SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

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SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby ggkrupp » Fri Sep 14, 2012 6:05 am

The Next School Board meeting will be Monday, September 17th. Reconsideration of the single polling site at the High School, the Board's budget message, and the capital improvement plan are all on the agenda. The full preliminary agenda is below.

7:30 P.M. - PUBLIC SESSION

    1. Pledge of Allegiance – Christopher Ortega
    2. Approval of September 4, 2012 Minutes – Christopher Ortega
    3. Public Participation – Christopher Ortega
    4. Acceptance of Gifts/Grants under $5,000 – Matt Shevenell
    • Shaw’s to James Mastricola Upper Elementary School for $150.00
    • State Farm Companies to Merrimack High School for $500.00
    • Town of Merrimack Trustee of the Trust Funds to James Mastricola Upper Elementary School for $963.00
    • Parents and Teachers of Thorntons Ferry (PTTF) to Thorntons Ferry Elementary School for $963.06
    • Lifetouch National School Studios to James Mastricola Upper Elementary School for $1,236.00
    5. Consent Agenda – Dr. Mark McLaughlin
    • Exceptions to Use of Specific Course Materials
    6. New Hampshire Special Education District Report – John Fabrizio
    7. Common Core State Standards: Focus on Math – Dr. Mark McLaughlin
    8. Presentation of Capital Improvement Plan for 2013-2018 – Marge Chiafery, Matt Shevenell
    9. Board’s Message to the Superintendent for 2013-2014 Budget Preparation – Christopher Ortega
    10. Reconsideration of Plans for the Formation of the Teacher and Evaluation Performance Committee – Marge Chiafery
    11. Reconsideration of Merrimack High School as the Sole Polling Site – Christopher Ortega
    12. Other
      a) Correspondence
      b) Comments
    13. New Business
    14. Committee Reports
    15. Public Comments on Agenda Items
    16. Manifest

9:00 P.M. - NON-PUBLIC SESSION RSA 91-A:3, II (a) (b) (c)

  • Negotiations
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby ggkrupp » Tue Sep 18, 2012 6:29 am

A couple of highlights from last night's meeting:

  • The School Board approved the use of the High School for November elections while maintaining the JMUES site for all other elections. http://merrimack.patch.com/articles/board-agrees-to-use-mhs-to-vote-in-november-only
  • The budget message to the Superintendent requested a lower budget and also contained some late breaking information. The State Retirement system contributions will be approximately $800,000 more this year (I think the town hit was around $350,000-$400,000 more).
  • Despite its documented shortcomings and questionable application to the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS), the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum touted the merits of staying the course with the Everyday Math (EDM) program for grades 1-6. Later in the meeting Board Member Barnes reported that the PERC would review the science curriculum (specifically the Physical Sciences) this year. Seems like a review of EDM might be a better use of the committee's time given that students will be assessed under new CCSS math assessments starting in 2015. The EDM program developers are on the record in stating that their program does not meet CCSS.
  • The Capital Improvement Plan was presented but not voted on. It includes several project for the next budget including:
    • $1M for roof repairs (as was forecast last year; about $400K more than the current budget)
    • $1.5M to build a new consolidated SAU/Special Education Office
    • $300K to build new entrances and office renovations at James Mastricola Upper Elementary (interesting that unused classrooms will be razed to make room for the offices without any education impact; further makes a point that I have raised publicly: this facility is underutilized with student populations down)
    • About $150K in planned technology infrastructure
  • A new committee to develop the next teacher evaluation system will be formed next month. Three parent representatives will be selected to join teachers, administrators and a School Board member on the committee.
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby MissyB » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:24 am

◦$1.5M to build a new consolidated SAU/Special Education Office

Wasn't this voted down by the voters in April?
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby Stan Heinrich » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:04 am

Missy, what was voted down was to start a savings account for construction. Comments made by various people said to just bond the whole project.
May I also point out what was presented on Monday night was a 5+ year proposal for likely capital projects.
The Town of Merrimack Planning Board wants to know from the Merrimack School District, Merrimack Village District and the Town of Merrimack what they feel will be coming in the future for capital expenses in excess of $100,000.
Hope that helped.
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby ggkrupp » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:39 am

Missy - Stan is correct. The setup of a capital reserve for the new SAU/SPED office was the vote that was defeated. I should clarify one thing though. While Stan is correct that the total CIP presented included projects over the next several years, the CIP projects I listed in my previous post are only those projects that are scheduled for the next budget.
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby MissyB » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:03 pm

Thanks for the responses.

