Redding Board of Education
December 6, 2016
Board of Education Members: Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Miller, Sobel
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Sullivan, Martin, Wessman Huber, Edwards
Others: Approximately 20 members of the public, staff, students and a reporter from The Redding Pilot.
Mrs. Sobel called the meeting to order at 7:34 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: Move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 18, 2016 Joint Meeting of the Easton, Redding & Region 9 Boards of Education as submitted. Florkowski, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: Move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the November 1, 2016 regular meeting as submitted. Florkowski, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Ms. Wessman Huber recognized two third-grade students, Mia Callot and Kenji Perretz, who both participate in the 4th Grade Orchestra. After an introduction by instrumental teacher, Dr. Rodgers, Mia and Kenji each performed a song individually, followed by a duet.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Commented on the resignation of the Director of Operations. He then stated that he believed it necessary to look into restructuring the Central Office to avoid mistakes that have been made in the past. Finally, he noted that he has heard that due to discontent with DATTCO, some parents are choosing to not use the bus system which concerns him.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Mr. Hoffman discussed a committee formed by the Board of Finance which will include Board of Education member representation to audit the Board of Education budget for a two-year period and determine if appropriate controls are in place. An RFP will be prepared to hire a firm to do the audit. For upcoming budget workshops, Mr. Hoffman requested more detail on staffing, in particular at the middle school. He would like a better understanding of each teacher’s assignment and class load. He also asked if students were choosing reading books from a required reading list, or if they were able to choose books on their own. Ms. Sobel suggested reconvening the Curriculum Committee to discuss such topics.
Dr. Jess Gaspar asked for consideration of the role of the Director of Finance and Operations. He would like the scope, resourcing and feasibility of the role examined to be sure it is reasonable. Dr. Gaspar also discussed the role of Central Office; that three studies have been done in the past on Central Office staffing and the work flow, all with the same suggested improvements. Few suggestions were acted on. He noted his feelings that it is understaffed, individuals are asked to take on too much responsibility and that organizationally the system has design flaws.
Mrs. Florkowski then asked that the Board examine their bottom up approach, and that perhaps a realignment of boards was necessary to reduce the duplication of work and to streamline overall processes. She stated that board tasks needed to be defined with more clarity, that people needed to be held accountable to clearly defined tasks, that the individual committees and boards need to work more closely and more as a team.
Mr. Miller agreed with Mrs. Florkowski, and added he has concerns above moving forward with an RFP and hiring a firm to do the audit; that it is not the Board of Finance’s purview. He stated it is the Board of Education’s role to investigate what happened before further action is taken by a committee. He suggested that the Board of Education form their own subcommittee to figure out what happened before any taxpayer money is spent.
At this point in the discussion motions were made to add items to the meeting agenda under Discussion and Possible Action:
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add agenda item K, formation of an ad-hoc committee, to the agenda. Miller, Gaspar. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add agenda item L, Regional Educational Service Center. Florkowski. Gaspar. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add agenda item M, the acceptance of a donation intended for the RES “Kindness Klub” from Connecticut Information Security. Florkowski. Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
Mrs. Florkowski reported that a group of over 80, seven to 14-year old girls in the Aspetuck Wildcats Cheerleading organization will be traveling to Florida to compete in the American Youth Cheer Championships.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION ON THE FOLLOWING ITEMS
A. Appointment of Health Insurance Consultant:
Ms. Peggy Sullivan asked for a motion to approve the hire of Brown and Brown as the insurance consultant. Dr. Gaspar shared that the tri-district Insurance Committee recommended their hire after receiving bids from several firms. He noted that Brown & Brown has been working with the Town of Easton and were vetted with other school districts. They also were the lowest bid.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education hire Brown & Brown as the district’s insurance consultant. Florkowski. Hoffman. Approved: Unanimous.
B. Review of Capital Plan:
Mrs. Sullivan noted three items on the Capital Plan she distributed: the elevator replacement at RES, a second boiler which may need to be replaced this year instead of next year, and the JRMS locker replacement which had been pushed back a year.
