Board of Education: Florkowski (7:35 pm), Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Whaley
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Lagas, Edwards, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber, Basta,
Others: 17 members of the public/staff
Chairperson Melinda Irwin called the meeting to order at 7:31 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the April 4, 2017 meeting as submitted with one correction – the 2017-2018 approved budget total should read $20,752,268. Hoffman, Gaspar. Approved. Unanimous.
Michael D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road: Reminded everyone that the JRMS spring musical was taking place this week. Asked the Board to consider giving more detail on the way they were handling the excess cost adjustment.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Dr. Irwin read a letter from Board member Gwen Denny who was not able to attend the meeting. Mrs. Denny attended a recent concert at RES by JRMS students. Congratulated both the RES and JRMS Music Departments for the performance.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add an agenda item: F. Donation to Redding Elementary School. Gaspar/Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION – PRESENTATION OF CT SCHOOL COUNSELOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
Michelle Catucci, Executive Director of the CT School Counselor Association, presented JRMS guidance counselor, Jesse Shalett, with the CT School Counselor of the Year award. Mr. Shalett was nominated by Kimberly Wood, a parent in the district. Mr. Shalett will now advance to the national level where he will have an opportunity to advance as a semi-finalist in the American School Counselor Association’s “School Counselor of the Year” program.
Mrs. Martin said she wholeheartedly agrees with the parent’s comments in her nomination letter and congratulated Mr. Shalett for this well-deserved award.
DISCUSSION – TRI-STATE CONSORTIUM REPORT – REVIEW OF MIDDLE SCHOOL
Dr. Pierson Ugol and Mrs. Martin reported on the findings of the Tri-State Consortium team who visited the Easton and Redding Middle Schools in October 2016. The report will be posted on the Website. The visiting team affirmed the strengths of the programs in both middle schools and alignment with the key attributes of outstanding middle schools. Areas of growth will continue to be explored by the administrative team.
DISCUSSION – STATUS UPDATE – EXECUTIVE SEARCHES FOR DIRECTOR OF FINANCE & OPERATIONS AND SUPERVISOR OF SPECIAL SERVICES
Dr. McMorran reported that eleven applications were received from viable candidates for the Director of Finance & Operations position that is available July 1, 2018. Screening interviews are underway with six candidates which include two-hour in-person conversations with each candidate, the superintendent and Dr. Lagas. Three finalists will be moved forward to a panel interview that will include administrators and Board members. Dr. Irwin stated that Mr. Hoffman would represent the Redding Board of Education.
A search for a Supervisor of Special Services, a position also available July 1, 2018, is also underway. A document review of 17 applicants was performed by Tracy Edwards, Director of Special Services, and Dr. Pierson Ugol. Ten candidates came in for screening interviews, and five will be moving forward to a full committee interview. The committee interview will take place on May 18th. Dr. Irwin stated that Mrs. Denny would represent the Redding Board of Education.
DISCUSSION: BOARD COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS
Dr. Irwin reported on which Board members will serve on committees of the Board of Education:
Communications Committee: Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Florkowski
Curriculum Committee: Dr. Gaspar, Dr. Irwin and Mrs. Whaley
Long-Range Planning Committee: Mrs. Florkowsi and Mr. Hoffman
Policy Committee: Mrs. Florkowski
Resources Committee: Mr. Hoffman, Dr. Irwin, and Mr. Miller
Structure and Ways of Working: Dr. Gaspar
Calendar Committee: Mrs. Florkowski
Food Services Committee: Dr. Irwin
Insurance Committee: Dr. Gaspar
ER9 Joint Long-Range Planning Committee: Mrs. Florkowsi and Mr. Hoffman
Transportation Committee: Mrs. Denny
Wellness Committee: Dr. Irwin
Dr. Irwin requested that the Curriculum Committee meet before the June Board meeting.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION: POLICY REVIEW – FIRST READING
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 9325, Bylaws of the Board: Meeting Conduct for first reading. Gaspar, Florkowski. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION: POLICY REVIEW SECOND READING
Motion: move that Policy 5141.4, Reporting of Child Abuse, Neglect, and Sexual Assault (three versions) be added to the list on the agenda to be reviewed for second reading. Hoffman, Whaley. Approved Unanimous.
