May 24th, 2012 Meeting Minutes

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Minutes from the Cranberry Isles School Board Meeting
May 24, 2012
Secretary’s note: conversation is recorded as accurately as possible to represent the
essence of comments as opposed to verbatim comments. This conversation was recorded
and is available to anyone who wants to listen.
I. Meeting called to order at 2:55 at the Superintendent’s conference room at MDIHS.
In attendance: School Board members, Barbara Meyers BM, Katelyn Damon KD,
Kate Chaplin KC, Principal Carol MacRae CM, Assistant Superintendent Joanne
Harriman JH. Community members: Jeri Spurling JS, Ben Fulves BF, Phil Whitney
PW, Ingrid Gaither IG. Via Skype from Great Cranberry Island: Kelley Sanborn KS.
Via Polycom from Ashley Bryan School: Lindsay Eysnogle LE, Donna Isaacs DI,
Melissa Amuso MA, Henry Isaacs HI
II. Approval of Voucher
III. Approval of minutes from 27 April 2012. BM moved, KD 2nd, approved unanimously
IV. Discussion and Possible Action Items (taken out of order):
a. Maintenance projects: BF design work approved – KC moved to approve,
KD 2nd, unanimously approved. Wooden balustrades vs wire mesh. Moving
forward with a straight shot staircase. BM: can the staircase be used at
Longfellow? BF: Meeting set up with state Fire Marshall tentatively set for
May 30, to clarify opening building, codes clarification. Don’t know exactly
what answer will be. BM: Would be useful to have someone else to go.
KD: Interested in going. KC: Moved to go forward with straight shot stair,
KD: 2nd. Unanimously approved.
b. Interior staircase: postpone until after conversation with state fire marshal.
V. Discussion Items: (taken out of order)
a. Possible Opening of the Longfellow School
BM Identifying what our next steps are going to be. For community
populations to flourish, there needs to be a school. Widely held, not sure
how factual. Balancing educational benefits, financial responsibilities,
community strength. Benefits to keeping students together in small
population. A lot more at stake. How do we entertain the start of the
discussion?
IG Maybe start with a community meeting on each island/on one island.
PW Up against several issues that are happening – affordable housing and
hope for applicants with school aged families. Extremely difficult, not
impossible, to get families to come out without functioning school. Which
comes first? The kids or the school? Trying to get a year-round minister to
serve both islands. Year-round commuter service making it possible to go
off-island to work. Don’t think we can keep GCI as a year-round
community without families.
IG Feel that it’s established that kids aren’t coming without a school since
families not there now.
KS Any families with children apply for the CIRT housing?
PW No. There were five applications. Everyone was over 50, but no kids
involved.
KC primary concern is educational needs of students. We serve the students
first, teachers, parents, and community. Don’t want to compromise
academic needs of the students socially and academically.
BM Until you’ve lived it, you can’t imagine the toll on Great Cranberry.
Issues are disruptive to parents and families on the islands. Not okay to
have part of the population have such a different school experience,
suffering as second-class situations and feeling like second-class citizens.
KS From personal experience, we have not experienced any problems at all.
Not too long a day. We have not suffered in any way whatsoever. She truly
loves going over. I wouldn’t consider taking her out. We have witnessed
how much Jessie has blossomed in a school setting. It would be a disservice
to her to take her away from that experience. She would prefer to stay.
Even if the school opened, wouldn’t choose to send Jessie to a smaller
school setting; would continue to send her to Islesford.
JS Risk sucking the life out of one school to start another school.
IG There must be some in-between options.
BM Comments from community?
LE Most important thing is the students in terms of social and academic
impact. Has several questions, not needing responses – just for
consideration. What would it take for GCI to recognize ABS as their
community school? Impact of two schools on community? Costs and
impact on community? What could be the impact on the school vis a vis
the law allowing families to have school choice when population of
students dip below ten? Children need to be at the center. They have to be
the focus.
DI This question was raised in school as part of a unit to teach persuasive
essay writing. Began with questions from kids: Why can’t we build a
bridge? How would two schools affect kids if friends split up? Are there
other solutions? What are the costs? Why would anyone want to send
middle schoolers to MDES? How would having two schools affect adults?
How would logistics work, and effect on TLC? If we made a change, would
we be able to change our minds?
BM Great questions.
