Dexter school board staying busy

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The Dexter Community Schools Board of Education is as busy as ever, even as the school year wraps up.

The June 14 meeting of the Dexter school board saw a number of decisions and announcements, including the resignations of two board members, a contract extension for the superintendent and adopting a budget.

Things don’t expect to slow down too much in the coming weeks as the school board will need to fill the two vacancies left by school board president Julie Schumaker and board trustee Daryl Kipke.

Both announced prior to the meeting and at it that they are stepping down later this month.

“I am writing to resign my position as Trustee on Dexter Community Schools Board of Education, effective June 30, 2021,” Schumaker said in a letter to DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis and school board vice president Mara Greatorex.

“It has been my privilege to serve our community for the past 18 years,” Schumaker said.

Julie Schumaker. photo from DCS website

“During my tenure on the Board, I have served alongside 21 school board members, five superintendents, and two interim superintendents. I have had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of community members who care deeply about the education of their children. I have visited classrooms from pre-K through HS, ridden school buses, watched countless performances and competitions, and had the honor of passing out diplomas to 18 classes of Dexter graduates,” she said looking back at her time on the board.

In closing her letter, Schumaker said, “While the Board has faced difficult decisions over these years, collectively the Board has always focused on doing what is in the best interest of kids. One of the strengths of the School Board is that it is a nonpartisan body which strives to serve all students and families in our community. I have every confidence that Dexter Community Schools will continue to be a point of pride in Dexter and an educational leader in our state.”

Her full letter can be found in the June 14 meeting packet at the following link: https://www.dexterschools.org/district/board-of-education/meetings.

Kipke said he will also step down from his position on the Board of Education effective June 30.

“As the world is emerging from the Covid-19 epidemic, I need to devote more of my time and energy to my professional work,” he said. “At the same time, I am confident that DCS is sailing into much less turbulent waters such that the Board can once again turn its primary attention to academic growth and achievement and student development.”

Daryl Kipke. photo from DCS website

He wrapped up his letter by saying, “I have been very honored to serve on the Board of Education for the last six+ years. I think Dexter is a special community and that DCS is an exceptional school district. I step down from the Board knowing that DCS is in a strong position going forward through its excellent Board of Education, outstanding administration, teachers, and staff, and strong community support.”

Looking forward, The Sun Times News reached out to vice president Greatorex to get a better idea of the next steps.

She said according to policy they have 30 days to fill a board vacancy.

“Both Dr. Schumaker and Mr. Kipke turned in letters of resignation that are effective June 30,” she said. “Because we realize we have a tight schedule and that we will be working around summer vacations during late June and July, we are trying to be as accommodating as possible.”

She said DCS, on July 1, the day after the resignations, will send an email to all parents notifying them of the two open positions on the school board and they will also send press releases to local media outlets to inform the community of the open seats and how to apply.

“We would like to allow interested community members two weeks to apply,” Greatorex said.

The application will be available online. She said the current plan is to have the deadline for application on July 16.

At the June 14 meeting, the school board discussed having the interviews on July 21 and 22. However, Greatorex said a community member commented during the second public participation opportunity and asked the Board to consider holding interviews over two weeks in order to accommodate interested applicants who may be on summer vacation during the week of the proposed interview dates.

“It was a good comment and something that the Board is going to take into consideration,” Greatorex said.

The school board also discussed holding a community chat with some current board members attending for those interested and who may have questions about being on the board.

The chat will be at 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on June 28 in the Bates Boardroom.

To the superitendent, the school board unanimously approved extending his contract.

During the meeting, Schumaker said typically the school board has approved an extension of the Superintendent’s contract on an annual basis. She said the board of education voted to rate Superintendent Dr. Christopher Timmis highly effective following the completion of his annual performance review on December 7, 2020.

The board approved modifying the current contract to extend the employment term of the contract from June 30, 2025 to June 30, 2026.

With the budget outlook, Sharon Raschke, DCS’s chief financial officer, gave the school board in her report some key parameters, they are included here:

• State Foundation allowance $8,470, a $142 increase from 2020-21

• Reduced the $65 State categorical from 2020-21

• Other State categorical funding continued at 2020-21 amounts

• Student count 3,508, a 120 student increase recovering 50 percent of the pupils lost during 2020-21

• Wage changes based on all employee group bargaining contracts financial parameters

• Employee level and step increases included

• The employer contribution towards health benefits increased 3 percent

• MPSERS Retirement Rate 42.95 percent per ORS communication and our specific staff retirement elections (including the UAAL rate currently subsidized with a State categorical funding)

• No Academic staff increase is included at this time. Any staffing impact of DHS block scheduling is not included

• Long range trends are not meaningful under the current climate; the Budget reflects 2021-22 and 2022-23 and 2023-24 trend only

Raschke said there are several major variables that were not fully known at the time of budget preparation. She said the “allocation of federal and state ESSER COVID relief funding and associated expenses are not included at this time. Neither summer school revenue nor expenses are included. Changes in student count, state foundation, and state categorical grants will also have a large impact. The restructuring of the Early Childhood Learning Center program are not included.”

“Recognize that we have prepared this budget in order to meet our obligation in good faith,” she said in her report. “Further information and decisions will continue to be made both before and after the budget 6/14/2021: Board budget memo 2021-22 6-14-2021.doc hearing and budget adoption. We will end this year and start next year with a budget that will not reflect all known data. The November revision to the budget will be the real operating plan for the year. The budget for 2021-22 must be adopted by June 30, 2021.”

The board adopted the budget as submitted.

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