Minutes of the Hollis/Brookline Co-op School Board Budget Workshop

Hollis/Brookline Middle School Multipurpose Room

24 January 2007



Seeing a quorum present, the Chairman called the meeting to order at 6:03 pm.


Board Members present:

Jim Murphy, Chairman

Webb Scales, Secretary

Tom Enright

Steve Simons


HB Co-op Administrative Staff present:

Rich Pike, Superintendent of Schools

Carol Mace, Director of Curriculum

Mellinee Capasso, Business Administrator

Pat Goyette, HBMS Principal

Tim Kelley, HBHS Principal


Also present:

Anne Dumas, former H/B Co-op School Board member



Jim Murphy opened by reporting that Betty Hall has resigned her post as member of the Hollis/Brookline Co-op School Board.  In consultation with Atty. Dresher, it has been determined that the Board can appoint a temporary replacement this evening and place the seat on the ballot for the March election.  The vacancy list has been re-noticed.


6:05 pm:  Jim Murphy nominated Anne Dumas to fill the seat vacated by Betty Hall until a replacement can be elected in March; seconded by Steve Simons.  Approved by all present (4-0).


Tom Enright, as a Justice of the Peace, administered the oath of office to Ms. Dumas.


[6:07 pm:  Pam Kirby arrived.]


Steve Simons announced that mediation had produced a salary agreement with the Support Staff.


[6:09 pm:  Dan Peterson arrived.]


Steve Simons discussed the terms of the agreement.  Of particular note were a cost-of-living raise of 3.75% in lieu of step raises and an increase in the medical payments cap.


6:16pm:  Steve Simons moved that the Board approve the Support Staff Contract as presented; seconded by Tom Enright.  The motion was approved 6-0-1, with Anne Dumas abstaining.


[6:17 pm:  Bob Kelly, Director of Special Education, arrived.]


Jim Murphy reported that the union had met in the afternoon and approved the agreement.


6:19pm:  Steve Simons moved that the Board amend the Reduction-In-Force Policy GDQA, modifying the second sentence in the second paragraph to end at “policy”.  The motion was approved unanimously (7-0).


Jim Murphy reminded the Board that 31 January 2007 is the deadline for posting the budget.  He also observed that the Board now needed to modify the budget to afford the approximately $75K required for the new Support Staff contract.  He also mentioned that the Teaching Staff contract includes an “evergreen clause” which entitles the Staff to step raises even if the voters don’t approve their contract at the annual meeting; thus, funds for the step raises must be included in the operating budget.  He then turned the meeting over to Rich Pike.


Rich Pike gave an introduction to the latest round of budget updates:


A discussion ensued regarding issues around specific costs and programs available from the various off-campus locations; also, around kids driving themselves to the locations (including whether sufficient parking would be available).


The board resumed scanning the budget change highlights; when this was complete,    Mr. Pike turned the meeting over to Mellinee Capasso who went over the budget summary.


The Chairman recognized Christie Grief, a Hollis Resident and H/B Middle School Guidance Counselor.  Ms. Grief asked about the elimination of a Guidance position at the Middle School under the proposed budget.


[7:07 pm:  Forrest Milkowski arrived.]


Mellinee Capasso indicated that the resignation effective at the end of the current year of a Guidance Counselor at the High School would reduce the number of Guidance positions in the Co-op by one, and that one of the positions from the Middle School would be shifted (“in a budgetary sense”) to the High School.


Pam Kirby asked Tim Kelley about the difficulty in filling three part-time teaching positions.  Mr. Kelley indicated that they were for Biology, Chemistry, and English, and that in the case of the science classes no more than a part-time teacher was required – ideally he would hire a single individual certified in both subjects, but that such a candidate was unlikely to be available.


Tom Enright asked for information on the eliminated Guidance position.  Rich Pike indicated that budget cuts were hard to come by and that Mr. Kelley’s request for additional teaching staff took precedence.  Discussion ensued around other possible cuts, including in the transportation line items.  The Chairman redirected the discussion back to the Guidance position.  Mr. Pike indicated that alternatives to cutting the Guidance position were cutting positions teaching basic/remedial/advance math and teaching ICT/English.  Pat Goyette indicated that going from two Guidance counselors to one would reduce or eliminate the ability of the counselors to teach classes and thereby get to know the students of the whole school; it would reduce IEP counseling ability (e.g., coaching in social skills); and it would remove the ability for the counselors to “loop” with the students.  Jim Murphy and Pay Goyette offered that the counselor could move or be shared between positions at the Middle and High School.  Pam Kirby, Tom Enright, and Anne Dumas indicated that the High School is currently understaffed with four counselors.  Mr. Enright and Ms. Kirby expressed concern whether a Middle School Guidance counselor would be a good fit for a High School position.  Ms. Kirby inquired regarding the investigation of a replacement telephone service for the SAU, indicating that she was not ready to accept the cut of the Guidance position without a better understanding of the full picture.  Mr. Murphy indicated that he accepted and understood the Budget Committee’s effort but didn’t necessarily agree with or accept their bottom line number.  Mr. Enright indicated that he would cut transportation to Nashua-North instead of the Guidance position.


