Condensed from approved minutes
Moderator Betsy Paine introduced the Andover School Board members present: Michelle Dudek, Mark Heller, Misty Sava, Dean Barker, and Annie MacKenzie, and the Andover Budget Committee members present: Arch Weathers, Ed Hiller, Nancy Teach, and Mary Anne Levesque.
Assistant Superintendent Christine Barry, SAU 46 Business Administrator Robin Heins, SAU 46 Human Resource Manager Kathleen Boucher, SUA 46 lawyer Matt Upton, AE/MS Principal Jane Slayton, AE/MS Assistant Principal Judy Turk, and Superintendent Mark MacLean introduced themselves.
AE/MS eighth graders Vienna Marcus and Ryelle Jenifer thanked the meeting for the town’s support of the school over the years. They led the meeting in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The Andover Players, the AE/MS theater club, performed the title number from their upcoming play, Suessical the Musical.
Moderator Paine briefly reviewed the rules of the meeting.
Article 1: To accept reports as printed in the School District report. Article 1 was adopted with no discussion.
Article 2: To accept funds from state and federal agencies. Article 2 was adopted with no discussion.
Article 3: To accept private gifts and contributions. Article 3 was adopted with no discussion.
Article 4: To appropriate $4,862,300 for the Andover School District.
Dean Barker presented an overview of the budget timetable and the changes in the proposed budget. These changes included the line items of staff salaries and benefits, high school and special education tuition, operations and the food program.
Mark Heller stated that 85% of all increases in the proposed budget was due to special education services. These costs include tuition, out of district placements, student services such as speech and occupational therapy, and student transportation. Providers of student transportation are required to have specialized training, insurance, and a student safety license.
The newly negotiated health costs for the school professional staff helped to balance the budget increase. Mark Heller stated that the projected line items of high school tuition and legal expenses were more closely budgeted to also help offset the budget increase.
Michelle Dudek spoke regarding the ongoing transportation study by RJ Abbott and Associates. The study is scheduled to be presented at the May School Board meeting. It will look at staffing and fleet costs and be used to compare contracted to projected costs.
Arch Weathers explained his thoughts on the relationship between the Budget Committee, the School Board, the Town Selectmen, and the annual Town Meeting, which is based upon collaboration and cooperation with a built-in level of friendly aggression. He felt the recommendation of the article by the Budget Committee was more a measure of verification, not a stamp of approval. The vote of the annual Town Meeting was the stamp of approval.
He commended the School Board for keeping the costs down. He stated the ongoing fluctuation in the costs of special education would continue.
Lynn George questioned the increase in line item 1210 Special Education Programs. Superintendent Mark MacLean stated there are currently six paraprofessionals and two special education teachers working at AE/MS. The increase would include an additional paraprofessional for the 2016-2017 school year. There are approximately 40 special education students in kindergarten through Grade 12 in the Andover district.
Greg Stetson asked for clarification of the budgeting process for the high school tuition. Mark MacLean explained that past budgets included all eighth grade students; in an effort to be more precise with the budget, the projected budget does not include those eighth grade students who have already committed to private high schools.
In answer to Lynn George, Mark MacLean stated the projected increase in Special Education services and tuition was based upon the current student population. Brad Hardy asked the cost of tuition for the high school; Mark MacLean stated the 2016-2017 cost of tuition for MVHS is $13,100.
With no further discussion, Article 4 was adopted. A motion to restrict reconsideration was adopted.
Article 5: To approve the cost items in the collective bargaining agreement reached between the Andover School Board and the Andover Education Association.
Moderator Paine stated this article could not be amended per New Hampshire state statute.
Michelle Dudek stated this is a two-year contract. The contract changed medical coverage from a HMO to a consumer-driven, high-deductible policy. It also eliminated the first step of the salary scale to become more competitive in the hiring process.
Article 5 was adopted with no discussion. A motion to restrict reconsideration was adopted.
Article 6 was deemed moot because Article 5 passed, so Article 6 was passed over.
Article 7: To appropriate $10,000 for the Regular Education High School Tuition Expendable Trust Fund.
Mark MacLean stated this article in the past had been contingent on a balance of funds. It is now part of the planned budget. With this amount added to the current trust, a cushion would be available in the case five to seven new students would be covered if they were to move into Andover in the coming year. In answer to Greg Stetson, there was a year when three students moved into Andover to attend MVHS.
With no further discussion, Article 7 was adopted.
Article 8: To appropriate up to $25,000 for the Special Education Expendable Trust Fund.
Arch Weathers stated the Budget Committee felt the cap for the Special Education Expendable Trust Fund should be raised due to the volatility of the special education services category. One or two students could possibly use the entire fund.
Mark MacLean responded to Leighton Terwilliger by stating special education students had moved into the district unexpectedly in the past.
Greg Stetson asked an average cost of a special education student. Mark MacLean explained the cost is variable, dependent upon placement, services required, and the possibility of transportation.
With no further discussion, Article 8 was adopted.
Article 9: To transact any other business that may legally come before this meeting.
Mark MacLean reported upon the Andover School Board Facilities Task Force formed this year. The task force consists of community members and district staff: Lloyd Perreault, Vicky Mischon, Jeff Newcomb, Chuck Keyser, Susan Chase, Brian Gilman, Chuck Ellis, Rene Lefebvre, Michelle Dudek, Jane Slayton, Robin Heins, Chris Barry, and Mark MacLean. The task force is reviewing the facilities report provided by Marinace Architecture. The task force is digging into the details of the report, inspecting the design layers, prioritizing needs, and developing recommendations for the School Board.
Leighton Terwilliger thanked Jane Slayton and AE/MS staff for their efforts. He also thanked Mark MacLean for creating closer communication between AE/MS and MVHS.
Mary Anne Levesque spoke to the hard work and dedication of the Budget Committee and the Andover School Board. She stated more public dialog was needed to help everyone in reaching a better consensus.