Currently, the middle/high school entrance contains a set of double doors that lead right into the heart of the facility. Although there is a key fob system at this entrance, once a visitor is buzzed in, he/she has immediate access to student-occupied areas. (Scroll past the video for more article text)
The District asked the state for grant funds to extend the vestibule in the middle/high school entrance and add a doorway funneling visitors through the main office before gaining access to the building. This will provide better documentation of visitors and better control of who is gaining access to the middle/high school. The deadline for the grant application was June 8.
Re-routing of visitor traffic forces a relocation/reallocation of office spaces.
The District desired the grant cover to cover the full cost of the project ($129,448) but was counseled only to request the allocation per building (three buildings at $20,000) for a combined $60,000, otherwise risk receiving no funding at all.
The Mineral Point School District was slated to start the 2018-19 fiscal year with a $326,000 shortfall and has made significant reductions to now have a balanced budget. To fund the remainder of the project that is more than the $60,000 grant allocation, the District will need to either utilize fund balance or go to referendum. Without the grant, the district has no resources to move forward on the project.
The District requested and received two formal proposals for a secured entrance solution, and the request submitted to the state for grant funding was the lower of the two proposals.
At a previous meeting, Board member Kelly Gundlach spoke encouraging the district to hire a company called Blue-U Defense to train staff on best practices in an active shooter situation. Jennie Pete, parent, was at Monday night’s meeting to say her employer recently had staff go through the training from Blue-U and she found it very worthwhile.
Gundlach was concerned that putting financial resources into a secured entrance, before Blue-U had a chance to provide a security assessment to see if that would really be the best use of funds, was putting the “cart before the horse.”
Superintendent Luke Francois reminded the Board that EMC Insurance did a security assessment and determined a secured entrance is something that is needed. The District’s Safety Committee also prioritized it and pushed for the installation of a secured entrance at the elementary school, which was installed over spring break.
As far as the active shooter training piece, Francois added the District will take the summer to examine the pros and cons of three companies, one of which will be Blue-U, and then bring back a recommendation to the Board that will not only train and educate staff, but also students, families, and the community.
If the Board voted to continue moving forward with the middle/high school secured entrance yet this summer while workers are already on site fixing the roof, the District could find savings using personnel already on site.
The Board approved by a 6-0-1 vote with Gundlach abstaining, amending the current contract with FEH Design for the middle/high school roof replacement to include completion of a secured entrance to be finished before the fall of 2018 (pending Operations Committee approval of design). (Go to the 17 minute, 25 second mark)
Other Business —
— The meeting began with recognition of WIAA State Track participants. (This begins the video).
— The Board continued discussion around a possible referendum to fund renovations to the elementary school, as recommended by the Elementary School Planning Committee.
The discussion of forming a referendum resolution, according to Francois, “is important because the appropriate resolution needs to be brought back at the appropriate amount next month so the community can weigh in” before a final resolution would need to be voted on in August.
It was the ESPC’s recommendation to the Board to move forward with an $11.9 million remodel of the current elementary.
A cost breakdown of the various projects associated with that can be found here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=42602284
Francois reminded the Board the survey indicated strong support with both groups (those that have kids in the district and those that don’t). Approximately 375 surveys were returned (both electronically and paper).
The ESPC survey results can be found here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=42602285
Board member Aaron Dunn said he believes there are a few questions the Board needs to answer including, “Does the Board accept the recommendation of the planning committee by remodeling the current site?” and “If so, how much do we do of the project?”
Board member Everett Lindsey cautioned the Board to not pick and choose from that list because all the items are tied together.
Board member Andy Busch said he is in favor of putting the whole $11.9 million project out to the voters because that’s what the people who chose to take the survey are in favor of.
Board treasurer Larry Steffes was most concerned with the mill rate impact, to which Francois provided the following mill rate analysis: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=42632281
He also added the mill rate net impact reports roughly a $16/month increase on a median home of $150K over 2018 and approximately a $12/month increase over 2017. The survey indicated that the tax threshold the community would support for a project was between $12 and $16/month of increase.
Steffes also said he would like to address the operating budget deficit first before an elementary referendum, saying it’s likely the District will need to go to the taxpayers soon for an operating referendum.
The Board approved by a 4-3 vote having a preliminary referendum resolution brought back to the July meeting for the full $11.9 million renovation to the existing elementary school. Voting in favor were Busch, Nate Chambers, Dunn, and Lindsey. Voting against were Gundlach, Steffes, and Jeff Basting.
A preliminary resolution in July can still be changed before the final resolution Board vote in August and gives the community a chance to weigh in on what they would like to see put out to a community vote in the November 2018 election. (Go to the 53 minute, 30 second mark).
