Town of Lamoine, Maine
The Official Website of Lamoine's Town Government
Lamoine Education Planning Committee
Minutes of August 11, 2013
Present: Perry Fowler, Nate Mason, Jon VanAmringe, Bob Pulver, Robin Veysey
Meeting called to order by Mr. Fowler at 4:17 PM.
Consideration of Minutes: Mr. Pulver moved to accept minutes as written; Mr. Mason seconded the motion. Vote 5-0 to approve.
Mr. Fowler noted we did not have the RPC agreement.
Mr. VanAmringe said spreadsheets computing estimated costs had been revised slightly but would be working on them further in consultation with Mr. Donaldson.
Mr. Fowler said that we have exit costs in withdrawal agreement. Our budget should be around 1.2 million using cost per student but agreement does not include some of the costs.
Mr. Pulver said he compared to Surry's figures, which is similar size. Had question about what is Surry's cost per student and do they have any debt service and what do they have for special ed students. Or could average the five schools compared and that would come out to 1.8 million. If take Surry and add debt service would end up 150,000 higher. If take average it's less than what we expect to pay to RSU. Then have to make assumptions about costs to run buildings. One way comes in cheaper, one way comes in more expensive.
Mr. Fowler said he did similar process.
Discussion followed about comparison among the five schools we are looking at. Mr. Mason indicated it was hard to compare to Cherryfield, in part because many of their functions, maintenance, lawn mowing, etc, are being funded and/or done by community volunteers.
Mr. Pulver said if we took just an average we'd come up with 1.8 million plus our debt service and inflation factor would equal about 1.9 million.
Mr. VanAmringe said that was comparable to what we've been paying to the RSU. He said he had not yet tried to run numbers if Hancock leaves or if Ellsworth leaves, but it would end up being more expensive for those remaining in the RSU.
There was a discussion of administrative staffing of large organization as opposed to a smaller organization.
Then there was a discussion of cyclical nature of educational theory and common core.
Mr. Pulver said if we use averaging method, we'd not use the highest or lowest but what we thought would provide the best education at a reasonable expense.
Mr. VanAmringe said we need to answer the question – How much is it going to cost.
There followed a conversation of what would happen if Ellsworth and/or Hancock left and Lamoine stayed in RSU. Cost per student would go up because of infrastructure that would remain, part of which would be subsidized by leaving schools but for only three years. The RSU is obligated to honor contracts of personnel in place.
There was then a discussion of how to come up with reasonable numbers and how they needed to be presented. Mr. Mason said we have all the categories for the various schools and can show them side by side. Then we would have to come up with costs for a superintendent on our own. He indicated that Cherryfield's school budget is supplemented by the community and volunteers so it does not accurately reflect the cost to run the school, it is artificially low.
Mr. Fowler said if we add up all the numbers for Trenton those must include their debt service which is fairly high.
Mr. Mason said Trenton's debt service was about $900,000. The other differences where they are higher are their district office, secondary education and special ed. He also said that to get to our current expenditures many of our services have been cut (part-time principal, combined classroom, phys ed, music, art, guidance, speech, library). The superintendent's office says we are saving lots of money but we are not getting the same level of services we provided before the RSU.
Mr. Fowler said the exit costs are laid out in the withdrawal agreement at 8.12 % of future costs so we can come up with a close number.
Mr. VanAmringe said those costs are for three years and then they are done.
Mr. Fowler said projected costs if we stay in the RSU and everyone else stays in the RSU should be an easy number to come up with. The other questions, projected costs if Ellsworth leaves or if Hancock leaves or if both leave are more difficult.
Mr. VanAmringe said if half of the students and support leave our costs increase.
There was then a discussion of Lamoine's 8.12% share of RSU costs, what our share could be if Ellsworth and/or Hancock leave. It would be a substantially higher percentage with Lamoine having higher property values than some of the inland towns. And when RSU reformulates the way costs are shared, which happens in 2015, the RSU board could change those percentages substantially.
