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Dickinson Public Schools Unapproved Special School Board Meeting Minutes September 16, 2019; 5:00 p.

Dickinson Public Schools
Unapproved Special School Board Meeting Minutes
September 16, 2019; 5:00 p.m.
Professional Learning Lab

The Dickinson Public School Board held a special meeting on September 16, 2019, at the Professional Learning Lab. Board members present: President Brent Seaks, Vice President Kim Schwartz, Board Member David Wilkie, Board Member Michelle Orton, and Board Member Jason Rodakowski. Others present were: Superintendent Shon Hocker, Business Manager Kent Anderson, Dickinson High School Principal Kevin Hoherz, Dickinson Press Reporter Kayla Henson, and School Board Secretary Twila Petersen.

Call to Order - Board President Seaks called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m.

Public Participation - There were no requests for public participation.

Business Topics - Action Topics
Canvassing the Special Election - Mr. Wilkie moved that he has examined and canvassed the returns of the special election and determined that 1,463 votes were lawfully cast in favor of approving the Resolution and issuing the Bonds, and that 2,470 votes were lawfully cast against approving the Resolution and issuing the Bonds. Mr. Wilkie declared that 37.20% of all the qualified voters of the District voting upon the question were in favor of issuing the Bonds. Mr. Wilkie further moved to adopt the Resolution Canvassing Returns and Declaring Result of Special Election, as presented. Mrs. Schwartz seconded the motion. A roll call vote was taken on the motion: ayes-5 (Rodakowski, Wilkie, Schwartz, Orton, Seaks); nays-0; absent-0. The motion carried unanimously.

Business Topics - Informational Topics
Planning Discussion Regarding Facilities - Superintendent Hocker addressed the Board. He shared with the Board the District would be required to reapply to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction for approval for a bond referendum for a new high school and possibly reapply for a bond referendum for a new elementary school. Dr. Hocker explained the challenges at the high school are still there and he suggested putting together a plan.

Superintendent Hocker referenced a time line to build a new school noting it would take a minimum of two years. To include a bond referendum, it is a minimum of three years from the date of passing a bond referendum. He thought the next date to approach the community for another vote on the referendum could be May 2020. Because this would put construction back four years from now, Dr. Hocker suggested a plan for making some repairs to the current high school facility.

There was $120,000 spent this year on the roof at the high school. With the recent rains, some more leaks are appearing at the point where the repaired area meets up with the old roof. Other maintenance areas will also need to be addressed with temporary repairs. Dr. Hocker noted this does not address the capacity concerns.

Superintendent Hocker and Dickinson High School Principal Hoherz have visited about options to address capacity. As early as the next semester or school year, they suggested offering five class periods instead of four. This could be done by extending the day of the school by one period, a partial split schedule.

When comparing the number of 8th graders that will be moving up as freshman next year and the outgoing seniors, there are approximately 60 more 8th grade students that will be in the high school building next fall. The number of students at the high school will increase another 60 students the following year or fall 2021. These enrollment numbers do not include a 4% or 5% projected growth.

Some additional ideas shared to address the high school capacity were to hold one or two classes at Dickinson State, offer fewer elective classes, and close open enrollment.

President Seaks shared a four-point process he thought would help pass a bond referendum. The first item is to help the community recognize the problem within the District, the second item is to have a good plan in place that is supported by the community, the third item is to help continue to inform the community that currently ONLY property taxes may be used to fund a school referendum, and the fourth point is that of participation. The community needs to get out and vote. Mr. Seaks expanded on each point.

Dickinson Public Schools has ten campuses to maintain. Dr. Hocker explained the building fund is down to $1.2 million. That is not enough funds to maintain all ten buildings. He added another challenge was if the District starts spending money on the high school to make it last another five years, it will put a strain on those funds.

Dr. Hocker referenced the building fund levy and said an option was to request an increase to this fund from the community. This was tried in June 2018 and failed. He felt most people did not understand this question on the ballot.

President Seaks said he has heard from individuals that felt there was a need in the District but did not like the plan. People want to have input and share their ideas. He added maybe the Board needs to find out what would be an acceptable amount taxpayers are comfortable with then develop a plan based on that amount. There will be some voters that will not be in favor of a tax increase no matter what. Board members volunteered to take time to share information with the community.

Mrs. Orton felt there was a disconnect with the community. She has often heard a response from individuals saying "I didn't know that." She agreed with President Seaks that work would need to be done to get a message communicated.

Dr. Hocker shared some ideas on how to communicate with the public using Thought Exchange. The District could do its best to reach out to the public and encourage them to get involved. He added the District also could market the need within the buildings and have banners on cars and signs in yards.

Superintendent Hocker said there are going to be some tough decisions for the future. That could include half-day kindergarten or cutting some courses at the high school. Closing open enrollment could have some ramifications such as jeopardizing the rapid enrollment grant.

There was discussion about a bond referendum time table. If the bond referendum was run with the June primary election, it would save the District some money.

Dickinson High School Principal Hoherz explained that there will need to be some limits to some of the classroom sizes. Only a certain amount of students should be placed in a classroom based on the measure of the room. Those numbers need to be concrete without going beyond the capacity. It is not fair to the teachers to have overcrowding in the classes.

Board members agreed to continue the conversation regarding the future of the facilities at an upcoming Board workshop. They also would like to have a discussion regarding the location for a new elementary school. Dr. Hocker explained it was important the District employees know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that something is in place while the District and Board continues to move forward.

Adjournment - At 5:45 p.m., President Seaks declared the workshop adjourned.

Brent Seaks, Board President
Kent Anderson, Business Manager
Twila Petersen, Secretary
(Published: October 5, 2019)