Board Work Session Agenda/Minutes 11-18-13

The approved minutes are posted below the agenda. All attachments are PDFs.
 

November 18, 2013 Board Work Session
7:00 pm – Board Room
131 W. Nittany Avenue
State College, PA 16801
 
I. Call to Order and Pledge of Allegiance
 
II. Board Subcommittee for Communications
  • Update on Communications for High School Project
III. Option Development
  • Update: Process involving input from faculty, staff, students and administration (attachment III)
IV. High School Project Financing (attachment IV)(PowerPoint)
 
V. November 25 - Board Meeting
 
VI. Public Comment
 
VII. Adjournment
Minutes
November 18, 2013 Board Work Session
7:00 pm – Board Room
131 W. Nittany Avenue
State College, PA 16801
 
I. Call to Order and Pledge of Allegiance
Penni Fishbaine, board president, called the work session to order at 7:00 p.m. She welcomed and thanked all in attendance for the work session and those viewing from home. Dr. O’Donnell will begin with a few communications.

A copy of all materials distributed to board members for discussion and/or action is included with the official minutes, unless otherwise indicated.
Board members present: Amber Concepcion, Penni Fishbaine, Jim Leous, Ann McGlaughlin, Jim Pawelczyk, Gowen Roper, Dorothea Stahl, Laurel Zydney
Board members absent: David Hutchinson
Board Secretary: Mary Jenn Dorman
Solicitor:
Assistant Superintendent: Robert O’Donnell
District Personnel: Randy Brown, Scott DeShong, Ed Poprik, Wilda Stanfield
Guests: Scott Fozard, Matt Morgan, Scott Thomas

Dr. O’Donnell noted that tomorrow evening, our district’s student services staff is hosting another community learning opportunity as part of our Straight Talk for Parents Series. Topic: Talking to your teen about healthy relationships being held at Mount Nittany Middle School Auditorium, 7:00-9:00 p.m. The presenter is Amelia McGinnis.

This evening’s conversation will focus on our planning efforts related to the High School Project. Before the meeting began, Dr. O’Donnell shared an update of our outreach efforts.

The district is offering small group conversation with design materials that our board and teachers are seeing. Thus, we hope community members will continue to come out and share their thinking about any facet of the project, whether facility, site or financial aspects of the project. If you have yet to follow the project, we will ensure you get a short presentation in a small group so that the environment is easy and not intimidating.

During the next month, we have four additional conversations where several board members, myself, as well as other members of our team will be present with updated drafts of design work, as well as examples of financial calculations that each homeowner can understand. The dates and places are:
• Thurs. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. at Schlow Library Community Room
• Sun. Nov. 24, 2 p.m. at the new Panera Bread in the TJ Maxx plaza
• Wed. Dec. 11, 8 - 9 a.m. at Wegmans Cafe
• Wed. Dec. 18, 8 - 9 a.m. at the Naked Egg, Pine Grove Mills

II. Board Subcommittee for Communications
Update on Communications for High School Project
Mr. Leous provided an update and noted that volunteers were at the polls on Election Day, November 5, they distributed palm cards, and collected email addresses from people that would like to stay involved with the process. On behalf of the Board, he thanked all the volunteers.

He spoke on the Coffee and Conversations and reported that postcards were mailed to State College residents. The district had a Coffee and Conversation at Way’s Fruit Farm and Meyer Dairy last Saturday and four more are scheduled:
• Thurs. Nov. 21, 1 p.m. at Schlow Library Community Room
• Sun. Nov. 24, 2 p.m. at the new Panera Bread in the TJ Maxx plaza
• Wed. Dec. 11, 8 - 9 a.m. at Wegmans Cafe
• Wed. Dec. 18, 8 - 9 a.m. at the Naked Egg, Pine Grove Mills (formerly Watkins)

The subcommittee had a discussion with Mike Paston regarding our responsibility to educate, not advocate, for the project and reviewed the communication plan going up to the Referendum. The website is continually updated and he encouraged people to keep coming back to review the information.

