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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 11/01/2016

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 11/14/2016 11:29am
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Meeting Minutes
November 1, 2016

Board of Education Members:  Denny, Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Sobel
Administration:  McMorran, Pierson-Ugol, Sullivan, Martin, Wessman-Huber, Edwards, Wallin, Basta
Others:  Approximately 25 members of the public, staff, students and a reporter from The Redding Pilot.

Mrs. Sobel called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.

Motion:  Move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 4, 2016 regular meeting as submitted.  Hoffman, Gaspar.  Approved.  6-1. Mrs. Florkowski abstained. 

Dr. Wessman-Huber recognized first grader, Sophia Sgritta.  Sophia was nominated by her first-grade teacher, Mrs. Gaydos, for her persistence and positive attitude; she is a respectful friend and a helpful classroom citizen.  Dr. Wessman-Huber also recognized Maya Wantke who was nominated by her third and fourth grade teachers.  Her teachers describe her as a reflective learner, kind and helpful.  She is a wonderful and caring friend.  Both students received a golden Rocky paw.

Mrs. Martin introduced four 8th graders:  Emma Fairclough, Julia Lee, Eric Lucido, Brooke Squitieri, and Matt Zuckerman.  The students spoke about their learning of the three branches of the U.S. government in Mrs. Antipas’ social studies class.  Incorporated in the lesson was “the battle of the branches.”

Bert Webbe, Seventy Acre Road:  Stated his concern that one person holds two important positions:  Director of Finance and Director of Operations.  Feels there is no check and balance system in place.

John Reilly, Drummer Lane:  Feels the list is growing of issues at Central Office.  He feels a forensic audit should be done.

Gwen Denny spoke of the incredible support staff at both schools.  Many paraeducators have been employed by the district for a decade or longer. She thanked them for their service.

Mrs. Sobel requested that an additional meeting be held at the end of June to discuss year-end budget and contract issues.  She also felt holding the recent tri-board meeting in October to discuss the Central Office budget was helpful and should be considered as an addition to the 2017 Board calendar. Additionally, Dr. Gaspar commented that having the two meetings later in January as drafted might rush the budget discussions; wondered if a meeting could be held on Thursday, January 5th.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education approve the 2017 Board Meeting Calendar as presented with the addition of a tri-board meeting on October 24, 2017.  Florkowski, Irwin.  Approved:  Unanimous.

DISCUSSION OF THE LUNCH AND LEARN PROGRAM:  The program had been cut from the current year budget with discussion at the time that if any budget savings should be recognized during the year the Board would consider restoring it.  Small groups of student (4 to 14) use the program to finish their homework or get help with other school work during their lunch period.  A part-time paraeducator would oversee the program.  The cost would be approximately $7,000 to restore the program. There was discussion about how this program compares to the homework center and whether restoration of the program could be postponed until January 2017.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education direct the Administration to reinstate the Lunch and Learn Program per the vision of the Board when the 2016-2017 budget was approved.  Denny, Gaspar.  Approved.  5-2  Opposed – Florkowski, Hoffman. 

Dr. McMorran gave a presentation on “Aligning Our Budget with Our Stated Goals, Our Vision, and Our Values:  The A, B, Cs of Desirable Outcomes.”  He suggested dividing the budget in manageable chunks so that the Board has a clear understanding of what administration is asking for and what the desired outcomes are.  There was much discussion among the Board members of how the budget should be approached this year based on more of a workshop model and the extent of the Board’s involvement.

Mrs. Sullivan handed out a draft Capital Plan. Biggest item is the HVAC system at RES which has already been approved.  Two new items: replacement of second boiler at RES and fire code modifications for RES.  The water treatment system is not yet on the Capital Plan because the scope of the work and the cost has not yet been determined.

Discussion was held on how to introduce 5th grade students to Latin and French, not just Spanish.  One suggestion was to increase a current .80 FTE Latin teacher to 100% FTE which would be an increase of approximately $6,400.  There was also discussion of using programs such as Rosetta Stone which would be a cost of approximately $15,000.  It was decided that exposure to the other languages could be done through French/Latin teachers visiting the 5th grade Spanish classes and having students in higher grades visit the 5th graders to speak about their study of the other languages.  The time frame to do so would be in April.

Eight policies were presented for second reading.  There were no questions pertaining to these policies.

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

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

Miller, Hoffman.  Approved.  Unanimous.

DISCUSSON AND ACTION ON POLICIES FOR FIRST READING:  Dr. McMorran presented four policies for first reading.  For the policy on smoke-free environment, he explained that the policy already exists but is being expanded to include vaping.  Board members were asked to review them for the next Board meeting.

