Minutes of June 6, 2012
Members present: J.J. Prior, Chris Pratt, Stephanie Kleine, Paul Bolduc and Jen Labadie.
Absent was Malinda Scherpa.
The meeting opened at 6:30 PM. Jen called the meeting to discuss issues raised at May 29th meeting of the MRSD withdrawal committee. The first question was in regard to our proposal that the new Sullivan school district have a 3 member board modeled on Surry and Nelson. The committee believed a 5 member board was more of a proper standard. Chris pointed out that our attorney David Bradley agreed. Our committee agreed to change the number to 5.
Discussion followed on more important questions and it was agreed to consult with attorney Bradley on the following issues:
1. The MRSD committee insists that our time line is incorrect. We felt that we could have the district withdrawal vote in March of 2013 and be ready to go in September 2013. The committee says we have to wait for a year until September 2014. While that agrees with the statute, we know for a fact that Surry proceeded to set up its district and was ready to go the following September. They did not wait for a year. Why wouldn’t we be able to do the same thing? As with the case in Surry, there will be no need to hire teachers and staff, set up a school, purchase supplies, etc. because we will be sending our children elsewhere. As far as we have been led to believe by the receiving schools, they will be ready to enroll our students. We see no practical reason for a delay.
2. There was also an issue about which SAU we would be part of. As we read the statute, we have to stay in our current SAU for one year before we can join another or form our own. The MRSD withdrawal committee seems to be saying that we have to have our SAU plans as part of our withdrawal plan. We believe that SAU membership is irrelevant to our withdrawal from the MRSD as any withdrawal from an SAU is a completely separate procedure (under a separate statute) and our town can make no commitment on the future of an SAU since the law clearly states that only a school district may withdraw from an SAU. Thus, any SAU withdrawal plan must be a creature of the future Sullivan school district which cannot be created until we have successfully withdrawn from the MRSD. How should this issue be approached?
3. There is some concern about the liability of the cost of the school. The MRSD withdrawal committee seems to be saying that the price of the building needs to be set as part of the withdrawal plan. Our contention is that it is not part of the 7 questions on the withdrawal plan. While it is an issue that will have to be resolved, it should be part of the withdrawal process between the future Sullivan school district and the MRSD--not part of the plan. In fairness to the MRSD, they are concerned that we will eventually purchase the property. We fully understand that we must purchase. However, we believe that fixing a price and demanding payment as part of the withdrawal plan is not correct. Further, our committee is not empowered to commit the town to a price and the town itself is not empowered to pay the cost as the money may only be appropriated by a school district meeting.
Chris will send a note to the attorney.
Other issues raised by Jen included the need for formal letters of intent from the Keene school district and the Nelson and Harrisville school districts. Stephanie reported that she had contacted Wayne Woolrich and the letters are being drawn up. Another issue is a letter of intent from First Student to provide bus service. JJ will attempt to contact them again.
Discussion followed on the issue of an SAU. It was noted that Surry ended up forming its own SAU after the breakup of SAU 38. Our concern is that joining a large SAU for a set fee means that we get SAU services, but we are also paying for SAU services that we don’t need such as lunch services, IT support, etc. If we can’t find an SAU that will allow us to contract for specific services, then we may have to form an SAU and hire a part-time superintendent.
It was agreed to meet again at the SAU office in Swanzey at June 21, at 7:30 PM so we may attend the next meeting of the MRSD withdrawal committee. There being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 7:30 PM.
C. Christopher Pratt