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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Flewelling

Minutes of January 4, 2024

MINUTES OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS’ MEETING OF January 4, 2024

 

Current Board Members- 

        North Berwick-  Lauren Janousek, Kate Whalen, Joshua Tabor

                           Berwick- Travis Doiron, Elva Lovejoy, Peg Wheeler

                           Lebanon- Victoria Travers, Jeridene Basko, Nancy Neubert


         

A meeting of the Board of Directors was held in person in North Berwick, Maine on January 4, 2024 at 7:00 p.m. with all members attending except Ms. Neubert.


There were 24 in the audience.


Mr. Travis Doiron of Berwick read the public input statement.


Public Input: 


Ms. Emily Drummond of Berwick shared her concerns regarding a community matter.  She is concerned about the racism that is going on at Noble Middle School. 


Mr. Robert Travers, of Lebanon, shared his concerns regarding the agenda and movement of an item. 


Mr. Mike Barker, of North Berwick, shared his input about the SRO position in Lebanon that was discussed. He feels that the bigger discussion is with the town of Lebanon and the potential of a contract deputy for the town. The two towns that provide a police department are able to provide an SRO for the Middle School and Noble High School. He feels that the district should not necessarily be paying for an officer in Lebanon as there is no police force there.  He feels like we would be extending the school district budget to provide police support to the town of Lebanon.  He feels that’s not the district’s responsibility. He urged the board and the residents of Lebanon to reach out to the select board and encourage them to enter into a contract with the Sheriff’s department for the town rather than have the school district take on that financial obligation. 


Mr. Mark Cahoon, North Berwick, shared his feelings about the school resource office and the fact that the governor has announced that there is a surplus and we should be accessing that funding rather than the local funds. He feels strongly that the safety of the schools is very important, but that the local taxpayers should not be responsible for the cost. 


Minutes:  

Mr. Doiron  made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Tabor to table  the minutes of the December 21, 2023 meeting until the next meeting.  All members voted in favor except Ms. Whalen and the motion passed. 


Adult Education: 

Ms. Nichole Ivey, adult education director, gave an overview of the program here with MSAD 60. Adult Education Presentation to School Board Ms. Janousek noted the positive interactions she observed at the Noble Adult and Community Education (NACE) graduation ceremony in June of 2023.  It was heartwarming to see the support of families for their graduates and the care that staff showed toward the NACE students. 


Project Potential: 

The board heard from the Superintendent and Business Manager regarding some of the larger ticket items that we need to be thinking about as we look at our capital improvement projects. She shared with the board an overview of various financing options that we have utilized in the past and may want to consider for the future:  Financing Options


Also discussed and shared was a preliminary list of projects that will need to be considered over the next few years. These include paving, roofing, playgrounds, etc. Capital Improvement Projects to be Considered


There was discussion among the board members regarding debt service, expected and acceptable spending on maintenance and facilities, as well as reasonable debt carry. Mr. Tabor asked several questions in regard to this and Ms. Van Campen shared that we would have further discussions regarding the specifics as well as regulations around percentage allowed for reserve funds, etc. in future budget meetings. 


At the next meeting, Don Bresnehan, of Mechanical Services, will be in to discuss the School Revolving Renovation Funds and the potential projects that we have on the horizon. 


Employment: 

None at this time. 


Superintendent Update:

The board discussed having a workshop prior to an upcoming meeting to have our legal representative go over protocols and processes as we head into the budget season. He will facilitate the conversation, provide reminders and allow board members to ask questions. The board agreed to a workshop prior to an upcoming meeting (Date to be determined) beginning at 5:45 pm. The Superintendent will coordinate with the attorney and set a date where the board could all commit.  


Noble Community Employer Appreciation Breakfast:  The Assistant Superintendent shared that a group of staff at NHS has reached out to community employers inviting them in to a breakfast at NHS on January 24th at 8:30 am to share their appreciation of the work that they do in our community and discuss what the school can do to support and partner with our local businesses. She shared that the team is looking forward to a discussion regarding teaching skills that are necessary in the current job market, including, but not limited to academic and soft skills. She invited board members to attend if they were able and to please RSVP her if they can make it.


Other:

The Superintendent then updated the board on the ongoing conversation regarding the sound system  in the board meeting and increasing.  We priced out the necessary equipment for increasing sound capacity in the library (aside from what we’ve already done by placing microphones in front of the board members to have better sound quality for our listeners who review the board meetings via the Youtube videos).  The sound system equipment necessary would be in the ballpark of $4000.  We’ve added a live microphone for the public input component of the night which seems to have increased amplification for board members, but we probably need to shift the podium so that our audience can hear more clearly. We also have looked at other spaces to hold the meetings. The lecture hall is one area that has been used in the past for board meetings but the current sound system in there is no longer necessarily viable and the recording component is not able to easily be set up.  We tried, at this board meeting, to provide a personal amplification device to one of the board members to experiment with that avenue. Mr. Tabor suggested that we need to start meeting in a different space that would be more available.


