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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 09/04/2018

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 09/11/2018 3:00pm
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk

Regular Meeting
Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Board of Education: Irwin, Hoffman, Parkin, Whaley (7:32), Pilato, Hoeing, Reilly
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Hammond, Basta, Martin, Twiss, Kirby
Others: Approximately 14 members of the public/staff

Meeting was called to order by Dr. Irwin at 7:30.

Ms. Hoeing requested Mr. Parkin to remove the sentence on page 3 with respect to the statement in the sixth paragraph attributed to her refencing the cost of the project.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the June 12, 2018 regular meeting, as amended. Reilly, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous. (6-0; Whaley absent).

Mrs. Whaley arrived at 7:32.


Mrs. Pilato welcomed the new staff members and students. She requested clarification in the  Administrative Reports to note that enrollment in the schools is stabilizing as opposed to stable. She then referred to a copy of the CABE publication on the role and responsibilities of Boards of Education and noted that the Board is an agent of the State as opposed to being town department. She commented that this distinction seemed to not be understood by some members of the Board of Finance.

Mrs. Hoeing commented on a hope that discussion would be limited in time to keep the meeting from being excessively long.

Motion: move to limit the discussion of each September 4, 2018, agenda item to eight (8) minutes, absent a motion to extend discussion, and recess for a brief break 90-minutes after the meeting is Called to Order. Hoeing, Hoffman.

Brief discussion was had on the merits of the proposal and possible alternatives.

Approved. 6-1. Parkin opposed.

Mrs. Hammond reported that RES welcomed 464 new and returning students on the first day. She recalled how the staff had pulled together to support and greet the children in the lobby. She reported on classroom visits and described how the children were eager and engaged.

Mrs. Martin reported that JRMS welcomed 16 new students. She described the first day experience for students that began with their teachers welcoming them back to school. She described interactions with teachers, exploring classrooms and the beginnings of analyzing patterns. She noted that new students were getting familiar with layout of the school. Then, Mrs. Martin spoke about the building’s new cell phone policy and how it discouraged students playing video games or using the Chrome Books to play video games while in the Learning Commons and certain other areas of the building.  Mrs. Martin noted the smooth transition from an SRO to an SSO in response to a question from Mr. Parkin.

Dr. McMorran explained the purpose of each new policy presented for review.  He stated the role of the Board in reviewing these policies and that the Policy Committee had reviewed these and other policies prior to presentation to the Board.  Dr. McMorran advised that it is up to the Administrators to align the policies with district practices. The Board reviewed the policies and Mrs. Whaley noted a technical change. Dr. McMorran asked for any other comments by the next meeting of the Policy Committee on September 12th.

Motion: move to accept the following policies for First Reading
–        6152.51: Surveys of Students;
–        6163.32: Live Animals in the Classroom;
–        6159: Individualized Education Program/Special Education Program; and
–        5144 Appendix: Alternate Education Opportunity for Eligible Expelled Students
Parkin, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Basta gave a brief presentation on the playground project and introduced Board members from the RES PTA.  Present were Sarah O’Dell, President, Angela Caes, VP Programs and Jessica Nevins, Secretary. Mr. Basta reviewed the history of RES’ joint partnerships and noted the PTAs assistance with another RES playground build. He reported that due to the age of the structure, which dates to the 1980s, the intermediate playground, repairs now require custom parts, which quickly make maintenance cost prohibitive as a long-term strategy.  He detailed the collaborative effort with the PTA to solicit volunteers and help fund the project. Mrs. O’Dell reported that the PTA would like to donate a portion of the proceeds it had received from a grant to the school to help cover the costs of the structure. She added that the PTA would also absorb certain costs related to the community build (i.e. food, volunteers, babysitting, etc.) directly.  Mrs. Caes stated that materials would be delivered on Thursday, September 27th and that the actual build would take place on Friday September 28th and Saturday, September 29th. Mr. Basta noted that the area would be sectioned off on Thursday and for a brief period following installation as an insurance requirement. He added that the vendor is fully responsible for bringing the structure into compliance and that the Town highway department would handle the dismantling and removal of the existing structures.

