Minutes of the Hollis/Brookline Co-op School Board Budget Workshop
Hollis/Brookline Middle School Teachers’ Room
7 February 2007
Seeing a quorum present, the Chairman called the meeting to order at 6:07 pm.
Board Members present:
Jim Murphy, Chairman
Webb Scales, Secretary
HB Co-op Administrative Staff present:
Rich Pike, Superintendent of Schools
Mellinee Capasso, Business Administrator
Tim Kelley, HBHS Principal
Carol Mace, Director of Curriculum
Rich Raymond, SAU Computer Network Administrator
Kim Rizzo-Saunders, HBMS Assistant Principal
Forrest Milkowski, Chairman of the Hollis/Brookline Co-op Budget Committee
Jim Murphy gave and introduction to and overview of the evening’s agenda. The Board has received two petition warrant articles, one proposing apportionment based on 100% ADM, and one proposing establishing SB2 governance for the Co-op district. Mr. Murphy pointed out that each article requires hearings prior to the annual meeting, with the SB2 proposal requiring separate hearings in each town on different nights.
The Chairman, under the topic of “Correspondence” turned the meeting over to the Superintendent. Rich Pike described a letter received by the district from the owner and tenant of a piece of property abutting the Middle School. The letter indicates that testing of the well on the correspondents’ property has shown high levels of salt and suggests that responses by the district to previous reports of this have been inadequate. The Chairman and the Superintendent will research the prior correspondence and history of the problem and report back to the Board.
The Chairman opened the budget discussion by turning the meeting over to the Business Administrator. Mellinee Capasso gave a recap of the present budget situation. The guidance position at the Middle School has been reinstated. VocEd transportation will be provided only to Milford (and not Nashua). The new labor contract with the Support Staff has been added to the Budget. And, the new positions at the High School are to be three part positions at 0.6 of a full-time position. This produces a bottom line of $18,061,485.58, which is $20,255 above the Budget Committee’s guidance on operations and $10,091 over on Special Education, or $30,246 over in total.
A discussion of Guidance staff needs ensued. Mr. Pike recommended retaining the staffing level at four full-time positions in the High School and two full-time positions in the Middle School.
[6:28: Dan Peterson arrived.]
Anne Dumas reported that she and Tom Enright met with the Ords regarding modifying the district transportation contract. She indicated that the Ords were receptive to reducing the number of busses, that the contract savings would amount to $17,217 per bus, and that the Ords recommended a reduction of two busses, which they indicated would have little or no impact on the length (in time) of the routes. The Ords reported that the Brookline busses are better utilized than the Hollis busses. The Ords were to report back with actual numbers for savings. The Ords seem willing to turn over management/route-layout to the district (they would like the district to field phone calls regarding any changes). They indicated that they are not computer-savvy but know that other districts have made good use of computer software for laying out bus routes. The current route system is evolutionary – each year’s routes are created from adjustments to the previous year’s. The Ords indicated that they know where the stops should be (e.g., with respect to dangerous roads) but that the overall routing could be better.
Rich Pike suggested that if the Board opts to cut transportation, it should highlight the cut at the annual meeting so that the voters have an opportunity to add it back in.
[6:40: Kim Rizzo-Saunders left.]
6:42 pm: Tom Enright moved to reduce the transportation budget by one bus, specifically by $15,000; seconded by Steve Simons. Approved 6-0.
The Board instructed the Superintendent to research computer software for laying out bus routes.
The Chairman turned the meeting over to the SAU Computer Network Administrator, Rich Raymond, for a report on options for meeting the district’s computer network needs. Mr. Raymond reported that he had compared the current service provided by Destek with two other vendors and found that Destek was only about $200 more expensive on a monthly basis. Considerable discussion ensued exploring issues with various approaches to the network topology, web content filtering, and other districts’ difficulties with VPN-based interconnection. (The current Destek contract expires in June.)
7:31 pm: Jim Murphy moved to reduce the High School and Middle School budgets for internet service by $2000 each (for a total budget impact of $4000); seconded by Tom Enright. The motion was approved 6-0.
7:39 pm: Anne Dumas moved that the Board enter non-public session per RSA 91-A:3 II(a) to discuss a matter of employee compensation; seconded by Tom Enright. Approved 6-0.