The Chairman recognized Christie Grief again.  Ms. Grief indicated that she appreciates the Board’s difficult position.  Addressing the question of whether the skill sets are the same for a Guidance counselor at the Middle School and one at the High School, she indicated that while the required certification is the same, the position at the High School requires knowledge of colleges and recommendation writing, unlike at the Middle School; thus, such a transition would require training and college visits.  As a Guidance Counselor at the Middle School, she sees 20 students per week requiring immediate attention; she runs groups serving 20 students per week dealing with issues around anger-management, divorce, etc.; she manages 504 plan writing (9 currently); as well as checking in with children, their parents, and the staff.  Additionally, she serves upwards of 15 parents per week as well as serving on committees.  Ms. Grief indicated that it is unfair to ask the school nurse to take up the teaching load from the Guidance position; it is unfair to ask a single Guidance counselor to cover all the kids in the Middle School; and the result is unfair to the kids.


Tom Enright distributed a proposal regarding transportation.  His personal observations suggest that the buses are typically 65% occupied (in the morning; afternoon utilization might be as low as 30%).  He suggested reducing the fleet from 20 busses to 16, going from a 940-student (at 47 students per bus) capacity to 752, which is 80% usage, thereby saving, in his estimation, $60K.  Also, change the policy to charge a user fee to 10-12th graders (other than SPED students) – his expectation was that this would probably affect only about 100 students.  Mr. Enright suggested that the Board would renegotiate the current contract, preserving Hollis Transportation’s current level of profit.  Bus routes would be longer (Mr. Enright guessed by 6-8 minutes), but there would remain excess capacity to cover modest expansion.  Mr. Enright suggested that this change could produce $10-20K revenue.


A discussion ensued touching on the following areas:


Tom Enright brought up possible savings by switching insurance plans.


The Board is unanimous in its desire to see the better quote which the Business Office has received matched, and it expects the Administration to keep the Board apprised of progress toward this end.


Dan Peterson asked about the costs of Telephone and Internet service.  Mellinee Capasso indicated that she is collecting run rates and that the budget is conservative (i.e., at previous years’ levels).  She indicated that the Board needed a presentation from Rich Raymond.


Tom Enright asked how the Business Office lowered the oil budget by $17K (combined; a decrease of 5-10%).  Mellinee Capasso responded that current prices are high and the weather has been mild.


8:32 pm:  Dan Peterson moved to remove Alvirne from the Program of Studies and to remove all transportation for VocEd except to/from Milford; seconded by Steve Simons.  Approved 6-0-1, with Webb Scales abstaining.


8:35 pm:  Dan Peterson moved that the Board review the Policy with an eye toward providing transportation only to 7-9th grade students and toward developing a user fee for 10-12th grade students not to exceed $200 per student per year, with Tom Enright, Anne Dumas, and Rich Pike to present findings at the Board’s February meeting; seconded by Tom Enright.  Approved unanimously (7-0).


8:39pm Steve Simons moved that the Board move $30K from the transportation budget to reestablish the Middle School Guidance position.  Much discussion ensued, but no one seconded the motion.  Without a second, the motion failed.


Pam Kirby expressed concern regarding the difficulty of hiring three part-time teachers.  Tim Kelley indicated that the school has needs, but not for two full science teachers:  the need is two 0.6 science teachers (for Biology and Chemistry) and one full-time English teacher.


9:29 pm:  Tom Enright moved that the Board have the Administration refine the proposal with regard to the Guidance position and the Full-time teaching position at the High School and that the Board conclude the budget discussion at $18,061,495.58, which is $20K over the Budget Committee’s limit; seconded by Steve Simons.  The motion was approved 5-1-1, with Anne Dumas opposed and Webb Scales abstaining.


[Pam Kirby departed.]


Tom Enright inquired whether the Board wanted verbiage for the warrant regarding one or more Expendable Trusts.


The Board instructed the Administration to bring specific language to the February meeting for two Expendable Trusts – one for maintenance and one for Special Education funding.  (The Board was in consensus.)


A discussion regarding portable classrooms ensued.


9:58 pm:  Steve Simons moved that the Board prepare a warrant article for leasing two pairs of portable classrooms for three years, including the cost of installation, the first year’s rental payment, and the anticipated cost of utilities; seconded by Tom Enright.  Approved 5-1, with Dan Peterson opposed.


A discussion regarding a “technology warrant article” ensued.


10:04 pm:  Tom Enright moved that the Board establish a $123,000 warrant article for technology purchase; seconded by Steve Simons.  Approved 6-0.


10:07 pm:  Tom Enright moved that the Board enter non-public session per RSA 91-A:3 II(a) to discuss a matter of employee compensation; seconded by Steve Simons.  Approved 6-0.


Rich Pike reported that the Co-op has only four cases of an employee moving directly from “Bachelors + 30” to “Masters + 30”, each with all credits approved, and none with an “embedded credits” situation.


Tom Enright read the Superintendent’s letter denying the employee’s appeal at Level B.


10:12 pm:  Tom Enright moved to deny at Level C [the employee’s] appeal, upholding the rationale in Mr. Pike’s memorandum; seconded by Dan Peterson.  Approved 5-0-1, with Anne Dumas abstaining.


10:12 pm:  Anne Dumas moved that the Board return to Public Session; seconded by Steve Simons.  Approved 6-0.


10:13 pm:  Steve Simons moved that the Board seal the minutes of the Non-Public Session; seconded by Tom Enright.  After discussion, the motion was withdrawn.


10:15 pm:  Steve Simons moved that the meeting be adjourned; seconded by Anne Dumas.  Approved 6-0.




Respectfully submitted,


Webb Scales