December 11, 2013ALTON — The future of Project Search was discussed during the Prospect Mountain School Board meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The board had decided to cut the program from the budget, and Mark Bingham, the advisor for the club, spoke about the importance of the club. He talked about efforts of students in the past and that if the school left the program they wouldn't be able to get back into it.
The program allows students to interact with students from other schools and is held at the University of New Hampshire every year. Bingham said that program has served nearly 200 students since 2008, and it is so popular that alternates are used to fill in when students can't attend events.
Several students spoke up about the program and the importance that it serves. Melony Rice, the student representative to the board, said the discussion that occurs in the program is very valuable.
Later in the meeting, Principal Jay Fitzpatrick said it was a tough program to cut.
Member Steve Miller suggested cutting the purchase of new furniture and some computers and members felt the program should be supported.
Members Keith Couch and Terri Noyes felt the program should be supported, with a total cost of $11,400. The board agreed that alternatives for transportation should be looked at in the future.
Rice talked about the recent hypnotist show at PMHS and the open mic night hosted by the senior and freshman class. She also talked about the environmental club and its efforts to recycle bottles, 17 students being inducted into the National Honor Society and the alumni basketball game that was recently held.
Superintendent Bill Cullison read a thank you letter from the director of the Greater Lakes Child Advocacy Center, thanking students for volunteering during a weekend prior to Thanksgiving.
He noted that 17 students have been accepted into colleges and have been posted on the bulletin board in the school.
Noyes spoke about the students and parents that worked on the school's athletic fields and felt they should be recognized for their efforts.
Fitzpatrick talked about the professional development days where the staff has been working on increasing the use of technology, increasing lines of communication with parents and curriculum improvement.
The board reviewed an invoice for the water separation system and approved paying the invoice once the project is completed.
The board reviewed increases in the health insurance, which included an increase in the workmen's compensation insurance and in increase in property liability for the building. Both increases totaled $10,280.
Miller questioned the tuition increase of 15 percent for the vocational center and Fitzpatrick agreed the increase was steep. With the funding of Project Search and health insurance increases, the bottom line 2015 budget is $7,370,107.
The board reviewed the warrant articles and they will be sent to the attorney to review them. There was some discussion about the maintenance fund and how to address a possible settlement from the failure of the fire suppression system. The board isn't sure how this could be included in the article, however, it was announced that the case is scheduled to go to mediation and then would go court and could be some time before a settlement is reached.
The board discussed the improvement of instruction fund and Noyes questioned the fund in Barnstead. One year the fund was included in a warrant article and in the budget. Chair Eunice Landry explained this was one time error and it is only funded through a warrant article this year.
Member Carlos Martinez reported that a possible conflict of interest issue was cleared, as there were no direct sales made to the school district with the issue involved.
The board met with buildings and grounds director Andy Callahan and talked about the roof repairs. He talked about the lack of ventilation of the roof, which is resulting in damage to the roof. He talked about replacing the current roof or installing a metal roof.
He said that fixing the one section of 12,500 square feet would cost $200,000 to $250,000. The major cost is ripping out the old material.
Miller suggested that the school could shingle the roof and repair it at a cost of $600,000, but it would have to be done five times in the next 100 years.
The cost of a new metal roof would be an estimated $1 million. There was a question on repairing the roof without the use of bond and just using a bank for a loan and how the warrant article would be written. A bond article requires a two-thirds vote, but the board wasn't sure what a vote using a bank would require. Cullison was asked to look into the issue.
The board approved stipends and coaching positions for the winter months.
Miller was appointed to the finance committee, as member Krista Argiropolis recently stepped down from the committee.
Miller questioned the actions of member Diane Beijer at a recent finance committee meeting. He was at the committee as a private citizen, as Argiropolis hadn't resigned at the time. He claimed that Beijer used explicit language and requested that he leave the meeting. He asked that Beijer issue an apology.
Miller questioned the policy of Landry appointing a finance committee representative and asked that this process be discussed a future board meeting.
During public input, Janice Rice voiced her concern about issues with the alternative curriculum policy. Argiropolis said she had sent Rice an updated policy and felt it answered many of her questions. Rice said she had many questions about the classes offered online and students taking classes that required prerequisites. She felt the board had ignored her request and felt like the board was waiting for her to go away.
The next scheduled meeting of Prospect Mountain School Board is on Tuesday, Jan. 7, at 6:30 p.m. at the Prospect Mountain High School library.
Tim Croes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126