Motion: move that Policy 5145.53, Gender Identity and Expression (Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth) be held for a third reading to allow Board members time to review background information pertaining to this policy, including review of the previous policy. Hoffman, Florkowski. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the policies listed below:
Policy 5125: Family Education Rights & Privacy – Appendix
Policy 5131.911: Hazing Bullying
Policy 5141.21: Administering Medication
Policy 5141.4: Reporting of Child Abuse, Neglect, and Sexual Assault (third version)
Policy 5144: Discipline
Policy 51441.1: Use of Physical Force / Restraint, Seclusion
Policy 5144.5: Progressive Discipline / Promoting Positive Student Behavior
Policy 5145: Civil and Legal Rights & Responsibilities
Policy 5145.511: Exploitation; Sexual Harassment
Policy 5145.6: Student Grievance
Hoffman, Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION: DONATION TO REDDING ELEMENTARY SHOOL
Dr. Wessman Huber announced that an individual would like to make an anonymous donation of $1,000 to the school’s Burritt Fund, a fund that supports families who are unable to pay for things such as school field trips.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept an anonymous donation of $1,000 to Redding Elementary School’s Burritt Fund with appreciation. Hoffman, Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.
Dr. Gaspar noted that the acceptance of donations does not mean there is a deficiency in the budget process. The Board is grateful when a donation supplements the school budget, but donations do not supplant the budget process.
Redding Elementary School: Principal Wessman Huber commended RES student, Mia Callot, who had her book on children with autism published. She also noted the RES students voted today for the Student’s Choice Grant from the PTA. Their choice was between slacklines or an outdoor classroom.
Dr. Wessman Huber also noted Kindergarten Readiness Night occurred. Kindergarten enrollment is 81 as of today. She recommends that the board consider adding an additional kindergarten section. Discussion followed, including adding an agenda item.
Motion: move to add an agenda item, #VII – Kindergarten Position. Whaley/Florkowski. Approved. Unanimous.
ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS CONTINUED
John Read Middle School: Principal Martin also mentioned the JRMS spring play going on this week and hoped that everyone could attend.
Special Education: Ms. Edwards reported that there has been an increase in students referred for special education services. At this moment in time, there will be a need for five additional special education paraeducators to provide 1:1 student support. The funding of these positions will include using the contingency fund and possible savings from new hires. Ms. Edwards will share more information on this at the June meeting.
Interim Director of Finance & Operations: Dr. Lagas shared the health insurance analysis report based on claims paid through March 31, 2017. March claims were second highest this year at $304,835.82. The reserve balance as of the end of March is $298,768.62. That amount does not include the final $150,000 unspent funds from 2015-2016 recently transferred and does not include the employer-share of cost deposited in April. Mr. Hoffman asked that the report include a new line that separates out current year deposits from deposits that were the result of transferring prior year unspent funds. Dr. Lagas projected the percent of current year budget to be expended is 95.06% as of end of April.
Dr. Lagas requested a “housekeeping” transfer to cover salaries in the correct line item: transfer $26,292.57 from certified salary account to non-certified salary account. This relates to the late August resignation of the Library Media Specialist at JRMS and the decision not to replace her but to hire a non-certified library paraeducator. The second transfer requested was to cover a budget shortfall for electricity at JRMS totaling $35,000 from various accounts.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the following transfers in the current year budget:
1) $26,292.57 from certified salary account to non-certified salary account
2) $35,000 from multiple accounts to the maintenance/electricity accounts. Gaspar, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Assistant Superintendent: Dr. Pierson Ugol highlighted the return visit of Dr. Yeap Ban Har, an expert in the field of mathematics education. The response from the staff K-12 was extremely positive and supports professional development as well as vertical alignment across levels.
