Board of Education

Board of Education
40 South Second Street
Oakland, MD 21550
Phone 301.334.8931
Fax 301.334.7621

Minutes April 24, 2012

MINUTES

MEETING OF THE GARRETT COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION

Oakland, Maryland 21550

 

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

 

Part I - Call to Order

Mrs. Charlotte Sebold, President, called the monthly meeting of the Board of Education to order at 5:30 p.m.  Also in attendance were Mr. Rodney Durst, Vice President; Mr. Thomas Carr, Dr. Donald Forrester, and Mrs. Cynthia Downton, associate members; and Mrs. Sue Waggoner, Interim Superintendent of Schools.  The meeting was held at Southern Middle School.  

Part II - Executive Session

Upon a motion by Dr. Forrester, seconded by Mrs. Downton, the Board of Education unanimously agreed to move to executive session at 5:31 p.m. in accordance with Public Law 4-1-6 and Section 10-508 of the State Government Code for the purpose of discussing personnel matters affecting one or more individuals, and negotiations.

            Mrs. Barbara Baker, Assistant Superintendent; Mr. Keith Harvey, Director of Human Resources; Mr. Larry McKenzie, Director of Finance; and Commissioner Gregan Crawford,

Ex-Officio member, were present during all or part of the Executive Session.

Part III - Re-Opening of Public Session

The Board reconvened in public session at 7:12 p.m.  Student Board Member, Elizabeth Sines, joined the meeting at this time.  Mrs. Sebold led a moment of silence after which Ms. Sines led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance.  Mr. Durst stated that he said a silent Protestant prayer in the name of Jesus.

Part IV -Acceptance of Agenda

Upon a motion by Mr. Carr, seconded by Mr. Durst, the Board of Education unanimously approved the agenda as presented 

Part V - Public Comment

Don Coble, Barbara McKenney, Diane Dunham, Danielle Martin, Kara Lyons, Leo Martin, Jack Caruthers, Shari Ashby, Angel Simms, Steph Jenkins, Amanda Herman, Monica Rinker, Darla Niner, Ardra Sharpless, Julie Chapman, and Elizabeth Hebden made public comment in regards to the possible school closings. 

            Part VI – School Closing Recommendation

                        Mrs. Waggoner presented a PowerPoint presentation titled Superintendent’s Recommendation.  She initially explained that due to certain procedures, if the Board of Education is entertaining closing any school, the decision must be made prior to April 30.  She informed the Board that there is additional information to come in from the legislature in regards to funding and the County Commissioners provided the Board of Education with an additional $500,000 today.  Mrs. Waggoner thanked the County Commissioners for the additional contribution.    It is possible that the State will meet in session on May 14, 2012.  She went on to explain that without the additional dollars secured to balance the budget, she must make a recommendation which involves school closures in order to present the Board with a balanced budget. 

                        Mrs. Waggoner explained the loss of state funding resulting from the expiration of the hold harmless provision which expired in 2011 resulting in a loss of funds of less than one million in FY2011, a loss of funds of over 1.5 million in FY12, and a loss of over 2.2 million in FY13.    She also explained the additional funds received last year from the commissioners was used to keep Kitzmiller Elementary School open and to provide a stipend for employees who had not received their negotiated steps in four years.  Mrs. Waggoner informed the Board that the unions were approached this year during negotiations and asked to take a decrease in salary of 2% - 10% and it was not agreed upon by the members of the union.  She added since 2004, 73 positions have been lost and those positions have been replaced through attrition.  The retirement incentive offered this year has generated savings and 14-15 positions will be absorbed. 

                        Mrs. Waggoner presented a graph which showed that the FY13 State Aid will be slightly more than State Aid form FY05 reminding everyone of how the cost of everything has increased.  She provided more State Aid statistics in regards to the loss of State Aid since 2000 and the increase of the county’s aid since 2010.  She reviewed the current funding shortfall and the proposed budget adjustments. 

