The Fredonia Moccasin Unified School District held their regular meeting Tuesday. The high school meeting room was packed with concerned parents, teachers and community members.

The meeting began with a report from Superintendent Nicholas Bartlett. During the May 8 meeting, some questions had been posed.  His presentation was in response to those questions:

With regard to a superintendent/principals wage reductions, there was a reduction of $11,000 in 2010 in the elementary school principal wage, with the hiring of the new principal. In 2011-2012, the superintendent, principal and business manager each took a voluntary $700 contract cut per year.

With regard to reductions in maintenance staff, the staff was reduced by a half time custodial, and a half time bus driver.

With regard to athletic reductions, Bartlett explained there have been no reductions in the athletics program, and that a swim program has actually been added.

With regard to an outside audit to evaluate the district and help develop a 10-year plan, he stated that in 2009 the board had appointed a committee to look at the finances and various aspects of the district to make recommendations on where to cut and where to improve.

A voice from the crowd exclaimed, “and we were brushed off like we were nothing!”

Another crowd member retorted, “no we weren’t.”

Bartlett continued that the district had just been through an accreditation process this year, which evaluated all aspects of the school.

With regard to FHS compared to other schools its size, Bartlett stated that the state produces a survey with salary comparisons.  He displayed a chart on the wall.  Much of the chart information was compiled by the ASBA, the rest by Mary of the district office. Twelve other schools were represented in the survey. Copies are available to the public in the district office. 

Several community members addressed the board during public comment.

Caviat employee Colette Cox stood and stated that Bartlett had called her supervisor in an attempt to have her terminated. She expressed that she felt Bartlett used scare tactics to get what he wanted, but that she was not fearful.

Bartlett addressed the comment, “The accusation is 100% false.” He suggested the board call the supervisor and ask him about the conversation. He exclaimed that what was just said in public comment was not true.

Another community member expressed her concern about Indian education. She feels there are two issues that need to be addressed. One is that children are behind in grade level, but being passed on. Two is the tutoring, especially with the resignation of Dottie Donn. “She’s been an asset.”

Sondra Bistline approached the board, “I have been watching a growing divide between community and school employees.” She feels that the divide seems to be getting even bigger. 

Bistline said that at the last meeting it was stated the recent occurrences were not based on a personal agenda. “I have five personal agendas and they all have names.” She explained that she would like to have her children be part of the school, sports and other programs, but the divide needs to be bridged first.

She stated, “The public school does not have a monopoly on education anymore, there are options.”

Christine Johnson stated, “the most important thing we can do is protect us from losing this school… I think we need a new superintendent. Today is our rainy day, there is money in reserve and we need to use it now.” She stated she would like to see the students who had left return and programs returned.

Another woman expanded on Johnson’s sentiment, “Do we have to have a Noah’s Ark rainy day to use it?”

The first items on the agenda were the expense voucher approvals. Board member Griffiths asked about the payment for the marquee. He stated he did not know the marquee was $30,000. Board member Cox agreed the amount seemed high.

The approval for the purchase was discussed. Bartlett stated the sign was purchased before the district knew about the changes to the budget, prior to any releases. Funds for the marquee are from a small school grant, capital outlay and forestry fees. The expense vouchers, including the one for the marquee, were approved 3-1

The Coconino County Community College dual enrollment contract was discussed next. For CET classes there is no charge, for non-CET courses it will be $25 per student per credit hour.  Coconino Community College will invoice the school and then the board will need to decide whether or not to charge the students.

The district is working on securing English 101 and 102 for their students for dual enrollment.

The board entered into executive session for approximately 1.5 hours to discuss the superintendent’s contract.

Upon returning from executive session, it was determined that two board members, Marilyn Cox and Jim Goodnow, would be assigned to take all of the information and concerns that have been brought forth to be reviewed and researched.

Board President Lamar Heaton stated, “In light of the concern we have for our school, we need to go in a better direction than what we are in now.”  

The next agenda item was the resignation of Dorothy Donn. Fredonia Elementary Principal Joe B. Wright stated, “She has been a great asset to us this year.  She did an excellent job and had a great rapport with the students. We’re sad to see her go.”

Lamar Heaton then read his letter of resignation to the board. The letter stated that he had served for five years and only had six months remaining on his term. He explained that with changing circumstances in his life, “the declining health of my wife, I must devote my time to her and my family.”

He explained that it was a difficult to leave while there is so much going on, but his family is the most important thing.

His resignation as board president would be effective at the end of this meeting.

Heaton was given a standing ovation in appreciation of his dedication to the school and community and in support of his situation.

The board regretfully accepted the resignation.

Ron Johnson then publicly thanked Heaton for the outstanding work he has done with the board and for the students.

The board would like to see a protocol for addressing past public comments.  Heaton feels that something should be put in place to insure that public comments are addressed at the following board meetings.

Heaton expressed his gratitude for the ability to serve on the last two boards. He stated there have been ups and downs, but what really needs to be focused on now is, “We need to pull together, not only as a board, but as a community and a school.”

Thank you Lamar Heaton for your service and dedication to the Fredonia Moccasin Unified School District.