C. Implementation of Middle School Math Grouping:
Dr. Pierson Ugol and Ms. Martin jointly reported on this topic involving Flexible Grouping, Intervention, and Comparative Data. The math model in place this year includes the use of pre-assessment data to inform flexible grouping and intervention. There are three levels of staffing in the math grouping: teacher specialist, tutor, and paraprofessional. Since implementing the model improvements have been seen in student performance and student attitudes/comfort in math class. They noted that two math paraprofessionals had been hired and one left, feeling the instruction was more difficult than she expected. A search is on for her replacement. Some of the challenges in filling these positions were discussed noting they are part-time without benefits, and level of knowledge required.
D. Student Learning Objectives and Collegial Inquiries:
Dr. Pierson Ugol explained a new option in the teacher evaluation plan for teachers who are tenured and in good standing called Collegial Inquiry. Within ER9, a collegial inquiry may be pursued by a pair or small group of teachers whose teaching assignments might be in other districts, levels or departments. The collegial group is drawn together by a common focus tied to an identified problem of practice. Sample middle school and elementary school teacher Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and academic goals were shared by Mrs. Martin and Dr. Wessman Huber. Mrs. Edwards also reported that special educators also participate.
E. Redding Elementary School: Security and Intake of Visitors:
Dr. Wessman Huber noted procedural changes in security such as all visitors without an employee badge are required to show a photo ID upon entering RES. Their photo ID is scanned and a visitor badge is created. If a visitor doesn’t have a photo ID, a photo is taken and a badge is created. All information is double encrypted and stored on the system’s cloud. At dismissal in the Big Gym, all adults picking students up must show a photo ID before they are permitted to leave the gym with a student. Also, a “Drop-off” table was added in the new main entrance vestibule so visitors who are bringing in a forgotten item do not need to enter the building. These items are delivered throughout the day by the 4th grade Character Council.
F. Enrollment Projections 2017-2018:
Dr. Thomas McMorran gave a presentation on a recent study done by Dr. Peter M. Prowda, Ph.D titled, “Redding Public Schools Enrollment Projections to 2026.” The study indicates that the enrollment decline which began in 2008 will continue for only two more years and then enrollment will start to rise. Total enrollment should average 910 students over the 10 year projected period. Dr. McMorran urged the Board to resist from tying any future budget directly to enrollment projections as they do not correlate in a manner that allows for the two figures to be unequivocally tied.
G. Evidence-Based Budgeting for Effective School Strategies:
Dr. McMorran discussed how the administration will organize their budget presentation into the examination of six sections of the budget. This will allow for greater understanding of each component. Dr. McMorran noted that this preliminary information is intended to serve as general information for the board to reflect upon before a budget is reached. The six sections are:
1. General Instruction
2. Special Education, Speech Services, Special Services and Psychological Services
3. Operations and Management of Physical Plant, Student Transportation, Technology Plan, Ed. Media Services, Health Services and Food Services
4. School Administration, Central Office Administration, Board of Education, Debt Service, Fund Transfers
5. Magnet School (Redding), Curriculum & Instruction, Humanities, STEM, Industrial Technology, Integrated Language Arts, PE/Health, Guidance, and Kindergarten
6. Student Activities Athletic and Student Activities Co-Curricular
H. Superintendent’s Contract: One-Year Extension:
Dr. McMorran expressed his faith in the community, school system and Board of Education and was happy to receive the act of good will from the board in extending his contract by one year. It was noted that the other two district boards must also approve a motion to extend the contract.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education extend Dr. McMorran’s contract by one year. Florkowski, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.
I. Policies- 2nd Reading
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the following policies for second reading:
– 1331 Community Relations: Smoke-Free Environment
– 1700 Community Relations: Otherwise Lawful Possession of Firearms on School Property
– 3542.22 Business/Non-Instructional Operations: Food Service Personnel Code of Conduct
– 3523.11 Business/Non-Instructional Operations: Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones)
Miller, Hoffman. Approved: Unanimous.
