School Board Meeting Minutes November 17, 2011

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Cranberry Isles School Board
Minutes of 17 November 2011

I. Meeting was called to order by chairperson Barbara Meyers at 3:07 P.M. at the Superintendent’s Office, MDIHS. Present: School Board members Barbara Meyers, Kate Chaplin and Ted Spurling, Jr.; Principal Carol MacRae; Superintendent Rob Liebow. Present via speaker phone from Longfellow School, Great Cranberry: Selectman Phil Whitney, Ingrid Gaither. Present via PolyCom from the Islesford School: Assistant to the selectmen Jim Fortune; teachers Donna Isaacs and Lindsay Eysnogle; Anne Bardaglio from the Island Institute, Katelyn Damon and Henry Isaacs.
II. Approval of Voucher: Reviewed and signed by Board members.
III. Approval of Minutes of 27 October 2011: Motion to approve by Kate Chaplin; second by Barbara Meyers. Vote: Yes, unanimously.
IV. Principal’s Report (taken out of order, after Discussion Items): See also sheet presented by Carol MacRae.
A. Carol said that the open house and pot luck the previous night was a great success.
B. Students are to participate in a Chorus at Mt Desert Elementary School, to be held December 13th. Rob Liebow to run the boat.
C. School staff held PolyCom meeting November 1st with teachers from other islands. Great feedback from this. Next such meeting will be December 9th.
D. Teaching and Learning Collaborative (TLC) has started a student council; these are some of the things that kids in middle school benefit from.
E. Book groups Wednesday with kids from other islands. Kids constantly making connections to their lives with what they’re reading, ability to summarize, analyze, etc. This is as effective for youngers as for olders. Carol: “One of the most exciting things I have ever seen.” For example, a kindergartner from Monhegan can participate—even when the technology doesn’t work perfectly—sometimes voice only with Skype.
F. Barbara asked Jim if fiber-optic cable will be coming soon to Islesford. Jim said that he would check to see if it is possible (to lay fiber optic cable) when the new electric cable is laid.
V. Discussion Items (taken out of order, ahead of Item IV, so that Rob could attend for necessary items):
A. Initial Discussion of Fiscal Year 2013 Budget:

