Board of Education Meeting, 1.14.20

Schenevus Central School District Board of Education

Minutes for Regular Meeting of the Board of Education, Tuesday, January 14, 2020 6:30 p.m.

Board President, Kelly Gallagher, called the Board of Education meeting to order at 6:30 p.m.

Members present: Kelly Gallagher, Stacie Haynes, Liz Reed, Jay Deitchman

Members absent: NONE

Also present: Theresa Carlin, Superintendent, Nicole Couse, District Clerk, Greg Beall, District Treasurer, Thomas Muscarella, Employee, Shana Ritton, SUT Co-President, Maxine Reiff, SUT Co-President, Sarah Mellor, LTA, Terri Korba, Guidance Counselor, Rebecca Lampron, Teacher, Kathleen Walke, Teacher, Erica Ylitalo, Teacher, Monica Sheremeta, Teacher, Jayme Bentley, Teacher, Trisha D’Imperio, Teacher, Don Zaengle, Teacher, Matt Gregory, Teacher, AJ Hamill, Community Member, Pete Oberacker, Community Member, Pete Comino, Community Member, Frank Competiello, Community Member, Michele Competiello, Community Member, Joan Nason, Community Member, Jason Ritton, Community Member, Bill Ellis, Community Member, Pamela Gergich, Community Member, Betty Foster, Community Member, Sandra Salisbury, Community Member, Tom Jory, Community Member, Cheryl Jory, Community Member, David Mellor, Community Member, Tina Brundege, Community Member, Timothy Walke, Community Member, Doug Gulotty, Community Member, April Neske, Community Member, Bev Barnett, Community Member, Jackie Gleason, Community Member, Steve Barton, Community Member, Debra Reed, Community Member

Approve Minutes

Upon recommendation of the Superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the December 17, 2019 Board of Education Meeting Minutes.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Stacie Haynes, vote 4-0

Reports

Ashley Warren LCSW,, School Social Worker, presented her program, “School Social Work: Beneath the Surface”. Her presentation can be found on the S.C.S. website. Ms. Warren described her program and the work she does to meet the needs of our students. Although most of her efforts are focused on our elementary students, she cited similar needs in our middle and high school students. She collects data to compare her findings and student accomplishments.

Superintendent Carlin said she will ask the Board to approve Castallo and Silky Education Consultants as the firm to conduct the Merger Study. The total cost of this study is $55,000; we have a grant for $25,000, and the rest of the cost will be shared by both districts ($15,000 per district).

Deb McMullen, who will soon retire, is willing to return as a substitute in all areas including an administrative position, as needed. Due to a family emergency with our only CSE/504 Chairperson, Principal Kimberly Matthews will be approved as CSE/504 Chairperson to substitute for Ms. Pam McGovern if the need should arise.

Legal notice for the public will be published in the newspaper 45 days prior to the tuition-out referendum vote, scheduled for March 9.

Superintendent Carlin and District Treasurer, Greg Beall gave a presentation on the second and third Budget Components (Administrative and Program). This powerpoint presentation can also be found on our website. Tom Hunt presented Capital Component (19%) to the Board in November.

  • The Administration Component is 9% of the Budget. Program is 72% of the Budget. The current estimate for the three components of the K-12 Budget is estimated to be $9,779,650.
  • In order to create a realistic Budget, we have included an increase of 3% across the board, including all BOCES costs.
  • The District is negotiating a change in health insurance providers. Members of the non-teaching staff (CSEA), administrators and administration support personnel have committed to a high deductible plan.
  • The community will vote to fill two vacant seats on the Board of Education in May. Board members are required to complete mandated training.
  • We were advised that we are now responsible for the cost of tax software as the County will no longer be funding that cost for the schools.
  • We have increased the encumbrance for legal costs as we prepare for costs related to legal counsel on tuitioning out and merging.
  • In our attempt to save on our BOCES printing costs, we are currently doing more in-house. We will continue this service for our annual newsletters.
  • The cost of staff training through BOCES increased, resulting in our removal from the C.S.I. and T.S.I lists. Our staff are currently training in the ELA and Math modules.
  • The Program component of the Budget is currently $7,122,171 for the 20-21 school year.
  • We may not have enough students for our Pre-K grant. The projection is 22 students, as it was last year, but only 8 students enrolled.
  • Tuition costs for Special Education services, provided at Springbrook and other programs, have increased due to new student enrollments. One student is now waitlisted for placement in a BOCES program.
  • We currently contract with BOCES for Technology services one day per week. This is not sufficient for our needs, so we will continue our efforts to find someone for three days per week.
  • State aid for Transportation is 90%, resulting in only a 10% cost to the District.
  • We have contracted with Leonard Bus Sales for mechanical assistance.
  • There has been an increase in sewage treatment fees for the bus garage.
  • We currently anticipate a Budget increase of 22.22%, which is $730,333.
  • The District’s only sources of income/revenue are from State aid and local property taxes. We received $150,000. less in State aid than was initially proposed. And, we have been informed that the tax cap levy is currently set at 1.8%.

