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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 01/08/2019

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 01/10/2019 4:03pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Redding Meeting
Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Board of Education: M. Irwin, M. Hoffman, C. Parkin, C. Pilato, L. Hoeing, J. Reilly, H. Whaley
Administration: T. McMorran, S. Pierson Ugol, S. Reiss, N. Hammond, D. Martin, C. Twiss, A. Kirby
Others: Approximately 6 members of the public/staff

Dr. Irwin called the meeting to order at 7:32 p.m.

The Board reviewed and discussed the minutes from the December 4th Board of Education Regular meeting and the minutes of the December 7th Board of Education Special meeting.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the December 4, 2018 Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting, as amended. Reilly, Pilato. Approved. 6-0-1 (Whaley, Abstain).

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the December 7, 2018 Redding Board of Education Special Meeting. Whaley, Hoeing. Approved. 4-0-3 (Hoeing, Pilato, Reilly, Abstain).


L. Hoeing discussed the recent study conducted by Psychologist Melissa G. Hunt, who published her findings on “Limiting Social Medial Decreases Loneliness and Depression” in the December Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. L. Hoeing noted that the study was the first of its kind to show a causal link between time spent on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram and decreased well-being. L. Hoeing also referred to an interview of Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook conducted in 2017, “Sean Parker unloads on Facebook: “God only know what it’s doing to our children’s brains.” L. Hoeing was disturbed by the findings and noted their importance in addressing the issues raised by these findings. She opined that the Board should consider these sources and proposed updating the Social Medial Policy for better management of Redding’s children.

C. Parkin thanked the Mark Twain Library for hosting the first of the Board’s Listening Sessions with the community in its effort to engage with the public in a less formal setting. He noted that the Board hoped to dispel myths and rumors about what is in the budget and to also give the Board an opportunity to hear what is of interest to the community.

Redding Elementary School
N. Hammond referred to the RES Report and stated that the format had changed to provide a more comprehensive overview and snapshot reflecting Noteworthy News and News from the Fine and Practical Arts Team. She stated that next month the Report would focus on curriculum and social aspects. She noted that the revised format would demonstrate the priorities and what the school is doing well. N. Hammond responded to questions from the Board and discussed comments about the community’s perception of a lack in communication regarding the pre-school program. She stated that she and Dr. Twiss were reviewing the pre-K program for next year and would be making some adjustments that would then be communicated to the Board and the public at large. Dr. McMorran stated that additional information is forthcoming on this program at a future meeting. Dr. Twiss discussed the lack of a central repository for storing information and acknowledge that the school could do a better job of making the preschool community more connected to the general school community. Dr. Twiss and N. Hammond also discussed reorganizing the curriculum guides to reflect classes offered at RES so parents could see the types of classes offered at RES, kindergarten registration materials, kindergarten readiness night and kindergarten orientation. The Board suggested posting materials to the school website so that families new to town could access them since they would not yet be on the schools ListServ. N Hammond reported on the current number of kindergarten students who are scheduled to start at RES next year.

John Read Middle School
Next, Dr. Martin reported on experiments conducted in the Learning Commons as a collaborative project between science and the media specialists. Dr. Martin responded to feedback the Board received with respect to the school’s improved communication efforts and encouraged the Board and members of the public that if they were on Twitter to follow Maria Frederick, the school’s Library Media Specialist.

Dr. McMorran addressed the Board’s inquiry regarding additional communications about the lockdown drill. He stated that the Board and community were consistently provided with information and updates as the matter progressed throughout the day. He noted that no additional communications were needed. Dr. McMorran strongly recommend that people listen to the voice messages and read the texts and emails thoroughly before calling Central Office which is busy working with first responders and staff to address the urgency of the issue. Dr. Irwin requested that the specific policy number and updates to the list of prohibited items that could not be brought to school be shared with the Policy Committee to review considering this incident.

Dr. McMorran presented his initial budget proposal for the 2019-20 fiscal year. He discussed investing in the workforce via professional development initiatives, the effectiveness of coaching, retirement incentives, the cost of base salaries for teachers, administrators and support staff, and various contractual obligations. He reviewed the variance of $1,719,169 or 8.14% between the 2018-2019 and the 2019-2020 budget. He then reviewed the description, and proposed budget for each functional bucket within the budget. He then reviewed what lines of the budget the Board could consider reducing or eliminating and suggested that prior year cuts have left little room for reduction, which may require elimination of K-5 Spanish, Gifted and Talented, and an increase in class sizes, among other things, to bring the increment down. Dr. McMorran was careful not to make any recommendations, opinions or factors for the Board to consider when eliminating programs or resources. He continued his presentation with a review of enrollment data and stated that people are not specifically coming to Redding for gold plated Special Education incentives. The Board discussed communicating this information to the town at its next Listening Session considering its reaction to last year’s proposed budget. The Board also discussed its plan for the upcoming Budget review session and requested a sample IEP from Dr. Twiss and A. Kirby. The Board also thought it would be helpful if the BOF reviewed Dr. McMorran’s presentation as no members attended the meeting.

