Board of Education

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

Minutes April 18, 2013




Oakland, Maryland 21550


Thursday, April 18, 2013


Part I - Call to Order


Mrs. Cynthia Downton, President, called the business meeting of the Board of Education to order at 7:10 p.m.  Also in attendance were Dr. Donald Forrester, Vice President; Mr. Thomas Carr, Mr. Rodney Reckart, and Dr. Janet Wilson, Superintendent of Schools.  Miriam Sincell, Board Attorney and Commissioner Robert Gatto, Ex-Officio member, were also present.  The meeting was held at the Northern High School cafeteria.  Mrs. Sebold, associate member, was not present.


Part II – Opening Ceremonies


Mrs. Downton led a moment of silence after which Dr. Forrester led the assembly in the Pledge of Allegiance. 


Part III – Approval of Agenda


On a motion by Mr. Carr, seconded by Dr. Forrester and passed unanimously, the Board approved the agenda as amended.  Hearing of Constituents was added after approval of agenda.  Status of the School System, an unfinished business item, was added after Hearing of Constituents.


Part IV – Hearing of Constituents


There were no constituents signed up to speak.


Part V – Unfinished Business


Mr. McKenzie informed the Board that the draft budget presented at the April meeting was constructed with anticipation of receiving a loss limitation allocation which would have reduced this year’s loss of state aid of $1,258,918 by 50% to $629,459.  As a result of changes during the recent legislative session, the school system’s state aid losses are approximately $944,189.  Overall, the system will receive about $315,000 more than anticipated.  Mr. McKenzie added that Race to the Top funds which were initially built into the FY14 budget will be spent prior to the end of FY13 due to the grant ending date. 


Mr. McKenzie stated that FY15 is going to be very difficult.  The anticipated shortfall for FY15 is going to be approximately $1,700,000, if nothing else changes.  A carryover of $700,000 is being used to assist with the FY14 budget which will not be available in FY15.  He added that State aid will be reduced by nearly $1,000,000. 


Mr. McKenzie stated that the FY14 budget is $51,914,255.  He added that there is a comfort level for what has been proposed for FY14 with the additional $315,000 and that what has been provided for in the budget is needed by the school system.  Mr. McKenzie informed the Board that negotiations continue and all the items that have been negotiated to this point are covered in the budget. 


Upon a motion by Mr. Carr, seconded by Dr. Forrester, the Board of Education unanimously approved the FY14 budget.


Mrs. Downton thanked Mr. McKenzie, the central office staff, and the school staffs for their work on the budget.


Part VI – Status of the School System


Dr. Forrester expressed that the budget after FY14 does not look favorable, however, there is planning that needs to take place in order to adopt the common core, staff development that must be provided, materials which need to be purchased in order to make the important things happen and keep pace with the expectations federal and state government. He explained that the Board of Education asked the president of the Board of Education to request a meeting with the county commissioners to discuss the future of Garrett County schools due to the hard times ahead.  Mrs. Downton wrote the letter to the County Commissioners requesting a meeting on April 24, 2013 and a response was received from the County Commissioners stating that the meeting date of April 24, 2013 was untimely and premature.  Dr. Forrester expressed his confusion of the response and stated he cannot understand how looking at the future financial resources of the school district at any time can be untimely and premature.  Even though, as stated in the letter, a five-year budget has been created looking at impending years and there are budget estimates.  And, if this is so, he added, is the FY15 budget available for the Board to study so the Board will have an idea of what the local resources will be and, if this is not so, then, he asked, why is the request untimely and premature.  Dr. Forrester addressed Mr. Gatto and asked is it unrealistic for the Board to ask to have numbers for FY15 because we are staring at a $1.7 million dollar deficit.  Mr. Gatto addressed the Board and stated that the County Commissioners are always looking ahead but FY15 budget does not exist.  He stated that the staff is always looking ahead using trends and as far as the April 24, 2013 meeting, it was just too soon for everybody. He added that the County Commissioners are wholeheartedly looking to solve this together with the Board of Education.  He stated that the County Commissioners can generate revenue by raising taxes but the County Commissioners have stood firm not to do that.  He added that this stance may need to change.  Commissioner Gatto stated that the two Boards can work together.  Regardless of other staff that may have gotten off track, the two boards can work together because it is on everyone’s best behalf.  Dr. Forrester stated it is important to have this open dialog to make the County Commissioners aware of the projections the Board of Education have for future budgets.  The Board of Education wants to ask for the Commissioners support and understanding of their position.  Dr. Forrester also expressed the need for the two Boards to meet directly without the need for an intermediary.   Commissioner Gatto stated that he and Mrs. Downton will get together and create a baseline of what needs to be discussed.  He stated that it is important to keep a moving dialogue to focus on the future, beyond FY14, for both Boards.  Mr. Reckart thanked the County Commissioners for their support.  Mrs. Downton also thanked the County Commissioners.


Dr. Forrester made a comment that the Board of Education has gone on record stating the appreciation for the level of support the County Commissioners have given beyond the Maintenance of Effort.


Dr. Wilson emphasized the importance of looking at a school closing as having an effect on the entire school system and not the individual school and community.  She indicated that the school system is not a separate entity and is intimately entwined with the ability to grow the economy and jobs in Garrett County.  Potential employers and employees with children will look closely at the system of education to determine if Garrett County is a viable place in which to live.  She also added that continued and additional cuts to the operating budget will further erode the ability to provide more than the minimum of requirements toward graduation.  Students in the school system will not be able to compete.


Part VIII – Recess


Upon a motion by Mr. Carr, seconded by Dr. Forrester, the Board of Education recessed the business meeting at 7:42 p.m. to go back into executive session.


Part IX – Re-Opening of Business Meeting


The Board of Education reopened the business meeting at 8:56 p.m.


Part X - Adjournment


Upon a motion by Mr. Carr, the Board adjourned the meeting at 8:57 p.m.



_______________________________________ _______________________________________
Mrs. Cynthia Downton Dr. Janet S. Wilson
President Secretary/Treasurer
Approved:   May 14, 2013