REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
December 1, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.
Held Remotely Pursuant to Executive Order No. 7B
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Meeting ID: 952 2147 7381
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Board members: Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman, Oulton (joined at 7:40), Reilly, Hocker
Administration: Harrison, Pierson Ugol, Zachery, Del Conte
Others: 82 members of the staff and public, and the recording secretary.
CALL TO ORDER
C. Parkin called the Redding Board of Education Regular meeting to order at 7:31 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 27, 2020 Regular Easton, Redding and Region 9 Joint Regular Boards of Education Meeting and the November 4th, 2020 Regular Redding Board of Education Meeting. Approved by unanimous consent.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 30, 2020 Easton, Redding and Region 9 Joint Boards of Education Special meeting, with the following revisions: on page 2, the meeting was recessed only, so all references to “Executive Session” “to Discuss” and “Candidate Interview for Director of Finance and Operations” should be removed; on pages 2 and 3 the vote from Region 9 on the motions should read “7-0,” and on page 2, J. Reilly also left the meeting during the recess. (Whaley, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the November 10, 2020 Easton, Redding and Region 9 Joint Boards of Education Special Meeting, with the following revisions: on page on page 3, twice, “Whalen,” should read “Whaley;” “C. Parkin agreed with C. Hocker,” should read “C. Pilato agreed with C. Hocker.” (Whaley, Hocker). Approved. Unanimous.
C. Parkin deemed approved, by unanimous consent, the Minutes of: the October 27, 2020 Easton, Redding and Region 9 Joint Boards of Education Regular Meeting; and, the November 4, 2020 Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting.
Christina Parrinello, Pine Mountain Road, Redding: First thanked the Board of Education, administrators and teachers for the school year so far. She said that she had made the decision to keep her children at home for learning and was sharing in the hope that she can be helpful to other parents. C. Parrinello said that we don’t have the data to make the decision to send children to school full time, and that we don’t yet know what the long-term effects will be.
Derek Zimnoch, Newtown Turnpike, Redding: Questioned the timeline for kids to go back to in person school. He said that he can appreciate other parents’ decisions to keep their children at home, but that other nearby towns are having in person school and he’d like to have it here too.
Martine King, Rockhouse Road, Redding: First thanked teachers, administrators and BOE members for making sure our kids are safe, while providing learning opportunities. She said what we are asking teachers to do is very challenging, and she suggested the Board and parents create a way to share lessons learned from one another. She said virtual learning is not going away, so we need to support our teachers and students.
David and Karen Callot, Mohawk Trail, Redding: Told of their son’s experience, as an autistic student at RES, who received services from the Special Services Department. They explained their complete dissatisfaction with their son’s experience at RES and feel that the Redding BOE needs to know of this situation.
Seana Bedard, Windy Brook Road, Redding: Said students are struggling socially and emotionally, and she urged the BOE to open the schools all-in and then let parents make the decision about sending them in.
Meredith Schuchard, Pine Mountain Road, Redding: Asked that our schools create a dashboard as a way to share COVID-related data such as the number of students and staff needing to quarantine. She said that she knows other school districts do this.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
C. Pilato said welcome to Clarence Zachery, and that she is excited and relieved that he is here. She also wanted to acknowledge Dr. Harrison’s Thanksgiving message to the community, saying it was beautiful and thanked him for all of his communications. C. Pilato also directed a comment to the Callot family, saying that she hears them.
H. Whaley said that she echoes what C. Pilato had said, and also that she promises to look into it. She said that we are all parents and we are all going through struggles. H. Whaley also said that there are no good answers and options right now.
M. Hoffman said that he realizes that this decision must be weighing heavily on Dr. Harrison right now. He said that he thinks we need to get our students into the schools as soon as possible, especially our SpEd students.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary School Principal, N. Hammond, gave a brief building report as her report to come later in the meeting would be lengthy. She said that there is a new student at RES and a few more to come, and that the virtual Veteran’s Day celebration was phenomenal. N. Hammond directed the BOE to look at her written building report that highlighted work from when the students were still in the building.
