Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moh Cafe Turmoil

Moharimet Cafeteria News 

At the school board meeting, the superintendent reported that contractor bids for the Moharimet cafeteria came in over $800K, greatly exceeding the $545K estimate approved by the voters in March.  Apparently the economic downturn is over and contractors are raising prices.  An effort was made to pare back the project to bring costs back in line.  Facilities Director Jim Rozycki is handling the redesign and negotiations. Examples of changes include cheaper acoustic tiles, eliminating duplicate  HVAC work and going from 5 to 2 skylights.

In addition, there is a lot of support to increase the gym width by 10 more feet.  That's in addition to the 20 feet already approved.  Two claims were made in favor: The 50% additional space would cost only 12% more and the modification leaves Moharimet and Mast Way with about equal gym space.  The argument against is that it doesn't make sense to spend more money on space given the expected enrollment decline.

Madbury selectman Jay Moriarty relayed the town's support for the additional expansion,  saying it's OK for the district to further encroach on the town's property line and going so far as to offer town resources to help remove trees.

My guess is the board will approve the additional space at the next meeting.  The money will come from the Capital Reserve Fund opened up by the voters in March and the expected year end fund balance.

The fund balance is the unspent money already raised from the taxpayers.  By law it has to be spent this fiscal year, transferred to the Reserve Fund or given back (i.e. used to reduce next year's taxes).  The business administrator compiled a list of possible uses for the leftover money, mostly facilities maintenance from the capital improvement plan.

Strings Teacher Hired

The board approved the hiring of Andrea von Oeyen as the music teacher who'll concentrate on strings. Ms. von Oeyen has 8 years experience and is currently a teacher in Alton.  She has been involved in our OREO (Oyster River Elementary Orchestra) after school program. 

Board Goals Enumerated

Most of Wednesday's meeting was devoted to a discussion of board members' goals for the district.  All the board and many administrators spoke about their top few priorities.   Here’s my read of the most commonly mentioned ideas -- the board will presumably compile its own list soon.

Math Consultant.  Apparently our students are doing well in math class but poorly on standardized tests.

All Day K Plan.  The idea is to create a transition plan for consideration.

High School Field. Lots of support to bring this long simmering plan to fruition.

Many other goals were mentioned,  including improving teacher evaluations, later start time for middle and high school, solar power and improving areas of academic weakness. 

I'm in Florida typing this on my phone, so I'm gonna end this here.  I'll add links later.  Bye. 

1 comment:

  1. Here we go again, a chance to actually reduce taxes and the school board appears ready to overspend again. Feature creep at its best. It's "only 12% more". Even more ironic is Mr Taylor speaking in support of over building. He was on the board when the HS expanded and how has that worked out for us?

    Have to say your review of what gets stated in meetings is far different from my view. Capital plan? I heard a bunch of staff giving reasons to upgrade various things with almost no hard data to support the expenses. My car is 3 years old and there are newer cars with better mileage being sold today. I better go buy it. Yes, that is the logic being used. Example: Temp varies a handful of times in the building over a school year so we should spend 60 grand for it. That's ridiculus.

    Probably the defining moment of the night was Maria Barth stating she wants to have the board make their plan without any concern of a budget and only worry about money later.

    So where is the money going to come from to pay for all day K in a school system that is supposedly going to decline in enrollment? Voters got lied too.

    The board needs a reset from top to bottom.