Some people may have voted against setting up the capital reserve because they were voting against the project, not because they preferred it be bonded. Am I correct in understanding that projects on the CIP are planned, and bonding of this project will not be before the townspeople again? I watched the meeting Mon. night. I am going to have to watch it again. I thought there was talk at the meeting of moving the SAU/SPED to another location in a school complex. I thought there was talk of moving walls and painting. If I am right, is this a temporary fix until they can get a new building?
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby lynn » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:32 pm

having a project in the CIP and funding it a two seperate issues
you can plan to do this, but it the town does not vote to fund it
in any way , if does not become reality
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby MissyB » Wed Sep 19, 2012 8:50 pm

Thanks, Lynn. Sounds like it has to come up for a vote again.
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby ggkrupp » Wed Sep 19, 2012 9:08 pm

MissyB wrote:I watched the meeting Mon. night. I am going to have to watch it again. I thought there was talk at the meeting of moving the SAU/SPED to another location in a school complex. I thought there was talk of moving walls and painting. If I am right, is this a temporary fix until they can get a new building?


Missy - The CIP was not voted on the other night. It will be voted on in the future (probably around budget time) and the Board will have the option to put forward some of the items in its budget and others as warrant articles. They have already expressed their desire to keep maintenance items in the budget (like the roof repair) while I would expect things like the new SAU/SPED office to be a warrant if the Board decides to move forward with them. I think just about every Board member is on the record as being committed to stay with the plan as outlined in the CIP because so much work went into phasing the projects to prevent budget spikes.

As far as talk about putting the SAU/SPED in another area, I think you may be referring to the discussion around the CIP project to redo the entrance at JMUES. That project also proposed to make some new office space near the entrance. In discussing that project at the meeting, the Business Administrator was asked what would be done with the current JMUES offices in the back of the facility after the new ones were built to which he replied that they would be put to use, possibly by some of the Special Ed staff. That may be the item you heard in the meeting. It was not clear to me whether that Special Ed staff he was referring to were staff already located somewhere within the Mastricola Complex or whether that entailed some staff moving over from the District SPED office. If I had to guess I would say it is the former as they District opposed a renovation plan of excess JMUES floor space to solve the District's need for a new SPED office. Availability of handicapped parking and interferring with JMUES school operations were two of the reasons cited and those would still be problems since JMUES has gained no more handicapped parking and school is still in session.

In my opinion, the fact that they can propose tearing out classrooms to build new offices proves the point that the JMUES facility is underutilized. Rather than dump $300,000 into a new entrance and offices along with another $1.5M to build SAU/SPED offices, I think we should shift the 5th graders back to the elementary schools (like it used to be) and move the 6th grade to the middle school. The enrollment numbers seem to support this as feasible. Then we could swap $1.8M in CIP projects for $700K in renovation expenses to enact the JMUES renovation plan that was previously discarded. With no school in session, that plan becomes viable again and with the move to a 5 school system, we could save a good deal of money by trimming excess Administrative and Support Staff (along with 1 less cafeteria, library, gymnasium etc. to operate and better consolidation of transporation needs) without cutting more teachers or affecting the quality of education. I think that if we dump $300K in renovations into the JMUES facility, the option I outlined becomes very hard to accept because of the difficulty in justifying the closing of JMUES in the future or further renovations for SAU/SPED offices in the future if we've just dumped a bunch of taxpayer money into that building. The fact is we are down over 700 students since the middle school was built and projected to lose almost another 300 in the next 5 years. These projections are in the school budget book for anyone who'd like to check them out (and pasted below).

The budget book can be found here:
http://www.merrimack.k12.nh.us/files/filesystem/2012-2013%20Proposed%20Budget.pdf

Pg 20 of 248 lists the historical total enrollments as:
Year / Student Population
2003-04 / 4870 * Year Middle School Built
2004-05 / 4733 * Year Middle School Opened
2005-06 / 4800
2006-07 / 4736
2007-08 / 4625
2008-09 / 4541
2009-10 / 4436
2010-11 / 4354
2011-12 / 4249
2012-13 / 4127

Based on this data, we have already seen a decrease of 743 students since we went to a 6th school. The projections I used were listed in the same budget book on Pg 30 of 248 which lists the following total enrollment projections
Year / Student Population (projected)
2013-14 / 4003
2014-15 / 3947
2015-16 / 3885
2016-17 / 3838
2017-18 / 3840

That is a decrease of an additional 287 over the next 5 years.
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Re: SB Meeting Monday, Sep17 - Single Polling Site, Budget

Postby MissyB » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:44 am

Thanks, Gary, for the info. I was thinking that they may vote on the CIP as a whole. I do now seem to remember in past years items have been taken out of the CIP and put in a warrant article. I was thinking of sending the Board an email too express my feelings that if the funding was to be changed it should go before the voters again. School District warrant articles do not usually fail. I don't remember the vote required for passing (majority or 2/3), but if it didn't need 2/3 vote, that tells me that people who usually vote in the affirmative for school district warrant articles voted against it.

Another thing that just struck me in the last meeting, and I should have picked up on it in a previous meeting, is that part of the committee put together to determine teacher performance evaluation criteria was specified to be parents. It should have been members of the public.

I do hear that enrollment is going down, and if they can possibly close a school, then they should.
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