Approve November 2019 Treasurer’s Reports

Upon recommendation of the Superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the October 2019 Treasurer’s Report.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Liz Reed, vote 4-0

Review

Operations & Finance

The Board reviewed the Student Accounts for November 2019 and the Unpaid Tax Report, 2019.

Old Business

NONE

New Business

Business Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. Special education program service recommendations from the Committee on Special Education.
  2. Approve the 2020-2021 School District Calendar.
  3. Appoint the firm of Castallo and Silky Educational Consultants for the purpose of a Feasibility Merger Study between Schenevus and Worcester Central School Districts. The total cost of the study not to exceed $55,000. This amount will be grant funded up to $25,000, with the remainder split between both districts at an approximate cost of $15,000 each.
  4. Motion to create a Budget Advisory Committee composed of 11 people that will include 2 community members; 2 Schenevus United Teacher members; 2 support staff; 2 Board of Education members; the Superintendent; the District Treasurer and 1 Administrator. All members will be formally appointed by the Board of Education to assist in the development of the Schenevus Central School 2020-21 Budget. Recommendations to the Board of Education are advisory only, and all final decisions will be made solely by the Schenevus Central School Board of Education.
  5. A request for an impartial hearing has been made; the Board President (in accordance with Board policy) has appointed James Billik, the next available person from the District’s rotational list, as hearing officer.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Stacie Haynes, vote 4-0

Personnel Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. RESOLVED that the Board of Education approve 2020-2021 salary contract amendments for:
    1. Pam Barber, Director of Special Education
    2. Kimberly Matthews, Principal
    3. Nicole Couse, Superintendent’s Secretary/District Clerk
    4. Deb Geci, Deputy Treasurer
  2. Accept the retirement of Deb McMullen from the position of Long Term Substitute as of January 31, 2020.
  3. Appoint Deb McMullen to the position of Substitute Teacher at the certified daily rate, Substitute Teacher Aide at the contractual hourly rate, and Substitute Administrator at the rate of $300.00 per day starting on 2/1/2020
  4. Appoint Kimberly Matthews to the position of CSE/CPSE and 504 Chairperson effective 1/6/2020.

Motion: Jay Deitchman; second, Liz Reed, vote 4-0

Administrative Items:

NONE

Future of Schenevus Items:

On the recommendation of the superintendent, RESOLVED that the Board of Education approved the following:

  1. WHEREAS, on December 17, 2019, the Board of Education of Education determined that, due to declining enrollment, it is in the best interests of the District to enter into a tuition
    agreement with a neighboring school district for the education of all resident 7-12 students, commencing with the 2020-21 school year; and

    WHEREAS, it is the District’s intention to enter into an agreement with a neighboring school district for a term of more than two years and less than five years for the education of District children, thereby requiring voter authorization.

    THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Board of Education hereby authorizes a proposition to be presented to the voters at a special district meeting; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a special meeting of the qualified voters of the Schenevus Central School District be and the same is hereby called to be held at Schenevus Central School on March 9, 2020 from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. prevailing time for the purpose of voting on the following proposition:

    SHALL the Board of Education be authorized to enter into an agreement with a neighboring school district for a term of not less than two years and no more than five years, for the education of secondary resident Schenevus Central School District students, commencing with the 2020-21 school year?

    If this proposition fails, the Board is still wholly within its authority to authorize a contract of one year, 364 days or less with another school district, to educate its secondary students.

Motion: Stacie Haynes; second, Jay Deitchman, vote 4-0

Board Information

The Board announced the Special BOE Meeting being held at Worcester on Wednesday, 1/22 at 6:30

Public Comment

Maxine Antunes-Reiff, followed by Shana Ritton, Co-Presidents of Schenevus United Teachers, shared the reading of this statement to the Board:

“I am here tonight representing the Schenevus United Teachers as a co-president. We wear red to represent our love for our students, love for education and our solidarity. Our teachers love this school and the children in it. We are one beating heart. We are on the front lines. Although we have designed curriculums with our students’ educational success in mind, (and succeed they have) we are here daily for each student in the most unimaginable ways. We know our kids. We love these kids. We have collectively invested hundreds of years in the development of these students, and we will not stand idly by while there is talk of tuitioning them out. The Schenevus United Teachers believe that the proposed tuitioning out of our 7-12 grade students is not in the best interest of all of our students. Therefore, SUT is NOT in favor of tuitioning out.