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

  • 1331 Community Relations: Smoke-Free Environment
  • 1700 Community Relations: Otherwise Lawful Possession of Firearms on School Property
  • 22 Business/Non-Instructional Operations:  Food Service Personnel Code of Conduct
  • 11 Business/Non-Instructional Operations: Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones)

Miller, Denny.  Approved.  Unanimous.

Redding Elementary School:  At the superintendent’s request, Mr. Basta reported on certified staff attendance for the month of October 2016.  Board members requested that this report just be given at future meetings in a written report; no need to discuss.  Mr. Hoffman stated that he thought the information would be helpful for contract negotiations and expressed concern about the time out of the classroom for professional development and district meetings.

Dr. Wessman-Huber spoke about the impact of staff reductions of the front office staff and the security/welcome desk at RES.  It has caused an increase in overtime.  She also stated that the reduction of one daytime custodian resulted in the loss of a custodian who had carpentry skills.  She did state that the reduction of the literacy specialist has not had a negative impact at this time.

John Read Middle School:  Mrs. Martin also reported on certified staff absences at John Read Middle School for the month of October.  Mrs. Martin spoke of the impact of the loss of the writing specialist.  The reading specialist has taken on the writing components.  Coaching aspect of the specialist’s job has been impacted.  This year there are new ILA teachers; it has been difficult for the reading specialist to find time to work with them. Loss of one person in the office staff has required shifting of coverage that is not always ideal.  A para has been used to help with the collection of morning notes when students arrive each day.

Special Services:  Ms. Edwards informed the Board that the school district is responsible for paying for special services for Redding students who attend magnet schools.  The schools’ Special Services personnel do attend meetings of the magnet schools in determining services needed.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction:  To be brief, Dr. Pierson-Ugol referred the Board to her written report.  Spoke of the K-12 Data Teams for Learning that met for training in October and will meet again in December.

Director of Finance & Operations:  Mrs. Sullivan stated the October claims report has not been received but the total of withdrawals from the account tri-district wide were over $500,000.  She reported on several bus accidents that recently occurred.  Some were due to a new driver not being used to his route and others were on narrow roads.  There is a meeting on Friday with the Redding Police Department to review the accidents/procedures followed.  Parents were informed of the new Student Data Privacy law.  A page on the Central Office Website has been set up for further information.  There are over 200 software programs and applications that are being reviewed for compliance with the law.

Superintendent of Schools:  Dr. McMorran announced that the supervisor of special services is on an extended unpaid leave to care for a family member.  Cynthia Twiss, a retired director of special services, has been hired as an interim supervisor of special services.

Dr. Gaspar reported that the tri-district Insurance Committee met and decided to recommend the hire of Brown & Brown as an insurance consultant.  It will be added to the December meeting agenda for review and approval by the Board.

Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road:  Stated that in looking at the bus contracts seat belts are mandatory.  Disappointed that discussion about what the buses should and should not have didn’t occur before the contract was renewed with DATTCO.

Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road:  Mr. D’Agostino stated that in considering the middle school World Language Program, we should always be mindful of what is happening at the high school.  Last year administration proposed that the Latin program be discontinued at the high school due to small class size.  It did not pass, but there is the possibility that Latin might not exist at the high school in the future.  He also asked questions about transportation of students to magnet schools.

Mr. Miller agreed that it would be helpful to know what Region 9’s plan is pertaining the World Language Program.

Motion:  move to Executive Session to discuss performance of Director of Finance & Operations.  Florkowski, Hoffman.  Approved.  Unanimous.  Dr. McMorran was invited into the Executive Session. 

The meeting recessed at 10:20 pm.

The Chair reconvened the meeting to public session at 11:23 pm.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education recognizes that Peggy Sullivan violated policy #3160.1 and does not condone the actions that led to said violation.  The Board directs the superintendent, Dr. Tom McMorran, to execute the following actions:  Draft a disciplinary letter and fully-executed agreement specifying the policy violated and all actions which led to said violation.  Require Ms. Sullivan to assure the Board, in writing, that the policy previously stated will not be violated at any time in the future.  Place all documentation pertaining to this violation in Ms. Sullivan’s personnel file.  In addition, the Board agrees that it will not approve an increase of its portion of Ms. Sullivan’s salary in the upcoming Central Office budget.  All actions pending review of counsel.  Hoffman, Florkowski.  Approved.  Unanimous. 

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

The meeting adjourned at 11:24 pm.

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

Recorded by Vicki Cram.