Thursday, January 22, 2015

Board Meeting Recap - January 2015

Each month's Board meetings deal with relevant issues that affect all of us today, with lasting impact into the future.  This month was no different, with many topics dealing with strategic issues with long term consequences.

Here is a list of some of the items discussed this month

+ Strategic Plan - Proposal to form a new Board committee
+ Comprehensive Plan - Required State mandated initiative
+ Facilities 10 Year Capital Plan - Update on next steps and funding balance
+ Tech Integration Plan - Learning Management System (LMS) pilot program update
+ Bond Refinancing - Opportunity to refinance and reduce costs
+ Proposed Preliminary Budget for 2015 - 2016
+ New Clearances Rules Mandated by the State - Impacts all employees and volunteers
+ Calendar for 2015-2016 - Community input made public - evaluated and approved
+ Class Rank - Policy on disclosing class rank is under review
+ Homework Study - Next step to survey parents, teachers and students

...Its is a long list this month - but there is a lot going on!  We try to keep these updates brief with links to the appropriate details and documents.


Videos of all Board meetings are available on our website, and the documents are also available here.



Strategic Plan - Proposal to form a new Board committee

The premise for this new committee is that great organizations have a shared purpose - shared goals and common understanding.

While the District is known for the quality of our program, good teachers, good pay and

good administration, organizational growth and success starts with the knowledge that you need to change - we need to find ways to keep innovating.

Key points of the presentation

  • The strategic planning effort will assess what we are doing well/not so well

  • strategic plans are common in the "best organizations" in the business and not for profit world

  • All of the top "Best Schools" have district level strategic plans

  • The plan will refresh mission goals and provide us a way to articulate it and then prioritize our resources around that and energize the community around those goals

  • 6 - 12 month effort


John Sanville and Vic Dupuis support this idea and it will be further discussed at a future Board retreat.

Review the presentation



Facilities 10 Year Capital Plan - Update on next steps and funding balance

The Building and Grounds Department proposed spending an estimated $2.5M - $3.0M this year (much of the work to be done this summer).  This amount is within limits previously set out in the 10 year plan.  The funds are already available in capital accounts to pay for this. The renovations impact facilities around the district with many of them focused on Patton Middle School.

Summary of proposed projects



Comprehensive Plan - Required State mandated initiative

The Comprehensive Plan is a data driven, State mandated process and report.  Parts of it will be used to develop the Strategic Plan.  The Board took action to approve the Professional Education Committee that will complete the plan and submit it to the State.

Review Comprehensive Plan



Tech Integration Plan - Learning Management System (LMS) pilot program update

A presentation was made to the Board featuring the actual course being used by two of our teachers.  These teachers enthusiastically demonstrated the benefits to our students derived from using a Learning Management System.

The benefits of the system are apparent to the Board, Administration and members of the pilot team (20 teachers).  The next step in the LMS Pilot Program is determine how to roll the LMS out to more classrooms.  This effort is a multi year process and still faces many challenges (such as technical infrastructure, professional development and the role of personal devices).  All of these challenges have been anticipated and are addressed in the initial long range Technology Integration Plan.

More information will be shared with parents as the plans for next year are finalized over the next few months.

Review this month's updated presentation

Review the original Technology Integration Plan



Bond Refinancing - Opportunity to refinance and reduce costs

Our financial advisor shared with the Board that 2 bonds are eligible at this time for refinancing at a lower rate.  The timing is favorable and the district could realize net savings in the range of $800K over the term of the bond.

There are a few options for the Board to consider related to how to realize the savings.  The most likely scenario is to take the savings up front, resulting in a one time savings while keeping future payments the same.  Those savings could then be put into the capital reserve or debt service reserve to help pay for the 10 Year Capital Plan.

The Board authorized the advisor to move forward putting together the details - to be presented for action at a future Board meeting.



Proposed Preliminary Budget for 2015 - 2016

The Proposed Preliminary Budget is the first step in the annual budgeting process. It is put together even before the State budget.  One of the important reasons for approving a budget this early is to address any possible shortfalls that would require additional funding from the community via referendum. This budget does not require a referendum.  

Another purpose of this budget is to announce to the State that tax increases above the normal index (also known as the Act 1 Index) may be needed to balance the budget.  These increases, also referred to as "exceptions", need to be documented and approved by the State and this budget is part of that process.

The bottom line for taxpayers in the community is that this budget limits tax increases next year to a weighted average (rates vary by county - see the budget for details) of 4.29%. It does not mean that the weighted average increase will be 4.29%, only that it will not exceed 4.29%.

Review the budget



New Clearances Rules Mandated by the State - Impacts all employees and volunteers

The State has changed the rules for clearances.  All staff and all volunteers must now update clearances every 3 years.  All current staff and volunteers with current clearances older than 3 years will need to get updates.

The staff have been advised of the new rules and the Administration is working to insure that all clearances are updated on time.  This new rule impacts all volunteers and the Administration will be putting something out to the public in the near future.

More information available on the HR webpage



Calendar for 2015-2016 - Community input made public - evaluated and approved

The proposed calendar was approved.  Many new and creative ideas were put forward this year.  An advisory committee and the Board reviewed the community survey results (we got a record number of responses) as well as all comments submitted by members of the community through the website.  The committee and the Board tried to balance the sometimes diverse inputs to arrive at something that reflects the desires of most of the community.

Review the community input and approved calendar
Quantitative survey results

Public comments from the survey

Public comments

Approved Calendar



Class Rank - Policy on disclosing class rank is under review

Policy 214 is up for review and currently states that we track and report decile rankings.  The Administration recommends approval as a status quo.  However, there is some concern that reporting class rank to colleges can hurt our student's chances of getting into the school that they are targeting.


This issue needs further consideration and will be reviewed by the Board in public session prior to taking action.


Review the current policy



Homework Study - Next step to survey parents, teachers and students

One focus for the Board this year is an evaluation of homework practices.  A committee has been looking into this and the next step is to collect input from parents, teachers and student.  

A survey was sent out to the community and the Board urges all parents, students and teachers to fill out the survey.  This is the communities opportunity to speak out on the issue and to be heard.

If you did not receive a link to the survey contact ucfsdcommunications@ucfsd.net



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