Ashland School District No. 5, Jackson County, Oregon - The Board of Directors met in regular session December 12, 2005, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ashland Council Chambers. Present were:
Heidi Parker ) Chair
Ruth Alexander )
Amy Amrhein ) Board Members
Mat Marr )
Amy Patton )
Juli Di Chiro, Superintendent
Pamela Lucas, Business Manager
Diane DeMerritt, Certified Representative
Amy Korth, Classified Representative
Ian Cropper, Student Representative
Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary
I. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 7:05 p.m. by Chair Parker.
II. Pledge of Allegiance
III. Roll Check
A roll of the board was taken and all members were present.
IV. Welcome Visitors
Chair Parker welcomed visitors.
V. Consent Agenda
1. Approve minutes of regular session of November 14; executive, special and joint special meetings of November 17, budget committee work session of November 28, special session of November 29, and work and executive sessions of December 5, 2005.
a. Retirement Requests
Michele Stewart of Helman Elementary submitted a letter of intent to retire effective December 31, 2005. She further asked to complete the school year on a 1039 contract. It was recommended that her request be granted as presented.
Randy Boardman of Bellview Elementary submitted a letter of intent to retire effective December 31, 2005. He further asked to complete the year on a 1039 contract. It was recommended that his request be granted as presented.
b. Employment Recommendation
Kari Smith was recommended as a temporary First Grade Teacher at Helman Elementary replacing Krista Menold who will be on maternity leave for the balance of this school year.
Director Amrhein moved that the Board approve the consent agenda as presented. Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
VI. Hear Public Requests not a part of the agenda
There were no public requests.
1. Student and Staff Representative Reports
Ian Cropper, student representative, reported on a food drive, a toy drive, athletic events, and efforts to designate a new name for the Southern Oregon Conference.
Amy Korth, Classified Representative, thanked the Educational Assistants for their efforts in the classrooms.
Diane DeMerritt, certified representative, reported on activities at each of the schools. In addition, she clarified that the Ashland Education Association does not have an official stand regarding Juli Di Chiro’s contract, but encouraged teachers to approach board members directly.
2. Demographer’s Report
Superintendent Di Chiro reported on the demographer’s report which projects a 15% decline, or 428 students, over the next 5 years. One of the leading causes for the enrollment decline is the cost of housing in Ashland, and that is not expected to change.
Barbara Heyerman asked for clarification about the demographer researching families that live in Ashland but put their children in private schools. Superintendent Di Chiro responded that the demographer does not have the methodology to address that issue. Ms. Heyerman expressed concern that there is no plan to completely address that issue.
Sue Graham heard of a proposal by some Waldorf parents to become state standardized, which would encourage private school attendance.
Chair Parker stated that it is important to plan a work session for this topic.
3. Bond Report
Director Patton reported on the activities of the committee which included touring all of the school facilities, conducting and reviewing staff surveys, learning about general obligation bonds, and reviewing slide shows of new construction schools. Committee members also reviewed the bond process that occurred ten years ago, and has begun to establish criteria for prioritizing the needs issue. Community forums are scheduled for January 9, 10, and 11.
4. Joint Special Session Update
Director Amrhein reported that the Ashland School Board, the Ashland City Council, and the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department passed a joint resolution regarding a joint interest in property around town. Since the City has a comprehensive plan that includes school district playgrounds, we want the playgrounds to remain as public open spaces, and we all have large capital needs that should be addressed and coordinated. A report was made by the Save Our Schools and Playgrounds Committee. The next joint session will be held January 19, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ashland Council Chambers to hear discussion and review of local option levy and information on our assessed values and taxing from the county assessor.
5. Superintendent Contract Update
Chair Parker provided an update on the superintendent’s contract negotiations explaining that the superintendent has had two three-year contracts with no major changes. The superintendent has asked for a contract to be negotiated by the end of January. The Board has set parameters for the contract negotiations.
Public input was received as follows.
John Maurer stated that Juli Di Chiro has faced difficult times and has made good decisions. The Board should offer a three-year contract because, after six years in the district, a one-year contract would be an invitation to leave. To lose Juli Di Chiro now, when good superintendents are hard to find, would be a crisis.
Lyn Owens stated that Juli Di Chiro has done a magnificent job with grace, and she encouraged a three-year contract.
Pauline Black said she believes the issue is the importance of a successful working relationship between the superintendent and the Board. She supported the Board offering a one-year contract, and explained that more people agree with her but do not feel comfortable being here.
Michael Stone read aloud his letter to the Board, encouraging a three-year contract for Juli Di Chiro.
