REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION
Regular Meeting Minutes
John Read Middle School Community Room
September 3, 2019
Board members: Irwin, Hoffman, Parkin, Hoeing, Pilato, Reilly, Whaley
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Del Conte, Amori, Hammond, Wallin, Amodio
Others: Videographer and 6 members of the public
CALL TO ORDER
Dr. Irwin called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of July 25, 2019 Special Meeting as submitted. Hoffman, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
C. Pilato-Live streaming on Facebook. J. Reilly welcomed new faces. Goal: continue to work cohesively and respectfully. L. Hoeing – can we time our agenda items? Dr. Irwin- Yes, but we don’t want to cut off a good discussion.
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
The Curriculum Steering Committee met this summer. They crafted an ER9 mission statement which included enduring goals and aspirations. A discussion of the goals for the year followed. For this school year, the two main areas of focus will be student ownership and data informed decision making. Key terms such as “authentic intellectual work” will be explained in more detail at subsequent Board of Education meetings. The Curriculum Steering Committee will meet monthly; the committee will convene in small study groups to examine professional readings and questions related to the mission statement and then share their findings.
Dr. Pierson-Ugol answered several Board member questions regarding specific goal setting, accountability, and timing.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary School – N. Hammond discussed the purpose of Data Teams, specifically the frequency of meetings allowing teachers to be responsive to improvements and need. Pre K- 4th grade teachers have data team meetings weekly. N. Hammond explained Tiered intervention. She shared that she is kept apprised of decisions made at Data Team meetings by the Leadership Team, the Literacy and Math Specialists who meet with grade level teams. She described the importance of weekly and bi-weekly probes (assessments) to tailor decisions regarding strengths and needs of students. The board had questions about parent communication in this process. These questions will be answered for the full parent community in the Tuesday Newsday.
C. Parkin asked whether the administration had sufficient tools to do a valuable analysis of the data collected. Dr. Pierson-Ugol noted that the district is using a new PowerSchool tool this year to attempt to learn more from the data.
N. Hammond introduced the new Assistant Principal, Joe Amodio. N. Hammond shared work done at the elementary school to promote social and emotional welfare (prosocial relationships.) One such avenue is Restorative Practices. She shared articles with the Board to provide background information.
John Read Middle School – Dr. Phyllis Amori, new interim principal, shared her first impression that JRMS teachers know their students. She shared examples of student ownership of learning that staff provided. Dr. Amori is meeting with every staff member, including paraprofessionals and custodial staff for Entry Interviews. The two questions she will ask each are: What is it about JRMS that should never change and what is one thing that should change. While she is still in the process of these interviews, the positives are that the staff likes their co-workers; they feel safe to try something new; and they like the students and families. The negatives are Student Led Conferences because teachers want some time to meet with just the parent. Another negative is teacher transfer across grade levels without explanation. Dr. Amori stated that an Opening Day activity with staff revealed that teachers feels that JRMS is a ̈good ̈ school, leaving room for change and growth in order to become a ̈great ̈ school.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: WORLD LANGUAGE – LATIN
The high school program has 22 students in 3 periods. Dr. McMorran shared that this class is typically comprised of Redding (rather than Easton) students. The middle school currently has 34 students. JRMS Latin teacher will be on maternity leave in the fall. A good faith effort was made to find a substitute but without success. JRMS Administration contacted Latin students and alternate plans were made to assure these students will be taking a world language. The JBHS Latin teacher will come to JRMS to teach 8th graders the last period of the day. (12 students)
Dr. Pierson-Ugol shared information on world language offerings in DRG A middle schools. Only New Canaan public schools offer Latin at the middle school level; all offer Latin at the high school level. All DRG A middle schools offer French and Spanish. Mandarin is another offering in at least one DRG A middle school. There is currently no Latin 1 at the high school, but that is something that could be considered in future.
Dr. Irwin raised the question of how to build the Latin program beginning in 5th grade. C. Parkin noted that he’s been approached by several parents upset about change in the Latin program for this year.
