REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION
Regular Meeting Minutes
November 8, 2017
Board of Education: Denny, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Whaley
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Wallin, Hammond, Basta, Torre, Visners
Others: 15 members of the public/staff
CALL TO ORDER
Chairperson Melinda Irwin called the meeting to order at 7:32 pm.
Motion: move to change the order of the agenda items, moving item VI, D: Update on Status of Food Service by Chartwells to item VI, A. Denny, Hoffman: Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move to add an agenda item – VI, F – Discussion of filling a Vacancy on the Board. Denny, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 3, 2017 regular meeting. Hoffman, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 17, 2017 special meeting. Denny, Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 24, 2017 joint meeting of the Easton, Redding & Region 9 Boards of Education. Whaley, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Acknowledged the service of Allyson Florkowski, Jess Gaspar, Gwen Denny and Ed Miller’s whose terms on the Board of Education are ending.
Colleen Pilato, Portland Avenue: With the recent power outage/early dismissal, parents expressed concerns about what happens with Dismissal Manager at the elementary school for such events and asked if a communication could be sent out.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Dr. Gaspar commented that this would be his last meeting after serving 12 years on the Board, including five as the Board chair. He stated the Redding schools are very strong because of the commitment of the teachers, the administration, the community, the Board members, the town leadership and the students. Worries that there is a lack of investment in our schools compared to surrounding schools but is encouraged by the results of the recent local election. He spoke of the community’s commitment to each and every one of our children. Feels the current tri-board system is inefficient, insufficiently coordinated, and at times insufficiently cooperative. Three studies of Central Office staffing occurred during his term, all with the same results: under resourced, overworked, under appreciated. Feels we burn out our superintendents and we need to think about our commitment to our superintendent and to his staff. He suggested integrating Easton/Redding K-8 Boards. He suggested integration with Bethel or Weston should be considered – sharing resources/leadership. Feels we need to work better with the teacher union. Spoke of Barlow’s motto: Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. Expressed his appreciation for being allowed to serve the community.
Mr. Miller stated that his role is changing. He will be leaving the Board of Education but was recently elected to the Redding Board of Finance. He echoed Dr. Gaspar’s comments. He spoke of recent negotiations with the Redding Education Association. He also thanked the teachers for meeting with the Board as true partners to work out an agreement that will be beneficial to the town over time. He strongly feels the teachers are in it for the children.
Mrs. Denny stated she is very grateful for the support that she has received from the Board and the community. She stated she has been coming to the Redding Board meetings for a very long time, sitting on both sides of the table. She was recently elected to the Region 9 Board of Education and will be moving on.
Dr. Irwin presented each outgoing Board member with a gift and expressed her appreciation to each of them as well as to Mrs. Florkowski who was unable to attend the meeting for medical reasons.
Mrs. Denny stated her appreciation for the superintendent and the administrators’ leadership during the recent power outage as well as the communication that occurred throughout the event.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATOR REPORTS
Redding Elementary School: Mrs. Hammond spoke of the Halloween Parade and the upcoming Veterans Day events. Interim reports will go out this Friday and parent-teacher conferences will take place next week. She also mentioned that the RES student handbook states that in the case of an emergency early dismissal students are to go home on their school buses unless they were regularly scheduled to be picked up Monday-Friday by their parents.
John Read Middle School: Mrs. Wallin reported that Diane Martin, the library media specialist, and the two guidance counselors were in Philadelphia attending the annual conference of the Association for Middle Level Education. The guidance counselors were giving a presentation on college awareness. Kindness week will be next week. Student-led conferences will take place on two days next week. One of four core teachers will be present at each conference.
DISCUSSION: UPDATE ON STATUS OF FOOD SERVICE BY CHARTWELLS
David Kennedy, Director of Food Services, and Stephanie Noto, part-time registered dietitian, gave a presentation on what Chartwells offers the schools, including improvement in lunches, lunch menus, teaching students about good nutrition, getting students interested in trying different healthy foods.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION: 2018 BOARD OF EDUCATION MEETING DATES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the calendar of 2018 meeting dates as presented. Hoffman, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.
