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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 06/12/2018

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 06/18/2018 2:28pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Board of Education: Irwin, Hoffman, Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoeing, Reilly
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Hammond, Martin, Torre
Others: Approximately [24] members of the public/staff and a reporter from The Redding Pilot

Dr. Irwin called the meeting to order at 8:30 p.m.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the May 1, 2018 regular meeting. Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the May 17, 2018 special meeting to include the following revision:

Correct the third motion to read as follows:

Motion: move to approve an operating budget for 2018-19 of $21,052,623. (Hoffman, no second). [Superintendent’s potential reductions as written plus $68,948]
Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Erach Screwvala, Lamppost Drive, Redding – Mr. Screwvala expressed his distaste for further budget cuts after hearing about changes to the K-8 Science Curriculum and Professional Development. He thanked the Board for its hard work.

Ms. Pilato relayed feedback she received from residents in the community looking for the Board to communicate its position with respect to the budget referendums. She explained that after seeking advice from legal counsel that the Board would refrain from advocating one position over another. Ms. Pilato also shared her experience as an attendee at the annual 3rd Grade Connecticut Show and lamented at its loss next year. She also shared criticism she received for how she conducted herself with calls to reduce the budget.

Ms. Whaley commented that as a district that lacks diversity, Redding must work extra hard at being mindful of inclusivity. She used as an example the Immigration project grid used at John Read Middle School. She explained how the grid could be updated to accommodate families that have two mothers, two fathers or families who did not immigrate to the United States.
Mr. Parkin lamented on the loss of the middle school play and encouraged the town to continue what is a strong and proud tradition.

Dr. Irwin read a comment she received regarding the schools’ MCAS scores and ranking among other towns in the district. She explained how Dr. Pierson Ugol is working on changes to the math program.

Mr. Hoffman shared his opinion on how the nature of Board meetings have evolved over time. He urged the Board to propose cuts that would satisfy the voters and not the Board of Finance.

Mr. Reilly continued to encourage members to work on both sides of the aisle, commit to Dr. McMorran’s goals and the town’s goals as community when moving forward after the referendum.

Mrs. Hammond reported on the success of field day at RES due in large part to parent volunteers. She extended an invitation to the 4th grade Stepping Up ceremony on June 22nd at the Redding Community Center and she mentioned the 1st grade Color Show held and the Connecticut Show Ms. Pilato mentioned earlier.

Mrs. Martin reported that she and Mrs. Wallin had the pleasure of reading the 8th grade memories each student wrote about their time at JRMS. She reported that three new items were dedicated to the school from Susan Durkee’s collection of Mark Twain’s artwork.

Mr. Parkin asked Mrs. Hammond to report on kindergarten enrollment projections for 2018-2019. Mrs. Hammond noted that 76 children were currently enrolled not including any summer arrivals. She discussed how the school would manage any increases in enrollment and the likelihood of changing the threshold of student to teacher ratios. She also explored the idea of floating teachers. Mrs. Martin noted that she did not prefer one over the other.

Mrs. Torre noted the difference between Redding’s rate of identifying students in need of special education services compared to how the state identifies students in need of special services.

Dr. McMorran expressed his thanks for Ms. Torre’s significant contributions throughout the year.

Motion: move to lay items VI A and B on the table and proceed to year end fiscal report. Parkin, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Reiss reviewed the budget operating summary taking into consideration the number of pending reductions. He provided a one year look back of the budget noting total spend and the payback of all major grants. He commented that any further outlook on the budget would be in June once the books close and in July once they are settled. He advised that even more detailed information would be available in August when payroll and health insurance claims were final.

Mr. Reiss noted that the balance in the Health Insurance Reserve Account fund as of June 11, 2018, is $225,245. Mr. Reiss received advice from a third-party consultant to determine how to treat the amount held in the reserve when deciding how much to budget next year. Dr. McMorran stated that members of the sub-committee were being cautious in managing monies held in reserve and not seeing a surplus of unspent funds. Mr. Parkin opined on the value of self-insurance risk pools and other plans and Dr. McMorran stated that more discussions would need to take place.

Mr. Reiss advised that Anthem had already lowered teacher contributions to 19.5% this year, a 1.5% change.

Motion: move to authorize the Director of Finance & Operations to transfer year-end 2017-2018 unexpended budget funds to the Health Insurance Reserve Account at the close out of the fiscal year. Hoeing, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Reiss advised that there were a series of line items found that were carried through unnecessarily and left over. He explained how he fine-tuned amounts from vendors and how he would report these are line items next year. Dr. Irwin noted that further discussion was needed on the fiscal report. Mr. Reiss reviewed the transfer report and several items related to special services particularly evaluations.

Mr. Reiss provided an update on the ongoing maintenance of the HVAC system at RES. Mr. Reiss stated that he is receiving good customer service and support from representatives of the manufacturer. He is discussing further action steps since this isn’t the first time the system has had problems.