Tuitioning out will not necessarily benefit our middle and high school students for the following reasons:

  1. Research has shown that larger class sizes negatively impacts students. In particular, Schenevus students will feel more of this negative impact because of their academic diversity. Will Schenevus students be negatively impacted academically and emotionally when the new classes they will become a part of are larger and unfamiliar and don’t meet their needs?
  2. We are concerned that the educational programs at all levels, across the board, may not be at the same caliber our students in Schenevus have grown used to. Students at Schenevus have successfully taken advantage of numerous AP level and College level courses. They have experienced successful regents scores, many have received mastery. Is the same high quality of preparation going to be offered to our students elsewhere? Tuitioning out means unfamiliar programs, unfamiliar teachers in an unfamiliar territory. For example, we offer Science electives such as AP Bio, Environmental Conservation, Energy and Power and Unmanned Aerial Systems (the Drone Class).
  3. Although combined athletic teams may sound like a great idea, increased student numbers will most likely result in competing in a new athletic division. A larger division, where our student athletes may ride buses late into the night, have less overall opportunity for participation, experience more bench time or not play at all. They may not even make a team.
  4. Something this district has always had is heart. We see this in the classroom, the hallways and at sporting events. We have noticed this when our community has built dugouts, concession stands and paid for scoreboards. We know this is true when classes fundraise to take a senior trip, and the community supports them. We know this is true when grandparents climb the bleacher stairs to see a game or proudly show up at class night and at graduation. How can we so easily allow half of our heart to be torn away and placed elsewhere? Tuitioning out means that Schenevus students lose their COMMUNITY identity. But, within the scope of a merger, BOTH districts can create a new identity together.
  5. Making this hasty decision to tuition out our 7-12 grade students to Worcester does not guarantee security for our students. What if Worcester rejects tuitioning in, all together? What if it does not work out within the contractual term? Do we then tuition to another district? Do our students then return to Schenevus? Is it even possible to answer the myriad of questions and others that arise in such a short time frame? Will there be time to consider scheduling, academic programs, special education needs, athletics, building limitations, transportation, Healthcare/School Based Health, counseling services. The Schenevus United Teachers are concerned that the proposed tuitioning out to Worcester has been rolled out too quickly. For example, the resolution that was approved tonight stated that “tuitioning out is in the best interest of the district, due to declining enrollment.” BUT, according to recent student population data from NYS education department shows that our district is maintaining its population when compared to all neighboring school districts. Student population data, from 1994 – 2017, published by NYS Education Department, show the SCS population dropped by a meager 0.5%. Surrounding Districts, that are not experiencing “financial crisis”, had much higher, double digit, student population drops. For example, Worcester Central School’s student population dropped by 29.1 %, Cherry Valley – Springfield 45.7%, Cooperstown 36.2%, Milford 25.8%, Oneonta 17.6%, Charlotte Valley 16.6%.”

Tuitioning out has become the main focus moving forward.
As a Board of Education, are you bypassing the democratic process by not allowing further public discussion before a straw vote? Adequate information needs to be provided to ALL stakeholders examining other options before tuitioning
out can morally be a definitive option. What about examining other options first, and then allow the whole community to vote. Let’s be proactive and not reactive.

These options could include:

  1. Voting to pierce the cap. Allow the community to decide if this is a viable option that will keep our 7-12 graders here until a merger is voted upon, which was presented tonight.
  2. Allow time to develop a solution that balances piercing the cap with cuts to program and personnel, while we wait for the progression of the merger study.

Many of our teachers currently have children attending this district. Many of our teachers are alumni of the district. Many of our teachers have adult children who received an excellent education in this district. We are invested. We are dedicated to the education of all of our kids and especially now, to our 7-12th graders. The teachers at Schenevus cannot sit idly by and watch the students we have cared deeply about, those we have invested years in nurturing, be hastily sent to a neighboring district. Our students deserve better than this.”

Joan Nason asked if the Budget Advisory committee meeting will be public. Dr. Gallagher stated that they are public meetings, however they do not have public participation. Ms. Nason also asked what the % of increases are for staff and administration and is it in line with what the community increases are? Mrs. Carlin responded that the range is 3%-4% depending upon the choice of a health insurance provider.

Jason Knapp referenced Ashley Warren’s presentation when she stated that she has conducted 222 sessions. He questioned whether these were group or individual sessions. She responded that these were individual sessions. Ms. Carlin stated that 20% are with classified students, which is higher than average. The average is around 17-18%.

The community was reminded that the Board has scheduled a Special BOE Meeting on January 22 at 6:30 in Worcester Central School.

Jay Deitchman made a motion at 8:20 p.m. to move to the Executive session to discuss personnel and the tenure of a staff member. Second, Stacie Haynes; vote 4-0.

The Board returned to regular session at 10:19 p.m.

Having no further business before the Board, Jay Deitchman made a motion to adjourn at 10:20 p.m. second, Stacie Haynes , vote 4-0.

Respectfully submitted, Nicole Couse, District Clerk