August 15, 2012ALTON — The Alton School Board met on Monday, Aug. 13, and approved a request by Cub Scout Pack 53 to come into the school cafeteria during the school year to talk to students.
Keith Dube, a den leader for Cub Scout Pack 53, said that the numbers have dropped and it was requested that some of the den leaders come in and talk to first and second grade students, encouraging them to join up.
Dube said this has been done in the past, but it wasn't done last year.
Superintendent William Lander and Principal Sydney Leggett said that allowing the Cub Scout pack into the school would force the school to allow other community groups into the school. Lander also said that the presentation might excite the students to point where they wouldn't be able to settle down in class.
Dube said that the group would be coming in for one day only and would also be making an appearance during the open house. Dube talked about the community service projects that the scouts work on and what they provide for the community.
Member Terri Noyes felt that this kind of request should go through Lander and not come before the school board in the future. Noyes pointed out that the other groups like the Alton Youth League may want to come into the school for the same reason.
A motion was made by member Steve Miller to approve the request, it was amended to limit only Boy and Girl Scout groups and it was approved unanimously.
Noyes said she was willing to work with Lander on creating a policy regarding groups coming into the school.
The board discussed the minutes from the July 23 meeting. Miller asked that the minutes include his specific reason for opposing accepting the bid of Fred Fuller Oil. Miller explained that Fuller has been involved in multiple sexual harassment cases.
Miller wanted his specific reason for opposing the bid in the minutes, but Noyes said that the minutes aren't "verbatim" minutes.
The board rejected Miller's motion by a vote of 3-1, with only Miller voting in support of the change.
During public input, Barbara Howard pointed to the work the Cub Scouts do in the community and she questioned Lander's reasoning for not allowing a presentation because the students wouldn't be able to settle down.
John Shaffer, the Food Service Director, came before the board with a proposal to raise the student lunches to $2.25 and the adult lunches to $3.50. Shaffer explained that the food service department had no reserve money left in their account, after having spent $11,000 that was in the reserve account last year.
Shaffer said the cost of food is also rising. Miller asked if the department is close to breaking even, and Shaffer said that it isn't.
Lander said a recommendation for a budgetary item will be coming forward. He also pointed out that the snacks that turned a profit for the department are no longer sold.
Lander talked about the prices of other school lunches, which included Laconia at $2.50, Farmington at $2.20, Gilford at $1.75, Gilmanton at $1.85 and Barnstead at $2.25.
Chairman Jeff St. Cyr asked what Shaffer would do if the board rejects the increase, and Shaffer said he would have to get creative.
Kathy O'Blenes, the business administrator, said the school has been able to raise some money by hosting in-school catered events.
Member Sandy Wyatt said she wouldn't want to see students not have a hot lunch.
Miller asked how short the department was from breaking even and was told the department is about $3,200 behind. That number doesn't include the $11,000 that was spent out of the reserve fund.
Wyatt asked Shaffer if he has looked at contacting Hannaford's about getting produce.
The board didn't approve the rise in lunch prices and Lander said he will have to go back and find out where the school can find extra money.
The board accepted a donation of $5,500 from the Alton PTSA for improvements to the playground and agreed to send a thank you note to organization.
Leggett said new swings should be going in soon, but said they probably won't be finished before the start of school.
The board discussed a pair of bids it received for roof repairs.
Lander said the school only received two bids and after talking to Chip Krause, he recommended that the school not accept either bid, with one being from Alton and another from Maine.
Lander recommended putting the project back out to bid next spring to get an increased number of bids.
Miller suggested that the school advertise the bid on a broader scope when they put the project out to bid next spring. He suggested sending out information to more companies and advertising in the bigger newspapers, not just the local papers.
O'Blenes said the cost to send out the specifications could be quite costly, but Miller suggested e-mailing the specifications or sending a shorter version of the specifications.
The board approved to not accept either of the two bids and to put the project out to bid in the spring.
Miller asked the board to add language to handbook for substitute teachers regarding dress code. The board approved adding the same language from the staff handbook into the substitute handbook. He also suggested that substitute teachers should wear a badge to identify them, and Leggett said that it was a good idea.
The board approved the first reading on a school policy for bidding requirements regarding credit checks.
The board also approved a state required policy to require drug and alcohol testing for school bus drivers and commercial vehicle drivers.
Miller questioned the return to duty testing and said that anyone failing a drug test getting a DUI shouldn't be allowed to return to work as a bus driver.
Lander said he would review the policy and bring it back for a second reading.
The board approved a policy on availability and distribution of healthy foods and approved an employee dress code that is consistent with what is written in the staff handbook.
The board approved three resignations and approved three new hires.
The board discussed athletic personnel in a non-public session.
Lander talked about the enrollment projections provided by New England School Development Council. He suggested that the NESDEC should do a new enrollment projection in October when enrollment of the students at
Alton Central School has settled.
Miller questioned the number of home-school students in Alton, 49, and wondered if the number was accurate and was figured into the NESDEC projections. Lander said he would talk to NESDEC about that issue.
The board briefly discussed a house bill regarding non-profit companies to provide scholarships, but there was some confusion about the exact language of the bill.
St. Cyr read a letter from Paula Holden thanking Pam Matthews for efforts over the years for working with her children.
The board also received a letter from the Alton Board of Selectmen indicating they wouldn't be involved in the school building survey or the buildings and grounds committee.
St. Cyr wondered why the selectmen didn't want to be involved. Miller suggested that Lander talk to the selectmen and find out why they were reluctant to be involved.
Miller talked about a recent article that said a $2.75 million tax lien has been issued to Fred Fuller, the owner of Fred Fuller Oil. Miller voiced his concern about the school accepting an oil bid from the company and what could happen if the company folded.
St. Cyr said the selectmen had contacted the second lowest bidder and had the same concern. Miller suggested that it was worth making a phone call to the second lowest bidder.
O'Blenes said the town and school came together on the oil bid and may need to stay together to get the price of $2.995 a gallon.
Lander said he is continuing to meet monthly with the other superintendents and is looking forward to staff returning.
Miller asked about the School in Need of Improvement Plan that is being submitted to the state and asked to see the plan before it goes to the state and was told it would come before the board.
Leggett thanked Pam Forbes for taking over the summer school program. She pointed out that new student orientation is on Aug. 23 and back to school night is on Aug. 27 from 6 to 7 p.m. and the first day of school is on Aug. 28.
Howard pointed out that $3.50 for an adult lunch is very low. She also questioned who pays for the drug and alcohol testing and was told that the bus company pays for the testing. She also asked about the NESDEC projection and if it included students in private school, which she couldn't find.
Tracy Sexton came forward and thanked the school for the summer program. She said that her daughter had benefited greatly from the program and had improved her reading and thanked everyone for their efforts.
Sexton also asked about the dress code in regards to spaghetti straps during hot weather. Leggett said she would look into the issue.
The next scheduled meeting of the Alton School Board is Monday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m. at the Alton Central School music room.
Tim Croes can be reached at email@example.com or 569-3126