Rob explained summary from printout. Estimated $408,634 compared to $427,281 current. $18,647 carryover. Grand total difference = $63,281 less.
1. Projected enrollment 2012-2013: Elementary school 11; high school 5.
2. Jim Fortune asked when preliminary budget would be ready. Barbara said that by the end of December we should have a good estimate.
B. Initial Discussion of a K- 5 School
1. Barbara: Some have thought this a valuable discussion: possibility of kindergarten through 5th grade, or K-6, with 7th and 8th-graders, or 6th-7th -8th , attending Mount Desert Elementary School.
2. Kate: There is a projected gap in grades. Now would be a good time to explore this. She said that it could be good fiscally, academically, and also in sports and performing arts.
3. Kate said that students would not be tuition students but through a partnership with MDES. The legality might be a question, as this would not really be a consolidation. Would it be possible to do this on a trial basis? Kate asked Rob about legal resources.
4. Rob: Legal advice could come through Drummond Woodsun. Rob said that there could also be a legal contract something like AOS (Alternative Organizational Structure), an inter-local agreement.
5. Kate: MDES is enthusiastic, as their enrollment is going down. After finding out if it can be done, how much would it cost?
6. Carol: We need to ask, number one, “Is it best for the kids?”
a. For all kids?
b. For some kids?
7. Carol said that number two, co-curricular activities after school and boat transportation after 5:00 PM could be an issue. Activities could go beyond 5 PM often. We might need special transportation or a place off-island arranged. Barbara said that island-based families might be available.
8. Kate: Could a child commute on 5 PM boat with after-school activities? Rob said that that could be a question for Scott McFarland (MDES principal). Kate said that this is exploratory; the goal is what’s best for the students.
9. Barbara: Could we have opinions from the teachers?
a. Donna Isaacs: What research would we be doing for this? Kate: If legally and fiscally feasible, go to parents and students. If shot down, there would be no point. But if feasible and people are enthusiastic, might go ahead. Possibly would allow people to stay on the island longer.
b. Lindsay Eysnogle: It might force families to move off sooner. How much percentage of community would need to be positive? Barbara: Would need to see how much flexibility—might need a pilot program.
c. Lindsay: If we do go to a K-5 school, how do we know we wouldn’t close the whole school? It could be a “slippery slope”.
d. Kate: This would not be just a fiscal decision; wouldn’t mean that all kids commute. Cliff Island has a successful K-5 school.
e. Donna: I have the sense that Cliff Island feelings are very mixed, and with a lot of regret that there is no going back. Would definitely want to hear from Cliff Islanders. Donna also said that she has a concern about how the olders commuting has affected the K-5 students, with one fewer teacher, etc.
f. Lindsay: Would depend on the mix of children.
g. Katelyn Damon: This should be an individual family decision. Not all kids will participate in extra-curricular activities. Some families have moved off because they couldn’t get those experiences by commuting.
h. Barbara: The families that moved off did so before the 5 PM boat started. Barbara said that she doesn’t want for the only option to be that families have to move off.
i. Ted: This sounds like the Lieutenant Calley approach to education, that the best way to save this village is to destroy it (reference from Viet Nam war). Ted said that this could lower the critical mass of students enough that more families might move off the island. The only positive thing is fiscal, with need for fewer teachers, etc., but even that might be less effective than we think, as the heat and electricity on the buildings, maintenance, insurance, etc, would not change. Ted said that this came up years ago at Town Meeting when a family wanted the Town to pay for their child to attend a school off-island. He said that his reaction then was that he would not want to subsidize the destruction of his own children’s education.
j. Kate: There is no agenda to do this, that this is exploratory only; and at a good time for it because of the gap. If we explore it and it is a bad idea we should scrap it.
k. Jim: If we did close the school as a result, how hard would it be to re-open it?
l. Donna: The TLC (Teaching and Learning Collaborative) was created for one- and two-room schools. Middle-schoolers play a large role. Curricula must be relevant. How could we expand the TLC if much of this is moot?
m. Lindsay: Cliff Island’s participation in TLC is complicated because their K-5 do not have lap-top computers.
n. Barbara asked if Rob had an opinion.
o. Rob: It’s important to find “What if?” There may be advantages to transition, with activities, etc.—but if the kids can’t participate, it’s not an advantage. “I swing both ways.”
p. Lindsay: Could we be a K-8 school but increase participation with MDES in sports, extra-curricular, and PolyCom? Kate: I’m open to that; but doing sports that way is difficult. Barbara: It could work some yes-some no. Music would be difficult.
q. Barbara: One of the delights of our school is the ability to innovate.
r. Katelyn: There is a PolyCom at the Neighborhood House now. Lindsay: PolyCom at Islesford [School?] is now portable.
s. Kate: Let’s table this. We’ve opened the discussion for now.
C. Maintenance Projects at Islesford and Longfellow Schools:
1. Rob: Is Ben Fulves still with us? We’re losing time for projects.
2. Barbara: Will contact Ben tonight. We don’t have information without him to make decisions at this meeting. Will ask him to e-mail us.
3. Rob had to leave at this point.
4. Donna thanked the Board for changing the time of meetings to 3 PM so that teachers and others could attend.
D. School Vehicle:
1. Barbara: We have a free vehicle offered by Tracy Weibel.
2. Barbara said that as a parent, she thinks a vehicle is a good idea. We have investigated used cars, hiring a driver, etc., and have found that having a driver on call is not a reliable option.
3. Barbara said that the car offered is currently at Skip’s Auto in Southwest Harbor. It needs some work. Skip estimates $375 in repairs and recommends $150 for rust treatment. The car is a 4-door Honda, automatic, with 97,000 miles (?). Year 1997 (?). We would also need registration, insurance and possibly a vehicle importation fee for Cranberry Isles. Jim will ask if this can be waived.
4. Kate: Give it a trial run. Because we haven’t budgeted for it this would be a good way. “Go for it.”
5. Ted: Remains ambivalent and trying to stay out of it, but Kate’s response is not a bad decision, and it’s a cheap way to go about it.
6. Barbara: favors going for this.
7. Barbara moved to accept the Weibels’ offer of the car and to have Skip’s Auto make the necessary repairs. Seconded by Kate. Vote: Yes, unanimously.
VI. Other Business: None at this time.
VII. Future Agenda Items: To be determined.
VIII. Adjournment: 4:44 P.M., and barely in time to catch the 5:00 boat.

Respectfully submitted,
Theodore L. Spurling, Jr.

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