Motion: move that the Board accept a generous donation in the amount of $15,771 from the RES PTA to deposit in the Student Activities Fund and use for playground project. Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Board authorize the Director of Finance and Operation and RES administration to use funds in the Student Activity Fund to fund the replacement of the RES intermediate playground as proposed.  Parkin, Hoffman. Unanimous.

Mrs. Deborah Jones, President, JRMS PTA, presented the Board with a check in the amount of $30,000 and reported that she expressed the PTA’s gratitude to the donor on behalf of the school and the community.  Mrs. Jones reported that the money must be spent during the current school year to fund clubs and activities that were recently eliminated through budget cuts. She advised that the donor wished to remain anonymous.  Mrs. Martin led a discussion of each club or activity that would be reinstated then noted that she would begin looking at teacher availability to meet staffing needs. Dr McMorran recognized the generosity and asked the Board to note its importance as the first stop gap to getting through a tough financial situation since a grant is not meant to supplant town funding.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the very, very generous donation in the amount of $30,000 from the JRMS PTA, the proceeds of which must be used to fund most of the clubs and activities that were eliminated in the 2018-19 JRMS operating budget. Whaley, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

The Board reviewed with the administrators which clubs had been cut in the budget process and which could be brought back at JRMS due to the gift.  In discussion of the elimination of RES Garden Club, Dr. Irwin recognized that Mr. Hoffman had generously donated time and supplies for the expanded garden at RES.

A discussion regarding the impact of the grant on music programs was also briefly held.  Due to staff reductions, not all programs can be brought back.  Mr. Parkin asked that Dr. Martin provide an update on the impact of the staff and program reductions in the music department around mid-year.

Dr. McMorran reported annual teacher evaluation statistics and, along with the building administrators, answered clarifying questions regarding the process.

Dr. Irwin led a discussion on the Board of Finance’s audit and the Special Education FERPA issue. She reminded the Board that their discussion was about the BOF’s preliminary findings and not the full results of the audit. Dr. McMorran advised that the purpose of the audit was to look into process and procedure at Central Office for 2 yrs 2015-16 and 2016-17.

The Board reviewed the advice of counsel regarding disclosing IEPs of several students with special needs to the BOF auditor and the FERPA implications of such a disclosure.  The Board agreed that it was appropriate to act within its legal authority to assist the BOF auditor in completing his work but that it was not appropriate to violate FERPA in so doing.  Ms. Twiss provided some context on IEPs and to whom they are disclosed in the normal course of business.  Dr. McMorran and Mr. Reiss reviewed several options they had offered to BOF auditor to resolve the issue without a response.  After considerable deliberation, it was concluded that the Board could not unilaterally conclude what would be acceptable to the BOF auditor as any proposed FERPA compliant resolution would tend to undermine the pure independence of the work and/or involve pure Board agents to undertake the special education review.

Motion: move to authorize the Chairwoman of the Board of Education to write a letter to the Chairwoman of the Board of Finance (1) confirming the Board of Education’s cooperation in the Board of Finance audit of central office policies and procedures, and (2) proposing mitigating FERPA concerns by engaging the Board of Education’s counsel to review special education records and report back to the Board of Finance auditor or enter into a specific, limited,  engagement with the Board of Finance auditor in a manner that complies with FERPA and satisfies both the auditor and Board of Education counsel. Hoeing, Hoffman. Approved Unanimous.
Motion: move to recess for five minutes.  Parkin, Reilly. Unanimous.

Dr. Irwin reconvened the meeting at 9:35 pm

Dr. Irwin led a discussion on how the Board could structure one of its budget meetings to get more public feedback before the new budget is proposed. The Board discussed the possible location, structure and format of the meeting using the Board of Finance and the Board of Selectmen meetings as examples.  It was tentatively decided by consensus that the first Thursday in January would be the date of such a new forum.

Dr. Irwin noted that the Board needs to revisit dates for the retreat since the last one was cancelled due to the Board of Finance’s request that the Board attend its meeting.  She noted discussion items for the agenda could include long range strategic planning, the district’s Mission and Vision, and Board roles and responsibilities. After some discussion, the Board agreed that the Retreat will be on October 2nd, the date originally scheduled for a regular meeting, but which has since been joined with Easton’s meeting on October 9.

