Dec 17, 2015

Budget Committee Minutes SB Dec 17, 2015

Budget Committee: Steve Kelley, Diane Cummings, Dann, Ron Bolt, Evan Nelson, Rudy Gelsi, Muffy Copenhaver, Mike Stevens, Carolyn Murro, and George Kirk
School Board: Ann Wiggett (Chair), Leslie Robbins, and Greg Cook
SAU 84: David Bickford (Superintendent), Joanne Melanson (HS/MS Principal), Alan Smith (Vocational Director), Rick Bidgood (Elementary School Principal), Kelly Noland (Director of Student Services), Adam Reitsma (Director of Technology), Tom Mangels (Business Administrator)
Media: Kathi Doriski, LATV
School Presentation:
Handouts: The BC was presented with the following items:

  • General definitions
  • Changes to the budget presented on 12/9/15
  • Basic information on Food Services
  • Basic information on Grants

Food Services: 

Superintendent Bickford indicated that a resignation presented an opportunity and was the driving force behind a examination of this function. With a goal of getting overall food service costs down, an RFP was issued and a contract awarded to Fitz Vogt & Associates. Currently there are six SAU employees and two Fitz Vogt employees, including the Director. Although not yet finalized, it is expected that Fitz Vogt will hire the remaining SAU employees in 2016-17.The net cost to the District is expected to be no more that the currently budgeted $30K. David stated that the measure of success is participation rates, and those numbers do appear to be heading in the right direction.
Ron wondered if there had been any consideration to outsourcing other services, such as custodial. David indicated that none were under consideration at this time. He characterized the custodial staff as loyal and committed; they are being provided job security and the district has workforce stability and continuity.
Tom Mangels pointed out that Adequacy Aid has been reduced by $223K or 6.06%, and that we won’t know the figures for the next fiscal year until April. More reductions could be coming then.
Diane expressed a concern about excessive end-of-fiscal-year surpluses. She knows that the there is a tendency to project conservatively on revenues, but this contributes to the surplus. She hopes the district can bring estimates and reality into closer alignment.
Debt Services:
Tom continued on by pointing out a $13K reduction in this function.
SAU #84 Budget:
Superintendent Bickford highlighted: some adjustments were necessary in anticipation of a new superintendent next year; legal expenses have been reduced by $5K; and, School Board insurance was increased by $10,500 due to previous underfunding. This discussion spurred a number of questions from BC members, such as:

  • The roles and responsibilities of the “Student Attendance Services”, aka Truancy and Safety Officer.
  • The number and disposition of Guidance Officers.
  • The respective roles of the above vis-à-vis behavior coaches and school counsellors.
  • The purpose of the Student Assistance Program, which deals with substance abuse along with occupational, physical, and psychological therapy.

Building Operations and Maintenance:
Assistant Superintendent Alan Smith detailed several areas of concern related to deferred maintenance. He indicated that the Facilities Committee identified about $800K in needed repairs to building and ground, but only a fraction of that (about $105K) are addressed in the proposed budget. Al mentioned the situation with the aging elementary school and uncertainly about funding for a new building v. maintaining the old one. Other areas discussed:

  • The circumstances when overtime is authorized for custodial employees.
  • The waste disposal provider, which is bid out and currently done by Waste Management Inc. Steve wanted to make sure that Whitings, who does the recycling for the school, was also considered for waste disposal.
  • The proposed repairs: Academy hot water; High School public address system; locker rooms; front steps, asbestos mitigation; and the parking lots.
  • The need to improve some safety situations: entry glass; entry cameras; interior blue warning lights; playground at the elementary school.
  • The heating fuel proposal does not reflex the recent downturn in oil prices because this is the 2016-17 budget and these prices tend to be volatile. This year the district is only paying $1.69/gallon compared to $3.09 last year.
  • Some new equipment is needed, specifically a wax floor stripper and scrubber, which will save a lot of man hours. 


At the conclusion of the presentations, some BC members indicated that they were not ready to comment on the budget. Also, the high school/middle school principal has not presented the narrative portion of her presentation, and warrant articles have not been presented. There are many general topics to discuss and specific questions left to address. Accordingly, another meeting was scheduled.
Next Meetings: 28 December, 5 PM, LHS Music Room
Ron Bolt, Secretary