Dexter Board of Education Bulletin: June 14 School Board Meeting

The Dexter Board of Education had two meetings June 14, 2021: a board workshop to review the district’s strategic plan and discuss student achievement goals at 5:30, and a regular meeting at 7pm.

With the return to in-person meetings and the release of many MDHHS COVID-related restrictions on public gatherings, the Board is returning to the standard practice of requiring community members to be present in person to participate. Meetings will continue to be recorded via Zoom and interested community members may watch the Zoom in real time or watch the recordings later on the website.

School Presentations
Dr. Timmis shared this year’s Retirement & Recognition document, which lists retirees and recognizes staff who have served the District for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 & 30 years. Of special note is the retirement of 5 long-time certified staff (Jeff Dagg, Melinda Hieber, Alice Hinterman, Kit Moran and Julie Snider) as well as 7 support staff (Randall Dennis, Sheila Durham, Karen Franson, Diana Gignac, Gerald Goebel, Joan Maloney and Vicki Sipple).

Dr. Timmis thanked Dr. Snider (present at the meeting) for her service to the District, in particular her work with the Alternative Education program which has changed the lives of many students and their families. He expressed his thanks to all retirees and those who have served over 5 years for their contributions to Dexter Schools.

Budget Hearing
Each year, state law requires that the District hold a public hearing and adopt a budget (available in the Board meeting packet) for the upcoming school year by June 30th. Dr. Schumaker opened the hearing for the Board to hear public comment relating to both the 2021-2022 budget and 2021 property tax millage rate (under action items). No members of the public offered comments on the proposed budget.

Superintendent Update
The 2020-2021 school year wraps up this Thursday, June 17th. On Wednesday, June 16th, thanks to an anonymous donor, DCS staff will be treated to a food truck lunch event and prize raffle in thanks for an extraordinary year. The Dread Strong Summer program kicks off on Monday, June 21st; hundreds of DCS students are signed up for the program featuring engaging, mostly outdoor learning activities meant to inspire students, allow them to connect with other students, and prepare for fall school success.

Dr. Timmis shared that the positive COVID case count has been 0 for both students and staff for two weeks, prompting a round of applause. In Washtenaw County, there have been only 77 new positive cases in the past two weeks.

Dr. Timmis also commented that he has been asked about the overall cost of COVID to the District, and shared the following figures: approximately $157,000 has been spent on additional payroll, summer work, stipends, etc.; $83,000 on tents; $14,000 on technology and internet access; $17,000 on additional software; $175,000 on instructional materials; $215,000 on cleaning supplies, masks, PPE, etc., and over $800,000 in off-schedule salary payments for additional work time beyond contracts (overtime, etc). All these amounts are above and beyond what is usually spent in these categories in a normal year, totaling approximately $1.6 million in COVID-related spending. The final vaccination clinic is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, June 15.

Board President Update
Dr. Schumaker addressed her upcoming resignation from the Board, effective as of June 30th. Having served on the Board for the past 18 years, Schumaker is selling her Dexter home and will no longer be a District resident, remarking that the time has come to move on to the next chapter of life. “It has been an honor to work with everyone in this District,” Schumaker stated. “We have a fantastic administration and a very solid Board, and I have every confidence that the District will continue on the same positive trajectory that we have been on.”

Student Representative Update
Aiden Naughton shared that this is the last week of school and DHS technology needs to be turned in by HomeRoom students on Thursday and by HomeBased students on Friday.

Public Participation
Dexter parent Kim Phillips-Knope, Project Lead for Michigan Department of Education’s LGBTQ Students Project, commended the District on upcoming language changes to several non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies.

CONSENT AGENDA
With best wishes, the Board acknowledged the retirement of Dr. Julie Snider.

ACTION AGENDA

2021 Board Calendar
The Board approved their 2021-2022 meeting calendar with the organizational meeting to be held July 26, 2021.

Phonics Program

The Board unanimously approved the purchase of the Reading Horizons phonics program for grades Y5-4 for use starting fall 2021.

2021-2022 Tax Levies

The Board authorized that 18.000 mills be levied on non-homestead property and that 8.5000 mills be levied on debt on all property in December of 2021. Vice President Mara Greatorex thanked Dexter CFO Sharon Raschke for the comprehensive financial information included with the Board packet. Although there was not lengthy discussion on this item, approval of the millages is not just a “rubber stamp,” Greatorex stated, but is a result of the detailed material provided by Raschke.

