Note: These proposed minutes should be considered preliminary until they are approved by the
Board at a future meeting.
WINDHAM SOUTHEAST SCHOOL DISTRICT (WSESD) BOARD
TUESDAY, JANUARY 25, 2022
REGULAR BOARD MEETING – 6:00PM
WSESD Board Members Present: Chairperson David Schoales (DS), Liz Adams (LA), Anne Beekman (AB), Michelle Leutjen Green (MG), Emily Murphy Kaur (EMK), Tim Maciel (TM), Shaun Murphy (SM), Thomas Nolan (TN), Jaci Reynolds (JR), Kelly Young (KY)
WSESU Administrators Present: Mark Speno (Interim Superintendent), Julianne Eagan (Dummerston School Principal), John Gagnon (Guilford Central School Principal), Steve Perrin (BUHS Principal), Frank Rucker (Finance Director)
Media Present: BCTV
Others Present: Mindy Haskins Rogers, Wendy M. Levy (Board Recorder), Paul Smith, Deb Kardane, Shelley Wilson, Kristina Naylor
Jaime Contois, Lana Devers, Ruby McAdoo,
Please note: this attendance may be incomplete.
I. CALL TO ORDER
Chair DS called the meeting to order at 6pm.
II. EXECUTIVE SESSION
MOTION BY LA TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 1 V.S.A. §313(f) FOR CONFIDENTIAL ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATIONS MADE FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING PROFESSIONAL LEGAL SERVICES TO THE BODY. TN SECONDED.
The Board entered into Executive Session at 6:02pm.
The Board rose from Executive Session at 6:37pm.
III. UNFINISHED BUSINESS
– Sexual Abuse Investigation Update
DS announced the Board is close to issuing a press release once they have allowed the attorney to review it. DS explained the press release will be simple, will outline confidentiality systems, will include a website address, an email address, and a phone number for the public to use, and correspondents will receive a response within 24 hours of contact. This press release will likely be
issued via traditional and social media on January 26.
– Governor’s Institute of Vermont Announcement
AB read a public service announcement about the Governor’s Institute of Vermont into the record. She highly recommended it to students, and noted there are many programs and scholarships. She asked everyone to tell every teenager they know about it, and to visit www.giv.org for more information and to apply.
IV. CONSENT AGENDA
– CLERK’S REPORT –
Approval of Minutes – December 14 (pending), December 21, 2021, January 11, 2022
Warrants of December 20, 2021
Warrant No. 1181 in the amount of $ 543.00
Warrant No. 1185 in the amount of 700.00
Warrant No. 1186 in the amount of 650.00
Warrant No. 1187 in the amount of 161,002.31
Warrant No. 1189 in the amount of 1,307.79
Warrant No. 1090 in the amount of 75,766.88
Warrants of December 28, 2021
Warrant No. 1092 in the amount of $ 537.17
Warrant No. 1094 in the amount of 2,257.57
Warrant No. 1195 in the amount of 13,989.50
Warrant No. 1196 in the amount of 4,827.11
Warrant No. 1197 in the amount of 122,556.60
Warrants of January 3, 2022
Warrant No. 1198 in the amount of $ 1,255.00
Warrant No. 1202 in the amount of 561.50
Warrant No. 1203 in the amount of 15,223.88
Warrant No. 1204 in the amount of 1,045.41
Warrant No. 1205 in the amount of 126,602.74
Warrants of January 10, 2022
Warrant No. 1208 in the amount of $867,855.41
December 17, 2021 $1,669,510.22
December 31, 2021 $1,144,099.58
MOTION BY TM TO ACCEPT THE CONSENT AGENDA AS PRESENTED. EMK SECONDED.
LA asked the minutes from the December 21, 2021 meeting to be amended to indicate she was in
attendance. DS asked Board Recorder Wendy M. Levy to indicate this in the current minutes.
VOTE ON THE TM MOTION: MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
V. POLICY REVIEW
– Policy C7 – Board Relations with Administrators
• Performance data.
• The assignment of “C7” to this policy versus others.
• Reports and evaluations.
• Moving forward on this, and the timeline for doing so.
• Student participants will receive training in writing, research, and conducting interviews.