C. Parkin led the discussion and review of the policies for 2nd Reading. He noted that the policy for the Gifted & Talented Students Program be removed from the list of policies included in the materials at the request of the administration, who would like to offer further revisions.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the following policies for 2nd Reading:
0521 Nondiscrimination
1110.4 Automated Calls/Text Messages (Auto-notification System)
1321.2 Public Videotaping of Educational Activities
2141 Recruitment and Appointment of Superintendent
3516.33 Do Not Resuscitate Order
3520.13 Data-Based Information and Management/Student Data Protection
4111 Recruitment and Selection (Certified and Non- Certified)
4112.2 Certification
4112.51 – 4212.51 Employment/Reference Checks
4118.114 Pregnant Women in the Workplace
4131 Staff Development Policy, Regulation and Appendix
5113 Attendance/Excuses/Dismissal
5113.2 Truancy
5125 Student Records; Confidentiality
5141.213 Opioid Overdose Preventions
5141.3 Health Assessment and Immunizations
5141.5 Suicide Prevention
5145.42 Racial Harassment of Students Policy and Section 504
6111 School Calendar
6121 Nondiscrimination in the Instructional Program
6141.21 Religion in the Public Schools
6141.311 Programs for English Learner Students
6146.2 Statewide Proficiency/Mastery Examinations (Statewide Summative Assessments)
6162.6 Copyright Law Compliance
6171.3 Special Education Placement Out-of-District
Reilly, Pilato. Approved. 7-0.

Special Services Department
Dr. Twiss, Interim Director of Special Services reported on the number of students with IEPs, the pending birth to 3 system referrals, number of PPT meetings held, Special Education referrals, and Special Education exit data. She discussed parent referrals and the District’s need to hire a full-time permanent Special Services Director who would remain in the schools for a period. She explained how a permanent director could help facilitate programming opportunities. At the request of the Board she stated her opinion as to why it might be difficult to retain a permanent director. She noted the already demanding constraints on Special Education Administrators and added that Redding’s two distinct school system compounded efforts of an already difficult job. Dr. Twiss responded to a comment the Board received from the BoF regarding Billable Medicare as a way of seeking reimbursement of some special education cost. She stated that the Central Office would need an additional secretary to process and seek these reimbursements.

Budget Object Summary – Scott Reiss
S. Reiss, Director of Finance & Operations, reviewed the Budget Object Summary, Transfers Report and Health Insurance Analysis. He reported on major pressure points from line items 121, 122, 123 and 124 related to the substitute teaching staff and line item 431, cleaning and repair services since their actual expenditures exceeded the current budget. He responded to questions from the Board regarding these line items. S. Reiss also reported that there were no transfers to note and that health insurance claims were at their lowest since 2013 year to date.

Curriculum and Instruction
Dr. Pierson Ugol, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction referred to the handout, “NTSA Position Statement: Elementary Science Education” and reported on work she and STIC Coach Rebecca Richards had completed thus far. She explained how science standards differ from literacy and math, nothing the critical difference being intervention. She explained how educators can attend conferences and collaborate with collogues to develop and implement the science curriculum. She asked the Board to keep these standards in mind for a future meeting. She stated that not much work has been done on the core NextGenScience standards since they are relatively new. She commented on the standards for Social Studies, Health and Wellness.

Communications Committee
C. Pilato reported that the Committee would meet on Thursday, January 10th before the Budget Workshop. In response to her question, Dr. McMorran advised that the cost of mailing the quarterly Board newsletter would be available on Thursday.

E&R Joint Policy Committee
C. Parkin reported that the Committee would meet on Friday January 25th to review the bylaws for each of the three Boards in the district. He noted that the Bylaws had not been updated since 1997. He also requested that Dr. McMorran follow up with the Wingman program with any edits they have on the Mission and Vision Statement discussed at a previous meeting.

Stan Rhodes, Archers Lane, expressed to the Board that perhaps it was time make way for a private school system thereby eliminating SPED mandates. He also thought that the schools could lease vacant spaces to be utilized by outside sources. He also discussed regionalizing special education resources and projected enrollment.

Mike D’Agostino – Glenn Hill Road spoke as the Chair of the Region 9 Board. He discussed the challenges of passing a budget in excess of what the BoF proposed and his Board’s communication efforts, Special Education increases and regionalizing resources.

Stephanie Benton, Redding, CT, referred to the YouTube clip Dr. McMorran showed earlier regarding artificial intelligence and shared her experiences working for an artificial intelligence software developer. She remarked that AI is a powerful tool and that perhaps teachers could reformat assignments to make way for an automated system of correcting homework thereby reducing the amount of time a teacher spends correcting homework.

C. Pilato shared her concerns about proposed budget cuts and the hope of reaching a middle ground with the BoF.

H. Whaley reported that the high school would not be set up for live streaming meetings until February.

Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Hoffman, Hoeing. Approved. 7-0.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:29 p.m.

Submitted by Chris Parkin
Redding Board of Education Secretary

Recorded by Stephanie Benton


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