With a quorum on hand for only an hour, the Grand Canyon School Board blazed through a lengthy agenda, postponing some, but not all, of the knottier issues until the next meeting in July.
One taken up at the Thursday, May 31, meeting, was the cost of training. Balking at a price tag of over $3,000, the board approved only one of two requests for travel to San Francisco for an international IB conference for heads of schools.
"Since we're going to have probably two authorized programs this year, I would like us both to go and represent our school this year," Breen said. "I don't intend to go to another one though Mr. Kelso may apply to do another one in the future."
Board member Bess Foster said that she had issues both with more IB training and the $300-per-night cost of the hotel.
"Looking at the cost of the places where they end up having these, it always seems to be outrageously expensive," she said.
"That's why we don't go very often," Breen said.
Board President Clarinda Vail said she also found it hard to justify the cost based on the conference agenda.
"It's more warm-fuzzy," she said. "A lot of people, a lot of entities from all over the world. I don't see anything on this agenda that's necessary for us to have."
"I think both of us would benefit from it but I think one of us needs to be there," Breen said.
The training will be funded from forest fees, which were renewed for another year.
Board member Bess Foster dissented on the final motion to fund one of two slots.
The board approved the lease-purchase of a new bus at a cost of $150,693.92. Foster asked if the district might get a better value shopping around for a used bus, saying it was important to save as much as possible for taxpayers facing the prospect of paying a more than $1 million tax judgement to Xanterra. She approved the purchase after a motion was made to fund the purchase out of the capital budget rather than maintenance and operations.
Because of time constraints, the board postponed discussion and a vote on the athletic director job description, the athletic director contract and a contract for a for a strength and conditioning coach.
The board approved a SmartSchoolsPlus contract for Becky Crumbo, who is seeking to retire but retain the MYP Coordinator position. Breen said the arrangement will save the district several thousand dollars based on the benefits that they won't have to pay.
"You're essentially contracting with SmartSchoolsPlus to provide us with an MYP coordinator-dean of students," she said. "It will be Becky and they take care of everything."
Workers who retire with state pensions are prohibited for a year from working for any agency that pays state retirement. Under this arrangement, they are actually employees of SmartSchoolsPlus, contracted to the district.
Board member Chuck Wahler said that he had concerns about this contract, combined with the next item on the agenda, a contract for 16 additional work days.
"I don't want there to be any possible appearance to come back later that Becky was a school employee. Because the purpose for doing this is that we have clearly severed that relationship," he said. "Help me to understand how our contracting extra duty with her wouldn't create a potential problem for us."
Breen compared the arrangement to that with coaches, who work as contractors and receive record of the earnings on a 1099 form.
Wahler asked why those 16 hours were being contracted separately rather than being worked into the SmartSchoolsPlus contract. Crumbo said they chose this arrangement because of the savings.
"I thought that would save the district the most money because you wouldn't be paying that extra fee Ð 14 percent to SmartSchools," she said.
The board approved an intergovernmental agreement between the district and CAVIAT, the county's vocational overlay district, to provide a culinary arts and hospitality training tracks starting next year.
Vail asked if there were plans for a technology program. Breen said that would come eventually along with other business and marketing courses under the hospitality track.
"This is going to be our planning year for what we'll have going forward," she said.
The board approved a memorandum of understanding between the district and the county's vocational rehabilitation office to provide screening and school-to-work transition help.
"Voke-rehab has finally gotten some money," Breen said. "(They) want permission to come on campus and work with our students who will qualify for voke-rehab funding and training. It's high school students and generally they are special ed students."
Under the agreement, the county assigns a counselor to work with the district at no cost to identify and get services to students with disabilities.
The board approved payroll vouchers of $95,868.81 and $303,432.50 and spending vouchers of $51,076.54 $51,142.34. School Business Manager Lee Metheny said the high figure on the second payroll voucher was due to teachers taking their summer pay in a lump sum.
"They get the full amount for the whole summer in one paycheck?" Vail asked.
"In one paycheck," Metheny replied.
Foster questioned expenditures for data phone memory cards and batteries.
"When are these phones going to stop costing us money?" she asked.
Breen said that the purchases were backups.
"We won't be buying any more," she said.
Foster also noted a line item for pest control and asked if past problems were under control. School Maintenance Director Andrew Aldaz said things are better with the exterminator coming four times a year.
Vail wanted to know why one voucher reflected spending for an IB training trip that the board hadn't yet approved. Breen said that they reserved slots early after being shut out of other trainings for registering too late. All the money will be refunded if the board doesn't approve the travel.
"We decided that if it's going to be that hard to get into them, let's just lock it in and we can always undo it," she said.
Foster wanted to know how far in advance the administration learned about trainings. Breen said around six months out.
The board accepted the resignation of elementary teacher Karen Keil, who has decided to retire at the end of June. In the following item of business, the board approved Keil to work as a substitute teacher.
The board approved the hiring of Marilyn Simmons, from North Dakota, as a permanent elementary school teacher to replace Keil. Kelso said her resume was "very impressive" and that she had served as an elected school superintendent. She also sent video tapes of herself teaching, he said.
Wahler asked what grade she would teach. Kelso said probably second.
"How did we find her or how did she find us?" asked board member Suzette Streit.
"I think she saw our Web advertising," Kelso said.
The board approved a one-year contract with Mangum, Wall, Stoops and Warden for outside legal services.
"Prices went up slightly but these are really competitive rates," Breen said.
Breen said that per a conversation with art teacher Amy McBroom, an increase in art fees was needed to cover the cost of notebooks and other extra materials.
"These are not required for the basic cost of the class," Breen said. "This is extra stuff for the kids to use."
The board approved a $5 increase, raising the annual fee for high school art students to $15.
The board meets again on July 3 at 5 p.m. for a special budget meeting and on July 10 at 6:30 p.m. for their regular monthly meeting. Both will be in the school library.