Proposed Maintenance Contract
But when board members began questioning Mr. Cathey, it became clear that they were not approving the final contract with GCA but rather was being asked to authorize the Executive Committee (Lisa Parker and Jason Manuel) to execute a new contract with GCA. Mr. Manuel told the board that a large majority of maintenance work is done during summer break when the schools are vacant. The current contract with GCA is set to expire so the new contract needs to be in place by June 1st for uninterrupted service.
Ken Hoover raised the possibility of contract terms being changed after the board's approval. He went on to add that he objected to "the practice of continually delegating that authority to the executive committee.” Mr. Hoover stated that although he agreed with the superintendant’s office on its recommendation of GCA, he had concerns that they were really approving whatever contract the executive committee came up with after the board's vote. He was also concerned over the length of the bidding period. With only two bidders, he wondered if there had been sufficient time for additional bidders, noting that additional bids may result in a lower price. Josh Cathey said he understood that concern and promised that next year, he would start the bidding process earlier, probably in January or February.
Mark Dely made a motion to approve GCA as the maintenance provider for the school district and to approve the contract terms as presented. The motion also authorized the executive committee to execute the contract provided that all material terms remain the same. Ms. Williams inquired whether the price could be changed if it was lower. She was reminded that the bidding process was over and the price had been determined by GCA's bid. Mr. Manuel pointed out that GCA submitted the lowest bid price.
When Mr. Dely's motion was voted on, Ms. Williams voted yes along with the other three board members. Mr. Hoover said that he appreciated Ms. Williams participating in the discussion electronically while out of town but questioned whether she was allowed her to vote under school board policy. Ms. Parker stated that board members were allowed to participate in meetings electronically twice per year. Mr. Hoover questioned if the absence must be due to work, family emergency, or military service for a board member to participate electronically. Mr. Dely confirmed that board policy does indeed require the absence to be related to work, military service, or family emergency but rather than debating whether Ms. Williams was absent for one of those reasons, he suggested not counting Ms. Williams' vote as the motion carried without it. So, the contract was approved by the three board members who attended the meeting in person and Ms. Williams' vote was not considered.
In case you are curious, the policy can be found here. And this is what it is says:
Absent Board members may attend a regular or special meeting by electronic means if the member is absent because of work, a family emergency, or the member's military service. If a board member is absent due to military service, he/she may participate electronically as often as he/she is able to do so. However, a board member may not participate electronically more than two (2) times per year for absences due to work and/or family emergencies.
The following requirements apply to all electronic attendance, regardless of the reason for the member's absence:
1. A quorum of the Board must be physically present at the meeting in order for any member to attend electronically.
2. Any member wishing to participate electronically must do so using technology which allows the Chair to visually identify the member.
3. The responsibility for the connection lies with the member wishing to participate electronically. No more than three (3) attempts to connect shall be made, unless the Board chooses to make additional attempts.
Work Related Absence
The following requirements apply to electronic attendance due to a work related absence:
1. The Board member must be absent from the county due to work.
2. The member wishing to participate must give the Chair and director at least five (5) days notice prior to the meeting of the member's desire to participate electronically.
The following requirement applies to electronic attendance due to a family emergency:
1. The member must be absent due to the hospitalization of the member or the death or hospitalization of the member's spouse, father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, step-son, step- daughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law.
Mr. Manuel began with a discussion on capacity at existing schools. He explained that state law decides the maximum number of students allowed in a classroom. He also explained that some classrooms must be set aside for "special" classes such music, art, SPED, etc.... His staff calculated an optimal number of students in each classroom by subtracting two from the state maximums. This would allow for transfer students throughout the school year. So, to determine capacity for each school, the optimum number of students is multiplied by the number of classrooms available for regular instruction.
Mr. Manuel then went over predictions for future enrollment and explained the three factors which were used to make those predictions:
CSR (Cohort Survival Ratio) over the next 10 years anticipates a growth of over 900 students
For those who think of cohorts as partners in crime, you should know that new terminology now refers to students or classmates as "cohorts." And a definition of cohort survival ratio can be found here. It essentially estimates the number of current students expected to continue matriculating through GMSD along with their little brothers and sisters who are expected to enter GMSD in the future as kindergarteners.
Build-Out of undeveloped property into residences is predicted to bring an additional 774 students.
This consideration looks at undeveloped property in Germantown and speculates about its potential to be developed into residences. According to Mr. Manuel, this is a the most difficult of the three factors to predict as there is little to any confirmed information on when or if vacant property in Germantown will be built out into residential developments.
Growth in Student Attendance is expected to bring 233 new middle school students and 136 new elementary school students.
The forecast is the number of students expected to transfer into GMSD annually and is based on this year's growth increase from 9% to 11%.
Past school board meetings have focused on building a new elementary school in south Germantown; adding a new expansion to relieve overcrowding at Riverdale; and constructing a new athletic facility at Houston High.
Middle School Dilemma
So, here are his three ideas:
1) Expand Riverdale K-8 to relieve overcrowding and expand Houston Middle into a mega middle school to absorb the increased student population.
2) Build a new K-8 in south Germantown. It could be built as an elementary school with flex plans to be expanded to a future K-8.
3) Change Riverdale's K-8 grade structure by building a new separate middle school on its campus instead of expanding the current K-8.
Later on, Ken Hoover suggested adding a fourth option. He said that building both a new elementary and a new middle school should at least be considered even if it was not a recommended choice. The discussion of this option subsequently morphed into a discussion on acquiring Germantown Elementary and Germantown Middle from SCS. At that point, Lisa Parker asked if anyone had read the article in the newspaper. She said that Mayor Palazzolo and SCS Superintendent Hopson had met and the door was closed to the acquisition of GES and GMS. Mr. Manuel said he did not think the door was permanently closed. So, Ms. Parker said, the door was shut but maybe not locked. Mark Dely urged the board not to forget about these schools as they could provide a viable solution to growing needs of GMSD.
Also discussed by the board was the need for input and support from the community for the proposed capital improvements. Mr. Dely urged the board to find ways to reach out to the community and gauge their opinion on these projects especially if funding requires a property tax increase. Mr. Manuel responded that it was not his job to worry about tax increases. His job is to present proposals that best meet the needs of the schools. He stated that it is up to the Mayor and Board of Aldermen to make funding decisions such as a raise in property taxes. Mr. Manuel then showed slides in his presentation that were pictures of the portables at Riverdale and a very small cramped room that housed occupational and physical therapy services.
Lisa Parker agreed with Mr. Manuel about the property tax issue saying it's not the board's position to make its decisions based on tax ramifications. Ms. Parker went on to say that as for public input, the board could hold a Town Hall meeting and suggested the date of June 15th. But she added that she had already been listening to people all over town in the grocery stores, etc. She said, "We (school board members) are representatives of the public" and "whatever they tell us, we come back to the board to advocate" indicating that she already had sufficient public input to make decisions.
Mr. Dely once again, asked the board to be mindful of the impact their funding requests could have on the City. Mr. Hoover agreed saying that while it is important to identify the needs of our schools, the school district should recognize the impact on Germantown taxpayers. Both indicated a need for further public information on the proposed capital improvement projects. In addition to a Town Hall meeting, it was suggested that communications with the public could occur in smaller venues such as charrettes or several small advisory committees. Ms. Williams added that she wanted the board to work closely with the City of Germantown in getting information out to the public. She suggested that the Town Hall or any other public meeting be televised on Germantown's local access cable channel or recorded in some way for those who are not able to attend.
The CIP Planning Committee is expected to meet then present their final report.