Ms. Pilato asked Mr. Reiss if the position was properly staffed could this problem had been prevented. Mr. Reiss advised that if we had one facility director for all three districts the issue might have been prevented. Ms. Hoeing reported that the total cost of the project is $18,000. Mr. Reiss noted that certain parts are on back-order and repairs would be complete before the start of the 2018-2019 school year. Mrs. Hammond discussed how the school was working around the issue.

Mr. Reiss then reviewed the condition of the boilers at JRMS. He said that there were no cracks in the unit and the vendor was on-site to determine what caused the issue and how to repair it going forward. Next, Mr. Reiss reported that the results of the water testing done at JRMS would be complete in two weeks and would include viable options for repairing the well. Mr. Reiss asked the Board for a motion to make the necessary repairs before reporting back to the Board before its next meeting.

Motion: move to authorize the Director of Finance & Operations to transfer an amount up to but not exceeding $20,000 to account 2600-431 from budget lines that he deems appropriate to make the necessary air conditioning repairs at Redding Elementary School. Parkin, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: to remove item VI B (facilities update) from the table for consideration. Parkin, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

Dr. McMorran recapped that the Board of Finance and Board of Selectman provided guidance which suggested that the Board proportionately reduce the 2018-2019 school budget amount to $101,944. He referred to a handout, “Additional Reductions to Proposed 2018-2019 Budget” and reviewed how this could be achieved by cutting each of the additionally proposed targets.

Discussion followed with considerable focus on the potential elimination of world language at RES, prepayment of the retirement incentive, adjusting the tuition reimbursement to reflect administrative contracts, reducing legal representation and the number of radios in need of repair at RES. Additional discussion included the merits of reductions in the health insurance line, class sizes, additional reductions in extracurriculars and the Grade 5 Team Leader stipend.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add a Public Comment after the Board’s discussion of the 2018-2019 Operating Budget Revision. Reilly, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

Cheryl Graziano, Deacon Abbott Road, Redding – Mrs. Graziano asked for line item which when tied to the referendum would explain why a voter cast a vote a particular way. She also asked the Board to consider additional funding from the town rather than budget to provide special services.

Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road, Redding – Mr. D’Agostino echoed Mrs. Graziano’s comments and added that he hopes the Board consult with legal counsel with respect to prepaying the retirement incentive.

Martine King, Rock House Road, Redding – Mrs. King is a RES parent advocating on behalf of children who participate in the elementary Spanish program and who are not eligible for the Gifted and Talented Program. She feels its elimination will prevent children from learning a language at an early age.

Stan Rhodes, Archers Lane, Redding – Mr. Rhodes demanded the Board look at the two main areas (special services and medical insurance) causing the budget to exceed last year’s final budget and bring that to the attention of the Board of Finance.

Additional discussion followed.

Motion: move to approve a reduction of $101,944 from the 2018-2019 Board-approved budget, including cutting elementary Spanish and $26,079 from the Employee Benefits Account budget line along with multiple additional budget line reductions. Hoffman, Hoeing. Motion failed 2-5. Irwin, Parkin, Pilato, Reilly and Whaley opposed.

Discussion followed. Mr. Hoffman withdrew the motion.

Motion: move to approve a reduction of $101,944 from the 2018-2019 Board-approved budget, retaining elementary Spanish and reducing $69,725 from the Employee Benefits Account budget line along with multiple additional budget line reductions. Whaley, Reilly. Motion passed 4-3. Parkin, Pilato and Hoeing opposed.

Dr. McMorran read the Notice of Termination for Tenured/Non-Tenured Staff.

Motion: move that the contracts of employment of Donna Edwards and Nicole Eckardt be terminated at the end of the current school year, June 30, 2018, due to reduction in force and that the Superintendent of Schools is directed to advise such persons in writing of this action. Hoffman, Hoeing. Passed 5-2. Reilly and Pilato opposed.

Dr. Pierson Ugol discussed recommendations for communicating to parents changes related to the Gifted & Talented program’s identification process to bring it more in line with industry standards. She reported that she is currently working with a consultant and would be ready to implement changes in the 2019-2020 school year.

Martine King, Rock House Road, Redding – Ms. King thanked the Board for their continued service and for allowing public comments during this time.

Mr. D’Agostino, Glen Hill Road, Redding – Mr. D’Agostino commented on reducing the Board’s contribution to the health care account and providing some clarity around that issue.

Mr. Parkin commented he is hopeful that this is the last of these conversations and he looks forward to reconvening in July to discuss the long term potential of the district.

Motion: moved to adjourn meeting. Hoeing, Whaley. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 11:57 p.m.

Submitted by
Chris Parkin, Redding Board of Education Secretary

Recorded by
Stephanie Benton

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