Dr. Pierson-Ugol suggested a Joint Board Meeting discussion when world language instruction can be addressed across the district.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: PROCEDURE FOR BOE, BOF AND BOS TO DISCUSS FUNDING STRATEGIES
Dr. Irwin shared that BOF member Susan Clark has suggested a consultant she knows be hired to help the BOE, BOS, and BOF work better together to agree on a shared vision for the budget process. Susan Clark is a trustee for a private school and has worked with this consultant before and negotiated a significant discount on fees. Board members were generally receptive in concept as it was described.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: EXPLANATION OF JRMS SCHEDULE WITH COMPONENTS, INDEPENDENT TIME, ETC.
D. Wallin stated that there are more questions about the student schedule than in previous years. She demonstrated how to read a student schedule as presented by PowerSchool. She shared a “user friendly” schedule that teachers often introduce to their students (particularly grade 5.) D. Wallin explained IE= Intervention/Extension and provided a few examples of how this time is utilized across all content areas, even FPA (Fine/Practical Arts) classes. She explained the purpose of (mandated) Advisory, a small group meeting with a teacher to foster community building and personal well being. Students use this time to prepare for Student Led Conferences in the fall. She continued to discuss a new class for 5th and 6th graders called Learning Strategies: note taking, organization, time management. This class was developed in response to an exit survey. Incoming 9th graders were asked what skills they need most in high school.
A few board members expressed concern that there was no music or art on the sample schedule. D. Wallin explained that those courses may appear in a different semester on a student’s schedule.
J. Reilly remarked that there appears to be redundancy for students across the following courses: Guidance, PBIS, Learning Strategies and Structured Study and asked if there is a way to convey to students their choices and how those choices will impact their schedule.
Dr. Irwin asked if some of the limitations on course offerings were due to budget. D. Wallin responded that the music program had been compromised by having only one teacher. Some offerings are just not possible and fifth and sixth grade chorus had to be combined.
H. Whaley questioned the value of IE and SSR and later reflected that perhaps that time could be better spent providing clubs to students during the course of the day. She suggested something more structured. During the discussion of course offerings, Dr. McMorran shared that outdated practices exist, and it is always wise to reevaluate. He asked the board to consider: What would a schedule look like in a great school? He reminded the board that they have time to decide what they want for this school as preparations will be made to select a permanent JRMS principal.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: REVIEW OF EXTRA-CURRICULAR PROGRAM AT JRMS
J. Reilly shared a concern regarding extra-curricular clubs at JRMS. A discussion comparing Easton and Redding ensued. Dr. McMorran: What does ideal middle school look like? What is your vision of this school within the fiscal realities of your town? He added that there are contractual issues to be considered when raising the question of teachers facilitating a club during the school day.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: CELL PHONE USE AT RES AND JRMS
H. Whaley: Test scores and anxiety are related to cell phone use. She suggested the district endorse the “Wait Until 8th” campaign. L. Hoeing: Let’s discuss why we can’t have students wait until the last half of 8th grade to be able to use a cell phone in school.
Dr. McMorran: Be careful of artificially limiting technology for seven hours a day- instead we need to determine how to come to terms with technology. In addition, what would be the consequences for not following the policy?
L. Hoeing shared a concern about the addictive quality of tech devices and feels that is the job of adults to monitor. She asked administration to investigate other schools with a no cell phone policy: what are the pros and cons?
Dr. McMorran: Our students will be preparing for jobs that do not exist in 2019. We need to come to terms with technology. Dr. McMorran shared slides from this yearś Convocation regarding the impact of technology on our lives. Middle school has to evolve. This is a great opportunity to look forward to what a middle school could be. He offered that if directed, the administration could review the issue and come back with a formal recommendation.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: FORMATION OF SEARCH COMMITTEE FOR MIDDLE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Dr. McMorran will be asking the board for funds to support the search for a new middle school principal.
