The Dexter Board of Education meeting was again well attended this past Monday evening, most present to hear the board’s discussion of the pay to participate in athletics agenda item. Many of those in attendance also participated in the pre-meeting community chat, held one hour earlier with board members Michael Wendorf, Julie Schumaker and Mara Greatorex.
During the superintendent update, Dr. Timmis shared information about the “Profile of a DCS Learner” postcard that recently went out to all Dexter families. The postcard contains a QR code which, when scanned, takes the user to an online Thoughtexchange survey. This survey asks families to answer one question about the future of our kids, then allows them to rate other’s submissions on a 1-5 scale. Data is collected in real-time, so families are able to see how many have responded and what are the most common themes. Currently, resiliency is the top character trait parents want for their child as a Dexter graduate. The survey can be accessed HERE and will close on Friday, June 21.
Dr. Timmis also made brief remarks about the Copeland sale agreement, which should be ready for the next board meeting on June 24. He shared that the board is still looking for a student representative for the 2019-2020 school year, and that the athletics budget will need to be revised as it is approximately $80,000 over budget, most of which is transportation costs.
Many of the community attendees spoke during the public participation segment of the meeting, most with concerns about the proposed pay to participate fee increase recommended by the ad hoc athletics committee. For more detail about the pay to participate discussion, click HERE
One parent posed a question regarding the opt-out policy which has been under discussion for the past few board meetings. She wondered if instead of working on an opt-out policy, is Dexter currently working on an anti-bias curriculum?
Other highlights of the board meeting included approval of the 2019-2020 budget, with board member Barbara Read commenting that this is “the most favorable budget I’ve seen recently.” The state of Michigan requires school districts to have their budget approved by the end of June, even without certain details such as the total number of students and teachers or the exact amount of state funding. The actual school budget will be finalized in the fall, board president Michael Wendorf stated, and with the “substantial experience and continuity on the board,” feels comfortable with their estimates.
Mr. Brand from Granger Construction was present to recommend a package of bids for further bond construction, which will spend down the remaining funds from Series 1 of the bond. Board member Dick Lundy stated that all recommendations from Granger Construction were reviewed and are recommended by the facilities committee, and the board approved the bid package in its entirety.
Dr. Timmis presented two Memos of Understanding (MOUs) and the Easement Agreement between the City of Dexter and Dexter Community Schools regarding the B2B Trail. These documents detail the responsibilities of each party in regard to the trail placement and maintenance. The board requested new language be added to the easement stating that “failure to respond in a timely manner will be deemed to be acceptance by the city.” Wendorf shared that the district’s attorneys have reviewed and approved these documents, praising all involved for their hard work.
Board member Barbara Read proposed a change to Board of Education bylaw 0160, specifically item 0166, to allow an item to be added to a meeting agenda if submitted in writing by at least 2 board members. Read feels that the current policy does not allow board members to easily add items to the meeting agenda, as they are subject to the discretion of the board president. Dr. Timmis, in a memo to the board, feels the policy as it is written is adequate for a board member to add items, and that no changes are required.
A community member, during the second public comment portion, agreed that the bylaw should be changed saying that unless an item appears on the agenda, it is not included in the public record of the meeting.
Before the board adjourned to the closed portion of the meeting, Schumaker related the topics of conversation at the community chat held before the meeting. Community members expressed a strong desire to have more junior and senior level classes at the high school that are not IB/AP. A parent shared that their 9th grader was encouraged by their counselor to take IB/AP classes as a 10th grader, resulting in the student dropping orchestra, about which she was very upset. There was a question about online classes and if grades from these classes are calculated in a student’s GPA. And it was suggested that the high school offer a monthly coffee hour for parents similar to the one held at Mill Creek.
Graduation was also discussed, one parent asking if the cost was truly $5,000 as they had heard. Dr. Timmis responded that the amount was accurate, that cost including the rental of the stage and all the set up for the event. Some attendees felt that the commencement should be moved off site, but most agreed it should remain on the DCS campus.