Lynn Thompson affirmed her confidence in Juli Di Chiro and urged a three-year contract to induce her to stay in the district. It would not be good for the district to have uncertainty surrounding the top employee of the district. She encouraged the Board to decide it wants this superintendent and to act on that decision unequivocally.
Leslie Kendall supported a three-year contract. She felt it would be incredible to see what Juli Di Chiro could do if the district didn’t have to go through the growing pains it has had.
Nancy Daniels encouraged a three-year contract.
Camille Siders echoed the previous sentiments as a parent and teacher in the district. She wanted Juli Di Chiro to be offered a three-year contract.
Lori Fleuter explained that she has worked for several superintendents, and Juli Di Chiro is awesome. If the Board doesn’t offer her something acceptable, she will leave; and that would be a shame. Juli Di Chiro has done wonderful things with declining population and declining economy. Offer her a three-year contract.
Mike Constantino offered support for Juli Di Chiro. Mike and Juli have discussed the Youth Activity Levy and how to keep it intact. Ashland has the best high school in the state. To lose the district leader at this time will make it impossible to pass the Youth Activity Levy. The people in this audience are the people who work to pass the Youth Activity Levy, and they are all here supporting Juli Di Chiro. If the Board is not together, we will never get our levy passed and the problems will magnify to no end.
Kate Kennedy explained that her classes at Ashland High School started out bigger this year than usual in Physics and Principles of Technology. Those would be even larger if the elementary schools had not been closed. There have been positive impacts at the high school due to the decisions to close elementary schools. The district has a new business manager, three new board members, and employee contracts to negotiate next year. This is not the time to change leadership.
Mia Driscoll has always supported Juli Di Chiro and encouraged a three-year contract.
Sue Graham encouraged the Board and the superintendent to work with facilitators rather than attorneys. Facilitators would offer the collaborative Ashland style.
Michael Gibbs has seen business and university recruitment for this town, and everyone looks at our schools. If you undermine the leadership of the district, families may reconsider whether or not to move here. Give your employees a long-term contract so new people can have a feeling of trust in the district.
Karen Amarotico has been on the Ashland Schools Foundation for over a year. Juli Di Chiro comes to all of the meetings prepared to guide the volunteers through the process with her experience. Juli Di Chiro attends all of the meetings, as well as every phone-a-thon. She should be offered a three-year contract. Ms. Amarotico also liked the mediator idea.
Kevin Cooney asked the Board to renew the contract for another three years. Juli Di Chiro has continuity on state and local issues. That is a valuable asset in terms of her experience, and it would bode well for the future.
6. October Financial Report
Pam Lucas, Business Manager, reported that the district is on schedule financially. She is working on more timely reports to the Board. Director Amrhein also explained that the Budget Committee is working on more easily understood transparent financial reporting.
7. Board Report
Board members reported on Julie Romberg’s work at the Briscoe Art Wing, the latest Certified Contract Maintenance Committee Meeting, the Ashland Schools Foundation fundraiser – Bags to Riches, the district Wellness Committee, the Bullying and Harassment Committee, and a Bond Subcommittee working on an Ashland School District newsletter.
8. Superintendent Report
Superintendent Di Chiro provided an update on the Request for Proposals for the Ashland High School master planning process. Proposals were received from two firms, DOWA and Ogden. Those proposals will be reviewed and a recommendation will be made to the Board.
Superintendent Di Chiro thanked the people who have been serving on the kindergarten task force. She announced that this week Songs & Sweets will be held in the Mountain Avenue Theater on December 15 and 16. She thanked the Ashland Rotary Club for sponsoring the first Ashland Basketball Tournament and providing housing. Finally, she commented on the state superintendent’s comments on CIM and CAM. Superintendent Di Chiro reminded everyone that CIM and CAM is required because of No Child Left Behind, so schools must continue to have at least the CIM.
VIII. Unfinished Business
1. Update on Lincoln School Lease
Superintendent Di Chiro reported that several people are interested in leasing Lincoln. Siskiyou School has withdrawn its proposal. The Board is considering a proposal from Plexis. The Board is also considering a proposal from Lithia Springs School – they are interested in leasing a portion of the building. A meeting has been tentatively scheduled for January 6 with the Board and district administrators to discuss immediate needs and what future programs could affect facilities. We need to decide some short term things quickly to inform families, but this will also be part of the long-term planning. She explained that we have considered using a consultant, Kate Dixon, to help us with strategic planning.
Director Patton supported the strategic planning with Kate Dixon. Chair Parker feels strategic planning is vital for the future of the district, and believes that is the responsibility of the Board.
