Sunday, October 19, 2014

Exeter-Milligan School Board Discusses Curriculum, Building Project

The Exeter-Milligan  school board met Monday, Oct 13 in Milligan with School board president Sharon Kuska absent.

After invoices were read and minutes were reviewed no corrections were made and approved.
Vice President Brent Moore led the meeting.  

Paul Sheffield gave the results of the NESA assessment reports, “One of our school improvement goals was writing.  We have made some changes through the year in our writing curriculum and unofficially we saw some improvement.  With our smaller class sizes it only takes one kid to throw it off.  But on the flip side when you have a small sample size you can pinpoint that child and figure out what you can do to help that child."

Elementary Principal Laura Kroll gave her perspective on some of the testing and curriculum.  “All of this tracking is just pieces of the puzzle.  I have learned not to panic when we get results from a testing because they are just pieces of the puzzle.  We are looking at several pieces of data for each child to see if they are having problems across the board.”

Kroll shared how the elementary teachers keep close tabs on their students’ progress especially in reading and language.  “I cannot say enough good things about our teachers.  We look at data and see what we can do to help. Instead of waiting until they fail big we have put these interventions in place for kids who need it.”

Under old business the board once again discussed a possible building project.  Sheffield showed a presentation that he had designed that reviewed objectives for the project along with the next steps.  

Priorities stated were a community fitness room and moving the classrooms out of the basement of the 1914 building.  Other priorities were a service to kitchen area, moving the fiber connection, adding kitchen storage and preschool space.

The next point of discussion addressed what is needed. Sheffield noted that a fitness center and getting the music, art and Spanish rooms out of the basement along with a community classroom were needed.  Also on the list was a commons area east of the gym used to connect the new with the old and route foot traffic out of the gym.  One life safety update was fire sprinklers.

Wants were also discussed including a new west entry and commons expansion to the west of gym, the corridor or commons to the west instead of walking through the gym and possibly a preschool room. “Right now space wise we are maxed out for the number of kids we have in preschool,” explained Sheffield. 

The projected cost of the classroom addition was 2.3 million with another $150,000 in updates for the sprinklers totaling around $2.5 million.  Funding was expected to come through the JPA with 1.5 million in bonds (which includes JPA funds already collected) with an addition bond with a levy expected to be at .0447 per $100 for 4 years to pay for the addition at current property valuations.  The rest of the funds would come from the building fund.

The board discussed other options for funding including the current depreciation fund and construction bonds along with using any surplus monies in the general fund.

Sheffield then approached the board with questions about timeline.  The next step, according to Sheffield, is a site survey, along with an architect contract.  After discussion the board advised Sheffield to get both of those processes started.

Brent Moore noted, “I think we need to inform the public before we go too far.  I think we need to get the site survey going.” 

The Board reviewed some of the projected plans on their ipads which were not shared with the public and had a further discussion on the placement of facilities.

The board discussed public presentation of the project, “I don’t think this project is out of line,” Board member Annette Gloystein said, “We can all argue the price but nothing is cheap.  This has a lot of things in it that will benefit a lot of our students and our community.”

“We can inform the public,” Gloystein continued, “but I always feel every one of our meetings is open so we are open to informing the public every month.  I think it’s important to get a little more information from the architects and just inform them during a regular meeting.”

Sheffield expressed that the board should have a special meeting to inform the public, “We need to project the needs of the school, ‘This is what we are doing because this is what is needed and this is how we are going to fund it.’”

The board is looking at three phases- first a band room, classrooms, and commons area. The other two phases are down the road where they will be looking at updating other areas of the school.

The board talked about the upcoming contract negotiations but will have to wait to get the insurance numbers before negotiations begin.

Sheffield informed the board that they will be having a Junior High football coop review with Friend soon.  The next meeting was scheduled for November 12 in Exeter at 7 p.m.

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