The Mineral Point School Board met Monday evening and passed a balanced budget for the 2016-17 school year. (Continue scrolling past the video for more article text)
The final budget for Board approval was the same as the one the Board received for preliminary inspection at the July meeting.
Board member Glenn Kinch asked if the budget the Board would be voting on included the addition of the District paying for an additional day of police liaison work, as well as late bus routes for students needing academic assistance.
Superintendent Luke Francois responded yes, the budget included all of the following reductions and additions:
- Reduction in virtual school fees (in lieu of purchasing APEX)
- Reduction in postage
- Reduction of SMART Board purchases removed (purchased three in 15-16)
- Reduction of Chromebooks for 7-8th grade removed (purchased 15-16)
- Addition of full time resource officer.
- Replacement of internet filter.
- Addition of Alternative School.
- Addition of RUS Grant Match
- Addition of Erate Match
- Addition of after school programming and two late bus routes.
- Addition of graduate credits for Mitch Wainwright’s superintendency licensure program.
Members Kinch, Jeff Basting, and Larry Dolphin questioned the need for a full time police liaison officer. Dolphin said he has heard from his constituents they would like the officer at the elementary school, instead of the middle/high building.
It was also expressed some Board members are concerned that the City of Mineral Point may not vote to purchase another day of the officer’s time and wanted to see how that played out before deciding as a District.
Francois expressed some confusion stating he had received no concerns from Board members about the liaison addition between July when the preliminary budget was presented until the meeting tonight. He reminded the Board the additional time for the liaison came as a response to the Board’s desire to address security needs in the District.
Kinch added his concerns with the addition of the late busing routes for students needing academic intervention, stating he believes students might be burned out by that time of the day, as well as his belief there are some kids that will never learn at grade level, no matter what steps are taken. Basting agreed, but said he believes the District needs to try.
Board president Larry Steffes reminded the Board the budget is balanced, even with the inclusion of the full time liaison and the late bus routes for academic supports.
Basting made a motion to approve the budget as presented, but without current authorization to spend the funds for the full time liaison, stating the item could be brought back at a later date.
Basting, Andy Busch, Lisa Hay, and Steffes voted yes. Dolphin and Kinch voted no. Julie Stephenson was absent.
As a note related to the budget, Basting again expressed concerns with teachers attending conventions, especially during school days when the District then needs to pay a substitute and teaching time is lost.
The budget summary can be viewed here:
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— Nexus Solutions employees Jeff Mangan and Hans Noel were present to share results of a comprehensive study of the District’s facilities and report on a long term facility plan.
Nexus is comprised of industry experts with more than 20 years of experience in capital planning, consensus building, project development, engineering, construction management, and commissioning. Their team draws from that wealth of knowledge to provide K-12 school districts, higher-learning facilities and other diverse organizations with sole-source accountability for building projects.
Having successfully developed facility improvements, Nexus would help Mineral Point to reduce costs while creating an optimal learning environment for years to come.
Mangan noted the study was not put together in a vacuum and Nexus interviewed administration, maintenance staff, and surveyed staff members to see what their various needs are.
The study addresses deferred maintenance such as high school roof repair/replacement, expansion joints, sealants, tuckpointing, parking lot, sidewalks, concrete upgrades, and kitchen upgrades.
It also looked at air conditioning in both schools, heating water system upgrades, LED lighting upgrades, and at the elementary, an electrical system replacement and a backup generator.
The security camera system would be expanded, entrances would be remodeled to be more secure, the middle/high school would receiving a flooring upgrade, as well as a potential wellness center for the community’s use.
The elementary has the option to reconfigure the traffic plan.
Nexus is projecting annual utility savings of $41,000 through controls, lighting, hvac, etc. and $25,000 savings through operations, for an annual savings of $66,000.
The financial impact of these upgrades to both buildings would be as follows with this plan:
$6.1 million of improvements for revenue limit exemptions
$2.6 million of capital improvements
$9.1 million of improvements for a referendum
For a total of $17.9 million in improvements for both buildings
Financed with 20 year general obligation bonds, which are currently receiving a favorable interest rate of less than 3%, would equal an additional $9.17 per month per $100,000 of home value for the revenue limit exemption portion and an additional $11.75 per month per $100,000 of home value for the referendum portion.
Nexus did also present in the plan what it would cost to build a new elementary, estimating that to be $19.997 million, compared to the $8.665 million to upgrade.