Mr. VanAmringe pointed out that with a large organization such as RSU 24, you have to keep a large administration with a number of people to operate it. One question to ask is whether we need all of these administrators and couldn't we better spend our money on teachers and programs and software. If we are on our own we don't need all those administrators and would have available funds to restore some of the programming and teachers we have lost.
There was then a discussion of possible ways to fulfill requirement to have a superintendent, whether part-time, contract with another district/school, etc., and how much we should allow for that function based on costs for the schools we are comparing with.
Mr. Pulver asked if we were going to use Trenton as our model or Surry because those seem to be closest to our school.
Mr. Mason said that we could use them for administrative costs or Otis. We don't have to take one school and compare side by side. Also, we don't have to have a full-time superintendent, it can be a part-time superintendent.
There then followed a discussion of what figures we need to present and in what form, with a summary number and detail on where the numbers came from available to respond to questions.
Mr. Mason said all of our discussions and details will be available on the website and we could use a summary to present the figures.
Mr. Pulver said we could use the list of categories required by the state and list the amount for each and build our own budget as a summary figure.
Mr. Mason said that if you go back historically and see what the town has paid for education it runs almost exactly 72% of town revenues. Whatever the town revenues are, 72% of the budget goes to the school. So if our number falls within that area that's the double check. That is also what the percentage was when we were in Union 92. What we would have to come up with is the superintendent. That is what we were sharing with Union 92.
Mr. Pulver said we could hire our own superintendent which could be part-time, with state credentials.
There followed a discussion of part-time superintendent and tasks and duties required to comply with state requirements and various ways that requirement could be fulfilled and how to estimate how much it would cost based on what administrative costs are for other area schools.
Then there was a discussion of the function of a school board, the function of a superintendent and the interaction between them and the community.
Mr. Fowler said we have five things we need to come up with. Exit costs we can get from withdrawal agreement. He thought we have a good plan to come up with stand alone costs. Projected costs if we stay in (and the other schools stay in) are drifting down.
Mr. Mason said that projected costs are drifting down but that it was an anomaly and didn't think that would continue and that it would be going a little higher. Also we don't have all the things that have been cut out.
Mr. VanAmringe added that it is drifting down for next year but that is an anomaly due to getting more from the state than originally budgeted. But that is a one shot deal and cannot be counted on. It is a function of the state and we have no way of knowing what the state will do in the future.
Mr. Fowler indicated we still have some unanswered questions and will need some answers before we attempt if Ellsworth leaves and/or if Hancock leaves numbers.
Mr. Mason said that we could focus on what our costs are going to be in the nine or ten categories and then go from there. Also, we need to separate out the amount to run the school and exit costs, which is what we have to pay to get out of the RSU.
Mr. Fowler said if we concentrate on the stand alone using the state's budget categories, that we basically have a plan on how we are going to come up with these numbers.
Then followed a discussion about how to use the numbers we have based on historical costs to come up with a projected cost. Mr. Mason indicated we would need the other schools' budgets and then could do a side by side comparison. Mr. VanAmringe will sit down with Mr. Donaldson to review his figures and ascertain the assumptions he used. He will then come back to the committee with his computer and an excel spreadsheet and we can review those assumptions and judge whether we agree and make adjustments as we feel appropriate to come up with our report.
Mr. Fowler said that would give us a stand alone that we can tweak. The exit cost is pretty definitive, and the number if we stay and all the others stay, is right there.
There was a discussion of what would happen if Lamoine stayed in the RSU and Ellsworth and Hancock left. If that happened it was felt that Lamoine's costs would increase substantially and we would still not have control.
There was a discussion of cost sharing and savings. Although the RSU says we have saved a lot of money it has not been through cost sharing but through reduction of services.
Mr. Mason will obtain the budgets from the different schools we want to compare by category.
Mr. VanAmringe will put together a draft in Excel and send it to us as a PDF file so we can review it before our next meeting.
Next meeting will be Sunday, August 25 th at 4:00 PM.
Mr. Pulver made a motion to adjourn. Mr. Mason seconded.
Vote was 5-0 in favor. Meeting adjourned at 5:17PM