He stated the following: We should be rethinking every component of our students’ day. The search could be handled internally but instead he recommends engaging a search company to work on this. A search company will send people out to find candidates who have cutting edge knowledge of middle school. They will help us articulate what we want in a candidate, someone who could implement the kind of changes Dr. McMorran sees in the future of middle school education. The process would involve meeting with focus groups. A regional search would cost $8000. A search company to do an extensive and expansive search will cost $20,000. Scott Reiss will tell the Board where that money could come from. A decision need not come tonight. At the next board meeting, there can be a representative to get this process underway.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: POLICIES 2nd READING
– Policy 3231 Medical Reimburse for Special Education Students
– Policy 5141.4 Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect & Sexual Assault
Motion: move to accept for a second reading Policy 3231 Medical Reimburse for Special Education Students and Policy 5141.4 Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect & Sexual Assault with the removal of the words “Alternate Language” from 5141.4. Parkin, Reilly.
The Board discussed the above-mentioned policies. There were concerns about wordsmithing and who should do that. L. Hoeing proposed that in order to be in compliance, it would be in the Board’s best interest to hire someone to do this. Dr. McMorran stated that the editorial task be left to the administration. He also suggested sharing the cost of third-party policy review with the other Boards of Education.
Motion carried unanimously.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: POLICIES 1st READINGS
– 3323 Soliciting Prices (Bids and Quotations)
– 4135 Teacher-Administrator-Board of Education Relationships
– 4135.3 Negotiation/Consultation
– 5118.1 Homeless Students
– 5144.12 Student Discipline: Restorative Justice Approach
– 6141.322 General Requirements – Policy & Appendix
– 6141.3221 Computers: Websites/Pages – Policy & Appendix
– 6142.111 Sexual Health Education
– 6172.12 Magnet Schools
Motion: move to accept for a first reading: 3323 Soliciting Prices (Bids and Quotations), 4135 Teacher-Administrator-Board of Education Relationships, 4135.3 Negotiation/Consultation, 5118.1 Homeless Students, 5144.12 Student Discipline: Restorative Justice Approach, 6141.322 General Requirements – Policy & Appendix, 6141.3221 Computers: Websites/Pages – Policy & Appendix, 6142.111 Sexual Health Education 6172.12 Magnet Schools. Parkin, Hoffman.
Brief discussion followed. C. Parkin outlined several proposed revisions to the policies and requested administration recommendations regarding optional language.
Motion carried unanimously.
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
New Director of Special Education, J. Del Conte, stated that a few new special education students have moved into the district, a few have moved out. She has reviewed information from C.Twiss and staff. J. Del Conte shared the goals of the department (the 4 Cś)
1. Communication (transparency)
2. Creation of policies
When asked by M. Hoffman her reaction to Redding’s percentage of students in special education, J. Del Conte recognized that this percentage (roughly 18%) is a number that matters to the Board. She asks that the Board consider the size of the district and how a few students can change that percentage and to focus on hours of service rather than pure percentage of students identified. She believes the strengthening of the SRBI process (Tier 2 and 3 interventions) will keep the numbers (and associated cost) as low as possible.
Director of Finance & Operations: Scott Reiss reported on the final numbers from the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019. At the Board’s direction in June, the balance of unspent funds (approximately $223,000) was transferred to shore up the health insurance reserve fund. The health insurance claim numbers were reviewed as well as the transfer report and early look at current year spend. S. Reiss noted that the Phoenix budgeting software was being discontinued and a replacement was needed on relatively short order. A multi-district RFP was issued and the ultimate cost would need to come from the current year budget.
Mike D’Agostino, Glen Hill Rd., suggested the Board could save money on policy review by using the Shipman and Goodwin policy bank.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
RECESS TO EXECUTIVE SESSION TO DISCUSS SUPERINTENDENT’S EVALUATION
Motion: move to enter Executive Session to discuss Superintendent’s Evaluation and invite Dr. McMorran to the Executive Session. Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.
The Board entered into Executive Session at 10:51pm.
RETURN FROM EXECUTIVE SESSION FOR POSSIBLE ACTION ON ITEM DISCUSSED IN EXECUTIVE SESSION
The Board returned from Executive Session at 10:56 p.m. No further action taken.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:56 p.m.
Recorded by Elizabeth Rimkunas
Submitted by Chris Parkin
Redding Board of Education Secretary