School Committee Approves School Budget

By Kaileigh Deacon

 

The Calais School Committee met on Tuesday in the Calais Middle/High School Library at 6pm. The meeting was called to order with John Hill, James McDonald, and Joe Footer in attendance along with Superintendent Ron Jenkins. 

Prior to the approval of the previous meeting’s minutes and the approval of the current night’s agenda McDonald asked that an item be added to the current agenda, asking that the school cell phone policy be put up for discussion.  The previous meeting’s minutes and the updated agenda were then approved. 

During public participation, Julianne Jones a teacher at Calais High School, got up and told the committee about a project the BARR program had just complete. Comprised of the freshmen class, freshmen teachers, and other staff, the program is designed to make the new Freshmen feel more a part of the school. As part of school improvement and to get the students involved, they created a mural with puzzle pieces designed by the students and Freshmen teachers. 

The first item under new business was the Transportation Bid from First Student. Superintendent Jenkins went to First Student to renegotiate the initial bid from them. The initial bid was $80,000 over the budgeted amount for the contract. After looking at the contract inconsistencies in the billing of Baring for student transportation, errors were found and adjusted. The new contract would be a 5 year contract with a 3.2% increase every year. The bid was passed unanimously by the members in attendance. 

The second item was the review and approval of the school budget. Superintendent Jenkins and his office made a few changes from the last draft of the budget after input from the School Liaison committee and School Committee members to lower the budget. One item removed was the city’s $50,000 contribution to the trustees’ account that would go toward replacing the bleachers in the high school gymnasium. 

The budget was unanimously approved by members in attendance for a total budget of $9,037,768.43 and was sent to the City Council for approval and to be sent for a referendum vote. 

The School Committee then accepted the resignations of Patty Look and Steven Rogers from kindergarten teacher and custodian respectively. 

The Committee then moved to the added agenda item of the school cell phone policy. Footer brought it up as a housekeeping measure that should be looked at this summer before school goes back in session. 

Lori Ellis: Right now the policy says that they can have their cell phones on in any non-instructional time. 

Teachers like Ellis expressed their concerns with the current cell phone policy and how it relates to the current harassment and bullying issues at the school. Teacher Alice Wilkinson presented the School Committee with articles concerning how cell phone policies have affected other schools. 

McDonald: I think instructional and non-instructional time creates a grey area.

The Committee decided to create a policy committee that will consist of teachers, school committee members, parents, and others to examine the current policy and work toward constructing a new one if need be. 

The next School Committee meeting will be held on Wednesday June 21 at 6pm in the Calais Middle/High School library.