School Board Meeting Minutes December 13, 2013

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School Committee Workshop
at the Ashley Bryan School, Islesford
Friday, 13 December 2013
2:10 p.m.

Attendance: Katelyn Damon, Barbara Meyers, Howard Colter, Kelly Sanborn, Heather Webster (via teleconference), Ben Fulves, Phil Whitney

I. Call to Order Meeting called to order at 2:14 p.m.

II. Discussion on draft to send out to voters - What message do we want to get across to the voters. Howard discussed what he put in his draft, i.e. history of project in regards to showing what has happened to date, what has been accomplished, how it has been funded, and what we think is required now in a more aggressive pace and what that cost might be. Barbara shared an updated version of the draft that she had worked on. Ben discussed the Master Plan and the “code remedies” and how they are affected by the need to open the building as a school. His feeling is that these remedies cannot be accomplished piece meal, they all need to be undertaken at once. There are a couple of things that could be left out for the future, i.e. the elevator shaft could be built, but the elevator may not be installed, but apart from that and a couple of small things it really all has to be done at once. Not so much a question of efficiency or cost savings, it is a question of comprehensiveness of the project itself. Howard and Kelly questioned Ben if all the outlined work needs to be accomplished in the event the building is not reopened as a school. Ben stated that if another use is anticipated, such as Town Meeting, or something would be considered a Change of Use and the building would not be considered safe for that new use. Kelly asked Ben if the building was to continue running in the same capacity as now, ie Library, Reading Room, Gym does all the work need to be done or is it grandfathered in? Ben stated according to the Fire Marshall the building is grandfathered in for the use it has right now. However, it is not considered safe for what could potentially happen in there. Ben stated if somebody filed a complaint at this point for any reason, the Fire Marshall could potentially shut down the building as is from a safety standpoint. Ben discussed ADA requirements. Ben discussed the wheelchair ramp and elevator needing to be done to meet ADA requirements. Barbara reiterated that if she understood it correctly, the elevator was the only thing that could really be put off. The stairs would need to be done as part of the safety issues. Ben stated the exterior work could potentially be broken off, but once you get inside the building it gets difficult to break things down into smaller components because they are all tied together. Barbara stated the big question to focus on is “Do we leave the building exactly how it is now or do we bring it up into a more safe, modern, multi-use building?”

III. Discussion on setting up policies for opening the school on GCI. Statements made from public were discussed regarding not wanting to put money into the building without a clear policy on when the Longfellow School would open, i.e. how many kids required to open the school, would kids alternate between schools, etc? Barbara feels you cannot tie the work that needs to happen into the school question. The school question is essential, but the building is also essential. Howard discussed in the past how parents wishes influenced the decision on whether the schools were kept open with less than 10 children. Question of the “chicken or the egg” was discussed...what should come first the building being repaired to be ready in the event the school can be open or only fix the building when the school needs to open. A “Policy” would answer that question. Katelyn feels the public really wants to know when the school could potentially open and will want to know that before voting on funding this project. Potential policies were discussed, with the general consensus of the board that both from and educational and financial standpoint the children and resources are best spent keeping the group of kids and teachers together. The three options would be to keep the kids on Islesford, GCI or alternating years at both schools. Barbara asked if we could make some meaningful progress on this question before Town Meeting. The board was in agreement that it has to happen before Town Meeting.

Ben stressed that all things aside we are one phone call away from the Fire Marshall closing off the upstairs altogether. While some may think that we could just paint the building and walk away, although technically feasible, we are just putting ourselves at enormous risk of losing the use of that building in a way that is not planned because of this potential. He stated it would be very prudent to undertake this plan. To not do this work is just kicking it down the road until there is a very serious problem.

Barbara discussed the need for a Plan B should the funding not be approved. Ben asked what will happen if this project is not approved. There was discussion on how to protect the $100,000 needed to complete the ABS project should the $560,000 for both schools be voted down. Discussion ensued on how best to achieve this.

IV. Discussions on planned forum/Q&A for the public. It was decided we should hold a public forum prior to Town Meeting to explain the School Board’s intentions on finishing the Longfellow School Building and the Ashley Bryan School Building, as well as progress to date in an effort to give the public a chance to become more informed. This is to introduce the voters to this topic of borrowing the money to complete the plan so that people have an opportunity prior to the publishing of the town report to see where the money has gone, how we developed our thinking, where we are going and to ask all of those questions. Topic of conversations for that forum: What should the future of that building be and What is the policy for using that building as a school? Dates were discussed for potential forums on either one island or both. Decided to hold a workshop prior to the forum to outline and frame the discussion so we have answers when they come up as public questions. Phil suggested that to hold a public hearing for this issue is his experience people will probably not travel to attend, therefore, he strongly urged us to hold two separate meetings on each island. Further potential policies were discussed on keeping the kids together and where school is held with that being the only intention. Barbara was going to take another stab at the draft and pass it around. Then decide whether it goes out as a mailing or just included in the Town Report. It was suggested to have the letter passed out at the forum and also included in the Town Report.

V. Town Report. There were discussions regarding the Attorneys for both the Town and the Selectmen to have the warrant articles submitted on time and what the Selectmen need from the Board. Barbara is going to send an email to the Selectmen stating the Board’s intentions.

VI. Adjournment. Barbara moved to adjourn workshop at 3:50 pm. Katelyn seconded.
All in favor. Approved.

Respectfully submitted,
Kelly Sanborn, Secretary

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