HI As a strong supporter of CIRT, disappointed to hear that the existing CIRT
buildings are using a rationale that the school will be open. Putting the cart
way before the horse. An unfortunate alignment.
KD I don’t know what I think. There are a lot of problems. Want to find
some middle ground to take the burden off GCI without ruining a great
school.
KC Needs of our students are at odds with the community and we would
love to serve both masters, but we need to serve the needs of the students.
BM Not clear that needs of students are being met.
IG Current students or future students? Needs are changing.
KC As those changes occur, yes, need to address them. Can’t make changes
in hopes of students’ needs. Why we need to create some sense of policy to
create guidelines to make the issue clearly understood. May seem
insensitive to GCI, but need to focus on our main goal. Can’t be based
strictly on numbers or simply create guidelines. Other options? Schedule
changes to find a compromise? Stretch the school day out four days a week,
end school one day a week at 11:15 to allow students to go home, have
music lessons, appointments, etc.
BM Need to explore other options. Community conversation needed.
JH Reality is that we are moving towards having the school ready. Need to
have a community conversation to see where to go next. Find a community
facilitator. Someone who understands challenges of small schools.
KC Discussed this this time last year. Would be great to have someone from
the outside.
BM A lot of territory out there in the middle road to find an equal
experience between the two islands. Parents feel disenfranchised at
inequality of school experience.
KC Not valid to say the two school experiences are unequal, rather students
are each having different experiences. The minute we assume that GCI has
it unfair, we create an unnecessary hurdle. Our kids are getting the same
academic experience and same social exposure in one place.
BM The essential question isn’t what would it take for GCI parents to feel
that the Ashley Bryan School is their community school.
JH Parallels with SWH & Tremont consolidation. Same conversation,
different context.
KC Ingrid and Ben Fulves want to know – are we going to have a school
open at Longfellow next fall?
JH At this point, I don’t see how – not an option. Too many variables. This
is more a conversation to have for 2013 unless there was a huge influx
PW We’re not going to have an influx unless you are dedicated to opening
the school or at least having some sort of school environment on GCI.
Some different options that still haven’t been explored. Parents should have
the right to open a school and to survive as a community.
KD We are already at the highest per student cost in the state. We have to
look at this fiscally as well.
KC Absence of students affects the students left behind. How can we
support a parent’s decision which threatens to undermine what is already in
place?
PW If situation were reversed, would you be sending your kids to GCI?
KC Speaking as a parent, if my kids were the only three on Islesford,
absolutely we would put them on the boat and send them over to be with
other kids. The benefits of being in a group are far more important.
IG First I’ve ever heard that from another parent. I’m hearing the opposite
from other Islesford community members.
DI One thing that is very clear: the students’ priority is to be together.
General discussion followed on how to arrange for a community forum.
BM Let’s leave it here. Plan for community in future.
b. Student boat transportation – tabled until after the community forum
regarding commuter boating in general.
c. Anticipated hiring of new principal (taken out of order). JH: Would like to
nominate Heather Webster as new principal. Principal at Swan’s Island, 3
days a week there. Very excited about the prospect of her being a principal
on both islands. $21,256, 60 days per year, 1.5 days per week for one
year, starting July 1, 2012 ending June 30, 2013 (same as Carol). CM:
Comments or questions from teachers? DI: Didn’t get a chance to talk with
her when she was here. JH: Feels Heather will be a strong principal. Was
able to use the feedback from parents to frame some questions. There will
be time for both Carol and Heather to coordinate the transition. BM: Move
to accept the nomination. KC: 2nd the motion. Unanimously approved.
VI. Action Item: Authorization for Superintendent to Apply for and Receive State and
Federal Funds. KC: Made motion, BM: 2nd, unanimously approved.
VII. Other business: Graduation
a. GCI Parent wants one ceremony – Saturday June 9, 6:30 potluck dinner.
Ashley Bryan – recite poem, etc.
b. DI – school picnic on GCI?? Picnic to be a celebration of Carol. June 13 –
Wed
c. parking lot: agree to fix parking lot. Ask Blair to resurface – give us a
number.
d. KC: Resurfacing basketball court – funds available? CM will look into it
with Nancy Thurlow.
e. BM: Helliker Lahotan foundation money come in yet? CM: Will check with
Nancy.
VIII. Future Agenda items: June 20 – process for community discussion – pending meeting
with fire marshal.
IX. Meeting adjourned 5:00 pm