MOREnet Council Meeting Minutes - Aug. 18, 2011
10:30 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Thursday. August 18, 2011
221 North Stadium Blvd., Suite 201
Members present: Margaret Conroy, Chair, Gary Allen, Russ Brock, John Gillispie, Leigh Ann Grant-Engle via phone, Mariano Marin-Gomez, Paul Mensching, Rusty Monhollon, Kevin Palmer, Archie Sprengel, Doug Young, Cindy Youngblood
Alternates present: Jacque Cowherd, Mark Mabe, Barbara Reading
MOREnet staff present: Natasha Angell, Lynn Burgan, Chip Byers, Sherry Loyd, Hank Niederhelm, Greg Silvey
Chair Margaret Conroy called the MOREnet Council meeting to order. Those who were in attendance are listed above.
Chair Conroy asked for additions to the agenda and the following items were added: 1) Endorsement of Surplus Expenditure, and 2) FCC Data Overview.
Chair Conroy asked for a motion to adopt the agenda. Russ Brock so moved and the agenda was adopted as revised.
Chair Conroy started introductions and then gave the Council members a general overview of how the Council operated prior to the MOU being amended. MOREnet was started by a federal grant and then applied for state appropriations in conjunction with the Missouri State Library (MOSL), the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), and the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE). In 2003, a MOU was created outlining how the MOREnet Council would operate and how appropriated funds would be spent. The February, 2011 amendment to the MOU was entered into due to the appropriated budget essentially being eliminated, and therefore, eliminating the need for those sponsoring agencies to have a larger say in decisions being made than the member constituencies. A line in the State’s budget remains, however it is unlikely that it’ll be funded.
ACTION ITEMS/INFORMATION ITEMS
Election of Officers
Chair Conroy informed the Council that she had previously asked Rita Gulstad, Barbara Reading and Leigh Ann Grant-Engle to form the nominating committee to select new MOREnet Council seats. They agreed and reported that Russ Brock had been chosen, and agreed to be nominated, for Chair and that Craig Klimczak had been chosen, and agreed to be nominated, for Vice-Chair.
The nominating committee recommended approval of the slate of candidates as presented. All members in attendance were in favor of both nominations. Conroy then transferred the Chair to Russ Brock for the remainder of the Council meeting.
Minutes of the June 20, 2011 MOREnet Council Meeting – Approval
Chair Brock asked for any recommendations for changes and/or additions to the June 20, 2011 meeting minutes as distributed. There were no recommendations and Rusty Monhollon moved to approve the June 20, 2011 meeting minutes as distributed. Mark Mabe seconded the motion and it passed unanimously.
Original FY12 Budget – Endorsement
Lynn Burgan reviewed the materials provided in the meeting packet on the original FY12 budget. Conroy moved to endorse the FY12 original budget as presented. Rusty Monhollon seconded the motion. Monhollon asked Conroy to explain the Remote Electronic Access for Libraries (REAL) program spending reserves line balance. Conroy explained that REAL spent a part of their reserves to procure one year of Learning Express Library, as well as, the Job and Career Accelerator component. DESE also purchased a year of Learning Express Library. All were in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Endorsement of Surplus Expenditure
Chip Byers reported on this added agenda item regarding Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licenses by explaining that in 1963 the FCC set aside a frequency band for educational purposes. Current license holders need to demonstrate “substantial service” that is educational use of their existing license by November 1, 2011 or face forfeiture of their license. Those licenses not actively in use will likely be sold by the FCC to commercial entities.
MOREnet recommends working with existing educational license holders to preserve the best frequencies before they are lost. Staff recommends spending the minimum amount necessary to preserve the licenses. MOREnet staff would then work with the license holders and other members within the geographical footprint of the license to maximize the use and value of the licensed frequency. To date, staff have identified 12 licenses and those licenses cover 405 member sites. The $270,000 requested is to preserve the licenses and stand up equipment in order to meet the “substantial service” requirement. Each license area would then need to be assessed to determine what savings might be possible for members.
Currently there isn’t a renewal process; instead, standard agreements show leases running until the lessee doesn’t do as they agreed. Kevin Palmer added that the Columbia College has this arrangement and their lease is coming to an end. He believes leases are generally in the 15-20 year range.
From the long term perspective, Gillispie sees upside in the licenses because MOREnet can use it while the carriers don’t need the spectrum. Eventually they’ll need the entire spectrum and that is when there will be added value to the licenses. MOREnet’s proposal to school districts (the current license holders) will be to split the upside when and if commercial providers desire to lease the license. FCC data was shared and Byers pointed out areas in the state where no commercial broadband is available. He added that there may be errors in that reporting; however, staff is unsure at this point. Most MOREnet members in those areas are unable to afford broadband and it’s more likely that broadband may not even be available.
