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The Lyme School •  Lyme, New Hampshire
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Lyme School District
Regular School Board and Budget Deliberations Meeting

Monday, January 9, 2017
Lyme Elementary School
approved w/changes, 1/26/17


Board Members Present: Jay Davis, Elizabeth Glenshaw, Heidi Lange, Sam Levey, Paul Mayo, Steve Toulmin, Alicia Willette. Staff Members Present: Jeff Valence, Mike Harris. Recorded by R. Lohr

1. Call to Order
Chair Glenshaw called the meeting to order at 7:08 PM.

2. Business Requiring Action
Approval of Minutes
A motion was made and seconded (Steve Toulmin, Alicia Willette) to approve the Lyme School Board regular meeting minutes for December 8, 2016 as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

A motion was made and seconded (Steve Toulmin, Jay Davis) to approve Lyme School nonpublic meeting minutes for December 8, 2016 as submitted.  The motion passed unanimously.

3. Communications and Reports
Superintendent Report
A. Long Term Substitute   
Superintendent Harris informed the Board that Laura Bradley had been hired as a long term substitute fifth grade teacher. Board member Heidi Lange, who served on the Search Committee for the position commented about Ms. Bradley’s background.

B. Financial Update
Superintendent Harris distributed the current financial report document and updated the Board. There are savings in special education, and higher than expected Catastrophic Aid was received. A $53,000 end-of-the-year surplus is currently projected for the Lyme School District.

C. DRA Decision
A decision from the Department of Revenue Administration was received regarding how to handle using reserve accounts for unbudgeted and unanticipated expenses. The Board discussed using $200,000 for high school tuition next year and this amount will not be in the budget. This method of handling the use of reserve funds will impact both the budgeting and taxes.

4. Business Requiring Discussion

FY 18 Budget Deliberations
Principal Valence gave a presentation regarding the additional issues that will impact the 2017-18 school budget.  These issues include hiring a new superintendent, the increase in high school tuition, building and grounds and food costs, and staffing decisions.

Various scenarios were presented with the number of teachers, teacher assistants, and aides to cover the K-8 classes at Lyme School. Additionally, the Strategic Plan Initiatives that have been defined as priorities but not developed included a differentiation position, curriculum coordination, and a science inquiry program. The budget impacts of different staffing scenarios and ways to address the Strategic Initiatives were discussed.

An idea to restructure the administration would combine some of the superintendent and principal responsibilities in a position designated as the district administrator. An academic director position would be created for curriculum and other matters.

The Board discussed the other variables including the controllable and uncontrollable expenses in the proposed budget, the pending teacher contract costs, and using warrant articles. The cost of a teacher is $95,000, teacher assistant $34-42,000, and an aide $21-32,000 depending on experience and selected levels of benefits.

A document for budget discussion was distributed to the Board. The document provided an outline of issues and associated costs including staffing changes and retirement costs. The other expenses that were not on the document included the costs associated with the pending teacher contract, the roof project, the half FTE custodian, and the full-day kindergarten costs. It was suggested that the Enrollment Response Reserve could be used to fill needs that arise for classes that exceed sizes in the policy guidelines. Another suggestion was to use contracted services for some custodial needs.

Principal Valence felt that the behavioral position should become full time for K-8 as a functional change, while an enrollment aide could be a creative option to address multiple grades where needed. When hiring new staff, an objective is to find teachers and assistants with flexibility to teach different subjects and grades.

The proposed science program, which has been initiated at the school and covered by grants would be presented to the Budget Committee as part of the Strategic Plan Initiatives. These initiatives were more significant to the community during the development of the Strategic Plan than full-day kindergarten. It was suggested that the science position could be proposed as a warrant article to let the community decide on the program. It was also felt that the proposed academic director position could support the science program and could also coordinate some of the work associated with the program if a science position was not created for the upcoming budget year.

The Board discussed looking at the budget at a higher level rather than debating specific issues such as the class splits or science program. The Board was informed of the Budget Committee process. It was decided to keep the science position in the proposed budget, and to include an enrollment aide, which could be covered by the Enrollment Response Reserve or not. The Board supported the creation of the academic director position more than the science position if it had to choose between the positions. The roof project would be delayed and not included in this budget.

The budget with the pending teacher contract would be a 6.5% increase with 4.6% of the expenses uncontrollable. The proposed budget does not include the full-day kindergarten, which would be on a separate warrant article but it does include an additional aide.

The issues associated with the full-day kindergarten were outlined as the costs of the program, the extra expense amount to address future possible class splits, the sequence of warrant articles, and that the current kindergarten is 64% of the day rather than half of the day. The new kindergarten program would add 2.5 hours per day. Teresa Thurston was asked to find out if there were any rules about the sequence of warrant articles and petitioned articles.

The Board would consider semantics for some aspects of the budget presentation for the Budget Committee and Annual School District meeting at the next Board meeting. Additionally, Board members were asked to consider candidates to be approached regarding serving on the Board to replace the two Board members who are leaving the Board (Mayo, Toulmin).

5.  Adjournment
A motion to adjourn was made and seconded (Paul Mayo, Jay Davis).  The motion was passed unanimously.  The meeting adjourned at 10:05 PM.

The next Lyme School Board meeting will be on January 12, 2017 at 7:00 PM.