These are just a few highlights of the plan. The detailed plan presented to each Board member consisted of 100 pages that will be studied in depth at a Board work session Wednesday, September 28 at 6:30 pm. The Board will then take a building tour to see the needs first hand on Wednesday, October 12 at 6:30 pm. On Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30 pm, the community will be invited for a listening session and tour. The first reading of a possible project resolution would take place on Wednesday, November 30 at 6:30 pm with the second and final reading inside the Board meeting on Monday, December 12.
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— The District shared actual enrollment numbers as of the fourth day of school as compared to projected numbers shared with the board last spring. The official 3rd Friday Count will take place this week, which is important to determine state funding. It will also allow the District to segregate between open enrolled students and resident students.
Overall, Francois stated the projected enrollment indicated 704 students with the actual enrollment numbers showing 715 right now. The full breakdown by grade level can be seen here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=39337939
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— In the Superintendent’s Report, Francois issued some corrected figures to what was listed in a Board member’s newspaper Letter to the Editor. The list can be viewed here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=39302238
He also reported on a seamless start to the school year thus far.
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— The Board unanimously approved a revenue exemption for the current energy efficiency project that included the purchase of new heating and ventilating systems, exhaust fans, and control systems for HVAC and lighting.
Francois stated that by, state statute, this needed to be approved by October 1, just like the prior three years of the ten year contract.
The amount of the note this year is $62,584. Francois stated the District, according to Johnson Controls, is seeing roughly $22,000 of savings each year due to the project.
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— The Board did not approve a Scope of Work to explore a fiber project from the high school to the elementary. Voting yes was Busch; no was Hay, Kinch, Basting, Steffes; Dolphin abstained.
Frank Livermore was connected with the Board via telepresence to answer questions. He was forthright in stating a cost projection for the build would be very sketchy at the current time, especially because of the rock that is in the area, and an unsureness of whether poles are available for use or not, or if aerial would be the best way to go. Repair and maintenance of the fiber and school owned innerduct would be the responsibility of the district.
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— The Board heard a report from elementary teachers Kimberly Diefenbach, Jill McGuire, and Penny Wiegel about their professional development this summer at the Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City.
For over 30 years, educators have come together at Teachers College for institutes on the teaching of reading and writing. Together, they study methods and plan curricula, revitalize their thinking, and most importantly, encourage their students to lead rich and literate lives. There was an application screening process to be selected for attendance.
The institutes feature keynote addresses by celebrated authors, world renowned teacher-educators, and other all-stars in the field of literacy and learning. Institutes include small and large group sections that are designed to help teachers, coaches and administrators establish vibrant, rigorous models of best practices.
The group wished to attend this institute because of the desire to increase Mineral Point’s proficiency in writing and reach 100% literacy by 3rd grade. They are eager to collect baseline data and track growth and effectiveness moving forward.
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— The Board heard a report from Communications Director Joelle Doye about her professional development this summer at the National School Public Relations Association Seminar in Chicago.
NSPRA is a professional organization dedicated to building support for education through responsible public relations that leads to success for all students since 1935.
The NSPRA National Seminar is the largest gathering of school communication professionals in North America, bringing together outstanding experts and practitioners in communication and leadership for four days of collaboration and learning. School public relations professionals and educational leaders must demonstrate accountability and student achievement in local schools like never before through public engagement.
Doye received one of two national scholarships to attend.
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— The Board heard a report from Instructional Coach Kimberly Diefenbach.
The Pennsylvania Institute for Instructional Coaching defines an instructional coach as “someone whose chief professional responsibility is to bring evidence-based practices into classrooms by working with teachers and other school leaders.”
She pointed out that her role is to work with teachers in a non-evaluative way and stressed that instructional coaching is not for poorly performing teachers, in fact it is just the opposite, providing high performing teachers with a coach to be a thought partner with.
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— Food Service Coordinator, Nancy Smith, welcomed the Board to the new school year.
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— The Board held a brief discussion to think about beginning conversations around Board goals, shared commitments, and action plans.
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— The Board approved the credit card statement and bills payable with all voting yes except Basting and Kinch who abstained.
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— The Board convened in closed session to discuss the superintendent’s contract, as well as an offer to purchase property on Fountain Street.
— The next regular monthly meeting of the Board is set for Monday, October 10 at 6:30 pm. The Board will hold a Long Range Facility Planning detailed project review work session on Wednesday, September 28 at 6:30 pm.