Dr. Ken Moore, Director of Bands at Dexter Schools, was the first guest to address the Board of Education at last Monday’s meeting, speaking on behalf of the DHS Marching Band. Moore thanked the Board and Superintendent Chris Timmis for the installation of the marching band observation tower located at the east twin turf field.
“This has made such a difference to the level of instruction we can provide to our marching band,” Moore said. He continued by sharing how fortunate the music program is to have the support of the Board and District in terms of facilities, uniforms, equipment and budget. “Your support helps us give the best instruction we can.”
Athletics Restructuring Proposal
Athletics Director Mike Bavineau followed Dr. Moore with a presentation of the Ad Hoc Athletics Committee’s recommended proposal for restructuring the DCS Athletics program. Over the past two years, this 20-member committee has worked diligently to determine the best way to move forward with the Athletics program. Bavineau’s presentation introduced a set of core values for the Athletics Department created by Dexter coaches at their retreat this past summer. These core values are supported by the acronym, RISINGTIDE, which list the characteristics expected from Dexter’s athletes: (We will show) Resiliency, Integrity, Selflessness, Interdependence, No Quit, Gratitude, (We will be) Tough, Invested, Driven and Enthusiastic.
Bavineau detailed the reasons behind the proposed restructuring, specifically the inequity of the current tiered pay-to-participate fee structure, school-funded vs. self-funded sports and the need for increased coaching salaries. The proposal recommends a new pay-to-participate fee structure of $250 per sport for high school athletics and $150 per sport for middle school athletics, with a family cap of $1,000. The committee also recommends moving all self-funded teams (with the exception of hockey, equestrian and dance) to school-supported. Coaching salaries will also be adjusted under the restructuring, bringing them in line with other districts.
The District held a public forum to present the committee’s recommendations to the community on Monday, Dec. 9 at 6:30 p.m. in the Mill Creek Middle School cafeteria. This was an opportunity for families and community members to provide feedback on the proposal before its formal presentation to the Board at their January 2020 meeting.
The District continues its work on the DCS Profile of a Learner, looking at key competencies and skills needed by Dexter graduates. Using Dexter’s current vision statement of, “Champion Learning: Develop, Educate and Inspire!,” Dr. Timmis shared they are creating corresponding transfer goals with social/emotional learning targets for these required competencies. Mollie Sharrar, Director of Instruction, stated the essential question to be answered by these goals and targets is, “what should students be able to do before they leave their grade level?”
Timmis also updated the Board about the Washtenaw County Youth Mental Health Campaign, entitled #wishyouknew. Designed to “address community concerns about youth mental health and reducing stigma,” this project has been in the works for the past year. The purpose is to reflect what youth wish adults knew about their mental health and how those adults can provide support and open communication.
In other District news, the wrestling room at Creekside Intermediate is fully functional; thanks to bond money, they were able to fix sewer and HVAC problems in the space, purchase new mats and paint the walls. This new room provides more space to work with Dexter’s teams, which is turn frees up space for other groups and activities.
Lastly, Timmis shared that the robotics program is flourishing at DCS with eight teams: one at DHS, two at Mill Creek Middle School, three 4th-6th grade teams and two K-2 teams. In addition, thanks to bond money, the Dreadbots are now housed in their own space at Wylie Elementary. This is the first time since their inception that the team headquarters is on campus and in Dexter!
Student Representative Update
Student representative, Annalisa Shehab, shared that many community service projects are happening right now at Dexter Schools. Creekside Intermediate recently held a food drive for Faith in Action and DHS just wrapped up a coat drive. On December 7th, the DHS Student Council and IB students will “Stuff the Bus” at Busch’s for Faith in Action. Last year, this service project collected enough donations to sustain Faith in Action’s pantry though February.
Board Discussion Part I – Parliamentary Procedure
Following some routine consent and action items, the Board moved to a discussion of parliamentary procedure, brought by Trustee Barbara Read. Read stated that all boards need a common framework of parliamentary procedure to govern meetings. She shared her feelings that, “pretty much all the issues that have occurred among the Dexter BOE in the past six months could have been addressed by simple and solid parliamentary guidelines.” As a visual aid, Read showed a short video entitled, “Jurassic Parliament,” and provided board members with a handout of discussion points regarding parliamentary authority.
Board President Michael Wendorf agreed that the charge by the state of any school board is to conduct District business in an effective and efficient manner. “Anything that will help us do that is worth looking into,” he stated. However, he continued by saying that consensus is important and, if the Board were to adopt a new procedure, would it help them to come to consensus which all seven board members can agree? Read took exception to Wendorf’s question, saying it could be considered a “jab” and possibly a point of order.
Several other board members agreed that a common framework to guide meetings was worth looking into, and it was decided that Dr. Timmis would contact the facilitator of the “Jurassic Parliament” program before the January BOE meeting to see about availability for a workshop.
Board Discussion Part II – Check Register Update
Dr. Sharon Raschke, Dexter CFO, shared that at their last meeting the Finance Committee discussed a request to put the District’s check register online. The District auditor, Kim Lindsay of Rehmann Robson, provided a letter to the Board stating that the District’s current financial reporting exceeds what is required and gives a clearer picture than would the check register. Only 7% of the District’s spending is by check, and the register does not reflect the full picture of each expenditure.
“Anyone who wishes to have more transparency, the check registry isn’t a good tool to do that,” said President Wendorf. As such, the Finance Committee determined the Board is publishing the required financial information and no further documentation is necessary.
Trustee Read, a proponent of publishing the check register, stated that while she doesn’t think the District is hiding anything, “it doesn’t look good” that Dexter doesn’t publish their register. Read says she hears community members saying they want the register to be public and do not understand why it’s not published.
Board Treasurer Dick Lundy stated that the District’s auditor says DCS provides the public with much more valuable information than just the check register. Vice President Julie Schumaker agreed, saying she feels the community views the Board as good stewards of the District’s funds, citing the passage of the recent bond as a testament of their goodwill.
Board Secretary Mara Greatorex and Trustee Daryl Kipke also concurred with the Finance Committee’s assessment. Kipke called the committee’s rationale and analysis of the situation “well-founded,” and stated Read’s fixation on the topic seemed self-serving, as all other board members agree with the auditor’s statement. After several more minutes of back-and-forth, Wendorf closed the discussion.
The meeting concluded with a short bond update from Dr. Timmis, after which the Board briefly recessed before moving into closed session.