School Board Public Forum at GCI January 27, 2014

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CRANBERRY ISLES SCHOOL DEPARTMENT
Great Cranberry Island Public Forum
at the Longfellow School
Monday, 27 January 2014
12:30 p.m.
NOTES
Attendance: Katelyn Damon, Barbara Meyers, Kelly SanbornOthers in Present: Howard Colter, Phil Whitney, Karin Whitney, Ben Fulves, Bill Dowling, Blair Colby, Richard Beal, Micky McFarland, Arvard Savage, Gail Colby, Pauline Bunker, Charlie Dunbar, Beverly Sanborn, Jeri Spurling, Helen Bertles, Ingrid Gaither, Beverly Sanborn, Tom Powell, Bruce Komusin, Becca Powell, Ann Grulich, Ed Gray, Mike Westphal, and Barbara Stainton, Malcolm Donald, and Michael Richman (via teleconference).
Barbara asked everyone to thank Helen Bertles for the lovely lasagna luncheon she supplied for the meeting. Barbara gave an overview and history of how the board got to where we are at this point and where we need to go moving forward. She explained the building cannot continue to run as is per the Fire Marshal. Further explaining that the school board still believes that the Master Plan is the wisest course, it would actually resolve the backlog of maintenance to the building and would give this building a whole other building generation of life, another 100 years or more, with upkeep. She stated the board has not changed its plan, have added things that need to be done at the ABS, added the fact that we need to care for the library as well in terms of safety remediation, but the big difference is we are going after changing the funding and that this is not something that can easily be done $100,000 per year over the next five years. Charlie Dunbar asked for confirmation that if these projects did not get done, it means the building has to be locked to any use. Barbara confirmed this.Barbara Stainton expressed how important it was for the town and for the community to keep this building functioning either as a school and/or as a multipurpose building because we have very few of these sorts of facilities available to us.Michael Richman asked if copies of the handouts could be forwarded to the callers winter addresses or by email. Barbara said that could be done for sure.Barbara read off the project list of what needs to be done at the Longfellow School Building and explained we were waiting for the official Deficiency Report from the Fire Marshal and we may expect some additional items on that report. Charlie Dunbar asked if any additional items found on the deficiency report would increase the cost of the project. Charlie Dunbar asked if the $560,000 was likely to be the final figure or is it likely to be less than that? He was concerned that we would have to come back to the voters next year and ask for more money. Richard Beal stated it is necessary to go to the voters with the correct number. Is the board confident they are asking enough. He encouraged the board to ask for more so that we did not have to go back to the voters to request more.Phil asked Ben what he had included in the itemization for an elevator or lift in the project list. Charlie restated that it would very smart to increase the amount now to cover all possibilities. Phil asked when the Fire Marshal’s office had indicated we would have the deficiency report; that he only thought it would be a few days. Ben stated he thought we would have had it on the 24th of January, but it had not come yet. Ed Gray asked if there was a price difference on saving the building and setting it up for a school. Ed asked when the board’s estimate of when the school would open. The question being why do we need a school? Ed expressed concern over funds being allocated to where they were appropriated for. He stated his dismay that the board in the past took the $100,000 appropriated for Longfellow was reallocated to ABS without the voters consent.Jeri Spurling asked how many buildings (town assets) the town had between the two buildings. Jeri expressed that in her opinion you would want to keep your assets well maintained. She stated this building is sound.There was discussion on the board’s desire and reasons for wanting to keep the kids together and want to run just one school for the time being.Michael Westphal agreed with Jeri’s statements regarding the soundness of the building.Phil Whitney read an article in regards to island schools and their closure. He discussed the affordable housing and the necessity of having at least an option of a school on GCI.Jeri commented on having a policy in place, suggesting maybe every two or three years the kids switch schools. There was discussion on knitting the communities together through the school children. Bill Dowling mentioned it was hard to make a policy based on population on each island because the population is so volatile and can change dramatically last minute. Bill also mentioned he felt it would be better to have perhaps a yearly change in schools so the kids have a chance to share with their community members. He also felt the islands are going to become a more desirable place to live and the building should be available for the future.Karin Whitney commented that putting the money into this building was an investment and no different than investing in new firetrucks, you may not need them, but they are there if you do.Ben stressed that the building cannot continue to remain open with repairs made in a piecemeal fashion, which is why the board decided to borrow the money in a lump sum. All of this is for the purpose in the end of spending less money than doing the work in a piecemeal fashion.Karin mentioned it is also better to have one contractor responsible for the whole project instead of several contractors doing work over time.Charlie Dunbar questioned what he had heard in the past, if the school is closed would that remain the case that it is over and cannot be reopened or at least be very difficult to reopen it.Beverly Sanborn asked about recertification if the school was closed in the event it needed to reopen.Karin Whitney asked how many years was the building neglected? Bruce Komusin mentioned he felt it was a good deal because they spent more or it compared favorably to do the Cranberry House. Ann Grulich discussed the historic preservation of the building. Stating