the motion.
Chair Stroebe asked if there were any comments or discussion. Seeing none, she called for the question. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted yes; the motion passed four to zero.
E. Possible Mill Levy Election
Supt. Johnson advised: On the day of the meeting I will bring the latest legislation from Helena, and the Board can determine whether to run a general fund levy based on the information available.
Tim said based on worksheet scenarios he thinks that the Board of Trustees should not request a levy.
Sue agreed, saying she appreciates the belt tightening [for next year’s budget] that Diane and Eileen are working on already.
Eileen said she does not recommend cutting staff, and she finds it difficult to ask the community for more money. She thinks we can squeak through 2007-08, but 2008-09 could be horrendous unless the legislature provides more funding.
Teresa said we should not be asking our community for funding but demanding it from our legislators.
Eileen said that if a funding increase is not sustainable at this time; then the legislature could at least provide one time only money that has to be spent in the next three to five years.
There was a brief discussion about direct bill Medicaid funds, since we will need to use them next year for staff salaries. Mrs. Johnson advised that we are in the process of re-enrollment; Medicaid currently requires that she provide her Social Security Number, birth date, and birth place in order to enroll the
school district. She is adamantly opposed to this requirement; she feels that the school Federal Tax Identification Number should be used, not her private information. Mrs. Johnson advised that she is working to get this changed.
There was no motion regarding requesting a levy, so there will be no mill levy election.
A. List of Substitutes
Sue Vinton moved to hire Whitney Kimpton as a substitute teacher per the list attached to the agenda. Tim Trafford seconded the motion. Tim Trafford asked if Whitney Kimpton had been fingerprint back-ground checked. Eileen Johnson answered affirmatively. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted yes; the motion passed four to zero.
A. Revise Policy No. 5140 with Insurance Statement
Mrs. Johnson recommended a change in Policy No. 5140. The change would add a statement about the health insurance benefit not being offered to classified staff until successful completion of the 90-day probationary period. Currently we offer insurance immediately upon employment. This has caused some difficulties when the person leaves prior to the end of probation. This is the second of three readings.
Tim Trafford moved to adopt Policy No. 5140 on second reading with a change. He requested that the policy wording of the second paragraph be changed as follows:
The employee will be eligible for health insurance Health insurance will be offered on the first day of the month following successful completion of the probationary period.
Tim’s rationale for the change was that it makes the employee responsible to request the benefit instead of the employer responsible to offer it.
Sue Vinton seconded the motion. Teresa called for the question. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, and Sue Vinton voted aye; Greg Bochy voted no. The motion was passed with a vote of three to one. Greg said he felt the previous wording was adequate.
B. Policy No.7320 - Update According to Legislation – First and Only Reading
Eileen advised that this policy change has nothing to do with the authority given to anyone in the district. On April 2 the governor signed HB347, which changed the amount of money a district can spend on an item or project before going to bid. The amount was increased from $25,000 to $50,000, and it was effective immediately. Mrs. Johnson recommended the district change Policy No. 7320 to accommodate this law change. Policy No.1310 which provides that any policy that must be changed as a result of legislative action will require one reading, and proposed new wording for Policy No. 7320 were attached to the agenda.
Eileen noted that this change will reduce the district costs, as advertising for bids is extremely expensive.
She advised that the board can use their own guidelines for setting expenditure limits for which the superintendent shall have the authority to make purchases without advance approval.
By state law purchases greater than $50,000 must be bid.
Sue Vinton moved to adopt Policy No. 7320 as amended on first reading and final reading. Tim Trafford seconded the motion.
Tim said that the board should discuss whether the Authorization and Control portion of Policy No. 7320 should be left at $25,000 or amended to $50,000 to match the Bids and Contracts portion of the policy. The Authorization and Control provides the amount the superintendent is authorized to spend without advance approval by the board. He advised this policy is for future boards and future staff also. Tim said the state law is a no-brainer; the Bids and Contracts policy should be changed. He felt the authorization and control should be left at $25,000.