• VTDigger staff will do most of the work. Teachers would mostly be “cheerleaders.”
• It includes a stipend for teachers.
• The District will receive an energy audit as part of the program.
• How stipends will interact with union contracts.
TN said he supports this.
AB said staff stipends already exist.
– Retirements / Resignations
Mark read the retirements and resignations into the record.
– Retirements: Lisa Johnson, BUHS Community Based Learning Coordinator/Teacher; and Trilby Whitcomb, Oak Grove School Academic Support Teacher.
– Resignation: Tara Cancio-Bello, Grade 5 Putney Central School; and Maria Carreno, Academy and Oak Grove Spanish Teacher.
MOTION BY LA TO ACCEPT THE RESIGNATION AND RETIREMENTS AS PRESENTED WITH REGRET. AB SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
VIII. FISCAL REPORT
– FY 2023 Budget Discussion
Mark Speno led a discussion on Act 46 goals and how the unified district has benefited students. Highlights included:
• Remote learning under one school board, summer programming, the Recovery Plan, and reviewing and revising the curriculum.
• It’s more efficient to make changes in a collaborative system. Deb Kardane and Dummerston School Principal Julianne Eagan agreed. Julianne noted this is especially true for the outlying schools, including expanded services for all students, and the shared social worker.
• Paul Smith said he monitors data on equity, and he has seen improvements in some areas, although some gaps remain.
• Guilford Central School Principal John Gagnon agreed with Julianne, and noted more robust mental health services for his students under the unified district. John mentioned the relationship between Act 173 and Act 46.
A discussion ensued on the increase in mental health crises among high school students because of COVID. Highlights included:
• Whether the budget line item for counselors and clinicians for BUHS will increase.
• Mark noted the District has already added more social workers and other support staff for all schools.
• BUHS Principal Steve Perrin spoke about the BUHS support staff, including new and future hires.
• Shelley Wilson spoke about the SU Special Education support staff.
TM made a recommendation to add an additional $20,000 to the budget for WSESD to host a job fair
to meet the diversity and equity goals, and to attract more qualified support staff. A discussion ensued.
• Mark said District staff can go to job fairs without adding more funding.
• DS said the District can work with community partners to host a job fair.
• AB noted the Diversity & Equity Committee is already spending money on this goal.
• Finance Director Frank Rucker said the funding is already included in the budget.
• TM requested this subject be added to a future meeting agenda.
TM led a discussion on increasing the stipend for Board members and the Board Chair; he also recommended including funding for child- and elder-care for Board members. He said that the workload of the unified Board is much greater than that of the individual school boards. And, he said, while nobody serves on the Board for the financial gain, a potential candidate’s financial adversity
should not be a barrier to participation. TM introduced the following motion.
MOTION BY TM TO RESET THE STIPEND FOR WSESD BOARD DIRECTORS TO $7,000 PER YEAR, AND $9,000 FOR THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE BOARD. IN ADDITION, BOARD MEMBERS MAY RECEIVE COMPENSATION FOR CHILD OR ELDERLY CARE NEEDED DURING THOSE TIMES WHEN THEY ARE ATTENDING REGULAR BOARD MEETINGS. TN SECONDED.
(no vote was taken on this motion)
A discussion ensued. Highlights included:
• LA questioned whether this motion is out-of-order because it may be included in a separate article. DS agreed it might be out-of-order, but requested the Board at least begin addressing it.
• KY recommended the Board issue a public statement including a comparison between the time spent serving on this Board versus the time spent before the merger.
• JR agreed with KY’s recommendation, and offered to help draft it. She noted she is not seeking re-election to the Board because the time commitment poses a challenge for her, especially as the mother of a young child.
• Kristina Naylor said she supports this. She said that, pre-merger, her time spent on Board matters was 10-20 hours per week; after the merger, it was 30-40 hours per week.
• DS said he is stepping down as Chair after the reorganization meeting. He agreed with the statements about the unified Board demanding more of a time commitment, especially because of committees and executive sessions.
• SM said this will increase the line item in the budget from $42,000 to $72,000.
• MG said she looked into other areas’ Board stipends, and this one’s is much less. She agreed that offering a higher stipend could increase participation.