it is 100+ years old and the importance of maintaining the historic buildings. There was a discussion of getting some of the historic artifacts put back up in the building.Phil Whitney commented on the previous board and current putting in numerous hours, thought, consideration and deliberation on coming to the best scenario.Richard Beal stressed the importance of letting the voters know all the information, ie, how much will it cost to outfit a new school, a detailed breakdown of the Fire Marshal’s report and the cost to replace and repair the items. If that information is not provided could return a negative vote at town meeting.Richard again stressed since we did not have an official deficiency report or figures of said potential deficiencies that he would much rather we increase the amount requested reassuring this was an “up to” amount as opposed to coming back next year asking for more money.Beverly Sanborn asked what was to happen to the excess money not used if there was any.Richard Beal discussed how the town was borrowing the money not the school board. With the town’s permission the board goes after the bids. The bids are administered through the selectmen with town money and the selectmen go get the line of credit. They don’t borrow it all at once. They only borrow what is necessary up to a certain amount. Ask for more if necessary now and fix the building correctly.Ed Gray stated he felt there was still two questions: Are we saving the building or are we creating a school? He felt two figures still needed to be given to the public. He stated he did not want the building to go away. He does feel that it is too expensive to maintain and would like to see it go to a nonprofit of some type that would rebuild the building. He also thinks it makes more sense to have a newer school and not keep throwing money into the old building on both islands, not just one. Mike Westphal felt the maintenance would not be extensive to upkeep the building once the appropriate repairs were made. He also stated that prior to 2010, the last maintenance performed was a paint job in the mid 80’s. Jeri reiterated that it is a death sentence to have a school on only one island. Phil stated that every year the town has voted this school officially open sending a signal they want two schools on the island or they would have shut this one down long ago.Charlie thought figures should include the options of what it would cost to bring the building to code as one number and the second number what it costs to take it up to code and beyond so it is acceptable as a school.Ben discussed the unexpectedness of the fire inspection and the potential for padlocking the building. He explained that the $100,00 was the very minimum of what the Fire Marshal would accept to keep the building open.Ingrid mentioned what a great turnout this was for Cranberry and really good discussion, but this is not where the voting happens and really wanted to encourage her Cranberry neighbors to bring this same level of involvement and energy to town meeting because it would be needed there even more than the forum.Ingrid also questioned once past this financial hurdle, this loan, will we see the school budget go down or stay the same in future years.Bill Dowling asked Ben if Heartwood Builders intended on bidding on the project. Beverly Sanborn asked once the work is done will that make a difference in what the insurance company will say it will cost to have the building occupied by a school, bringing the premium possibly down. Tom Powell asked if it was possible to solicit donations for capital improvements? Has that been done in the past? Can it be done here?Jeri stated there should be three clear stages presented. The first stage being what it would take to keep the padlocks off the building and allow it to be used as it is now. The next stage is what it would take to keep the padlocks off the building and keep it maintained so it does not deteriorate any further. The third stage is this is the amount it is going to take to make it into a school. Jeri stated it needed to be presented very clear at town meeting. Explain why the total investment is most prudent because if you do it in only one of the other two stages than when you do want to open up the school you will end up undoing work that you have started.Ben stated there are not three options. The first option is the minimum necessary to keep the building open. The second option is the remediation plus all the other stuff to repair and upgrade the building. If the voters vote down the borrowing, there is $120,000 in the budget that will either need to go to the ABS to finish necessary work or keep the padlocks off the Longfellow School and finish the ABS at another time, but it does need to be done. It is not sufficient to address both schools.Ben reiterated that it is very important at town meeting for the people to understand that by not authorizing the borrowing for both buildings that they are in effect, by default, voting to close this building completely as a library, a public gym, and as space for the Heliker-Lahotan foundation, $100,000 will not keep the building from decaying further and address the issues that need to be addressed in the Master Plan.Richard stressed the board needs every scrap of information they can get to present to the voters up front. He suggested submitting the drawings into the town report. Katelyn suggested having them added to the town website.Ingrid stated she had the sense the majority of people in the room were on the same page. What are some of the problems the board foresees at town meeting? Lengthy discussion on a written policy. It was strongly encouraged by several present to have a written policy, however that policy may look, determined before town meeting.Barbara Stainton urged that the voters be very clear on what they are voting on. She feels things are very murky still. If anything is going to be passed, must be exquisitely clear on how this will impact each island and what the plans are. Feels there is a level of unclearness of the proposal that needs to be finetuned before presented to the public for a vote.
Forum adjourned at 2:39 pm
Respectfully submitted,
Kelly Sanborn, Secretary

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