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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 02/07/2017

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 02/13/2017 9:30am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Regular Meeting Minutes
February 7, 2017

Board of Education Members: Denny, Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Whaley
Administration: McMorran, Pierson-Ugol, Lagas, Martin, Wessman-Huber, Edwards, Wallin, Basta
Others: Approximately 27 members of the public, staff, and a reporter from The Redding Pilot.

Dr. Irwin called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.

MOTION: Approval of the Minutes from the January 10, 2017 Redding Regular BOE Meeting. Hoffman, Denny, Approved. Miller abstained. Unanimous.

MOTION: January 12, 2017 Approval of the Minutes from the BOE Budget Workshop Meeting. Hoffman, Denny, Approved. Miller abstained, Unanimous.

Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road, acknowledged the new Redding BOE member, Heather Whaley.

Linda Mitchell, Huckleberry Hill Road, expressed concern about the possibility of losing Project Adventure and the Gifted and Talented program.

Ward Mazzucco, Wood Rd, reminded the BOE about the new ruling on the town’s responsibility to assume the burden of 1/3 of teacher pension costs and the newer town fund structures. He also stated that he didn’t think the BOF evaluation of the BOE finances did not qualify for executive session, only pending claims.

Seating of New Board Members
MOTION: Approval of Heather Whaley as the new Redding BOE member. Miller, Denny, Approved. Unanimous.

Appointment of New Chair
The board decided to put off the vote until the March meeting.

Budget Proposal 2017-2018
Dr. McMorran reviewed the current budget request. The request for a 1.27% increase ($267,327) would make the proposed 2017-2018 Redding education budget $21,342,327. McMorran discussed the proposal by line item, pointing out that, with the guidance of Dr. Lagas, they have enacted a new line-by-line budget functions breakdown to ensure that funds are allocated in the most fiscally responsible way. He added that this is the lowest budget they can present without cutting additional staff and eliminating programs. He stated that Redding’s current request is once again the lowest in our DRG (A), which includes the towns of Darien, Easton, New Canaan, Redding, Region 9, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport, and Wilton.

Enrollment Projections and Cohort Endurance Model
Dr. McMorran said that the 2017-2018 enrollment is expected to go down by 28 students based on Dr. Prowda’s projections. He displayed data, graphs and class pictures over time saying that although there may be 28 fewer students, historically, no “Class Of…” cohort has ever gone down by more than 4 students.

Hypothetical Reductions Below the Current Fiscal Year’s Allocation
Dr. McMorran presented hypothetical scenarios which could, theoretically, reduce the budget to a zero increase. These hypothetical reductions included having 6 teachers retire, eliminating Project Adventure, Latin, the Gifted and Talented Program, Enrichment, a math specialist, a music teacher, and some non-HR objects. He said if this happened, he would have to shift teachers between schools. For example, a current Kindergarten teacher with the correct certifications could end up teaching 8th grade the next year. He strongly advised against doing any of these things as the district would not only lose highly qualified teachers but also lose the special programming that makes Redding unique.

Administrative Reports – None
Board of Education Committee Reports – None

Karen Callot, Mohawk Trail, asked if there was any other support staff they could eliminate to get the budget down. She doesn’t want to lose enrichment. She said our special programs are what make the Redding schools so highly-rated and unique.

Ward Sader, JRMS Latin teacher, spoke about his 14 years teaching in Redding and was disappointed that budget cuts would force him to leave a job he loves.

Linda Mitchell, Huckleberry Road, said she knows of many children, including her own, who have taken Latin and greatly benefitted from Mr. Sader’s teaching. She explained how very disappointing it is that the continued budget cuts have led to this and wanted to recognize how hard it is to lose a good teacher.

Ed Miller thanked Mr. Sader for his contributions to Redding over the past 14 years.

Allyson Florkowski seconded Mr. Miller and Mrs. Mitchell’s disappointment and added that the contributions Mr. Sader has provided by teaching Latin go well beyond the middle school. She pointed out that she credits, in part, her son’s good grades at JBHS with the years he took Latin at JRMS.

MOTION: Move to Executive Session to discuss attorney-client privileged communication concerning authority to investigate financial matters. Miller, Hoffman, Approved. Unanimous. Dr. McMorran was invited into the Executive Session.

The Executive Session recessed at 11:10 pm.

The Chair reconvened the meeting to public session at 11:11 pm.

MOTION: Move to adjourn the regular BOE meeting. Denny, Florkowski, Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 11:15 pm.

Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Secretary of the Redding Board of Education.
Recorded by Paula Darlington.