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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 04/05/2016

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 04/11/2016 1:00pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Meeting Minutes
April 5, 2016

Board of Education: Denny, Florkowski (7:33 pm), Gaspar (7:33 pm), Hoffman, Irwin, Miller (7:41 pm), Sobel
Administration: McMorran, Ugol, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber,
Others: 25 members of the public, and representatives from the Redding Pilot and News-Times

Chairman Sobel called the April 5, 2016 meeting to order at 7:30 pm.

Motion: move that the minutes of the March 16, 2016 meeting be accepted as submitted. Hoffman, Irwin.  Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the minutes of the March 30, 2016 meeting be accepted as submitted. Irwin, Denny.  Approved. 3-0-1. Irwin abstained.

Mrs. Florkowski and Dr. Gaspar arrived, 7:33 pm

Mrs. Sobel stated that the Executive Session would be removed from the agenda.

Second-grade student, Mia Callot, presented and read the book she wrote and illustrated. The topic of the book was autism.

Keith Rich, Putnam Park Road: Mr. Rich acknowledged the pressure put on the BOE by the Board of Finance to reduce the budget. He requested that the reductions be ones that least impact the children.

Mr. Miller arrived, 7:41 pm

Dr. Irwin thanked the Easton/Redding Boys and Girls Club for sponsoring the recent Spelling Bee.

Dr. McMorran began the discussion with a review of the budget process and the work done to get the budget to 0%.  The Board of Finance requested that the BOE reduce the budget by another $225,000.

Dr. McMorran indicated that the proposed reductions are centered on building management and support staff, ones that will not drastically change the experience of children. He added that any further reduction would be programmatic, citing the Gifted and Talented programs, Music, World Language, STIC position, Project Adventure, etc. as areas that would need to be looked at.

Dr. McMorran explained the difficulties of comparing the financial structure of one school district with another.  He compared and reviewed the staffing of Redding schools with Easton schools to demonstrate the similarities and differences.  Beyond staffing, there are many financial differences between the two districts.

The proposed reductions totaling $225,000:

  • Reduction of one custodian at RES
  • Reduction of RES office staff by one person
  • Reduction of JRMS office staff by one person
  • Reduction of JRMS nurses from 1.5 FTE to 1.0 FTE
  • Reduction in equipment, supplies, subscriptions at RES
  • Elimination of replacement of floor waxer and upgrade of door access bell
  • Reduction in Health Insurance Account

The board members discussed the reductions and their impact on the functioning of the schools. Mrs. Florkowski spoke in support of the elimination of all reserve funds, including the insurance reserve and the special education contingency/reserve fund, and if additional funds are needed, the board could go back to the Board of Finance with a request for funds.  Ms. Edwards supported the need for the special education fund, stating that it is always needed, but those needs cannot be forecasted or planned.

Mr. Miller stated that the Board of Finance budget reduction was irresponsible and he suggested reducing the health insurance reserve and the special education reserve.  He addressed the impact of a reduction in office staffing at RES, noting that Principal Huber Wessman just received recognition by the Connecticut PTA as the Principal of the Year.

Dr. Gaspar addressed the dangers of underfunding the health insurance reserve funds.  He suggested the board give consideration to the programs that will likely face reductions in the following years as the enrollment decreases.  The impact of further reductions in spending could be in Gifted & Talented, music, Project Adventure, STIC position & writing paraprofessional.  Each of these areas was reviewed and discussed.

Mr. Miller suggested that the board address the issue of allowing staff to have their “out of district” children attend Redding schools at no cost.  Easton and Region 9 staff members are required to pay a fee, about $3,200. This revenue is recognized as Town of Redding Revenue, not Board of Education revenue. This change would involve a change in Policy for the Board.  There was further discussion on this issue. Mrs. Denny and Mrs. Sobel suggested that if the board decided to change the policy, it should be implemented gradually or grandfather the current children.  Mr. Miller suggested making the change immediately, adding that the revenue could offset the cost of the secretarial position at Redding Elementary School. Some board members felt that this change would be detrimental to the staff children now attending the schools.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the $225,000 of reductions as proposed by the administration.  Hoffman, Denny.

Discussion followed.  Mr. Miller asked that the board consider saving the RES office staff position and offset the cost by reducing the Health Insurance Reserve Fund by $23,000 and the Special Education Reserve by $25,000, with those reductions to be offset by anticipated savings from a change in the non-district staff children enrollment in the schools policy. Discussion of this followed. Mrs. Sobel expressed concern that the concept was based on the idea that the board would agree to make the change in the policy.

Mr. Hoffman provided information and statistics on the savings that could result from employing a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in place of relying on the Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN).  Ms. Edwards commented that she does not feel the district is ready for this move yet and noted that the position would be difficult to fill as there are very few with the appropriate certification.  Mr. Hoffman also presented a chart that demonstrated the impact of teacher retirements.  Board members discussed the importance of considering an early retirement incentive each year.

Following discussion, a vote on the motion was taken.
Vote:  Motion approved. Voting Yes, Sobel, Hoffman, Denny, Gaspar. Voting No, Florkowski, Miller, Irwin.

Dr. McMorran recommended that due to budgetary issues/reductions, the Board should not renew the contract of non-tenured teacher, Amy Kidd, for the 2016-2017 school year.

Motion: Move that the contract of employment of Amy Kidd not be renewed for the following year upon its expiration at the end of the 2015-2016 school year and that the Superintendent of Schools is directed to advise such person in writing of this action. Gaspar, Hoffman. Approved 4-0-3.  Voting yes, Sobel, Gaspar, Miller, Denny.  Abstaining: Miller, Florkowski, Irwin.

The Policy Committee presented five policies for a first reading.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 5113(a): Students Attendance and Excuses for a first reading. Irwin, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 5113.2: Students Truancy. Irwin, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 5131.6: Drug Use, Drugs and Tobacco (including Performance-enhancing Substances).  Florkowski, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 4115: Evaluation and Support Program. Florkowski, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept Policy 4131(a): Personnel—Certified Professional Development. Florkowski, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.

Redding Elementary School: Principal Wessman Huber provided a written report.

John Read Middle School: Principal Martin described efforts of two students to provide a session with a therapy dog and the positive impact on students.

Special Education: Ms. Edwards stated that the planning for the transition of students to the high schools has begun. She also commented on the good collaboration and partnership between the Easton and Redding schools, and between the special education staff and the general education staff.

Assistant Superintendent: Dr. Pierson Ugol described what is being done on SRBI (Scientific Research Based Instruction), and how the work is moving forward.  She described the need for a master assessment schedule and common assessment measures.

Superintendent:  Dr. McMorran provided a brief video on the work being done by the Robotics Team at Joel Barlow High School.

Tracy Darmofal, Archers Lane:  Mrs. Darmofal urged the board not to reduce the special education contingency.  She also added that it would not be good or fair to suddenly change the tuition policy for staff member children. She asked what parents could do to stop reducing the education by the Board of Finance.

Erin Singleton, Seventy Acres: Mrs. Singleton spoke of how her children benefited from the Gifted and Talented Program. She added that she is in favor of the current tuition policy.

Linda Mitchell, Huckleberry Road: Mrs. Mitchell commented that John Read Middle School is losing a very fine teacher.

Mr. Miller suggested that the parents get an organized effort together to show support for education.

Mrs. Florkowski added that communication is important, through letters and emails, to show support for the budget, however it must be done in a respectful manner.

Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Gaspar Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 10:10 pm.

Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary

Reported by Mary Maday

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