[8:09 pm: The Board returned to public session.]
8:09 pm: Anne Dumas moved that the Board seal the minutes of the Non-Public Session; seconded by Steve Simons. The motion was approved 5-0-1 with Webb Scales abstaining.
The budget discussion resumed with comments from Tom Enright regarding insurance. Mr. Enright indicated that there are only two non-profit insurance organizations in the state: LGC (of whose board of governors Mr. Enright is a volunteer member) and Primex. Mr. Enright reported that 85% of NH municipalities use one of the two (in his estimation). Mr. Enright reiterated that there was a $25,000 difference between their respective quotes to the district.
8:16 pm: Anne Dumas moved to reduce the insurance budget lines (for property, liability, and workers compensation) by $11,347; seconded by Dan Peterson.
Ms. Capasso expressed concern that the Board would make a practice of “shopping” in the middle of a multi-year contract.
The motion was approved 5-0-1, with Tom Enright abstaining owing to his association with LGC.
The Board discussed the Portable Classrooms warrant article (Article #3), and accepted the proposed figure of $143,180. Steve Simons agreed to present the article at the Budget Hearing.
The Board discussed the Technology warrant article (Article #7). The proposal includes three carts with 25 laptop computers apiece (the High School currently has two carts with 20 computers apiece, and teachers frequently need to reserve both to serve a single class) and 21 Dell computer workstations to replace and update the computer lab (the existing machines from the lab will be redeployed elsewhere in the building).
[8:42: Forrest Milkowski left.]
The Board agreed to set the figure for the warrant article at $99,200, which is intended to provide for 35 laptops (enough to bring the number of carts at the High School to three, by expanding the two existing carts to 25 machines and providing one new cart) as well as the 21 workstations and other items. Webb Scales agreed to present the article at the Budget Hearing.
The Chairman provided an introduction to the concepts of “Capital Reserves” and “Expendable Trusts”. They are parallel mechanisms which allow the district to set aside money and hold it over from one year to the next. The voters at a district meeting put money into the fund; the funds’ trustees control expenditures from the fund. The difference in the mechanisms’ names comes from the RSAs which enable them, which use different terms – “Capital Reserve” funds are used for Special Education funds, while “Expendable Trusts” are used for maintenance funds.
The Board discussed warrant articles #9-#12 which establish and fund each of the above respectively. Tom Enright recommended that the interest from the HBMS renovation project be used to fund them, instead of unreserved fund balances, placing $50,000 in each and returning $69,000 to the taxpayers. Tim Murphy agreed to present these articles at the Budget Hearing.
The Board discussed the Professional Staff raises warrant article (Article #3). This article represents the 3.75% cost-of-living salary increase and the impacts of the increase in healthcare coverage; “step” raises are included in the operations budget. Tom Enright agreed to present this article at the Budget Hearing.
The Board discussed the Support Staff warrant article (Article #5). Steve Simons agreed to present this article at the Budget Hearing.
The next meeting of the Board will be on February 14th, not February 21st as this date is after the last day to post the warrant.
The Chairman opted to defer consideration of articles #4 & #6 (permission to call a Special District Meeting in the event that the voters fail to approve the respective staff contracts) until the next Board meeting, since they are not pertinent to the budget hearing.
The Board discussed Articles #14 & #15, the apportionment articles. These articles require a public hearing, as they represent changes to the Articles of Agreement. The Board plans to present these hearings at or about 8:00 pm during the Board’s meeting on 14 February. Dan Peterson agreed to present the Board’s article; Jim Murphy indicated that he would notify the petitioner of his opportunity to present his article at the hearing.
The Board discussed Article #16, a petition for adoption of SB2 governance. This article requires two hearings, one in each town, on different nights with a neutral presentation. Jim Murphy indicated that Atty. Drescher was willing to make the presentation (he indicated that he has done so on numerous occasions). Mr. Murphy indicated that he would attempt to coordinate the Co-op District’s Hollis hearing with those of the Hollis School district and the Town of Hollis, as all three have or are expected to have such articles in their respective warrants. Mr. Murphy indicated that he would pursue a date and place for the hearing in Brookline.
9:47 pm: Steve Simons moved that the meeting be adjourned; seconded by Anne Dumas. Approved 6-0.