The Council should contact Byers with any inquiries.
Conroy moved to endorse the recommendation to spend up to $270,000 to preserve selected Educational Broadband Service (EBS) licenses by entering into a formal MOU with each license holder and establish a substantial service connection within the license area by November, 1, 2011. Palmer seconded, however, after discussion, Conroy, with Palmer’s agreement, withdrew the motion. Monhollon then moved that the Council authorize MOREnet to spend up to $20,000 per found license up to a maximum expenditure amount of $500,000. Marin-Gomez seconded. Palmer was supportive of the staff request for $270,000, but found it troubling that the Council increased the amount to $500,000, and was being asked to approve the request on short notice. Monhollon asked about investment risks and Gillispie responded that members will benefit and explained that revenue spent will be recaptured via a new wireless network access fee. Risks would be problems with technology or towers being unavailable for lease. All were in favor and the motion passed unanimously.
Palmer asked that priorities be set and followed in preserving licenses.
Draft FY11 Actuals – Information
Greg Silvey reported that revenue over expenses is a positive $361,258 due to lower circuit costs, salaries and benefits savings, additional for-fee service revenue and high member retention.
Use of the Surplus – Discussion
Gillispie reported that there is substantial surplus that the auditors have recommended be spent on behalf of the membership. He quickly reviewed the criteria list developed by staff and asked for further input. MOREnet is to have a policy in place by February 2012.
Monhollon, Palmer, Cindy Youngblood and Paul Mensching agreed to sit on a subcommittee to determine what processes and policy should be followed in determining what projects should be approved by the Council. The group is to report back their findings at the next MOREnet Council meeting. Silvey will serve as coordinator for the subcommittee.
Chair Brock thanked Rita Gulstad for her service to the MOREnet Council and presented her with a plaque. At the request of the Council, Gulstad had joined them for lunch.
Membership Update – Information
Natasha Angell reviewed the membership update materials provided in the meeting packet. She announced a change in that the Connection Cancellations increased from 19 to 20 and that the Membership Service and Connection Cancellations decreased from 16 to 15. In FY12 there have been 3 private K12 institutions join MOREnet. Staff is starting to market to the more than 400 private K12s in the state.
MOREnet New Service Overview – Information
Byers gave an overview of the new service offerings. Angell added that Vidyo software was also being acquired and would be additional software that could be used for desktop videoconferencing and/or distance learning opportunities.
Chair Brock asked the Council for thoughts on how member groups should bring new ideas before the Council. The group agreed that member advisory group representatives should bring suggestions to the Council for consideration after the ideas have been discussed with MOREnet staff to determine feasibility.
Member Reports - Information
K-12 Advisory Group
Chair Brock reported that the group conducted a conference call to get organized and identify MOREnet Council representation. A member in the southwest corner of the state has a 1:1 initiative they’re working on and would like to talk with MOREnet staff about partnering. Chair Brock to have them contact Byers.
The group had nothing to report as they hadn’t recently met. Gillispie asked how fall enrollment was comparing to previous years for those institutions represented, enrollment either stayed the same or increased.
Cindy Youngblood reported that the Statewide Integrated Library System (ILS) is of interest in the public library community. Sixty-eight of the 165 public libraries have inquired about the service. Most are also looking for services such as storage and service management and an RFI has been issued. She believes there will be an extension given on the RFI due to the uncertainty by the libraries as to what is actually needed.
Gig.U – Information
Gillispie walked the Council through the materials provided. The original goal of Gig.U was to accelerate the deployment of next generation networks in the U.S. The University of Missouri and the City of Columbia are collaborating and join 30 additional research institutions and their local communities in the project. Unlike other alternatives, Gig.U offers many suppliers, many solutions, and many benefits. Staff is currently working with MU’s Electrical and Computer Engineering and the School of Nursing as there may be projects involving the elderly that Gig.U may benefit.
MOREnet wanted to be involved due to the need for significant bandwidth which is required to test certain solutions and to conduct research projects. Gary Allen reported that the University of Missouri was quick to see value in the project.
Chair Brock asked that the Council respond to the Doodle poll Sherry Loyd sent Thursday morning. The Council agreed that the first and fourth quarter meetings will be conducted in by face-to-face meetings.
Chair Brock adjourned the meeting at 2:05 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by Sherry Loyd