• AB said she calculated the number of hours she spent as Vice Chair and her stipend, and it came to a rate of about $1.78 per hour.
TM led a discussion after he could not find any items in the budget to cover the sexual assault investigation and Dr. Overtree’s fees.
• DS said the Board is still working out the details with Dr. Overtree.
• DS said the recommends the budget includes $30,000 for Board education, $45,000 for Dr. Overtree and the school climate survey, and an additional $50,000 for legal fees and training.
• Mark said it would be more cost effective to work with the VSBA on this. He questioned spending $50,000 on a climate survey, especially because the District already employs people to do this.
• Additional discussion ensued on the VSBA, Dr. Overtree’s surveys, the Board’s line item in the budget and how it has changed and what is needed, and the serious nature of investigating long- term sexual assault committed by educators.
DS called for a straw poll / roll call for the proposal to add $95,000 in funding to the budget to cover Board education and training, and Dr. Overtree’s fees.
STRAW POLL / ROLL CALL:
STRAW POLL / ROLL CALL RESULTS: 7 YEA, 1 NAY, 1 ABSTENTION
DS asked Frank to add this to the budget. Frank responded: the Finance Committee reviewed the budget at their meeting, and it includes the figures you just added.
At AB’s request, Frank reviewed the budget summary. Frank shared and reviewed a document, “WSESD FY23 Summary, Revised 1.25.22.” Highlights included:
• This budget includes the additions just discussed.
• Because of the yield numbers from the state tax commissioner, taxes are not heavily increased by this budget. In fact, Frank noted, taxes are down from last year, and are only up by 1.5-cents from the previous FY23 draft budget.
• Frank reviewed the tax impact on towns: most rates are going down except for Brattleboro, and its rate is going up less than 1-percent.
Frank shared and reviewed a document, “WSESD Annual Meeting Articles Draft.”
MOTION BY TM TO AMEND ARTICLE 3 TO READ, “$72,000, TO $9,000 FOR THE CHAIR, AND $7,000 FOR EACH DIRECTOR.” MG SECONDED.
SM made a point-of-order, and asked if the Board should vote on the budget first, and the warning articles second. DS responded: the Board must agree upon the warning.
VOTE ON THE TM MOTION: ALL IN FAVOR, EXCEPT FOR SM, WHO ABSTAINED. MOTION CARRIED.
MOTION BY LA TO APPROVE THE WSESD FY2023 BUDGET FOR $60,293,834. JR SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
IX. NEW BUSINESS
A. Warning Articles for March 1, 2022 Australian Ballot Voting
MOTION BY MG TO APPROVE THE WARNING ARTICLES AS AMENDED. LA SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
B. Act 250 School Impact Questionnaire – Vernon Green Addition
Mark explained that this addition is insignificant to the schools. He read the statement from Stevens & Associates, which noted there is no anticipated impact on the school system.
MOTION BY SM TO AUTHORIZE THE INTERIM SUPERINTENDENT TO SIGN OFF ON THE ACT 250 SCHOOL IMPACT QUESTIONNAIRE. AB SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
X. PUBLIC COMMENT ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS
Mindy Haskins Rogers asked for clarification on Dr. Overtree’s role in the sexual assault investigation. She asked why he is writing the press release and releasing information. DS responded: Attorney Goddard and Dr. Overtree will issue a clarifying statement, and the Board cannot answer Haskins Rogers’s questions now.
XI. EXECUTIVE SESSION
MOTION BY TM TO ENTER INTO EXECUTIVE SESSION UNDER 1 V.S.A. § 313(a)1B – LABOR RELATIONS WITH EMPLOYEES. LA SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The Board entered into Executive Session at 8:17pm.
The Board rose from Executive Session at 8:36pm. They took no action.
MOTION BY AB TO ADJOURN. LA SECONDED. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:37pm.
• WSESD Policy Review C7 – Board Relations with Administrators
• WSESD FY23 Summary, Revised 1.25.22
• WSESD Annual Meeting Articles Draft
Respectfully submitted by Wendy M. Levy from minutes taken by Wendy M. Levy.
This represents my understanding of the above dated meeting. If you have any changes, please submit at the next meeting.