Policies – First Reading
The Board reviewed several policy updates from NEOLA. Dr. Timmis noted that these policies are a collection of non-discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity, Section 504, ADA and anti-harassment policies, and that all updates have been recommended by NEOLA (school board policy organization). The changes are integrated from the Office of Civil Rights, Supreme Court rulings, OCR rulings, local and appellate rulings, etc. Trustee Kangas suggested, based on public comment earlier in the meeting (see video), that the Board consult with NEOLA to consider including “gender expression” in order to be completely inclusive. It was noted that any desired changes could be made prior to second reading on June 28th. The policies were unanimously approved for first reading and will return for second reading and final approval at the June 28 meeting.

Superintendent Contract Extension
The Board of Education previously voted to rate Timmis as “highly effective” following the completion of his annual performance review on December 7, 2020. As is their typical practice, the Board this evening voted to extend the employment term of his contract by one year from June 30, 2025 to June 30, 2026.

DISCUSSION

2021-2022 Budget
The Finance Committee reviewed and discussed the 2021-2022 draft budget at their meeting on May 26th. The scenario carried forward the current year program expenses as of the November 2020 revision.

Dr. Raschke explained that revenue parameters included a conservative student count and the most recently available information on foundation allowance. However, due to the uncertainty in the Federal and State emergency relief funding, spending requirements and timeline, the draft budget does not include those items.

Based on Raschke’s assessment, the Finance Committee has an extremely high level of confidence that the District finances are in good shape for next year. A budget revision incorporating more known parameters, revenue and expenses will be presented in November 2021.

Dr. Timmis commented that this budget projection is very conservative. Anticipated Covid-related funding will increase the revenue, which will exceed expenses for this and next year. Dr. Schumaker called this budget “the most optimistic one I’ve seen in my tenure.” Board members agreed that the budget is very conservative. Satisfied with the budget projection and discussion which followed, and since no changes are likely to be made prior to the next meeting, the Board opted to approve the budget tonight rather than waiting. The motion to adopt the 2021-2022 budget as presented was unanimously approved.

Board Vacancy Process
The board packet includes letters of resignation from trustees Dr. Julie Schumaker and Dr. Daryl Kipke, both effective June 30, 2021. Michigan law states that vacant board seats must be filled within 30 days.

An organizational Board meeting is scheduled for July 26th, so it is desirable that these two seats be appointed before that date. Of his resignation, Trustee Kipke commented that the District is in a good position and he wishes to spend more time on professional career.

Vice President Mara Greatorex outlined the appointment process detailed in the Board packet.

Discussion followed regarding possible community information sessions for interested applicants, and it was agreed to hold a community chat before the June 28th Board meeting. In addition, the date for an informational session will be set at that meeting.

Add Instruction/Central Office Position
Dr. Timmis presented a proposal to split the current Executive Director of Instruction and Strategic Initiatives position into two positions. This would create the Executive Director of Instruction and the Executive Director of Strategic Initiatives starting July 1, 2021. Timmis shared that every year the state publishes rankings of District spending, and our spending on central office administration is very efficient (11th percentile), with a caveat. “There’s a point of being lean,” he commented, “and a point of being lean to your detriment.”

Before and during COVID, the District has made many additions and changes to both curriculum and instruction and the strategic plan (learning continuum, block schedule, reading intervention, Early Middle College, Alternative Education, etc.) and extra hands are needed to implement these new avenues. Splitting this position into two will more effectively support students as well as the current and future strategic plans.

Second Opportunity for Public Participation
Parent Daniel Alabré requested that the Board consider the short timeline to fill the board seats during prime vacation time and requested that the Board consider this when scheduling the interviews and possibly add a remote option.

Kim Phillips-Knope clarified the reason for adding “gender expression” in the proposed policies related to protected groups, is that kids are bullied, not necessarily based on gender, but how they express themselves, which is why this language is important.

COMMITTEE UPDATES
NASB Advocacy Institute Update
Vice President Greatorex thanked the Board for the opportunity to attend the virtual institute which she found very educational and interesting. Topics of discussion included the ADA, The Homework Act, broadband access, teacher shortages, infrastructure funding and bond restructuring.

WISD Board Elections
Trustee Kangas noted that at the June 7th WISD meeting, Theresa Saunders was reelected to the WISD Board of Education.

Board Comments
Trustee Brian Arnold thanked Drs. Schumaker and Kipke for their many years of service, saying the District has thrived under their leadership. He also expressed his thanks to this year’s retirees for their service to the District.

Trustee Kangas congratulated the graduating class of 2021, and thanked the staff and District for their work during this extremely difficult year.

For the full meeting video, as well as the recording of the Board workshop, visit HERE

Upcoming Board Calendar
● Friday, June 25 – 10:00 a.m. – Facilities Committee – Bates
● Monday, June 28 – 7:00 p.m. – Board Meeting – Bates

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