By: Anna Wozniak
THE VILLAGE REPORTER
The Montpelier Board of Education met on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 at 5:30 p.m., noticeably held in the auditeria instead of the choir room as usual.
The meeting kicked-off with the recognition and appreciation of outgoing board members Shawn Owen and Jeremy Clinger.
They were presented plaques by Nate Rose, and were joined in attendance by Patti Rockey, Dunne Gambler, Superintendent Jamison Grime, and CFO / Treasurer Carla Rice.
The students of the month were then honored, with them being listed as follows: Aubrey Waterston, kindergarten; Anatolia Hopper, 1st grade; Brantley Hammill, 2nd grade; Alexx Belcher, 3rd grade; Taytum Ickes, 3rd grade; Brayson Henry, 4th grade; Jaelynn Pollock, 5th grade; Montaigu Conway, 6th grade; Braxton Henry, 7th grade; Carter Endicott, 8th grade; Precious Stoner, high school.
It was again shared that those interested in the board vacancy that will appear on January 1st, 2024 should email Nate Rose at: email@example.com .
Mrs. Rice then gave her report, which was accepted as presented with no discussion before the board moved on to approve the minutes from their November 7, 2023 meeting as presented.
The financial report was accepted as presented, including the donations from the following:
Civic League, Academic Boosters, Athletic Boosters, the Chamber of Commerce, Thompson / a Step Above, Kasche Bible, Dave Birdsall, the Custar family, Strong Real Estate, and the Olde Tyme Holiday gathering.
Classified staff recommendations were approved as presented, with Lindsay Cooley being added to this year’s substitute teacher list.
The overnight wrestling trips for 2023-2024 were approved, and January 2024 was proclaimed as School Board Recognition Night.
The OSBA school management news membership fees were approved, as were the membership fees for the Legal Assistance Fund.
Brent Saneholtz was reappointed to the Montpelier Park Board for a five-year term, beginning January 1, 2024.
Nate Rose was approved as pro-term board president for the January 9, 2024 organizational meeting, and then Mr. Rose read aloud a letter he wrote to the attending MEA (Montpelier Education Association) members.
He presented the ending 2023 pay for teachers across the county, as well as provided clarified language on the personal day restriction currently being faced by Montpelier teachers.
The language presented currently to the MEA assures teachers only 3 days of personal leave to, in the board’s view, ensure that Montpelier students are not negatively affected by the district-wide teacher shortage.
Mr. Rose shared that they are not looking to amend the final offer made to the MEA, stating that the district’s legal counsel has recommended that “final offer” stands final until voted on by the MEA.
When asked by MEA members what the next step would be in the event that the teachers refuse to agree to such harsh restrictions on personal days, none on the board could give a definitive answer.
All that was definitive was that the board would not amend their contract offer until it was officially voted on by the MEA, with Mr. Rose sharing that he “spoke out of turn” at last month’s meeting when he assured MEA members that the board would be more than willing to amend the offer so that something can be agreed upon, and the teachers within Montpelier district can say they are working under a contract again for the first time in almost half a year.
Personal testimonies from the MEA members present then began, with many reading letters from prior students on how impactful Montpelier teachers have been on a multitude of lives.
The board again reiterated that nothing they presented was done out of disrespect to the teachers, and thanked them for the impact they have on the students.
“We are grateful that you put all of this work into our students,” Mrs. Gambler began, which was immediately followed by an attendee stating “then give them a fair contract!” The statement was followed by lengthy applause.
It was also discussed that there always seems to be funding available for administration positions, specifically with regards to a projected period wherein the district will see two superintendents for a year to transition from one to the other.
Mrs. Yagelski shared how she had witnessed class sizes and educational issues increase as teachers leaving and retiring were not replaced, stating that they were told these replacements were not made due to the money not being there.
“Why is it that we need to make such a great expenditure for an additional superintendent, when that large salary could be used to get more teachers, or to pay the ones you’ve got…” she continued, “they are worth wanting, I just wanted to say that out loud.”
It was then that the Montpelier Board of Education voted to enter into executive session at 6:47 p.m.