                        Mrs. Waggoner read her recommendation for the closing of Dennett Road Elementary School.  The recommendation follows:

            “After obtaining input from the Advisory Group, public comment and a long term review of many factors, I recommend the closing of Dennett Road Elementary effective with the start of the 2012-13 school year in August 2012.  If the closing of Dennett Road Elementary is approved, the students who would have attended Dennett Road will attend Broad Ford Elementary School, Yough Glades Elementary School or Crellin Elementary School beginning with the start of the 2012-2013 school year.  The rationale for this recommendation is due to the continuous decline in our enrollment coupled with the dramatic loss of state funding commencing with the loss of the hold harmless provision in FY 2011 which had a significant impact upon our state funding this year.  We have lost approximately 20% of our enrollment since 2000 along with our significant jump in wealth on the state funding ranking has significantly further impacted our loss of state aid.  With a projected loss of additional enrollment through 2019 and our wealth per pupil, our state funding will continue to decline in the years ahead.  The financial conditions factor is the critical and determining reason for the closure recommendation.  Decisions must be made that have the least negative or adverse impact upon the majority of our students and staff. 

I will summarize the impact briefly upon the nine factors in Garrett County Board of Education Policy 940.   

A.   Student Enrollment Trends:  Dennett Road School has suffered a loss of students over the last 10 years. There are no projections that this enrollment loss will significantly reverse.

B   Age or Condition of Building:  The building is in good condition.  Dennett Road had been slated for renovation but currently it is not on our five year facilities master plan.  Of concern is the potential need for a new roof. 

C.  Transportation:  Bus routes are already established and there is sufficient capacity utilizing current buses to provide the transportation to Broad Ford Elementary, Crellin Elementary, and Yough Glades Elementary.

D.  Educational Programs:  This is not a factor in the recommendation because all schools in Garrett County follow the same guidelines related to curriculum.  These include county approved materials, subject area time allotments and curricular content.  Therefore, all students receive the same quality instruction regardless of school location. 

E.  Racial Composition:  This is not a factor in the closing.

F.  Student Relocations:  By distributing the students to Broad Ford Elementary, Crellin Elementary and Yough Glades Elementary there is space to meet the needs of our students.  Yough Glades has been designated as the special education center for the southern area.  The class sizes may be larger, but they are well within state averages. 

G.  Impact on the Community:  The Board of Education intends to transfer the Dennett Road Elementary School building and property to the county government.  Concerns that have been expressed are the loss of the use of the gym, the two playgrounds, baseball diamond, walking trail for community activities and loss of space for the Head Start program.  Other community activities or events that may occur at the school will be impacted pending on the future determination of the building by the county.  Although this is an area of concern, these ancillary uses of the school property cannot be a determining factor.  Moreover, these functions could continue at the same location under the county government even if the school is closed.

H.  Other Factors: The close proximity of Dennett Road Elementary to Broad Ford Elementary and Yough Glades Elementary was another factor that contributed to the consideration of Dennett Road for closure.

I.   Financial Conditions:  We have documented the drastic change in our state funding commencing with FY 2011 with the loss of hold harmless funding which will continue into the future.  The loss could be much higher as our wealth ratio increases compared to the state.  Our state funding has decreased due to the loss of over 20% of our enrollment since 2000 and we are projected to lose additional enrollment through 2019.  Our state funding has been further reduced by our increase in wealth ranking on the state aid formula from 17th place in 2000 to 5th place in 2013.  In FY 13, Garrett County was the only district to increase in wealth in Maryland and the largest loss of enrollment in the state. This is for the third consecutive year in which Garrett County has had the largest percentage loss of enrollment in Maryland.  The county has also lost state funding which has impacted its ability to fund our schools without raising taxes.  We have a current deficit that requires the closing of Dennett Road Elementary School with an estimated savings of $1,214,150.  If the school is not closed, program and personnel reductions as documented in our scenarios will be necessary and devastating to our system.”

 

Mr. Carr moved to accept the superintendent’s recommendation of closing Dennett Road Elementary School effective with the start of the 2012-2013 school year.  The motion was seconded by Mrs. Downton.  Discussion ensued and each board member directly addressed the audience with their thoughts and feelings on the recommendation presented.  Mrs. Sebold called for vote.  The Board of Education accepted the superintendent’s recommendation (3-1) of closing Dennett Road Elementary School effective with the start of the 2012/2013 school year.  Mr. Durst opposed the motion.