Ms. Concepcion announced that in January, there will be events for preschoolers at the HS South cafeteria and at the same time, tours of the high school buildings will be given. It will be an opportunity to get information on the high school, along with all the local preschools.

Ms. Fishbaine noted that the Board is being as transparent as they can and Mr. Brown would later be discussing funding scenarios, projections out to 2046, and noted this is a complex process.

Ms. Stahl explained that if people go to the conversations and cannot stay, they could go to www.scasd.org high school project page, and enter their questions or comments for the high school project.

Dr. Pawelczyk announced 183 days to Referendum.

III. Option Development
Questions/Comments from November 11 Board Meeting
Mr. Poprik noted he was with out the design team tonight. He would try to answer questions and collect them for the team and provided a quick run through of the last meeting’s presentation.

He spoke on the elevation of the site from front to back and east to west, the learning communities being three-story buildings, and showed the stacking. Board members discussed:
when will the Geo Tech show up, large group instruction places are now displaced, possibly deleted, would like to hear from educators versus the design team about this, the square footage, areas for project-based learning, hoping spaces like this still remain, the enlarged version of the hallway, right now asking questions but not doing design building, the questions will help to do the finished design. Mr. Poprik explained nothing has been set up for doing Geo Tech at this time but will be doing so very soon, and large group instruction places were reduced in size due to the auditorium size that could be divided. The change was made due to discussion with teachers. Mr. DeShong added there have been team meetings and talked about getting big spaces in the right spots and explained the discussions.

Board comments continued: things are evolving from one week to the next, the south auditorium stage still being a part of this, on a slope for a lecture style large group instruction space, large group with flat floor is flexible for more than a lecture, this is a concept and not a floor plan, an explanation of the core classrooms, the science labs, where the stair wells are, they are key to the way this functions with building being stacked, efficient way for students to travel during the day, toured a high school that had Arts/Humanities where all doorways to classrooms were eliminated for flow in and out of the room, could make it much more collaborative, lockers, more functional use of lockers and placement, and would more space be needed for lockers.

Mr. Poprik spoke on the site plan with the South building, North building, Delta, the circulation roads, and focused on the building layout itself. The recirculation of roads would need to be discussed with the Borough Council. We will need to start some discussions with Borough Council, he did a presentation with them at a meeting, and is scheduled to do a presentation with Regional Planning December 6. He does not have a timeline drafted yet. Mr. Poprik sees three issues: parking, the building height, and circulation.

Board members discussed: Needing another calendar for the board, circulation road by Welch Pool, the Driver Ed Range becoming a detention basin, need to have something from our end if it is a direction we are interested in going, realignment of Plaza Drive and options we would have, concerns about what we are seeing here, storm water and water mitigation, Plaza Drive is an arterial road and it is public, largest amount of traffic is to and from the high school, more discussion on the detention basin, see more money go to education verses solving the water problem, need to learn how it is mitigated today, the water mitigation proposal of 2007, originally planning to take down the North building and now wanting to save the building, people have questions about this, we need to move forward with this plan, parking and the water runoff is an issue, from the outside the North building looks okay, all instruction is on the South side, and we will need to hear more from Mr. Harlow on this issue.

Mr. Poprik reviewed the estimate of the North building and the South building. There were three suggested scenarios for different ways to phase the project and they were also reviewed. In Scenarios B, Delta would be delayed and in Scenario C, no work would be done on the North side, only storm water management. Delta would remain in the Fairmount Ave. building for the time being with both of these scenarios.

Board members discussed: How does C vary from B, it is not a long term solution, North demolition and all going except the back piece, where do the decisions intersect, and the cost of demolition could be a way to save.

Update: Process involving input from faculty, staff, students and administration
Mr. DeShong explained that staff hit the ground running in the beginning of August. Staff committees are meeting for the 9th grade Learning Community that will begin next school year.

