Meeting Minutes : School District Annual Meeting Minutes


March 1, 2010 – Lothrop School Gymnasium

School Board Members Present:                     Also Present:

Chuk Pitts, Chairman                                           Matthew Harvey, Moderator

Odell Johnston                                                     Helen McKinlay, Town Clerk

Melanie Clerihew                                                  Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary

Approximately 75 guests

The Pittsford Town School District Meeting was called to order at 6:31 PM by Moderator Matthew Harvey.

The Pledge of Allegiance was recited.

Moderator Harvey read the following warning:  “The legal voters of the Pittsford Town School District are hereby notified and warned to meet at the Lothrop School Gymnasium on March 1, 2010 at 6:30 PM to transact any business not involving voting by Australian ballot.”

Article 1. Moderator Harvey read the following article:  “To hear and act upon the reports of the Town School District Officers.”

Motion to accept by Mr. Poor and seconded by Mr. Brod.

Chuk Pitts introduced the School Directors, as well as Greg West, Principal and John Castle, Superintendent.

Mr. Pitts wished to thank the PTO for selling refreshments at the Town Meeting.

Mr. Pitts also wished to thank Barb Lacy for her assistance in the slide show presentations.

The school directors presented a slideshow presentation showing what the school has been working on over the last year.

Moderator Harvey asked for questions from the audience.

Dave Lacy inquired why the NECAP test scores are low.  Ms. Clerihew indicated that the math scores at Lothrop are up from 57% last year to 64% this year; the reading scores are up from 67% to 72%.  The state average in math is 66% and there is a position proposed in the budget for a math teacher and a math assistant.  The state average in reading is 71% and Lothrop is at 72%.  Mr. Pitts indicated that there are other measurements that can be used in the assessment of these subjects.

Mr. Brod inquired how much time is spent on various subjects without the use of the computers.  Mr. Castle and Mr. West indicated that they are not Pittsford residents.  Motion by Jim Rademacher and seconded by Mr. Brod to allow Mr. Castle and Mr. West to speak with regard to School topics.  Passed unanimously.

Mr. West indicated that there is a program called “Bridges” that is used in the Kindergarten through Grade 5 and is used for approximately 1 ¼ hour per day; the 6th graders are using a program called “Connected”; reading (includes spelling and writing) is approximately 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hour per day and the 4th graders are beginning to learn typing.  Mr. West explained that at the Kindergarten level, there is a writing program titled “Handwriting Without Tears”.

Mr. Frost inquired if the slides involving Newton’s Laws were studied without the use of computers.  Mr. Pitts indicated that the fundamentals are not forgotten at Lothrop.

Ernie Racette inquired about the 2000 books that are missing at the library, referencing an article he read upon arrival at the meeting.  Mr. Pitts indicated that he believes that the School reviews the books regularly to keep the data current.  Mr. Johnston read a letter that was circulated about town with regard to these books.  Mr. Johnston stated that NECAP is not used by the State Department of Education for ranking schools; the letter indicated that the School is spending in excess of $13,000 per student, this information has an unknown source; that the Board meetings are open to the public and are publicly warned; the word “hate” is not allowed in the school, however, was noted in the letter; there are clubs incorporated in the curriculum; there was a dumpster in the rear of the building and Mr. West did not sign a purchase order for this dumpster and it would be nice to know where the dumpster came from; the library removed books that may have been out dated, torn, broken, etc; there was an accusation that carts were removed to the dumpster – there were new carts built for the library; there were shelves removed from the library and allegedly thrown out – in fact, these shelves went to be used in other classrooms; Diane Racette’s name was mentioned in the letter, and was not let go with the restructuring of the library; the letter recommends a failed vote, which would cost in excess of $3,000.

Diane Racette commented on Mr. Johnston’s comments and disagreed.  Ms. Racette indicated that there were card catalogs and carts that were discarded, as well as some current books that were removed.  Mr. Johnston stood corrected in Ms. Racette’s comments.

Anita Paynter spoke with regard to the books being removed and felt that the books may have brought in an income if a used book business was contacted or donating to schools that can not afford books.  Ms. Paynter indicated that she felt this was the responsibility of the School Board to oversee.

Nicole Lee spoke with regard to clubs.  The indication was that all clubs are not chess clubs as her son participates in the “Maze Club” where there are mazes removed from books for the children to work on and her daughter participates in the “Hair Club” and her daughter came home with pink spray in her hair.  The child is sensitive to red dyes.

Bruce Paynter indicated that there is a way to determine the value of the books that were removed and that the School Board is responsible for the costs.  Mr. Paynter would like the School Board to investigate this issue.

Mr. Pitts indicated that the members of the School board are Pittsford residents and over-see the day to day operations of the school.  Currently, the School board members are working with the Town on a timber sale to generate income and manage the property.  Mr. Pitts noted that there are new backboards in the gym, there is fresh paint and that the balcony has been cleaned.

