Thursday, October 28, 2010

USD 383 Board of Education

Oct. 27, 2010
Kathy Dzewaltowski, observer

Board retreat:
The district's director of maintenance and transportation is retiring, and Dr. Bob Shannon, Superintendent, presented information about splitting the position into two separate positions when new people are hired. Other districts the same size as USD 383 have two separate positions. Nancy Knopp said she would support creating two positions only if other adjustments were made in the budget to account for the additional salary. Other board members were in agreement to consider dividing the current position into two separate positions.

The board discussed the citizens facilities committee which had been created to provide oversight of the bond projects, help to prioritize capital outlay projects, and communicate other community concerns about facilities. Dr. Bob Seymour, Assoc. Superintendent, reported that the committee had met monthly for one year, and during that time, it became apparent that it was difficult to ask the committee members to monitor the bond activities because the available information about the bond was budget information and not design guidelines. The committee had been suspended while administration reviewed how to proceed. Dr. Seymour recommended that the group be relaunched in the fall of 2012 when the majority of the construction projects will be completed, and then the committee could be charged with helping with long-term facility planning, prioritizing capital outlay projects, and monitoring community concerns. Board members expressed agreement with Dr. Seymour's suggestions.

Dr. Seymour presented the board with information about local birth rates and enrollment trends, and based on that information, board members predicted that the district will need two additional elementary schools in five years. When the construction projects are completed, elementary enrollment capacity will be 3,299, and current elementary enrollment is already above that total at 3,341. The trend data showed that more students are staying in USD 383 during the elementary years. Doug Messer suggested contacting other school districts that have experienced rapid growth to find out how they have managed it, and Dave Colburn suggested hiring a professional education planner or demographer to help the district determine when a new school is needed.

The board reviewed the list of items that had originally been part of the bond projects but had been removed to reduce the overall total of the bond. Some of the items that had been removed included improving parking, student drop-off/pick-up areas, artificial turf for sports fields, and second gyms for the middle schools. Pete Paukstelis suggested prioritizing the list for completion through the capital outlay budget. Susan Marshall said she was concerned about spending money on these items when funds will be needed for new elementary schools. Walt Pesaresi said that maybe the district could create a bond package that included an elementary school and a few of the larger ticket items, such as the middle school gyms. Paukstelis suggested using a sales tax to fund maintenance, bond repayment, and for a short-term loan to build the middle school gyms.

Board members discussed the vacant property the district owns in Miller Ranch that could be the site for an elementary school. Messer thought the district should hire an engineer to help the board determine if the site is appropriate for a school.

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