We continue to provide faculty, staff, and student discussions with Crabtree Rohrbaugh Associates. Mr. DeShong spoke on Educational Specifications to constructional development, teachers providing electronic feedback, face to face interactions, coffees offered October 30 and November 6 for feedback, work done with student government and students working on a building tour video, and other faculty, staff, and student opportunities.

Board members discussed: Nice job engaging everyone, good job with communications internally but maybe not so externally, configuration is related to education, Guiding Principles and how we get people to that level of understanding, being respectful of people’s time, CTC Program and change did happen to the gym location, some areas might not have changed, board members are not really designing, many conversations are out there, there is thinking to capture the rationale, not everyone goes online, we need to be better informed on how to talk to those people, when will we know we have the right learning community, and they could be the right ones today but when will we know they are no longer right. Board members thanked Mr. DeShong, Mr. Hardy and all the people that are working on this. It is an ongoing process.

Dr. O’Donnell mentioned new programs evolving at CPI. We have programs that they do not offer and they have programs we do not offer. We are having conversations and will continue to have conversations for the students in our region.

IV. High School Project Financing
Dr. O’Donnell noted that Mr. Brown and Ms. Watson put together a memo and information for board members to review. There are funding scenarios for the High School Project that Michael Vind, Randy Brown and Donna Watson have worked on. These proposed plans will most likely change but would be doable with a successful Referendum – May 20, 2014.

Mr. Brown explained that he narrowed the list from November 11 meeting and the financing scenarios are using a project cost of $115 million, Referendum Debt of $76.3 million, with a $10 million contribution and .75mill or $1.56 million annual allocation. He explained that instead of a .5 mill, the administration recommends the board set a maximum parameter for an initial district millage allocation of .75 – three quarters of a mill of tax revenue. Mr. Brown was asked to explain the assessed value and he did so. The assessed value is based on the price of homes in 1995, not the current value. He reviewed the mill/tax information for a scenario for 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17. He is waiting to hear from PDE on how the Referendum exception works. He also noted that as the value of a mill goes up, it means a less amount in dollars and provided points of clarification. The Referendum tax amount does not build into the base Real Estate Tax Rate, and it is a separate line on the statement.

Board members discussed: the information on the assessment being very informative, think it would be good for people to see different contribution amounts by the district, when will the Referendum amount be decided, set the amount and keep A/B/C Scenarios provided, should be done sooner rather than later, is there additional information needed for the board to be able to do their job, would like to move forward with this, need no further information, would like to come to a decision, begin to explain, share and educate. Other board members were not comfortable going ahead and not sure of the urgency, two weeks will really not make a difference, and amount could be less than $115 million. Getting more information does not change the financing, Mr. Poprik, at this point, does not recommend taking things off and the conceptual numbers are not final. Ms. Fishbaine noted that the majority of board members are comfortable with voting for the tentative Referendum amount on December 16. Three board members preferred that a vote be taken prior to Dec. 16, either on Nov. 25 or Dec. 2. The board will vote Dec. 16.

V. November 25 - Board Meeting
No discussion occurred for the November 25 Board meeting.

VI. Public Comment
The following audience member addressed the board:
--Scott Fozard noted he hears what all are saying regarding concern for financing and the Referendum. He suggested a meeting for referendum discussion and debate, then have a public discussion for the referendum amount and what that means, and then a meeting to vote. He looks at financing conceptually in a box that includes a total amount for capital expenditures, the referendum, existing debt, and scheduling out projects to a position that by 2046 to 2050 all facilities have been updated and still have a capital fund for unknown projects. Maybe look at the whole plan. Spoke on the district $10 million dollar contribution being borrowed in the mix and if the project gets slightly above the cap, there’s the ability to find some cushion.

VII. Adjournment
Ms. Stahl moved and Dr. Roper seconded to adjourn the meeting. All board members present voted aye with a voice vote. (Mr. Hutchinson was absent.) The motion passed and Ms. Fishbaine adjourned the meeting at 9:51 p.m.

Submitted by,
Mary Jenn Dorman
Board Secretary