School Board Discusses Issues
The Emery School Board met in their regularly scheduled monthly meeting at Canyon View Junior High on Jan. 8 at 7 p.m. Board members in attendance were Royd Hatt, Sam Singleton, Rue Ware, Marie Johnson and Board President Laurel Johansen. Superintendent Kirk Sitterud and Business Manager Ross Huntington were also on hand.
The first item of business was the swearing in of the recently elected board members. Huntington conducted the swearing in and Johnson and Hatt took the oath of office.
Election of the board president and vice president was the next agenda item. It was moved and approved that Laurel Johansen remain as president. It was also moved and approved for Rue Ware to serve as the vice president.
Consent items, warrants and minutes were addressed next. There were no corrections or additions, so the motion was made to accept and it also approved.
Ralph Ison, supervisor of transportation for the district, was present to answer any questions concerning the purchase of two new buses. Ison reported that the costs had risen substantially due to the new Environmental Protection Agency rules concerning emissions. These rules require a different engine in the buses to meet emissions requirements. There is only one engine that meets the regulations and these buses have that engine. Johnson questioned Ison about an air dryer. Ison responded by explaining that it is a compressed air system to dry the brakes.
Hatt then asked Ison why the 72 passenger bus was more expensive than the larger one. Ison explained the 72 passenger bus was wheelchair lift equipped as a preparatory measure for the future needs of the district in transporting school children with disabilities.
The matter of purchasing the two new buses was voted on and passed.
Hatt moved to alter the agenda to next bring item seven to the table for discussion. This was an early retirement remodeling plan. Huntington projected five different scenarios for the early retirement plan. These scenarios compared the expense to the district of hiring a new teacher and allowing the veteran teacher to retire under the current plan. He ran several different base salary figures and included the estimated health care cost increases. There was only one scenario in which the district saved money.
Huntington said most of the teachers presently employed by the district are on the top step of the salary scale, so these plans project a five year time frame with estimated inflation rates and health care costs. The only way the district can save money when an employee opts for early retirement is to reduce the health care insurance. Discussion followed to investigate using the money to increase the number of steps now in place for the employees pay scale as in incentive for employees to stay working and not utilize the early retirement plan.
Huntington stated that the early retirement plan in effect now is very generous. The district is very different from others in the state pertaining to qualifications for the plan. With the cuts in funding coming from the legislature, new, more feasible policies need to be looked at. Johansen asked for opinions of what the board felt the next step should be. After some discussion, the board decided that Huntington should meet with the three employees groups, administration, certified and classified, and make some determinations about policy changes which would be beneficial and agreeable to all concerned.
Hatt asked when the deadline is for application for early retirement. Sitterud responded that the present date is March 1. Hatt moved to extend the deadline to April 1 to allow the time necessary for investigation and explanation into the new policies. Huntington assured the board he would meet with all three groups concerned and come to the next board meeting with the proposals.
The board then adjourned to executive session for a hearing.
Upon completion of the hearing, the board reconvened and moved to the next agenda item. This was to discuss architect selection for the warehouse project. Ware stated he had been to Richfield with Huntington to tour the new warehouse facilities there and they learned a lot about the specifics to look for in the project. Huntington reported he had researched the background and qualifications of two architectural firms, he had talked to both and had requested preliminary bids and cost sheets. After consideration of both firms, he was recommending Kevin Madsen and Associates in Provo. The board discussed the recommendation and voted to accept it.
Agenda item six was the consideration of funds for the band classes. Huntington explained the enrollment in the band classes which Johnson had requested. There are approximately 460 students participating. Three schools have requested funds to purchase new practice instruments. Huntington reported it has been three years since any funds were spent for band needs. Sitterud stated enrollment will increase in the band program and suggested that an annual budget be instituted for the band classes. This budget would be in place for the band teachers to designate the best use of the funds.
Johnson added she had investigated other districts and how they handle band funding. Singleton pointed out that there are 165 sixth grade band students. Ware inquired about the amount of funds available to be set aside for this purpose. Huntington responded with the amount available for the next school year and urged the board to make a goal of the same amount for three years.
Item number eight on the agenda was the superintendent's report. Sitterud stated that a three hour educational assistant for Book Cliff Elementary had been recommended from the application process and interviews. The recommendation was to approve Sharon Johnson for that position.
Sitterud then discussed the governors requests for education budget. If the special session passes the current proposals, the district will start out in the red for the upcoming year.
Next to be discussed was the chaperone policy instituted at last month's meeting. Sitterud stated that the policy for the number of chaperones for in county field trips has been questioned. He stated that some clarification needs to be made for inside the district field trips. The board decided to look at the policy and do the adjustments at the next meeting.
Sitterud explained to the board a letter he had received about the pole vault event at the track meets. It is a very expensive sport and there are no students trying to get a scholarship in the event. This letter is a survey to determine if the pole vault would be kept as as event. The board discussed the issue and decided not to have the pole vault any longer.
Sitterud next reported the parent/teacher conference schedules and school would not be held on Friday.
The final issue raised by Sitterud was the science lab at San Rafael Junior High. Singleton stated he had been to the school and looked over the situation and strongly recommended going ahead with the project. The board approved the science lab project. The final agenda item was other business. Singleton reported that Diane Butler, Media Specialist at SRJH has been investigating the U.S.S. Indianapolis incidient during World War II. Butler has located a survivor who lives in Salt Lake City and has invited him to come to the school to do presentations and tell the students his story. The program is scheduled for Feb. 14. Another informational item by J.J. Grant was that Emery High is looking at the possibility of dropping to a 2-A ranking because of declining enrollment. The next meeting for the school board is Feb. 5 at Cottonwood Elementary in Orangeville at 7 p.m.