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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 04/07/2020

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 04/13/2020 12:57pm
Kathleen R. Miserendino - Redding Deputy Town Clerk

Virtual Meeting via Google Meets
April 7, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.

Board members:   Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman, Reilly, Oulton, Hocker
Administration:  McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Del Conte
Others:  9 members of the staff and public, and the recording secretary

C. Parkin called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.

Motion:  move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the March 2, 2020 Redding Board of Education Special Meeting; the March 3, 2020 Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting; the March 6, 2020 Redding Board of Education Special Meeting; the March 19, Redding Board of Education Emergency Meeting; and the March 30, 2020, ER9 Joint Boards of Education Special Meeting, with three revisions. (March 30, 2020 minutes, page three: Rose White should be Rose Witte; Angela Taos should be Angela Caes; H. Whalen should be H. Whaley).    Approved by Unanimous Consent.


M. Hoffman said that he hoped everyone was well and that it was good to see everyone.
H. Whaley said she agreed.
S. Oulton said she agreed.
C. Pilato said thank you to our staff and that she is blown away at how they’ve been able to pivot toward this new way of teaching. She said she also wanted to acknowledge the students and their families, and what they’re being asked to do and what they’re going through.


Redding Elementary School Principal, N. Hammond, said she appreciates C. Pilato’s kind words as the staff is working incredibly hard.  N. Hammond said that on the RES web site there is a (red) Distance Learning Link and this will greatly help families.  She thanked the RES families for trying to make this all work, and said that there are supports in place.  N. Hammond said that just like on the news where we constantly hear “We’re all in this together,” this is how we all feel too.  C. Parkin asked if there was anything that the BOE could do to support the RES work.  N. Hammond replied that please keep the lines of communication open and continue to reach out to us.  She concluded by stating that there are mental health resources available on the RES web site that are available to anyone.

Interim John Read Middle School Principal, Dr. Amori, said that she was grateful to all the support she has received, especially from Dr. McMorran, Dr. Pierson Ugol and everyone at Central Office.  Dr. Amori said that the JRMS staff has come together so beautifully and she thanked them for that.  Dr. Amori said that she is worried about her students because they need each other and miss each other; she said that middle school students have unique needs.  Dr. Amori said that the team meeting times have remained and that this team structure is the way they communicate.  She added that during the upcoming professional development days there will be a variety of options; teachers will work at their own pace on distance learning.  C. Parkin asked if there was anything that the BOE could do to support the JRMS work. Dr. Amori replied that if BOE members are receiving feedback from parents, then she would like to hear it.  J. Reilly said he thought the school was doing a great job and thanked Dr. Amori.


Superintendent of Schools, Dr. McMorran, initiated the discussion by saying that he wanted to make a statement of gratitude to the community. He said that this disruption has caused the community to radically adapt to what is now going on in our homes. Dr. McMorran said families should continue to reach out to teachers and asked that teachers try to understand what might be going on in homes; we should all try to find the middle. He said he is grateful to people as they are being patient and understanding.  Dr. McMorran then turned the discussion over to Dr. Pierson Ugol.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Pierson Ugol, first said that thanks should go to teachers, parents, families and students who are all trying to find a rhythm.  She said that there has been a quick turnaround and that the current world situation has added a layer of stress.  Dr. Pierson Ugol reported that the District is working to stay true to its vision and mission and learning objectives. She said they are setting priorities for specialists in terms of what makes the most sense; that pacing and timing of assignments has been adjusted. Dr. Pierson Ugol reported that the recent District-wide parent survey about the District’s distance learning has received approximately 600 responses as of the time of the meeting, that she was pleased with that number and that the survey will close on April 8, 2020. M. Hoffman asked if she had, so far, noticed any prevailing sentiments. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that, so far, it seemed that technology was a concern for parents of RES students, and that across the surveys, parents want their students to feel more engaged with the teachers.  C. Parkin added, anecdotally, that on the days when his children interact with their teachers and peers, it has an enormous positive impact on them.  He said he urges teachers to do what they can to do more of this.  C. Pilato agreed with C. Parkin, saying that the whole dynamic of learning in her home changes for the better on those days when the there is interaction with staff and peers.


Dr. McMorran said that he had already spoken with the following staff member about her position at John Read Middle School and that she understood the situation in its entirety.  He said that this position was a .5 FTE Speech & Language pathologist.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education determine that the contract of employment for Kristen Gurzi be terminated effective July 1, 2020 due to reduction in force, and that the Superintendent of Schools is directed to advise such person in writing of this action.  (Hoffman, Whaley).  Approved.  Unanimous.

Interim John Read Middle School Principal, Dr. Amori, reported on the status of the new-logo-for- JRMS project.  It was a competition that involved students, faculty, administration and parent Lori Endy-Skidell, and resulted in four finalist designs.  The intention was to have students present the four finalist designs to the BOE tonight in person, but that could not happen due to closures.  Dr. Amori said they will figure out a way to present the four finalist designs to the BOE, but that she still really wants the students involved in presenting it.

Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, reported that there is a strong collaboration going on between Easton and Redding staff members.  She said that the staff is building up resources for parents and families, and that this resource will become a legacy.   J. Del Conte said that under guidance from the State of Connecticut they cannot make recommendations for next year, but they can still have PPT meetings.  She said that they will pay particular attention to students who will be transitioning to a new building.  J. Del Conte said that her staff is working with families to determine appropriate workloads and that everyone is being flexible.  C. Pilato said that she had received feedback from preschool families who said they needed more support and guidance.  J. Del Conte replied that parents of preschoolers are getting weekly work packages, but that she would report this information back to her preschool team.   C. Parkin asked if there was any sense of the number of hours of service the students are not currently getting, and if this would create a compensatory hours issue at a later date.  J. Del Conte replied that guidance from the State of Connecticut is that the District does not have to meet all of the service hours and to be flexible; she said everything is being considered on a case-by-case basis.  C. Parkin asked if there was anything that her department needed from the BOE.  J. Del Conte replied not at this time.

Director of Finance & Operations, S. Reiss, reported that usually at this time — the April BOE meeting — there is an idea of where the budget will end up, but that the volatility of the Executive Orders from the State of Connecticut can now affect this end point.  He said that right now there are unexpended funds of $450,000, but that negotiations with suppliers and vendors are currently underway.  S. Reiss said some budget lines, such as legal services, are up, whereas some budget lines, such as substitutes, are down.  He also said that February ended up being one of the lowest health insurance claims months.  C. Parkin said that at a future BOE meeting they would need to decide upon the unused portion of the health insurance claims reserve.  C. Parkin also thanked S. Reiss for all of his hard work over the last few weeks.  Dr. Pierson Ugol added that most professional development sessions would be cancelled, or rescheduled where possible.



J. Reilly thanked all staff for being able to switch gears all the way around.
H. Whaley thanked the community at large.
C. Hocker said he appreciates Dr. McMorran’s memos to the three Boards; that it is very helpful.


Motion:  move that the meeting be adjourned.  (Hoffman, Whaley).  Approved.  Unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:28 p.m.

Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Redding Board of Education Secretary

Recorded by Sarah Ota