Mr. Hoffman stated that he felt the meeting held last school year at the end of June was very helpful to understand how the year ended in terms of the budget. The meeting schedule for June 12, 2018 will serve that purpose at the end of the current school year. Mr. Hoffman suggested the Board hold a retreat in December for the benefit of new Board members before the budget discussions begin.
DISCUSSION: NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS UPDATE
Dr. Pierson Ugol and Redding Science Technology Instructional Coach Rebecca Richards provided an overview of the Next Generation Science Standards that included content and instructional shifts related to these standards. They shared a multi-year plan for implementation.
DISCUSSION: BACK-UP POWER AT SCHOOLS AND WATER QUALITY STATUS
Mr. Reiss reported on the backup generator issues discovered during the recent power outage. At JRMS it was determined not enough power was reaching the school from the generator. After repair, it is recommended that a full load test be conducted on the generator in the coming weeks to ensure there are no other issues. Several issues were discovered with connections to the RES generator and are still being diagnosed. There were some quick fixes but others are still being investigated.
The Facilities Committee will meet to look into these issues and will report to the Board in December.
Doug Hartline, Redding Health Officer, reported that a regular testing of water at JRMS recently showed a high level of sodium and chloride. One of the reasons is thought to be that the well is located between Route 53 and the JRMS parking lot. JRMS was put on bottled water for drinking and cooking. Environmental factors are being looked at to reduce the amount of road salt near the well.
Several issues were discussed with the RES waste water system which will be further reviewed and investigated through the Facilities Committee. RES will remain on bottled water for cooking and drinking.
Mr. Miller and Mrs. Whaley expressed their recommendation to do what is right for the students’ health and safety and were in favor of bringing in an expert to assess the problem and find a permanent solution to a recurring problem.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION: TUITION, CHILDREN OF NON-RESIDENT CERTIFIED STAFF – FIRST READING
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept revisions to Policy #5118.2, Tuition, Children of Non-Resident Certified Staff for first reading. Whaley, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Dr. McMorran explained the revisions and asked Board members to direct any questions they may have on the policy to the Board chair prior to the next Board meeting.
DISCUSSON: VACANCY ON THE REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION
Dr. Irwin announced that there will be a vacancy on the Redding Board of Education as of November 21st when Mrs. Denny officially resigns to become a member of the Region 9 Board of Education. Interested candidates of any party should make themselves known. Candidates will be invited to the December regular Board meeting for a question and answer period followed immediately by a written vote of the Board members to fill the vacancy.
Special Education: Mrs. Torre reported that members of the Special Education Department gave a presentation to the RES PTA in October. Well-received professional development was held on Election Day that included how to write an IEP and remain compliant.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction: Dr. Pierson Ugol thanked Mr. Miller, Dr. Gaspar and Mrs. Denny for their service and commitment to the Board and to Redding. She shared the annual professional development calendar which has a K-9 focus on vertical articulation to bridge the transition from middle school to high school. The Redding Gifted and Talented Study Group continues to meet monthly, looking at other programs, reviewing Redding’s program with a plan to make a recommendation to the Board for a 2018-2019 school year program implementation.
Director of Finance & Operations: Mr. Reiss stated there is nothing unusual to report on the budget or transfers this month. He reported the September claims were lower than the previous month but are still high at $261,000. Monthly claims that run above $220,000 a month will lower the reserve balance.
Superintendent: Dr. McMorran thanked the Board members whose terms are ending for their service and said it was an honor to have worked with them and that he applauds them for their work and their commitment to the Redding students and community.
BOARD OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORTS
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Suggested there may be a wiring problem with the generator issue at RES.
Catherine Vecchiarelli, Great Meadow Road, Redding: Wondered what the cost might be to explore long-term solutions to the well/water issues. Worried about exposure to the students.
Julia Pemberton, Redding First Selectman: Pointed out the town has a physician who is the Health Director who may be a good resource.
Thomas Denny, Redding: Stated that being a student at JRMS, if the students had to pick, they would actually rather be on bottled water. He said he would never drink water in the schools “unless I was dying.” He feels bottled water is the solution. He also stated, that in terms of kids drinking water from the bathroom sinks, he doesn’t think that’s really a problem.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Miller, Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:55 pm.
Recorded by Vicki Cram