Daryl Kipke, Dexter Board of Education Vice President, presided over a somewhat reduced board meeting on Monday in the absence of President Michael Wendorf and Treasurer Dick Lundy. Only a handful of community members attended the meeting scheduled to cover topics including pay-to-participate and the sale of the Copeland building.
Superintendent Chris Timmis started off the meeting with an update on the interviewing and hiring of several new staff members. The district is in need of a social worker, two speech pathologists, two special education teachers, a high school social studies teacher and a Spanish teacher who will move between the elementary and middle schools. The final round of interviews was completed on Monday and he hopes to have the hiring process completed by the end of this week.
Dr. Timmis informed board members that the district could use community assistance in the ongoing Brian Tungl legal situation. Tungl has only paid 2% of his court-ordered restitution, and the district is concerned as Tungl’s probation expires in nine months. The community can help by writing letters to the court on behalf of the district. SEE STORY
On a more positive note, Dr. Timmis recognized that board member and current treasurer Dick Lundy has consecutively served 40 years on the Dexter Board of Education. Due to Lundy’s absence, Dr. Timmis stated that more would be shared at the July 22 board meeting, but did say that Lundy’s long service has included many big decisions for which the district is very appreciative.
A new student representative, incoming junior Annalisa Shehab, was welcomed by the board and sworn in by Dr. Timmis. Shehab plays field hockey and is a pole-vaulter with the high school track team, is secretary of the student council and a member of the social justice club. Vice President Kipke said of the student representative role, “the board takes student input very seriously. It’s not just words – we’re really listening.”
With no public comments and the unanimous approval of four new hires and the May budget report, the board turned their attention to the many action items on the agenda. The board unanimously ratified the agreements between the district and both the Dexter Education Association (teachers union) and the Dexter Administrators Association (administrators union), effective through June 30, 2022. Julie Schumaker thanked the DEA for their cooperation, and Dr. Timmis shared that hundreds of hours had been put into the preparation of these agreements.
Next, changes to Board Bylaw 0160 came under discussion, in particular the proposed addition to Bylaw 0166: “Additionally, items may be placed on the agenda by written request of any two (2) members of the Board. If the request is made six business days or more before the next meeting, it will go on the agenda for that meeting. Otherwise, it will go on the following meeting’s agenda; but in any event, no later than 45 days from the date of the request.”
Currently the bylaws state that “individual Board members may include items on the agenda upon the concurrence of the Board President.” Board member Barbara Read requested inclusion of the new language, saying that now items can get overlooked or passed over by the board president. “I have felt frustrated,” Read stated, adding that she doesn’t believe the board president’s responsibilities include deciding what can and cannot be discussed at meetings.
Several board members and Dr. Timmis disagreed with Read, saying that individual board members do not have individual authority and the board president is an elected position to represent the board as a whole. Most board members feel the current policy is adequate for a member to get an item added to the meeting agenda. Julie Schumaker made two motions, the first to approve changes to Board Bylaw 0160, minus the proposed language for Bylaw 0166, which was unanimously approved. The second motion was to include the new language in Bylaw 0166, and was defeated in a 4-1 vote.
After unanimously approving the next action item, a retroactive agreement between DCS and the South and West Washtenaw Consortium, Barbara Read made an unscheduled motion that the district publish its checkbook register online. “Really, it’s an ordinary thing to do, nothing strange,” Read stated, citing that the Ann Arbor, Saline and Tecumseh school districts currently do so. Discussion ensued about the appropriateness of the motion’s timing, as it was not listed as an action item but rather as a discussion item further down on the agenda. After much debate, the motion was considered out of order and the meeting continued according to the published agenda.
The last action item was to amend the 2018-2019 budget by $187,000 to cover legal services, business services and athletics. The district requires an additional $56,000 to cover legal services rendered for items such as the Copeland sale agreement, the B2B trail easement agreement and Title IX. $95,000 is requested for athletics, mostly to cover transportation costs, and an additional $36,000 is needed to supplement business services. The board unanimously approved the budget amendment.
The first discussion item of the evening dealt with the ongoing pay-to-participate topic. The board was provided with a FAQ sheet answering many of the questions asked at the June 10th board meeting. Subsequent discussion focused on the validity of the ad hoc athletic committee’s recommendation for pay-to-participate, if the recommendation should go back to the finance committee or the ad hoc committee for further review and concerns about implementation if a decision is delayed.
Board member Mara Greatorex commented that the ad hoc committee’s original task was to look at the process for a sport to change status. Barbara Read agreed, stating that the board did not ask the ad hoc committee to look at pay-to-participate, so the recommendation of a new fee structure is invalid.
Greatorex also stated that the board is concerned about the fees and that we don’t price families out of sports. Julie Schumaker replied to a comment that the average family income in Dexter is $70,000 by citing an MLive article which states Dexter’s median income for families with children under 18 is $135,469. Barbara Read raised the question of what the district pays per sport.
Daryl Kipke commented that, “our goal is the make the best decision we can for the school and our stakeholders. The staff has done their job researching the issues and the board needs to make the decision.” Dr. Timmis stated that in order for a new fee structure to be implemented in the 2019-2020 school year, the board will need to make their decision by early August.
Kipke ended the conversation with the decision that the three board members sitting on the ad hoc athletic committee (Wendorf, Greatorex & Darr) will meet to finalize their recommendation for the finance committee. The finance committee will then meet and make their final recommendation to the board at the July 22nd meeting. In response, claiming the topic to be invalid, Barbara Read stated, “I don’t cede my authority as an individual board member to a committee without a specific task set by the school board.”
Other discussion items included the sales agreement for Copeland, which all board members supported. CFO Sharon Raschke commented that the district has worked things out with the Dexter Drama and is currently working with the Dexter Community Players. The district is also working out a mutually acceptable agreement regarding the senior center.
A request from the Mill Creek Field Hockey team for a change in status from self-funded to district-supported was considered, the first team to utilize the new status change procedure. No decision was made at this time.
Julie Schumaker spoke to recognize Dick Lundy’s many contributions to the Board of Education and the district. She proposed that the new twin turf fields at the high school be named, “The Lundy Athletic Complex,” in Lundy’s honor. Board members concurred, with the comments, “entirely appropriate,” “a tremendous school board member with a wealth of knowledge,” and “really a great idea, very fitting.” A vote for this proposal will take place at the next board meeting on July 22.
Further discussion took place regarding the online publication of the district’s check register, ending in a recommendation to refer the matter to the finance committee. Dexter CFO Sharon Raschke commented that the way finances are currently presented was a past Board of Education recommendation that the school has followed since that time.
Updating the board on the bond construction, Dr. Timmis shared that a walkthrough of the Ceriani Alternative Education building was scheduled for Tuesday, June 25th, and that locker room renovations are underway.
During the second public participation portion, a member of the ad hoc athletic committee commented that she is still waiting to see a Title IX report. She also stated that the ad hoc committee was tasked with two items – the procedure to change a sport’s status and a coach evaluation process to include in the coach’s handbook. She questioned when pay-to-participate became a part of the committee’s work, and recommended that the entire ad hoc athletic committee be invited to the upcoming pay-to-participate meeting, not just the board members.
With no further comments from the public or the board, the meeting was adjourned to closed session.