Board of Education: Florkowski (7:39 pm), Gaspar, Irwin, Sobel, Witt
Administration: McMorran, Sullivan, Pierson Ugol, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber, Basta
Others: 20 members of the public and representatives of the Redding Pilot and Danbury News Times
Vice Chairman Sobel called the meeting to order at 7:34 pm in the Community Room of John Read Middle School.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the June 19, 2015 meeting as submitted. Gaspar, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the August 3, 2015 meeting as submitted. Witt, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill: Mr. Parkin stated his opposition to filling the Board member vacancy with a candidate for the position in October so close to the November election.
John Reilly, Drummer Lane: Mr. Reilly suggested the Board discuss class size and transportation issues in the fall, well in advance of the budget discussions.
MOMENT OF SILENCE
Dr. McMorran called for a moment of silence in recognition of the 2013 Barlow graduate, Nick Upton, who is missing in South Africa.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Mrs. Sobel noted that the meeting was not being videotaped, but she would be sure that future meetings were videotaped.
Mrs. Florkowski arrived at 7:39 pm
Motion: move to add to the agenda a presentation on Special Education process. Irwin, Gaspar. Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION ON THE FOLLOWING ITEMS
A. Enrollment Updates:
- RES, Dr. Wessman Huber reported all grades experienced a small increase in enrollment. The three Kindergarten classes each have 19 students. Each class has a paraprofessional, in addition to the classroom teacher. The state average size for Kindergarten is 20, with a range of 18-20 Redding’s area.
- JRMS: Mrs. Martin reported enrollment was as projected, 474 students.
B. Board of Education vacancy: Mrs. Ajavananda submitted her resignation from the Board due to a family relocation. Mrs. Sobel announced that, per Board by-laws, the vacancy is being announced at this meeting, and will be filled by majority vote at the next regularly scheduled meeting. She welcomed interest from community members and added that the Democratic and Republican Town Committees have been notified.
C. Minimum Budget Requirement (MBR) Update: Mrs. Sullivan recapped the latest legislative changes regarding the MBR. The primary change is the increase in the amount of reductions allowed based on declining enrollment. Mrs. Sullivan has asked the state for further information and clarification of the changes and will have those updates available at future meetings.
D. June 30, 2015 Operating Results and Operating Surplus: Mrs. Sullivan reported an unexpended operating budget of $350,000. She noted that the Health Insurance Reserve Fund is in good shape and does not require an additional allocation. The $350,000 will be returned to the Town of Redding General Fund.
E. Building Readiness Update/Status:
RES: Dr. Wessman Huber reported the paving, curbing and sidewalk work was completed, along with the electrical work in the 1948 & 1957 sections of the building.
JRMS: Mrs. Martin noted that the paving and curbing work was completed. The gym floor was redone, new bleachers installed along with new padding and basketball hoops.
Both Dr. Wessman Huber and Mrs. Martin thanked the Facilities Committee for their work and supervision of the projects.
F. Presentation on Special Education Process: Special Education Director Edwards presented information on the process of moving a referral through the system to the development of a student IEP (Individual Education Program). This was followed by discussion.
1. Extended Learning Time:
a. RES: Dr. Wessman Huber reported that Redding Elementary School has been recognized as a School of Excellence for 2015-17 by the National PTA. She highlighted the various programs and events that are provided by the RES PTA and thanked them for their contribution to the school community.
b. JRMS: Mrs. Martin explained how the “block” scheduling for extended learning time planning evolved and how it would be implemented.
2. Class Size: this was discussed earlier in the meeting.
3. RES Revised Vision: Dr. Wessman Huber explained the updated vision, Reaching Every Student, for the school and its development.
4. The Integrated Project: Social Studies and the Arts: Dr. Wessman Huber described TIP (The Integrated Project) that will combine the study of social studies with music and art.
5. Second Step Pilot Program: RES Assistant Principal, Mr. Basta, explained the piloting of the Second Step program. This is a classroom-based program that incorporates the development of social skills with student behavior.
6. Summer Curriculum Work and Ongoing Professional Development: Dr. Pierson Ugol provided an update on the work of the curriculum committees and work groups over the summer months. The plan and schedule for professional development meetings and sessions was also reviewed.
a. Mrs. Sullivan thanked the members of the Facilities Committee, especially Mike D’Agostino, for the work that was accomplished over the summer in both schools.
b. Transportation: Refund of property taxes paid to the Town of Bethel: Mrs. Sullivan reported the Town of Bethel has refunded the property taxes paid in 2012, 2013 & 2014, a total of $182,733.48 to the districts. That amount is split three ways between Easton, Redding and Region 9, in the same manner as expenses. The auditor (McGladrey LLP) has recommended that Redding’s share, $60,911.16 be returned to the Town of Redding.
c. Security Upgrade Grant: Mrs. Sullivan reported a check for $37,867 was received for a State Grant for security upgrades that were implemented in the schools. This money has also been returned to the Town of Redding.
d. Transportation Contract: the transportation contract ends in June 2016 and will need to be rebid. Consideration is being given to the creation of a bus depot in Easton, near the Samuel Staples Elementary School. The site is being considered since a natural gas line is available at the site. Consideration is also being given to the use of natural gas fueled vehicles when these vehicles are available. A representative of the Redding Board will be asked to participate on the committee.
e. School Lunch Program: following a federal audit of the school lunch program in Connecticut, it came to light that the contracts (approved by the State of Connecticut) were not in compliance with the federal program. As a result, the school lunch program will need to be rebid for the 2016-17 year. The primary problem was that Chartwells offered a scholarship and funding for a nutritional program for the schools.
f. Cell Tower notification: A notification was received from the Connecticut Siting Tower that Verizon has applied for an installation on the cell tower located at the Town’s Highway Garage site. As a part of the application, all neighbors must be notified. No action is required.
8. Superintendent’s Report: Dr. McMorran reflected on his visits to the schools and observations of the learning taking place in all areas. He stressed the importance of learning to care for ourselves, our community and our world.
Board of Education Committee Reports
Long Range Planning Committee: Dr. Witt reported that the group met over the summer to discuss next steps now that the stat has withdrawn its grant money. That committee had earmarked that money to fund the assistance and guidance of Dr. Costa. The next meeting date is in the planning stage.
Chris Parkin, Indian Hill Road: Mr. Parkin questioned the use of the Edline program and its cost, stating that he has found that the teachers are not using the program. He questioned the consideration of Easton for a bus depot when he was told last year that neither Redding nor Easton had the space for a depot. Mr. Parkin also questioned the agreement with the Board of Finance to return $200,000 to the General Fund, noting that the amount is now $350,000 to be returned.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Dr. Irwin thanked the administrators for their work over the summer months dealing with the construction issues and implementation of the new initiatives.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Gaspar Irwin. Approved, Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:14 pm
Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary
Recorded by Mary Maday