Mr. Parkin reviewed a draft of the “Mission, Vision, and Purpose of the Redding School District” as recommended by the Long-Range Planning and Structure and Ways of Working Committees.  He explained how an 8th grade graduate was used as a model for how the district improves its strategic vision, education and curriculum.  Dr. McMorran was pleased with the Board for making a decision to take on a much more broader vision.  Mr. Hoffman thanked the committees for the draft statements.  Dr. Irwin asked the Board to review and provide comments at the next meeting.

Mrs. Cynthia Twiss, Interim Director of Special Services, reviewed the Special Services Report. She reported that she conducted PPT meetings over the summer in both districts and then reviewed the new position that was added for special services. She discussed the Tier 1 curriculum and the prevalence rates for providing special services. In response to a suggestion from the Board, Mrs. Twiss noted that she would include information in her reports that she thinks would be of interest to the Board like analyzing trends. Mrs. Twiss extended an invitation to the Board to stop by her office to ask questions or to explain programming.

Dr. Pierson Ugol discussed the summer curriculum and detailed how she worked with the Administrators in the district to consider course offerings since the budget cuts. She reported that she was able to work with an Easton and Redding Math specialist to align district standards relative to appropriate state standards. She thought that there could be some tweaks in the curriculum for history at RES and an increased focus on early literacy.  In response to a question from the Board, Dr. Pierson Ugol discussed the difference in time funding versus resource funding and Dr. Irwin stated that she would work with Dr. Pierson Ugol to provide a list of services applicable to each. Discussion in the community during the budget process, Dr. Pierson Ugol stated that the schools are not teaching arcane or antiquated courses.

Mrs. Hoeing asked if the Board could revisit the 8-9 transition standards at a future meeting. The Board began discussing interventions, assessments and the challenges the school faces with analyzing trends.

Mr. Scott Reiss, Director of Finance & Operations reviewed the Five-Year Capital Plan. He also reviewed in detail the recommendations and inputs of the Facilities and Fields Committee with respect to the Water Study Reports for RES and JRMS.  Mr. Reiss discussed the sodium chloride issue with the wells, corrosion in the drains and providing the schools with bottled water in the alternative. He also noted that additional remediation efforts were needed to reduce turbidity, iron and manganese at RES. The Board continued to discuss possible solutions and agreed that providing bottled water at the schools was the best course of action for the foreseeable future.

Discussion was held regarding the cost/benefit of the bottled water solution as well as the capital plan.

Motion: move to accept the Facilities Committee’s proposed capital plan as the Board’s capital plan.  Parkin, Irwin, Unanimous.

Motion: to accept the Facilities Planning Committee’s recommendations to 1) pursue additional remediation efforts at RES to reduce turbidity, iron, and manganese; 2) have a professional firm evaluate water distribution systems at JRMS and RES; and 3) subject to the results of the evaluation, pursue water treatment equipment to control corrosion at JRMS and RES. Parkin, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move to authorize the Director of Finance & Operations to prepare a capital expense proposal to cover the costs of the proposed water remediation efforts set forth in the capital plan in in an amount not to exceed $90,000. Parkin, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Reiss reviewed the Budget Object Summary, Transfers Report and Health Insurance Analysis. He stated that he needs to transfer between budget line item #1200-111 and #1200-330 to compensate Mrs. Twiss as an independent contractor, rather than regular certified staff.

Motion: move to authorize the Director of Finance & Operations to transfer an amount up to but not exceeding $76,500 from budget line item #1200-111 to budget line item #1200-330 for the compensation of the Interim Director of Special Services, an independent contractor for the district. Parkin, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Reiss reviewed the status of the health insurance reserve fund through the close of the fiscal year.


Mike D’Agostino, Chairman ER9 encouraged the Board to seek guidance from its auditors and legal counsel when spending grant money.

Mrs. Hoeing commented on the efficiency of limiting discussion items to a predetermined time limit.


Motion: moved to adjourn meeting.  Hoffman, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.

Meeting was adjourned at 11:02 pm.

Submitted by Chris Parkin,
Redding Board of Education Secretary

Recorded by
Stephanie Benton