The Lyme School •  Lyme, New Hampshire
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Lyme School District
School Board Regular Meeting

Thursday, January 11, 2018
Lyme Elementary School
approved w/changes, 1/23/18

Board Members Present: Jay Davis, Elizabeth Glenshaw, Hayes Greenway, Heidi Lange, Sam Levey, Pinky Tullar, Alicia Willette. Administrators: Jeff Valence, Elise Foxall, Janet Mitchell; 4 public attendees including teacher Tom Harkins. Recorded by Roger Lohr

1. Call to Order The meeting was called to order at 7:00 PM by Board Chair Elizabeth Glenshaw.

2. Business Requiring Action
a. Minutes Approval
This Item was pushed to the following Board Meeting

b. First Read for Policies JCCBA-2 High School Placement and Tuition, and DJH Purchasing and Contracting Procurement Staff Code of Conduct
Two policies were cited for first reading by the Board.

3. Business Requiring Discussion
A. Full Day Kindergarten
The Board and public discussed the full day kindergarten issue to decide whether there would be a Warrant Article on the topic brought forth by the Lyme School Board. The current status of the budget is a 1.78% increase without any Warrant Articles and it would be 0.8 more to add a full day kindergarten program in a Warrant Article. The early budget process garnered a 5.8% increase and the Board reduced several items to lower the budget increase to be more in line with the Lyme Budget Committee opinion.

The results from the Faculty Survey on school initiative priorities were distributed to the Board and discussed.

There is a state program to offer $1,100 per full day kindergarten student for each New Hampshire school that would come from Keno revenue. Currently there are 22 kindergarten students at Lyme School. The Board was uncertain if the state would deem the Lyme School 2/3 of a day kindergarten program as a full day program and provide the funding, which is slated to begin in 2019.

Some of the points made in the discussion included:

There is a portion of Lyme residents who are advocating the school expenses to decline, regardless of increasing costs and levels of enrollment.  Superintendent Valence emphasized that the financial sustainability of the budget that supports our schools’ program is a consideration that must be weighed -- if the addition of one program resulted in the loss of other programs, any progress that could be realized by some might be offset by the loss of the school as a whole.

It was discussed that one of the pressures on schools’ results from the fact that the responsibilities placed on schools increases as budgets in departments at the state and federal levels are being cut.  These departments, who have historically fulfilled these responsibilities, no longer can in the way they had.  Despite this loss of funding, the legislation, which mandates serving these needs, remain intact, leaving schools in some cases as the last place for such services to be provided. 

The current kindergarten class has 22 students and there were 5 students that did not attend to find full day kindergarten somewhere else. Three of these students will attend Lyme School for first grade and two will not. If there were 27 kindergarten students in the program a class split would have been necessary and this would have increased the costs substantially this year.

The cost of the full day kindergarten program is a small portion of the school budget. The budget in this year is smaller than previous years and when combined with the state’s $1,100 incentive for full day kindergarten financially it would be a good time to initiate the program. Lyme School is one of the only schools in the region that does not have full day kindergarten.

The Academic Director felt that a longer kindergarten day would provide a richer and more relaxed program for kindergarteners, but could not be sure the benefit would be greater than several of the other initiatives which were not funded in the budget. Others felt that research suggests it is unclear if the additional time in kindergarten provides quantifiable benefits to students that can be realized later.

Some Board members felt uncomfortable developing a full day kindergarten when the Strategic Plan did not include it as a priority and other programs would support others needs at the school that were cited in the Plan. The context of school priorities was significant to the discussion. These priorities include for example differentiation, maintenance of class sizes, professional development, and an enhanced science program.

The Board discussed the idea of developing cascading Warrant Articles that would offer the list of priorities to the voting public. The cost of priorities is known for some of the concepts, and the Board would need to speak to (in a presentation) the details to briefly explain the initiatives to the public.

There was some feeling that if the Board does not bring a full day kindergarten Warrant Article forward that a petitioned Warrant Article on the issue would not pass. Additionally, there was some feeling that a split vote for recommendation by the Board on its own full day kindergarten Warrant Article would also doom the article’s passage.

Superintendent Valence stated that the debate about full day kindergarten needs to be resolved one way or the other, so that the School Board and the Lyme School District can attend to the numerous other priorities it seeks to examine. There is not much additional information that could be brought forward on the matter and while the Board has the responsibility for serving the community to prioritize these efforts, a public vote is ultimately where the decision is made.  In the meant time the school will continue to find ways to support the needs of its families in other ways.

There was a concern if a full day kindergarten warrant brought forward to the community by the board, it would be interpreted as the board felt that FDK was the top priority, which for some number on the board was not the case.
The specific question that was being determined was clarified: Whether to bring forward a full day kindergarten Warrant Article.  A straw vote was held.  Those in favor of bringing the full day kindergarten Warrant Article forward included two votes (Greenway and Willette), and those opposed included four votes (Davis, Lange, Levey, and Tullar). It was then decided the Board would decide at its next meeting about whether it would have cascading or other Warrant Articles.

4. Other Business
A. Special Meeting
The Board decided to hold a special meeting on January 18 to discuss other issues that may be brought forward on warrant articles. Other priorities that currently have known costs include differentiation, class size, professional development. The flexible scheduling concept will require more time to develop a corresponding cost.

The Board expressed appreciation to the public volunteers for their participation and energy on the full day kindergarten program.

B. Insurance Approval
Business Coordinator Janet Mitchell reviewed the request for insurance information and explained the details to the Board. In FY18 there was a 33% increase in property value. This year after the property value audit was conducted, there will be a reduction so the cost will decline.
A motion was made and seconded (Levey, Tullar) to approve the Primex insurance cap contribution for property and liability insurance and workman’s compensation program for FY 2020-FY2022. The motion was approved 5-0-0.

C. Heidi Lange is resigning her Board term after serving 2 full terms and 2 years of a third term.  This  leaves one year remaining in the term, Alicia Willette is finishing her 3-year term and will not be running again. Sam Levey’s term is done but he will run for a three year term position. The Board discussed prospective candidates for the open seats (2 three-year terms and 1 one-year term). There are multiple people interested in the positions.

D. A few Board members met with LEA representatives who expressed an interest in attending and/or serving on standing Board Committees. Chair Glenshaw will formalize contact with teachers about the Committees. There would also be a “Teacher’s Report” added to the Board meeting agenda.

5.  Adjournment 
A motion was made and seconded (Davis, Levey) to adjourn the meeting at 10:35 PM. The motion was approved 7-0-0. 

The next Lyme School Board meeting is scheduled for January 18, 2018.