Unofficial notes on the 1/16/2022 Caledonia Community Schools board meeting

I attended the January 16 meeting of the Caledonia school board and took notes. These are my personal, unofficial notes. There are certainly omissions, and there may be errors. The videorecording of the meeting was posted yesterday, so you can verify anything there. For the public comment section, I have added the hour/minute/second reference for each speaker to the video. If you find errors in my notes, let me know and I will correct them.


Caledonia Community Schools
ORGANIZATION & REGULAR BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING
ADMINISTRATION OFFICE BOARDROOM
JANUARY 16, 2023 ~ 6:00PM

1. Call to Order

2. Pledge of Allegiance

3. Roll Call

4. Recognition

Dr. Martin: best communicating superintendent of the year for MI. [In addition to watching the video of the presentation, you can view the slide online.]

5. Election of Officers for 2023

a. President: Brittany nominates Marcy. Unanimous affirmation.

b. Vice President: Justin nominates Brittany. Unanimous affirmation

c. Secretary: Justin nominates Katy Isic. Unanimous.

d. Treasurer: Katie nominates Jason Saidoo. Jennifer Nichols nominates Tim Morris. White, Isic, Barber Garcia, and Saidoo yes for Justin and no for Morris. Nichols, Brandow, and Morris vote yes for Morris and no for Saidoo. When it was her turn to vote regarding Morris, Katie delivered an explanation of her no vote: Transparency is important. She requested minutes from the finance committee at least 24 hours in advance of the board meeting every month. It did not happen once. Tim delayed the bond work while prices have escalated. Finance committee meetings lacked focus while Tim focused on the social-studies textbook adoption. He took email threads and highlighted only what favored your election. Your long delay was wrong. You have created lack of trust. You have created distrust in our staff.

6. Consent Agenda

a. December 12, 2022 Minutes

b. December 12, 2022 Closed Minutes

c. December 2022 Payables

d. January 2023 Personnel Report

e. Anticipated overnight trips for 2023

f. Financial Institutions that may be used:

i. Huntington Bank

ii. Fifth Third Bank

iii. Michigan Liquid Asset Fund Plus

iv. United Bank

g. Legal Firms that may be retained, as needed:

i. Rhodes, McKee, Boer, Goodrich and Titta

ii. Miller, Johnson, Snell & Cummiskey

iii. Thrun Law Firm, P.C.

iv. Clark Hill, PLC

v. Dickinson Wright, PLLC

h. Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer or their

designees are authorized to sign checks, contracts, agreements and purchase

orders.

Jason moved to approve the consent agenda. Tim: wants to make sure that we are going to continue to look at the law firms, weed out the ones that we are not using, and bring on others. Marcy: We do not pay retainer fees to all these law firms. Also: a suggestion was made to add a law firm, but there were concerns. So we will study that for a month and revisit this question next month. For now, we will continue with the firms listed. Roll call: yes from everyone.

7. Reports and Information

a. Board Committee and Legislative Assignments. Assignments will happen within the next week. Marcy will contact each to ask about their interests. Will want a new board member on each committee.

b. 2020 Bond Update. Mr. Hess: See a series of slides (transcribed in what follows):

REMAINING PROJECTS

15 MAJOR CATEGORIES

  • Classroom additions at Caledonia Elementary
  • Interior doors and hardware
  • Interior signage at four schools
  • Furniture, Fixtures, and Equipment
  • Flooring at High School (north)
  • Site security gate at High School (south)
  • Athletics training facility
  • Stadium field turf
  • Playground additions at three ES
  • General landscaping
  • Monument signage
  • High School complex connection
  • Bleacher and mat hoists
  • Door system replacement at Emmons Lake
  • School bus covering Structure
  • District technology

COMPLETED PROJECTS SINCE OCTOBER

2020 Bond – Remaining Projects

  • Completed projects since October
  • Guardrail at Kettle Lake playground
  • Special Programs offices at Duncan Lake
  • Traffic signage (phase 2) at Duncan Lake
  • Updated High School exterior (east) lighting
  • Completed recommended (SEC) window film installations
  • Replacement of the HS main gym perimeter lighting
  • Office renovation at Administration
  • Added card access at Paris Ridge and Kraft Meadows

