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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 03/16/2016

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education – Special

RECEIVED 03/24/2016 12:35pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Minutes

Board of Education: Denny, Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Sobel
Administration: McMorran, Sullivan, Pierson Ugol, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber,
Others: 17 and members of the public, and a representative of the Hello Redding

Chairman Sobel called the March 16, 2016 meeting to order at 7:30 pm.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the minutes of the March 2, 2016 meeting be accepted as submitted. Florkowski, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

PUBLIC COMMENT
John Reilly, Drummer Lane:  Mr. Reilly expressed his concern about the Board of Finance’s concentration on “cost per pupil” and comparison with Easton, stating that there are too many variables to make comparisons. He asked the Board of Education to hold the line on further adjustments to the budget.

Kim Yonkers, member of the Board of Finance. Dr. Yonkers thanked the board members, Dr. McMorran and the administrators for their work on behalf of the community.  She provided information on the financial constraints that the Town of Redding is now experiencing. The schools represent about 74% of the Town’s budget. Dr. Yonkers expressed concern about the level of staffing in the schools compared with the Easton schools.  The Board of Finance has to balance the need to fund the schools along with the needs of the Town, including moving from BANS (Bond Anticipation Notes) to bonding and the associated costs. She added that the Board of Finance is looking at the overall town burden over the next two years, and what is best for the town, taxpayers and students.

Keith Rich, Putnam Park Road: Mr. Rich commented that the bus vehicles should be housed in Redding, not in Easton as is being considered. In addition, he would like to see the Central Office located in one of the Redding schools to lower the costs.

Nancy Shalala:  Mrs. Shalala commented that the primary reason her family moved to Redding was the quality of the education.  She described her daughter’s experiences and growth in first grade.

DISCUSSION AND ACTION ON 2016-17 OPERATING BUDGET
Dr. McMorran began the discussion with a presentation of data, comparisons and statistics.  He provided a variety of metrics that could be used to evaluate schools and towns.

Mrs. Sobel noted that at the March 7, 2016 meeting with the Board of Finance, the Board of Education was asked to reconsider and take a closer look at the school’s proposed budget.

Dr. McMorran reported that the enrollment in Kindergarten for next year has exceeded the projections, and Dr. Wessman Huber anticipates a final enrollment in the range of 89-92.  With that information, Dr. McMorran has recommended an additional section of Kindergarten for the 2016-17 school year.  The cost of a teacher with an MA Step 1 is $58,624 plus insurance at $14,000 plus FICA.  The aid for the classroom at 5 hours/day would cost an additional $16,000.  The administration revisited the budget for adjustments to the current proposal that would result in $89,000 to cover the cost of the additional Kindergarten section.

Adjustments included:

  1. Summer curriculum work, $12,000
  2. Summer hours for Librarian, $1,895 (RES)
  3. Summer hours for Media paraprofessional, $750 (RES)
  4. Summer days for Writing Specialists (JRMS) $1,000, the Writing Specialist position was eliminated in the proposed budget.
  5. Team Leader Stipend Writing Specialist, $3,641 (JRMS), position was eliminated previously
  6. Summer work for Guidance $2,000 (JRMS)
  7. Laptop for Data (Powerschool) Secretary, $1,000 (JRMS)
  8. Periodicals for Humanities courses, $1,589 (JRMS)
  9. Periodicals for Science, $2,040 (JRMS)
  10. Summer hours for secretaries, $9,000 (JRMS)
  11. Lunch and Learn Program, $8,380 (JRMS)
  12. Transportation, $40,000
  13. Health Insurance, $5,705

Each of these adjustments was discussed. Board members expressed concern about the elimination of the Lunch and Learn Program.  Some of the reductions were the result of further review of the projected expenses, such as Health Insurance. The transportation adjustment was made as a result of changes in routes and numbers of children.

Mr. Miller commented that with regard to the Capital Request for $5,000,000 for the HVAC systems in the two schools, the buildings are owned by the Town of Redding, not the schools.

Dr. McMorran stated that he believes the proposed budget of $21, 300,000 is the lowest responsible budget for next year.  He reviewed the current status of the Redding school budget and Region 9’s budget.

  • Redding Schools, budget, $21,300,000, or 0.0% increase
  • Region 9 Joel Barlow High School, total budget $23,280,891, 0.59% increase,
  • Redding’s share of Region 9 Budget, represents a decrease of 0.35%

Total education budget, Pre-K-12, $33,592,310.

Discussion continued.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve a budget for 2016-17 as proposed at $21,300,000, with the changes discussed at the March 16, 2016 meeting, with the hope that the administration will find unexpected saving to be able to restore the Lunch and Learn Program at JRMS.  Gaspar, Florkowski.

Discussion continued.

Dr. Gaspar expressed a concern about the Town’s debt repayment and questioned the amounts of money that were being planned for debt pay down over the next two years.  He provided data and an illustration of the education expenditure versus the ability to pay, measuring school costs against the Grand List.

Mr. Hoffman suggested there may be other areas that should be reviewed for reductions. Mr. Miller commented that there was discussion of increasing the budget and that other reductions were discussed thoroughly in the budget workshops, but that it would be difficult to find further reductions.

Vote on Motion:  Approved. 6-0-1. Mr. Hoffman voted against the motion.

DISCUSSION WITH BOARD OF FINANCE MEMBERS
Two members of the Board of Finance were present for the meeting.  Mrs. O’Donnell commented on the BAN and bonding issues facing the board, and the intent of the Board of Finance to even out the expenses/costs for the taxpayers over the next few years.

Dr. Yonkers commented that she understands that the cost per pupil comparison is problematic, but is real.  Comparing Redding to Easton, there are more teachers and more experienced teachers in Redding for about the same number of students. Redding also has a larger paraprofessional staff than Easton.  She added that the Board of Finance has asked all departments of the Town to reduce expenditures, not just the Board of Education.

PUBLIC COMMENT
Nancy Cavillones, Sidecut Road:  Mrs. Cavillones spoke of the importance of having experienced teachers in the classroom.

Tracy Darmofal, Archer Lane:  Mrs. Darmofal expressed her support for the budget and the programs.

Erin Singleton, Seventy Acres: Mrs. Singleton commented that her family moved to Redding because of the Town’s value of education and the arts. She is also concerned about educational reductions and impact on property values.

BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Mrs. Florkowski thanked the members of the Board of Finance, Mrs. O’Donnell and Dr. Yonkers, for attending the meeting, listening and sharing information.

Mr. Miller expressed his disagreement that the board took another look at the budget proposal.

ADJOURNMENT
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Hoffman, Denny. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 10:04 pm.

Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary

Reported by Mary Maday