Mrs. Waggoner read her recommendation for the closing of Kitzmiller Elementary School.  The recommendation follows:

“After obtaining input from the Advisory Group, public comment and a long term review of many factors, I recommend the closing of Kitzmiller Elementary School effective with the start of the 2012-13 school year in August 2012.  If the closing of Kitzmiller Elementary School is approved, the elementary students who would have attended Kitzmiller will attend Broad Ford Elementary School beginning with the start of the 2012-2013 school year.   The rationale for this recommendation is due to the continuous decline in our enrollment coupled with the dramatic loss of state funding commencing with the loss of the hold harmless provision in FY 2011 which had a significant impact upon our state funding this year.  We have lost approximately 20% of our enrollment since 2000 along with our significant jump in wealth on the state funding ranking has significantly further impacted our loss of state aid.  With a projected loss of  additional enrollment through 2019 and our wealth per pupil, our state funding will continue to decline in the years ahead.  The financial conditions factor is the critical and determining reason for the closure recommendation.  Decisions must be made that have the least negative or adverse impact upon the majority of our students and staff. 

I will briefly summarize the impact upon the nine factors in Garrett County Board of Education Policy 940. 

 

A.  Student Enrollment Trends:  Kitzmiller School has suffered a loss of students from 94 in 2000 to 49 students this year. There are no projections that this enrollment loss will reverse although their enrollment has been fairly stable since 2005. 

B.   Age or Condition of Building:  Kitzmiller is the oldest school building used in the county.  Although it is still maintained well, it is just a matter of time before costly infrastructure repairs will be needed.  State funding would be very unlikely to support projects.

C.  Transportation:  Bus routes are already established and there is sufficient capacity on the buses serving our southern schools to accommodate the additional students coming from Kitzmiller.  Bus riding time is no longer than other routes in various areas of the county.  Travel time estimates range from 25 to 60 minutes.  Of our 66 bus routes in the county, 18 are currently 1 hour or more travel time to serve our elementary schools.    Garrett County is a rural county.

D.   Educational Programs:  Although not a factor in the closing decision, the number of students in multi-grade classrooms will become even more critical as well as expensive to staff in the future if Kitzmiller Elementary School is not closed.  Broad Ford Elementary has the same programs and increased opportunities for services and enrichment due to the higher number of teachers, support staff and classes for each grade level.   Fulltime special education services are also available daily.

E.  Racial Composition:  This is not a factor in the closing.

F.  Student Relocations:  There is adequate space for the students at Broad Ford Elementary with several single grade classrooms per grade level.  Naturally, the class sizes will be larger, but they are well within state averages.

G.  Impact on the Community:  The Board of Education intends to transfer the Kitzmiller Elementary School building and property to the county government.  Although there is a legitimate concern for the possible impact of the closure of Kitzmiller Elementary School on the county library, Head Start program, after school programs and the playground and ball fields, these ancillary uses of the school property cannot be a determining factor.  Moreover, these functions could continue at the same location under the county government even if the school is closed.  

H.  Other Factors:   All elementary schools were reviewed by staff prior to the superintendent’s recommendation for closure.  

I.   Financial Conditions:   We have documented the drastic change in our state funding commencing with FY 2011 with the loss of hold harmless funding which will continue into the future.  The loss could be much higher as our wealth ratio increases compared to the state.  Our state funding has decreased due to the loss of over 20% of our enrollment since 2000 and we are projected to lose additional enrollment through 2019.  Our state funding has been further reduced by our increase in wealth ranking on the state aid formula from 17th place in 2000 to 5th place in 2013.  In FY 13, Garrett County was the only district to increase in wealth in Maryland and the largest loss of enrollment in the state. This is for the third consecutive year in which Garrett County has had the largest percentage loss of enrollment in Maryland.  The county has also lost state funding which has impacted its ability to fund our schools without raising taxes.  We have a current deficit that requires the closing of Kitzmiller Elementary School with a savings of $279,000.  If the school is not closed, program and personnel reductions as documented in our scenarios will be necessary and devastating to our system.”

 

Dr. Forrester moved to accept the superintendent’s recommendation of closing Kitzmiller Elementary School effective with the start of the 2012-2013 school year.  The motion was seconded by Mr. Carr.  Discussion ensued and each board member directly addressed the audience with their thoughts and feelings on the recommendation presented.  Mrs. Sebold called for the vote.  The Board of Education accepted the superintendent’s recommendation (3-1) of closing Kitzmiller Elementary School effective with the start of the 2012/2013 school year.  Mr. Durst opposed the motion.

 

Part VII – Adjourn

            Mrs. Sebold thanked everyone for attending the meeting and with there being no further business to present, she adjourned the meeting at 8:47 p.m.

 

_______________________________________ _______________________________________
Mr. Charlotte Sebold Sue F. Waggoner
President Secretary/Treasurer
Approved:   May 14, 2012