J. Policies- 1st Reading: Seven Policies were presented for a first reading
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the following policies for first reading:
– 4121 Substitute Teachers
– 4111/4211 Recruitment and Selection
– 4112.5/4212.5 Security Check/Fingerprinting (includes Regulation)
– 4112.51/4212.51 Employment/Reference Checks
– 4112.2 Certification
– 4118.14/4218.14 Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities (includes Regulation)
– 4118.41/4218.41 Rights, Responsibilities and Duties: Electronic Mail
Miller, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
K. Ad-Hoc Committee:
Mr. Miller suggested the formation of a special subcommittee of the BOE separate from the subcommittee of the BOF. Miller stated that this task is the sole responsibility and under the jurisdiction of the BOE, and that the BOF could not take direct action with the administration without the direction of the BOE. It was noted that this topic should continue as an agenda item in January and Mr. Miller asked the board to ensure that no further steps were taken until the BOE could obtain further information. Dr. McMorran offered to make an executive summary of the incidents in question and explore whether or not the controls previously introduced are sufficient.
L. Regional Educational Services Center:
Dr. McMorran explained that each public school district is required to be a member of a Regional Educational Service Center serving their specific region. For years, Easton and Region 9 have been members of Cooperative Educational Services (CES) in Trumbull, but Redding has been a member of EdAdvance (formerly Education Connection) in Litchfield. He felt that it was more cost effective for Redding to also join CES with the center being physical closer to our schools and the fact that many Redding staff and administrators attend professional development and other trainings at CES but must pay an additional non-member fee. Having the three districts all in the same RESC also would mean the basis of the school calendars would be on the CES uniform regional calendar.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education move to direct the Superintendent to take such actions as are necessary to transfer the Redding School District’s membership from EdAdvance to Cooperative Educational Services (CES). Florkowski, Miller. Approved. Unanimous.
M. Redding Elementary School Donation intended for the “Kindness Klub” from Connecticut Information Security:
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept with gratitude a donation of $500 intended for the “Kindness Klub” from Connecticut Information Security. Hoffman, Florkowski. Approved. Unanimous.
Redding Elementary School: Dr. Wessman Huber stated that she had no information to share other than her written report and what had already been discussed.
John Read Middle School: Mrs. Martin also referred to her written report but highlighted that the JRMS Taking Care Team hosted is hosting two “Four Square Cuz We Care” tournaments to raise money for Wyatt Hoover, a JRMS graduate who is in need of a kidney transplant. Per the family’s request the money will be donated to the Children’s Organ Transplant Association. $1,200 was raised in the first tournament.
Director of Special Services: Mrs. Edwards stated she had nothing more to add to her written report.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction: Dr. Pierson Ugol also referenced her written report.
Director of Finance & Operations: Mrs. Sullivan reported that the health insurance claims for October 2016 were $186,238.05. However, based on a claims report just received from Anthem, the November claims for Redding were over $490,000 with the claims for the overall pool of the three districts combined running over $800,000. Mrs. Sullivan also reported that she has been working with Doug Hartline and that a possible solution may have been found for the backwash water system at RES. They are studying levels over time to see possible impact. The school is still using bottled water.
BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS:
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Asked for more information regarding levels of protection on the cloud that is storing photo ID information at RES. He also asked how many kindergarten packets went out for next year and how this will impact enrollment. His final comment was that it has been a multiple year downward trend where each year the Redding Board of Finance has been overstepping its bounds and encroaching on the jurisdiction of the Board of Education and that he feels the Board of Education had allowed this to happen.
Jeanne Wendschuh, Deer Spring Road: Expressed her gratitude for Ms. Sullivan’s service to the community and to the three boards of Education that she directly reports to and the other two boards that she interacts with over her many years of employment with the districts.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Mr. Miller and Dr. Gaspar echoed Mrs. Wendschuh’s comments and gratitude for Mrs. Sullivan’s service to ER9.
Motion: move to Executive Session to discuss attorney-client privileged communication concerning Board action in a personnel matter. Gaspar, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous. Dr. McMorran was invited into the Executive Session.
The meeting recessed at 10:17 pm.
The Chair reconvened the meeting to public session at 10:24 pm.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Florkowski, Gaspar Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 10:25 pm.
Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Secretary, Redding Board of Education.
Recorded by Elise Cavanaugh.