— The Board continued with its 2018-19 Preliminary Budget discussion.
Francois reminded the Board last month he presented a budget that had a $326,000 shortfall, but the Board instructed him to go back and balance it.
Up for approval at Monday night’s meeting then was a balanced budget, which a summary of can be found here: https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=42631061
Francois stated he would consider a November $350,000 operational referendum to put back the cuts the District has already made for the upcoming school year.
Athletic Director Vickie Dahl expressed her concerns with the Board cutting pay for event workers, stating she’s worried about the competency of volunteers to run clocks and keep official books. She added in her 29 years of employment in the District, the workers have always been paid.
Francois stated, with the health insurance savings, there’s been a reduction to the Alternative Benefit Plan of approximately $17,000, which right now, went back into the District’s contingency fund. If the Board desired, that money could be reallocated to another area.
Steffes said he was under the assumption event workers had always been volunteers and would not support putting the money back into the athletic program over putting it back into the classroom.
Board member Jeff Basting also asked about the possibility of increasing the out of pocket deductible for health insurance, something Francois wouldn’t recommend because he was able to balance the budget without taking that step.
Gundlach agreed saying it was a bad idea to whittle away at staff wages with a health insurance increase, after they were given a raise last month.
The Preliminary Budget was approved as presented by a 6-1 vote with Steffes voting no.
The final budget won’t be approved by the Board until October, once property values are set.
The Board did express a desire to potentially pose a recurring operational referendum question to the voters on the November ballot to take care of the budget deficit moving forward.
A motion was made to have Francois bring a draft resolution to the July meeting that would show tax impact numbers for both a $500,000 and $1,000,000 recurring referendum. This was approved by a 6-1 vote with Steffes voting no. (Go to the one hour, 35 minute mark)
— The District considered options to fill the vacancy of the elementary library media/technology specialist. Options considered were transferring an existing employee into the job, reducing the position, or dispersing duties to a current position. After considering the options above, the District recommended filling the vacancy with a new hire.
Elementary Principal Matt Renwick was not present at the meeting, but shared a presentation that explained a librarian is more than just desk circulation–it’s a modern position that has become a teaching role around best practices in using technology for learning for both students and staff. The library media specialist is constantly in and out of classrooms working with students on digital media literacy.
Francois said not filling the vacancy would be a step backward, especially given the District’s recent academic success and newly approved strategic plan. There would be no computer instruction such as keyboarding and other basic skills taught in an encore rotation setting.
Gundlach stated her belief that there should be no devices for kindergarten classes, which could then cut down on needing a full time person in the library media specialist role.
It was also questioned if kindergarten could be cut from three down to two sections next year, given the projected class sizes.
Francois reminded the Board the administration made that recommendation several months ago through attrition, but the Board voted against it, based on feedback from the community that it desires small class sizes.
Dunn said the Board doesn’t need to cut this position to make up for a current deficit as the Board just passed a preliminary balanced budget, which included this position.
Gundlach believed the staff at the elementary could step up to the plate and fill the void of this position with their “can-do attitude.”
A motion was made to re-hire the elementary library media specialist position and it failed 4-3. Voting in favor of rehiring were Busch, Dunn, and Lindsey. Voting against hiring were Chambers, Basting, Steffes, and Gundlach.
Administration will work to determine the best course of action moving forward. (Go to the two hour, 38 minute mark)
— The Board accepted a recommendation to change from a high deductible health insurance plan with a $2,000 single/$4,000 family deductible to $4,000/$8,000. The HRA ‘out of pocket’ deductible for staff remains the same at $100/$200. In summary, the change assists the District with budget reduction measures while leaving the current amount of employee premium contribution the same with no additional ‘out of pocket’ deductible expenses. This was approved unanimously. (Go to the two hour, 26 minute, 30 second mark)
— The Board unanimously approved the hiring of Jason Smith as High School English Language Arts Teacher, as well as the resignations of Kari Kabat, Elementary Library Media Specialist, and Julie Witmer, Speech Pathologist. (Go to the three hour mark)
— The Board discussed what action steps it would like to start implementing with regard to the section of the District’s Strategic Plan under Community Engagement called Connecting the Community and Board. (Go to the two hour, 27 minute mark)
— The Board approved the credit card statement and bills payable by a 6-0-1 vote with Basting abstaining. (Go to the three hour, five minute, 30 second mark)
— The next regularly scheduled Board meeting is set for Monday, July 16 at 6:30 pm. Please note this is the 3rd Monday of the month, not the usual 2nd Monday.