Ken Gagnon inquired if there was a misguiding of this process and to set guidelines for future processes.  Ms. Clerihew indicated that she spoke with Mr. West and the librarian.  Mr. West indicated to Ms. Clerihew that books would not be discarded in this manner in the future.

Ms. Reibsane indicated that her kids appreciated Mrs. Racette and the kids are upset because Mrs. Racette will not be in the library next year.

Ms. Paynter indicated that she respects Mrs. Clerihew and the members of the school board.  Ms. Paynter indicated that the School Board needs to be proactive on the issue of the books that were discarded.

Article 2. Moderator Harvey read the following article:  “To authorize the Board of School Directors to borrow money in anticipation of taxes to meet the necessary expenses of the Pittsford Town School District.

Motion to accept by Mr. Brod and seconded by Mr. Poor.

Motion passed unanimously.

Article 3. Moderator Harvey read the following article:  “To have presented by the Board of School Directors of the Pittsford Town School District its estimate of expenses for the ensuing year”.

Motion to accept by Mr. Brod and seconded by Ms. Mahoney.

Mr. Pitts wished to thank the VSBA (Vermont School Board Association), VPA (Vermont Principal’s Association), and VSA (Vermont Superintendent’s Association) for the information that was provided for the slideshow that was presented.

Mr. Pitts and the members of the School Board explained the various slides and the various calculations that are used in the assessments that are the base of the requested allocations.  Mr. Pitts invited the public to join in the budget meetings, which are held in the months of October, November, and December.

Ken Gagnon asked for clarification with regard to health insurance benefits for the paraprofessionals is that the insurance increased over $14,000 and the salaries have increased over $17,000.  Mr. Pitts referred this to Mr. Castle who explained that the insurance is based on salary agreements and that the cost is based on the State Blue Cross/Blue Shield plans that are chosen.  Marie Wall indicated that she is an employee of the school and contributes to the insurance premiums.  Mr. Pitts referred this to Mr. Rademacher, the representative to Otter Valley Union High School.  Mr. Rademacher indicated that there are negotiations occurring and currently 100% of the premium is being paid by the school district.

Sara Gallipo inquired if the Math Teacher and Math Assistant positions are new positions.  Mr. West indicated that these are not new positions, however, are a re-allocation of the current staff and consolidations.

Susan Harrington, former librarian, inquired what the $2,000 budget amount for PALS will be used for and if there is still a staff ratio of 1 ½ full-time teachers to 9 – 12 students.  Mr. Pitts explained the “bubble classes” require more teachers.  Mr. West explained that there are currently 2 full-time teachers at the Kindergarten level and this has been reduced to accommodate the ½ time math specialist position.  Mr. West explained that the $2,000 to the PALS program is to fund literacy at the Preschool and Kindergarten levels, and that the Cradle to Cubbies program no longer exists.

Mr. Brod inquired the Student Support Guidance/Home School Coordinator.  Mr. Pitts explained that this position is currently held by Levi deCastro.  Mr. West explained that Mr. deCastro is a 30% employee at Lothrop and is 70% School Psychologist within the Rutland Northeast District.  Moderator Harvey asked if Mr. deCastro councils the home school students.  Mr. West indicated that these are not home school students.

Ms. Wall inquired if it would be better to negotiate an increased wage for the paraprofessionals rather than to offer benefits.  Mr. Pitts indicated that the paraprofessionals are an amazing resource to the school and many of them work 1 to 1 with the students and this is negotiated in good faith.  Barbara Lacy indicated that she is a part time employee with the school and does not receive benefits at the 50% level and that an employee must work at least 80% to receive the benefits.

Article 4. Moderator Harvey read the following article:  “To transact any other business proper to be done when met.

No items stated.

Moderator read the following recess article:  “The meeting shall then be recessed to Tuesday, March, 2, 2010 in order to vote on the following articles by Australian ballot.  The polls will be open from 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM in the Municipal Office building.

Article 5. To elect the following officers:

a.     A Town school director for a term of three (3) years.

b.     A Town school director for a term of two (2) years.

c.     A school director for Otter Valley Union High School District #8 for a term of three (3) years.

The candidates were allowed to speak at this time.

Article 6. Shall the voters of the Pittsford Town School District appropriate the sum of ($3,684,313.00) Three Million, Six Hundred Eighty Four Thousand, Three Hundred Thirteen Dollars and Zero Cents necessary for the support of its schools for the year beginning July 1, 2010.  The amount of such sum to be raised by taxes to be reduced by special education revenues, state aid, and other incomes.

Motion to adjourn at 8:09 PM by Mrs. Poor and seconded by Mrs. Weeden.

Passed unanimously.

Respectfully submitted                                       Attest:

s/s Kelly Giard, Recording Secretary                               s/s Helen E. McKinlay, Town Clerk.

s/s Matthew Harvey, Moderator