PROJECTS UNDERWAY OR UNDER CONTRACT

  • Flagpole replacement at Caledonia ES
  • Lighting replacement on trail from Emmons Lake, Kraft Meadows, and High School
  • to Stadium
  • Exterior lighting and safety improvements at Emmons Lake
  • Emmons Lake fencing (SEC recommendation)
  • Interior Signage at Kettle Lake ES and Caledonia ES
  • Replacement of hand dryers at High School
  • Complete re-key of Duncan Lake
  • High School flooring
  • ECC parking lot / sidewalk lighting
  • Stadium turf installation (contract expected within 2 weeks)
  • Cal Community Center
  • Technology projects – February Update

PROJECTS IN DESIGN

TOWER PINKSTER

  • High School connector
  • Security gate at HS (south)
  • Monument signs
  • Training center

CAL OPERATIONS

  • Student furniture replacement at Duncan Lake
  • Interior signage at Paris Ridge
  • Water fountain to fountain / bottle filler upgrades
  • Court and performance lighting at HS main gym
  • Principals are informed of the budgets and categories and are working on lists

Mr. H.: these lists are not exhaustive.

QUESTIONS:

  • Jason: turf field? H: Next on the agenda
  • Jason: put something on the website periodically? H: Yes, will do.
  • Marcy: coffee shop? H . . .

C. Ralph E. Meyer Stadium Turf

Approved with the 2020 bond: stadium turf at the stadium. Originally: new stadium on new property. But the community was very vocal about wanting the stadium on its present site.

We interviewed four national vendors. Basic field. Two lowest quotes were close together.

Astroturf and Fieldturf. Second interview: which company would be the best to work with over the next ten years? We need confidence in them for maintenance and repairs. Astroturf of Michigan stood out. Comprehensive answers to student-safety questions. If we wait for the Feb. 21 board meeting, we will be challenged to meet the schedule. But if we give them a letter of intent, we can move forward. We won’t be obligated, but they can begin applying for permits. And it will be possible to have the field done for football season.

Marcy: is it the same company that we might use for Scotland Yard field? H: Yes, they do that sort of replacement. Marcy: does putting this in cause any problem with the track or with other things that have to go on? H: No. We have to build from the center out, so the field has to be done first. If they mess up the track, they own it. They commit to not messing it up. Mr. Townsend visited 50 fields. These people bridge the track. No risk to us.

Tim: what does a letter of intent do? Will it save time? K: yes, can start permitting process. Also some engineering design, looking at where we need conduit, water, do geotesting. Jason: BOGO deal for Scotland Yard? (joke) Real question: if we do a letter of intent, how set are the prices? And if we vote no in February, what are the repercussions: K: none. Prices: what you see there is originally for the generic, basic field. During this period we will design the end zone for Cal etc. Original design had no water on the field, so we’re adding that.

Marcy: is everyone OK with the letter of intent? Unanimous: yes.

8. Discussion Items

a. May 2023 Call for Election Resolution (Bond) Dr. M: Cal does a bond around every 7 years. Last one was 2020. Reviewed what it was going to do, including swimming pool. Significant inflation left us with inadequate bond funds to do everything. So the board decided on a supplemental bond in May 2023 for Dutton Elementary, CalPlex, and some other things. Can do up to $125M without increasing tax rate. Asking for up to $61M. That will suffice. Preliminary approval letter is in your packet. Asking the board to approve a bond vote for May 2, 2023. Questions: no.

b. School of Choice Resolution

Dr. M.: Now the time of year when we are asking to pass a resolution to opt in or out of various nonresident programs. We want to opt out of section 105 and 105c, two state-level programs. Asking the board to opt into Kent ISD collaborative schools of choice, which helps us retain control. We are asking the board to do the same. Justin: for a vote next month? Marcy: yes.

c. Fencing (Emmons Lake Elementary)

Mr. Hess. Jason Russell, SEC recommendations. Two items for February, just introducing tonight. Emmons Lake is the only school with an open-border playground, and it is remarkably open, right next to a walking trail. People drive through the playground every day. So we want to install a long fence. We want to install a walk gate, because the cross-country team runs through; and a large gate for bringing in equipment and for snow removal. Asked bids for fencing companies. These companies come and go, but Fencing Consultants is stable. Their price is much lower, but their hourly rate for repairs is significantly higher. We figured it’s better to stay with FC. Jason: increased maintenance cousts for weed control etc? Mr. H: yes. But fence gates are notorious. Kids, staff, and the public are hard on gates. They have to be repaired annually. Tim: won’t affect the Paul Henry Trail? H: no, that’s at the other end of the schools property. And anyway, people will still be able to walk through at night.

