At Monday night’s School Board meeting, the Board voted 5-2 to approve a resolution to exceed the revenue limit to purchase the dust collector system for the tech ed department. (Scroll past the video for more article text.)

Voting yes were Lisa Hay, Julie Stephenson, Kelly Gundlach, Andy Busch, and Jeff Basting. Voting no were Larry Dolphin and Larry Steffes.

The revenue limit exemption falls under Act 32, or energy efficiency.

The existing dust collector will be replaced with a new, energy efficient model. The cost of the scope of work is $82,985, which includes all costs of installation, modification, and design administration by FEH Design.

The Board will annually perform an evaluation of the performance indicators to determine the amount of energy or utility cost savings as a result of the project.

Board member Busch asked asked to confirm the project will have a minimal impact on the mill rate, and Hay and Superintendent Luke Francois both said yes.

Francois added, by approving this revenue limit exemption, the operational dollars that would have been used for the dust collector project will now be able to be used as instructional monies in the classroom. (Go to the 56 minute, 30 second mark)

Other business:

— Francois began the meeting with his Superintendent’s Good News Report. The link to view that presentation is here:

— The Board unanimously approved the hiring of Melissa Kress as an Instructional Assistant. Her salary is based on Step 0 of the Instructional Assistant Lane of the support staff salary schedule. (go to the 19 minute, 15 second mark)

— The Board approved the hiring of Jane Barr as the Administrative Assistant to the Elementary Principal with Steffes voting no. Her salary is based on the entry level step of the clerical lane in the support staff salary schedule. (go to the 21 minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board engaged in discussion with Christie Monk of FEH Design regarding a public engagement process for facility planning. The project may entail some or all of the following services: Facility Condition Assessment Report Assembly, Public Input Process Facilitation, Space Needs Evaluation, Design Workshops, Informational Campaign, Community Survey, Support for Funding Strategies, and Referendum Campaign Facilitation.

Board member Hay expressed concern with starting this process, calling it a “slippery slope towards a referendum.”

Monk said that many of the large ticket items schools need do result in a referendum because there is no other way to pay for such high-cost expenses. She added, however, that after the community survey is completed, if it is clear the community would not support a referendum for facility projects, then the Board would not need to go down that road.

Board member Busch expressed concerns with embarking on a plan with FEH Design because, “We haven’t had a real facilities discussion since we sent the last vendor (Nexus) home. We as a Board need to decide where we’re at for long-term vision and long-term support of a facilities project.” He also questioned if the Board would trust public opinion once they had it. “We had 90 surveys that were favorable towards a facilities project last year and then, what the Board felt was the silent majority, took over.”

Board member Gundlach stated one of her largest concerns was making sure the public input process included as diverse a group of stakeholders as possible.

Francois and Monk both said this process would be community driven.

The Board voted to table this item. (Go to the 23 minute mark)

— Francois gave the Board an enrollment update, although the State’s 3rd Friday count won’t be official until this Friday, September 15.

In the preliminary numbers, there are 676 residents enrolled in the District.

Residents that are open enrolling out are 42.

Non-residents that are open enrolling in are 90.

The actual number of students in seats is 724, compared to last year at this time of 714.

To further muddy the enrollment waters, early childhood counts as 0.5 of a student while Pre K counts as 0.6 of a student.

Therefore, the actual Full Time Equivalency (FTE) at this point is 662.

Compared to this time last year, Mineral Point has seen a decline in FTE residents by 20 students, which equals a significant decrease in revenue of approximately $200,000. However, open enrollment puts some of that money back in, so the District is roughly budget neutral, despite having more students in seats.

Last year’s Senior class was 59, and only 38 Pre K students are coming in this year.

Last year, 67 students open enrolled in compared to 90 this year, so that is a favorable trend, as is the number of students open enrolling out of Mineral Point down to 42 this year from 48 last year.

(Go to the one hour, 47 minute, 15 second mark)

— Francois gave the Board an update on the State Budget situation. The Joint Finance Committee’s recommendations will go before the House this week, and if approved, would head to the Senate next week. Following that, it would go to the Governor. The State is still looking at a possible September 24 approval date.

Francois stated because of the variables, the District is currently looking at a best case scenario of a $125,000 surplus, or a worst case scenario of a $580,000 deficit.

Although he admitted this is challenging, Francois said he’s confident that in the span of the two year biennial budget, the District can be close to a balanced budget. (Go to the one hour, ten minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board voted to table approval of the Purchasing Policy update with Steffes voting no (Go to the one hour, 28 minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board voted to approve the updated Conflict of Interest Policy with Basting voting no. The Board voted unanimously to approve the updated Board Member Electronic Communications Policy. (Go to the one hour, 32 minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board held first readings around several policies as it continues its efforts to update all policies (Go to the one hour, 18 minute mark)

— The Board approved the bills payable and credit card statement with Hay, Dolphin, Gundlach, Busch, and Steffes voting yes and Stephenson and Basting abstaining. (go to the 15 minute, 30 second mark of the video)

— The Board unanimously approved the purchase of choral risers in the amount of $8,953. (go to the 16 minute, 30 second mark)

— The Board unanimously approved a bulk order of paper in the amount of $5,976. (go to the 18 minute, 15 second mark)

— The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is set for Monday, October 9 at 6:30 pm.