Mr. Trafford moved to amend the motion on the floor as follows: Leave the dollar amount set in the Authorization and Control portion of Policy No. 7320 at $25,000, and change the Bids and Contracts portion of Policy No. 7230 to $50,000 which reflects the recent law change.
Teresa asked if there was discussion on the amended motion. She notified those present that this would be the final reading. Chair Stroebe called for the question on the amended motion. Teresa Stroebe, Tim Trafford, Sue Vinton, and Greg Bochy voted yes; the motion passed four to zero.
REPORTS AND MISCELLANEOUS
Don Christman said the district did an incredible job of getting the students tested. He also noted that Pam Richau has single handedly entered every child into the AIM program, and she did a great job.
Pam Richau briefly discussed her report and the Technology Plan. She thinks they have some great goals. At the board meeting next month, she hopes to present the whole Technology Plan.
Keith Tresch was not present, but his report was attached to the agenda. Eileen noted that Mr. Tresch had returned some money to families who had overpaid activity fees according to board policy.
Art Anderson was not present.
Primary Principal Mike Bowman said he had nothing to add to his written report. It was noted that kindergarten roundup will be the first week in May. Tim and Sue are interested in hearing the results of the poll of kindergarten parents regarding all day every day kindergarten or half-day kindergarten.
Eileen advised that she had read that Florida schedules academics in the morning and other subjects in the afternoon. Then parents can take their child out at noon if they do not feel they should be in school for the full day.
Greg asked about space for all day every day kindergarten. Eileen replied that she and Mr. Bowman have developed a one-year plan for next year. She noted that it will be very crowded.
Intermediate School Principal Dave DeBoer had nothing to add to his official report. He thanked everyone for their diligence during the testing. He thought they did an excellent job of giving each student the best possible space and environment for taking the test.
Middle School Principal Mike Sullivan noted the MBI Team Quarterly Checklists on the back of his report which he distributed at the meeting.
Supt. Johnson informed those present that OPI will be sending Mr. Sullivan to a National MBI training workshop so he can come back and train others.
Eileen said she had just received from City County Planning an addition of 50 lots with four bedroom homes of 2,000 square feet.
She also noted that Scott Rickard reminded her that the County Park Board will meet here tomorrow about banning motorized vehicles in the hills behind the school.
Good News! We will get Title I Summer School money this year. Mr. Bowman will be supervising the program.
Supt. Johnson said during the past month her time on campus has been very limited due to all the meetings she has been attending. She is hoping her other duties will let up, so she can spend more time on campus.
OLD BUSINESS OR FOLLOW UP INFORMATION
Tim asked about the easement. Eileen said she has not yet received any information.
Sue expressed concern about safety and the traffic around the school. She asked if our school resource officer could assist in asking the Sheriff’s Department to keep speeds down in the school zone. Sue said “It is unbelievable how fast people drive by the school.”
Peter Freivalds said he has seen radar signs in other school zones that say: “YOUR SPEED IS ----“.
He suggested that type of signage might be helpful.
Eileen advised she has tried for years to get the speed zone changed to 25 miles per hour.
The Trustees want a letter written to the county commissioners and Sheriff Maxwell regarding this issue.
Teresa reported that she and Greg went to the Day of Advocacy in Helena. She felt it didn’t do much good. She attended a workshop about knowledge based decision making. She would like to have the board complete a survey in May. It will be attached to the agenda.
Montana School Boards Association is having the spring workshop on May 17, 2007, at the Holiday Inn Grand Montana. The Golden Gavel will be given at the spring workshop.
The next Regular Board Meeting will be held Tuesday, May 8, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. There will also be a bid opening at 12:00 noon on Tuesday, May 22, 2007.
Tim Trafford moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:24 p.m. Sue Vinton seconded the motion. Teresa Stroebe, Sue Vinton, Greg Bochy, Tim Trafford voted aye; the motion passed four to zero.
Teresa Stroebe, Chairperson Diane M. Brook, District Clerk