d. Building Commissioning (Cal Community Center)

“Commissioning”: a part of any building process. Hasn’t been around for a long time but it is important. Has come into its own int he last 10-15 years. A company comes in with testing equipment to verify what the architect and builders put in. Does the HVAC do the volume of air it was supposed to? Yes or no. If not, the builder has to make it right. Builders welcome this as a good check that prevents problems later. Commissioning has not been done at CCS with many of the past projects; we have found many situations where it would have made a difference. We want to do it with our new construction. And we want to do some retro-commissioning in future years. Brittany: no cost estimate? H: still looking at costs.

9. Board and Superintendent Reports

a. Curriculum and Learning Committee – not this month.

b. Finance and Operations Committee – not this month.

c. Board Trustee Reports

Marcy: we have had much division. I hope we are looking to moving forward in ways that support our kids and teachers.

d. Superintendent Report: Dr. M. For the first time we are aware of, 7 or our 8 eligible schools received recognition as Reward Schools. All of our elementary and KE (?) buildings. Buses: 887k miles a year. We have brought the numbers down, reducing ride time to less than an hour, but also reducing 223k (?) fewer miles per year.

Feb board meeting falls on a holiday, Feb. 20, so we are moving the meeting to 6 PM Feb. 21. Also we are bringing on a new transportation director. DECCA. Wood TV 8: students from Paris Ridge did a zoom call with chief meteorologist Ellen Bacca. Also: an article in SNN (School News Network) about the great things we have done with Capturing Kids Hearts. About 75 percent of our staff went through that training this summer. Have seen a 48 percent decline in discipline problems in one year. Incredible evidence of outstanding work. We are moving in a good, positive direction that is showing in student achievement, in operations, and in attitudes of students and staff.

10. Public comment

  • Melissa VanGessel (1:18:24): on behalf of CEA. Acknowledging Cal educators here tonight. Numerous years of education experience. Proud of each one. Our district and our students are stronger and safer because of the work of our union members. Jan is national school board appreciation month. Grateful for the positive relations we have with many of you.
  • Erica : yields time to Wendy
  • Wendy Tanner (1:20:19): Will not use actual names. Speaking only of proven facts. A candidate FOIAd our teachers and staff. I made my own FOIA request. My finding from the first request. Mr. Kingsbury, I am requesting communications between CCF teachers, staff, and administration including my name XX, and former name XX between dates. Now I knew the who. Les than 24 hours later, this person asked for any communications with her name between the schools and the children’s advocacy center. Second finding: a current board member had concerns about the sharing of information about one of our candidates children by our building administrator. The administrator was questioned. It turned out to be highly unlikely that the admin tried to get information regarding that board member’s children. Nov. 4, email to Mr. K: wondering whether the fact that I FOIAd made public through personal conversations? I also received information through social media screenshots that conveyed information about a X’s relations with a convicted child molester. Another board member had his record of sign stealing outed. So I think these two tried to abuse their power to force blame onto a school administrator. They blocked people on their social media sites. Can FOIAs be made public? Will the board continue to interrogate staff members when there is no evidence of wrongdoing Cites policy manual. Is it typical that one board member can launch an investigation on a staff member without evidence?
  • Katee Aubil (1:27:42): still in disbelief as to what unfolded during the election season. I may have been in favor of a different outcome, but I acknowledge the election, and I wish the entire board success. . . .
  • James Ernest (1:31:10; see https://verbasparsa.org/2023/01/16/fears-and-hopes/). [I see on the video that when I quoted Angela Rigas, she shook her head. (She is seated in the second row, third from the right in the video image.) But I quoted her verbatim. She said exactly what I said she said. You can find that in the video of the May 2021 meeting.]
  • Mary Anne Timmer (1:34:48) I didn’t take notes). I remember that she asked for an ethics rule that would not allow school board trustees to use their school board title in endorsing partisan political candidates.
  • Angela Rigas (1:37:34). I didn’t take notes. Her remarks were positive (though to my ear hollow/false).

11. Action Items

a. May 2023 Call for Election Resolution (Bond). Yes, unanimous.

b. February Board Meeting Date Change. Change to Feb. 21. Yes, unanimous.

12. Adjournment.

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