Superintendent: Dr. McMorran reminded the Board that any inquiry into the processes used at Central Office to administer the Redding School budget, as currently proposed by the Board of Finance, would have to be approved by a vote of the Board of Education. He cited Connecticut General Statutes to support his clarification of each board’s legal authority: Sec. 7-344, Sec. 7-345, and Se 10-222. He also reminded the Board that the Board of Finance can request public documents under Freedom of Information (FOI) Sec. 1-210.
BOARD OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORTS
There was much discussion about adding a kindergarten position. When the 2017-2018 budget was developed, a placeholder was included for either a Gifted & Talented teacher or an additional kindergarten teacher depending on enrollment. With kindergarten enrollment already at 81, the RES principal recommended adding a kindergarten section and possibly blending the Gifted & Talented Program with the Enrichment Program. Currently, the Gifted & Talented program is for students in grades 3 and 4. The Enrichment Program is for students in grades 1-4. The Board asked for more data on the number of students this impacts and asked to continue the discussion about the Gifted & Talented and Enrichment Programs at the June Board meeting. Dr. McMorran reminded the Board that adding a kindergarten section would also mean adding a part-time kindergarten paraeducator position. Mrs. Florkowski stated that the Board should consider having a policy on class size.
Colleen Pilato, Portland Avenue: Said she felt the process should be that the Board of Finance investigates the Board of Education and the Board of Education investigates Central Office. She said if the Board does not cut the Gifted & Talented Program with the addition of a kindergarten section then the Board of Finance has called your bluff. She felt the community needs to be outraged that a program like Gifted & Talented would be cut.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Felt the tuition-free benefit for children of non-resident teachers is valuable and is a low cost benefit to attract teachers. At the very least, all current teachers should be grandfathered should the current policy change. He felt kindergarten classes are too large and is happy the Board voted to add a section. He commented the Board of Education is not a town agency; it is a subdivision of the Statement Department of Education and the Board of Finance does not get to poke around in the Board of Education’s business. He felt it would be valuable to have an active policy committee. Just because there is a new law, doesn’t mean there has to be a corresponding policy. The state statute does the work. He feels there should be a policy for class size. He stated that the budget passing tonight is not a cause for celebration. It is the fourth straight year that arbitrary cuts were made at the direction of the Board of Finance. He said he feels that an additional kindergarten section is more important than the Enrichment Program.
Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road: Feels that the Board and administration got the budget that they asked for. Feels it is time to pull together as a community. The only thing the Board of Finance proposed was a further reduction of $250,000 from the Health Care Reserve and that the Board of Education could come back to the town if claims were unusually high. He said the electricity overage was anticipated due to the new HVAC system. There will be savings in other areas, such as heating oil consumption.
Alex Zuluaga, Picketts Ridge Road: Said it would be good to understand the full impact of losing the Gifted and Talented Program. He did not understand the special education referral process. Felt the Object Summary should include a trending analysis.
Kristen Anstett, Whortleberry Road: Stated that she chose to move to Redding because of its Gifted & Taleted Program. Urged the Board not to cut it.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: In reviewing its Bylaws, felt the Board should consider allowing Board members to respond to Public Comment when it happens.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Mrs. Whaley reiterated her hope that the Board can find a way to keep the Gifted & Talented Program.
Dr. Irwin noted that Board members often do respond to Public Comment in the following Board Member Comment portion of the meeting.
Dr. Gaspar noted his term on the Board, including many years as chairperson and stated there are times that the Board of Education and the Board of Finance disagree, but there is a mutual respect for each other. There are often difficult decisions that have to be made.
Mr. Hoffman agreed with Dr. Gaspar and added that he does not know that he would support a policy on class size limitations. With such a policy, the Board may not have been able to add the kindergarten position this evening.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Gaspar Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 10:21 pm.
Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary
Reported by Vicki Cram