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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 10/04/2016

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 10/11/2016 8:30am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Meeting Minutes
October 4, 2016

Board of Education:  Denny, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Sobel.  Absent – Florkowski.
Administration:  McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Sullivan, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber, Basta
Others:  Approximately 15 members of the public and staff and a representative of The Redding Pilot.

Sara Sobel called the meeting to order at 7:31 pm.

Dr. McMorran shared that Redding Elementary School lost a member of its staff.  Karen Bellino passed away this morning.  Tracy Edwards shared comments about Ms. Bellino and her love for the children she worked with in preschool and special education for approximately 15 years.  This was followed by a moment of silence.

Dr. McMorran asked that an Executive Session be added at the end of the meeting following the Board Member Comment to discuss a personnel matter –  the disposition of Karen Bellino’s employment.

Motion:  move to add an Executive Session to Discuss a Personnel Matter:  Karen Bellino at the end of the meeting and to invite Dr. McMorran, Mrs. Sullivan, Ms. Edwards, and Mrs. Cram to join the session.  Miller, Irwin.  Approved. Unanimous. 

Motion:  Move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the September 6, 2016 meeting as corrected.  Top of page 5 incorrectly lists name of Board member – should be Hoffman, not D’Agostino.  Approved as corrected with Mr. Miller abstaining.

Mrs. Wallin recognized three 8th graders in attendance: Astrid Chen, Sophia Taylor and Sadie Wood who serve on a committee that celebrates the John Read community.  Their projects include birthday celebrations and Say Something week that promotes community awareness.  The three students spoke of the work they have been doing.  Mrs. Wallin and Mrs. Squitieri facilitate the committee’s work.

Dana Grey, Lamppost Drive:  Stated that she had attended the standardization committee held last week between the Board of Education and Board of Finance members.  She thought the meeting was very good.  She expressed her outrage at how the boiler issue at Redding Elementary School was handled.  She questioned the 2015-2016 budget surplus.

Chris Parkin, Indian Hill:  Cautioned the Board not to compare Redding to other school districts during the upcoming budget season and instead focus on what our students need.  He also shared concerns about the RES boiler issue and lack of bidding process.  He added that he had gone to the Building Department and learned there are 28 open building permits at RES – no certificates of occupancy.

Christine Bras Taylor, Mark Twain Lane:  Stated that her family just moved to Redding from Portugal and she is very grateful for the wonderful support of the John Read Middle School staff in welcoming her children.  Her children are enthusiastic about learning and have formed strong relationships with the teachers.

Mr. Hoffman stated that he found the boiler issue very disturbing:  no permit, no competitive bid, no notice to the Board of Education, lack of overall communication.  Interested in knowing how the Board and administration will make certain this does not happen again.

Mrs. Sobel stated she is not aware of the 28 open permits at Town Hall and will look into it.

A/  Status of RES Boiler: Sobel provided an update regarding the RES boiler and indicated she had consulted with the Board’s attorney to make certain the situation is being addressed correctly.  A purchase order was issued for the boiler on June 14, 2016 in the amount of $70,705 with Ratick Combustion with whom the school district has had a relationship for over 20 years.  She stated it was regrettable that policy had not been followed.  Procedures are being put in place to avoid this from happening again.  The Facilities Committee will be closely involved.  A checklist will be created and followed.  She stated the Board certainly would have approved the request in June had it been brought forward and will approve it this evening.  Dr. McMorran provided a handout on the timeline of what occurred with the boiler and confirmed that a permit had been issued September 15th to replace the boiler.  He stated there was no motive other than wanting to get the boiler right.  There was discussion about more regular involvement of the Facilities Committee, putting a check and balance system in place, and the current status of the purchase order.  Mrs. Irwin suggested that a second approval for items over $10,000 be required.  Further discussion reinforced the need to follow policies.  Mrs. Sullivan apologized to the Board for not informing them.  Mr. Miller clarified with Dr. McMorran that no money as of today has been spent that wasn’t authorized.  Several Board members expressed they felt this was just an oversight and uncharacteristic of how things have been handled by the administration in the past.  Mrs. Denny and Mr. Hoffman both shared that the policy is already in place and found it baffling that it was not followed especially with an expenditure that could involve a safety issue.  Mrs. Sobel recommended that a Board meeting be held each year at the end of June or July to discuss how the budget year ended.

B.  Water Treatment at RES: Sobel summarized the water purity issue at RES.  Mrs. Sullivan explained the well water condition and existing tanks at RES.  The mineral levels are at a higher level, and chlorine is used to treat the water.  Proposals are being sought and the head custodian and Redding health director are working collaboratively to address the issue while Mrs. Sullivan gathers bids for the work to replace and upgrade the water filtration system.  The system is 15 years old.  The Board discussed alternatives to a full-scale replacement.  The Facilities Committee will be meeting on Thursday to discuss the issue.  There are two wells and one water treatment tank.  Bottled water has been brought in for cooking and drinking at a cost of about $50/day.

C.  School-Wide Goals: Wessman Huber shared RES school goals which include an academic goal, social community goal, and home-school communication.  Mrs. Martin shared the JRMS school goals which include an academic goal and a community goal.  The principals were asked to share their goals in writing with the Board to review.

D.  Student Led Conferences: Approach, Timelines, Benefits:  Martin shared how students are being introduced to the concept of student led conferences and are preparing for their implementation.   Board members shared their support of the conferences and asked that parents be asked to provide feedback.  Discussion also centered on supporting students who may find this process challenging.

