Present: Alvarez (Chairman), Clark, DeSalvo, Dolan, Mazzucco, Yonkers
Redding Board of Selectmen: Pemberton, Karvelis, Thompson
Redding Board of Education: Gaspar, D’Agostino, Irwin, Sobel, Ajavananda
Also present: Finance Director Gniadek, Treasurer O’Donnell, Tax Collector Moisio, School Superintendent Josefsberg and Finance Director Sullivan, ten members of the public and two representatives of the Redding Pilot. The meeting was video recorded by Bob Moran
Chairman Alvarez called the December 16, 2013 meeting to order at 7:40 pm.
The Redding Board of Education meeting was called to order by Chairman Gaspar at 7:40 pm
The Redding Board of Selectmen meeting was called to order by First Selectman Pemberton at 7:40 pm
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance approve the minutes of the meeting of November 25, 2013 as submitted. Mazzucco, DeSalvo. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION OF 2014-15 BUDGET AND LONG RANGE FINANCIAL PLAN
Board of Selectmen: First Selectmen Pemberton reported that meetings had been held with the Department Heads and work was begun on the preliminary budget.
Budget drivers were highlighted.
- Potential progress on the GLDC project
- Building permits: issued permits for the current year are running ahead of budget.
- Town services revenue is running slightly ahead of budget and expected to continue
- Park & Recreation Department is making adjustment to their budget to reflect enrollment declines and program costs.
- State aid is projected to increase by 3.6%
- Consolidation of Regional Planning Agencies (HVCEO & SWRPA) is expected to create additional assistance with federal funding
- Town departments are projecting only minor changes
- Police contract, still in negotiations
- Health insurance coverage is out to bid. The impact of ACA is expected to be 4% of the increase.
- Pension Plan, expecting a small increase
- Gas, diesel and oil prices are locked in until September 2014, after which prices are expected to increase 3-5%
- Debt service will be reduced by $208,000
- Discussion of WPCC (Water Pollution Control Commission), possible integration into Town operating budget
Mrs. Pemberton noted that the potential of the GLDC project moving forward is still a question. The Bond Funding for the river wall and intersection work that was scheduled for the December State Bonding Council was deferred to the January meeting. One of the conditions of the approval of this bond package is that the potential purchaser of the project had funds in place to begin construction on the project by February 2014.
In addition, consideration is being given to an increase in the Highway Department for roadway maintenance. Highway Superintendent has recommended a 1” overlay on some roads that would increase their useful life for 4-5 years.
Redding Board of Education: Superintendent Josefsberg provided an overview of budget direction and the importance of personalized learning. He noted that the declining enrollment and staff reductions will shape the 2014-15 budget. The budget proposal will continue with educational quality.
Budget drivers include:
- Continuation of Redding’s hallmark of personalized learning
- Continuation of learning in the arts
- Maintenance of teaching staff that includes new and experienced teachers
- Technology needs
- STEM & World Language recommendations
- Instructional shifts related to the Common Core and new generation of standardized testing
Dr. Josefsberg noted that in the area of Special Education, a proposal for the reorganization of special education management (K-8) will be brought to the joint meeting of the Redding, Easton and Region 9 Boards of Education in January. The recommendation is based on a survey and recommendation conducted by the National Executive Service Corp.
Dr. Yonkers asked if the MBR (Minimum Budget Requirement) included the high school along with the Redding schools. Dr. Josefsberg indicated that it includes the students in the Redding schools and at Joel Barlow High School. He would like to avoid the MBR as a budget issue, as it creates issues that are difficult to resolve and ties the Redding budget to the Barlow budget.
Mr. Alvarez asked if any of the meetings or budget discussions would be videotaped. Dr. Gaspar reported that board member Allyson Florkowski is exploring that option.
Mr. Dolan asked about the teaching staff and those eligible for retirement. Dr. Josefsberg indicted a good blend, of new and experienced teachers, is desirable, and staffing reductions could result in a loss of the younger teachers. There are teachers who are eligible for retirement, but who may opt to continue their work.
Selectman Karvelis asked if the budget drivers for Redding were the same as for Easton, if Easton was experiencing the same decline in enrollment, and why Easton’s cost per pupil was $3,000 less than Redding’s cost. Dr. Josefsberg indicated the enrollment decline in Easton is less than in Redding, with the Kindergarten enrollment this year being higher than projected. The budget drivers were basically the same. The difference is cost is primarily attributable to Redding’s emphasis on personalized learning. That service is delivered in Redding through staffing, specialists and support staff.
Selectman Thompson asked about the impact of staffing reductions on personalized learning and learning in the arts. Dr. Josefsberg responded that all areas would be impacted by reductions in staffing. He is concerned about reductions that are too disruptive to the quality of education for students.
Dr. Gaspar commented on the board’s desire to maintain the quality of education in Redding.
Jeanne Wendschuh, Deer Spring Road: Mrs. Wendschuh commented on suggestions made at previous meetings regarding including long term capital items on the ballot along with the operating budget. She asked that the Board of Finance consider the May approval of the operating budget also include the funding of capital needs.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Finance meeting be adjourned. DeSalvo, Mazzucco. Approved. Unanimous.
The Chairman of the Redding Board of Education adjourned the meeting at 8:11 pm
The Board of Selectmen continued their meeting following a brief recess.
The meeting adjourned at 8:11 pm
Mary Maday, Recording Secretary