Mr. Tabor: He notes that we have been talking a lot about the SRO for Lebanon. But we are talking about school safety overall. Timing is an issue in a district this large.  How quickly our law enforcement can respond to an active shooter in the schools is in question. Are we going to put an SRO in every school we have? What is the direction that we want to go? He asked that we consider the following:  There is one type of school safety protocol in this nation that has not experienced a school shooting and that is staff concealed carry. It is clearly noted on the schools that “our staff is armed to protect our students and school community.” He then went on to discuss the types of weapons that are available: guns where there is a handprint that it will only work for that one person based on the handprint, instead of bullets, beanbags that can be incredibly debilitating but not deadly.  He asked that this suggestion not be just dismissed but looked into. He shared that he believes that if we’re talking truly about school safety, we need to have this discussion publicly. 


And he then went on to share a document that is focused on NWEA data. He shared it with board members and with audience members. He explained that this is the current standing of MSAD 60 students using the NWEA through year report and National Assessment of Educational Progress for Maine. He explained the NAEP (an achievement test that is used nationally). 


The Board Chair did ask Mr. Tabor to consider the fact that this is not the process of adding an agenda item and that “other business” is not necessarily the time to provide this type of information. He felt that we had been talking about data but that it had not yet become a formal item on the agenda and he was concerned about that. The Superintendent noted that our Director of Teaching and Learning, Dr. Shannon Swiger, was currently developing a presentation that also encompassed answers to the many specific questions that Mr. Tabor had sent and that we were preparing a time for a full board discussion at an upcoming meeting. Mr. Tabor accepted that this would be discussed in the near future.  There was brief discussion about the handout that Mr. Tabor had already shared and whether or not to provide more of an explanation this evening regarding the handout and then set the item aside for a future meeting. 


Ms. Whalen made the motion to table the discussion regarding data to a formal agenda item at a future date with a quick explanation of the information presented by Mr. Tabor and Ms. Janousek seconded the motion. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 

 

Ms. Whalen noted that teacher of the year awards are currently being brought forward and she encouraged folks to think about the fine educators in our district 


Ms. Janousek asked for a comprehensive staff survey regarding Mr. Tabor’s suggestion about staff members carrying weapons. She felt it was vital to have staff input prior to even considering this idea. The Assistant Superintendent also noted the fact that carrying weapons on school grounds is illegal in the state of Maine and that a legislative change to the law would have to take place before it could even be considered.  Title 20-A Education 6552 


Ms. Travers asked for increased clarification regarding the SRO grant process, length of the grant etc. The Assistant Superintendent clarified that the Sheriff’s department receives the grant which covers approximately 45% of the cost of the SRO officer. The district would then cover the remaining cost of the officer. The grant is for 3 years and at the end of the grant, the finances would need to be considered as a responsibility of the district and potentially (as is the case for the NB and Berwick SROs) the town. For our NB and Berwick SRO at NHS and NMS the district pays the school year contract for an officer for each and the town pays the remaining portion of their yearly salary and benefits. 


Public Input: 


Mr. Mark Cahoon, North Berwick, shared that he appreciates that we are reaching out to the local community employers.  He still feels that we need to still have a program for special needs students. 


Mr. Mark Rouillard, North Berwick, shared that he applauds Mr. Tabor for the idea of staff carrying weapons in the schools. He thinks that teachers carrying guns would benefit the school. He asked about having a police officer with a dog at the entrance to the school either in the entrance or leaving school. 


Mr. Mike Barker, North Berwick, thanked Mr. Tabor as well for opening up a larger conversation on school safety etc and noted that EMS has also been able to provide training regarding support for staff and administration. He wanted to reiterate The SRO conversation again and that it should go back to Lebanon and have them address the lack of police presence themselves rather than leave it to the school district to cover it. He feels that the onus should be on the town of Lebanon to address this issue.


Mr. Brett Little of North Berwick, asked for us to revisit the fact that there is no computer science teacher at Noble High School and that the high tech opportunities are not available at this time. 


Executive Session 1 MRSA §405(6)(B) Duties of Officials:

Ms. Wheeler made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Doiron  to go into executive session for 1 MRSA §405(6)(A) Duties of Officials, Appointees, Employees.  All members voted in favor and the motion passed. In at 8:32. Out at 8:57.


Adjournment: 

Ms. Travers made the motion and it was seconded by Mr. Doiron to adjourn the meeting. All members voted in favor and the motion passed. 


Adjourned at 8:57 pm. 


Respectfully submitted,

Audra Beauvais

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