E.  Tri-State Consortium Consultancy – Process and Essential Question: Martin described the Tri-State Consortium as a group of critical friends from other school districts across the tri-state area who visit the school to provide feedback on an essential question presented.  They will be visiting Easton and Redding middle schools with a focus on middle school teaching and learning and the extent to which the middle schools reflect the ideals and characteristics presented by the National Middle School Association.  The Consortium’s observations and feedback are valuable and might lead to positive changes at the middle schools.

F.  CABE Policies – 1st Reading: Eight policies were presented for a first reading –

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education accept the following policies for first reading 

  • 3152(a) Spending Public Funds for Advocacy
  • 3323 Soliciting Prices (Bids and Quotations)
  • 11(a) Electronic Information Security
  • 12(a) Data-Based Information Management System
  • 5131(a) Conduct and Discipline
  • 3(a) Health Assessments and Immunizations
  • 1(a) Educational Tours
  • 2(a) Preschool Special Education

Hoffman, Denny.  Approved. Unanimous.  The Board members will bring back their questions and concerns about these policies at the next regular Board meeting.

Redding Elementary School:  Dr. Wessman Huber highlighted the celebration of Peace Day.  Third graders visited Town Hall to learn about local government.  Mr. Basta reported information on certified staff absences from August 29th through September 30th:  16 sick days, 5.5 personal days, 28 full days in total for district meetings and professional development.  A memorial softball game is scheduled for tomorrow at 3:45 pm to honor Deb Grockowski, a RES occupational therapist who died in a car accident last year.  This will be an annual event.

John Read Middle School:  Mrs. Martin provided an absence report for JRMS for the same time period:  13 sick days, 27 days total for district meetings.  Later this month Mrs. Wallin and Mrs. Squitieri will be presenting School Climate:  Coming Together as a Community at a national conference in Austin, Texas.  A follow up presentation will occur locally and at a future Board meeting.

Redding Special Services:  Tracy Edwards highlighted upcoming professional development workshops and training being provided by Courtney Cotter of the Center for Children with Special Needs focused on supporting children with various behavioral issues.  Ms. Edwards will also be working with preschool staff from both Easton and Redding to align the programs.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction:  Dr. Pierson Ugol shared the Curriculum Steering Committee’s focus on feedback during pre-kindergarten to grade 12 learning walks.  She also updated the Board on progress to augment the grade 5 language exploration with possible use of technology in addition to direct instruction with existing personnel.

Director of Finance & Operations:  Mrs. Sullivan provided a health insurance update and transportation information about busing changes due to road paving.  Additional transportation costs related to the paving on Picketts Ridge Road are about $300 per day.  Ms. Sullivan identified the accounts with the highest surpluses as well as the reductions in most lines from the 2015-16 budget year.  She reported on legislative changes that went into effect July 1st impacting school districts on background checks and reference checks that will increase the workload of the Human Resources Department.

Superintendent:  Dr. McMorran shared a long list of mandated trainings and related recordkeeping that are required for staff and school districts based on new state legislation.  He also reported on magnet school tuition that will be charged to the district.

Dana Grey, Lamppost Drive:  Commented on the RES boiler replacement timeline that the superintendent shared with the Board, and expressed her dismay regarding the lack of communication related to the issue.  She suggested that an investigation regarding finances and spending be considered.

Mike Lyons, Orchard Drive:  Asked about building heat load calculations.  Mrs. Sullivan responded to his questions.

Mr. Miller stated that he never suggested the Board do an investigation and felt individuals should be careful not to imply that someone lied or broke the law.

Mrs. Sobel emphasized that it was verified with the Board’s attorney that no law was broken with regard to the boiler issue.

Mr. Hoffman suggested additional transparency regarding the building of the school budgets and doing it in sections similar to how the town presents its budget.  Dr. Gaspar agreed as did Mr. Miller who thought a daylong budget workshop like the town holds might be helpful.  Mrs. Sobel suggested that an agenda item be added to next month’s agenda to continue this discussion.

Motion:  move to executive session to discuss a personnel matter pertaining to the employment of Karen Bellino.  Miller, Hoffman.  Approved. Unanimous.  Dr. McMorran, Mrs. Sullivan, Ms. Edwards and Mrs. Cram were invited into the Executive Session.

The meeting recessed at 9:58 pm.

The Chair reconvened the meeting to public session at 10:15 pm.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education approve the payment of 25% of 110.25 unused sick days accrued by Karen Bellino payable to her estate in the amount of $4,609.15.  Miller, Irwin.  Approved.  Unanimous.

Motion:  move to add agenda item to continue discussion and possible action on the status of the RES boiler. Miller, Irwin.  Approved.  Unanimous.

Board members discussed action that should be taken on the RES boiler.  Mr. Hoffman expressed concern that no other bids had been received on the project.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education approve the transfer of $70,705 to pay for a replacement boiler at Redding Elementary School.  Miller, Irwin.  Approved:  5:1.  Mr. Hoffman opposed. 

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education ratify the purchase order to Ratick Combustion for $70,705 to replace the Redding Elementary School boiler.  Miller, Irwin.  Approved:  5:1. Mr. Hoffman opposed.

Motion:  move to adjourn the meeting.  Gaspar, Irwin:  Approved.  Unanimous. 

The meeting adjourned at 10:30 p.m.

Recorded by Vicki Cram