Director Marr asked how we are doing on meeting the district goal to maintain the educational use of Lincoln. Superintendent Di Chiro said the various lease proposals are still under consideration. If we decide to lease to Lithia Springs School, that will maintain the educational use. We need to have a plan before approaching Mike Broomfield. Hopefully, the Board can make decisions after the meeting with the district administrators in early January.
Paul Copeland reminded the Board that the candidates at the last election felt it was a big deal to have small neighborhood schools. If Lincoln School goes to commercial use for 5 or 10 years, it will just go into history and we won’t think of it as a school anymore. The only way to maintain the K-5 qualification is to put some K-5 kids in there this year. This was the highest turnout for a board election, so it is clear what the people voted for. We have overcrowding in some of the elementary schools now. We will still be over capacity in 2008. Look at some short-term solutions at the elementary school level.
2. Waterline Property Update
Superintendent Di Chiro left the meeting due to a conflict of interest. Pam Lucas, Business Manager, reported that an appraisal cannot be done for $300 and asked for board direction. She suggested making a counteroffer or considering a trade of the land for a different lot that could be offered to affordable housing. Director Patton suggested postponing action on this until the February meeting so more work can be done on strategic planning. Director Marr recommended that, if a counteroffer is made, it be in the amount of $350,000.
Sue Graham stated that there are many realtors in this community who would give information to the district, and many parents who can assist us. She asked that the Board consider more than $100,000 for the property.
Ms. Lucas will research appraising the property at no cost to the district. Superintendent Di Chiro returned to the meeting.
3. Board Policy Revision – Second Reading
Board Policy JHFE, Reporting of Suspected Child Abuse, was presented for second reading.
Director Alexander moved that the Board approve JHFE for second reading as presented. Director Marr seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
IX. New Business
1. Kindergarten Task Force Recommendation
Michelle Zundel, Bonnie Frol and Mary Snowden presented the task force recommendation to the Board. The recommendation was to extend each kindergarten class’s hours for 30 minutes at Bellview and Walker effective January 3, 2006; add Fridays to the Helman kindergarten schedule; increase each kindergarten teacher’s full time equivalency to .625; and add two hours of educational assistant time to each school to help with the transition from AM to PM kindergarten. The cost of increased teacher time and additional educational assistants is projected to be $37,033, which would be funded from contingency. The Kindergarten Task Force will continue to meet to develop further recommendations for the 2006-07 school year, and hopes to make a recommendation to the Board at the February regular meeting.
Director Alexander moved and Director Marr seconded that the Board adopt the kindergarten proposal to add an extra day at Helman and the extra half hour per day at each of the other schools.
Chair Parker read a statement from Mr. Gilpin supporting the recommendation of the Kindergarten Task Force.
Liesa Fulton Holden spoke in support of extending the Kindergarten time as it is good preparation for first graders.
The motion passed unanimously.
2. Annual Site Council Goals and Approval of Charters
Principals and Site Council Representatives reported their respective Site Council processes and goals and presented their annual charters for approval.
Director Amrhein moved that the meeting be extended for 30 minutes. Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
Following questions and answers, Juli recommended that the Board adopt the annual charters as presented.
Director Amrhein moved that the Board approve the Annual Site Council Charters as presented. Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
3. Approve the 2004-05 Audit
Superintendent Di Chiro reported that the Board met with the Auditor in a work session on December 5 to review the 2004-05 Audit.
Director Amrhein moved that the Board approve the 2004-05 Audit as presented. Director Alexander seconded and the motion passed unanimously.
X. Announcements and Appointments
A Bond and Facilities Planning Committee Meeting will be held on Wednesday, January 4, 2006 at 6:30 p.m. in the Ashland High School Library.
A Budget Committee Meeting will be held Thursday, January 5, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. in the District Board Room to discuss development of the 2006-07 proposed budget.
A Work Session will be held on Friday, January 6, 2006, at 9:00 a.m. in the District Board Room to meet with the administrative team to discuss organizational planning for the next school year as it relates to facilities use.
Community Forums to gather input on prioritization of bond needs will be held as follows:
Monday, January 9, Ashland Middle School Commons, 7:00 pm
Tuesday, January 10, Mountain Meadows, 3:00 pm
Tuesday, January 10, Historic Ashland Armory, 10:00 am
Tuesday, January 10, Historic Ashland Armory, 7:00 pm
Wednesday, January 11, Ashland High School Commons, 7:00 pm
The next regular session will be held on Monday, January 9, 2006, at 7:00 p.m. in the Ashland Council Chambers.
There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.
Jeanne Peterson, Executive Secretary