John Read Middle School Interim Principal, Dr. Amori, gave a brief building report as her report to come later in the meeting would be lengthy. She said that enrollment is up and the Library Media Specialist, Maria Fredricks, was spearheading a community read along and an on-line book club. Dr. Amori directed the Board of Education to look at her written building report that highlighted work from when the students were still in the building.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: DISTANCE LEARNING UPDATE
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Harrison, first said that it’s important to note that the approach to distance learning looks very different than it did in March through June. He said that it is an evolving process and that educational research has not caught up with many of the current challenges we are facing, which makes things even more difficult. Dr. Harrison said the plan is to return to in-person learning on December 7 and that it is very important that this decision be data driven. He cited positivity rates in Easton as being up and positivity rates in Redding as being slightly down, perhaps because of the lag in testing because of the holiday; but both towns are in the red category. Dr. Harrison said that other factors to be considered are the ability to staff the school buildings and the effect these decisions have on entire families.
N. Hammond said that the March distance learning model vs. what is in place now is very different, with many synchronous learning opportunities for students throughout the day. She said that having consistency is very important and that Assistant Principal, J. Amodio, has developed a schedule that will work in all three learning models. N. Hammond said that they are working to connect with the students by utilizing small group instruction as well as individual instruction and assessment. She showed examples of schedules, google classrooms – some interactive – and friendly visuals that all work to engage the students. N. Hammond said that RES has distributed chromebooks to students and explained that there is technology support available to answer parent questions. An extended discussion took place with BOE members covering the issues of substitute coverage, moving students into different classrooms for short periods of time, evening-out of cohorts, small group meetings and pre-recorded videos.
Dr. Amori said that at JRMS they are operating with all synchronous classes that are 30-minutes long with a five-minute break in between classes. She said there is also a home base period for 15 minutes that focuses on social emotional well-being, and an IE class that serves as an opportunity to connect with students above and beyond the interaction of a regular academic class. She said the staff also offers office hours daily, from 2:30pm to 3:40pm. Dr. Amori said that parental help is needed in the form of encouraging their children to be present and simply encouraging their children in their work and studies. BOE members asked about printers and connectivity issues. Dr. Amori said that she would find out what, if any, print applications were being used. Dr. Amori and Dr. Pierson Ugol said that students get dropped from Zoom and Google Meets from time to time, with Google Meets experiencing more issues.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: SPECIAL ED CONTINUUM
Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, presented a report to the BOE for the purpose of providing an understanding of: key terms used in Special Services; the complexities of Redding School District’s current Special Education population; and the continuum of Special Services and programs offered at Redding Elementary school and at John Read Middle School. The report included details in the areas of: definitions of nine commonly used terms in Special Services; definition of who is eligible for Special Services; Data Sources and Sets, and their definitions; five years of comparative data; the Least Restrictive Environment scale; the Redding Continuum of Services; and, an Out of District Placement/Building Capacity chart.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: 2021 MEETING SCHEDULE
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the 2021 draft schedule of board meetings with the possibility of further revisions in January 2021, to finalize the June 29, 2021 meeting date and to include the Zoom meeting location information. (Hoffman, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education add Agenda Item VI. D. Approval of Change in Authorized Signer for the ED-099 Agreement for Child Nutrition Program. (Hoffman, Whaley). Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: APPROVAL OF CHANGE IN AUTHORIZED SIGNER FOR THE ED-099 AGREEMENT FOR CHILD NUTRITION PROGRAM
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve a change to the authorized signer of the ED-099 Agreement for Child Nutrition Program to include Clarence Zachery, Director of Finance & Operations, effective immediately. (Hoffman, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
Director of Finance & Operations, C. Zachery, reported that he has had preliminary budget conversations with his RES and JRMS colleagues. He said that he is looking to the Board of Education for guidance as to what reports and information they see as a priority. A full conversation followed about the set-up of various financial reports, transparency and priorities within the areas of finance and operations. C. Zachery explained that his budget that will look different than the format of previous budgets, so that it will be more user friendly and will tell a narrative with numbers and data to support it.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Pierson Ugol, reported that the Professional Development Committee had met recently and had had a great conversation about the new evaluation approach the state is allowing this year. She said that the Committee is happy about the evaluation plan, especially that it is qualitative in nature. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that informal evaluations had begun in the school buildings.
BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS
M. Hoffman said the Facilities Committee met last month and that they have some plans for the future which will be shared with BOE soon. He explained that there is some unplanned, but necessary, water system work going on and that he would like to bring this information back to the BOE at the January 2021 meeting.
H. Whaley gave an update on the Task Force for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, saying that community members for the Task Force have been selected and notified, and that they will have their first meeting next week.
Julia Pemberton, Umpawaug Road, Redding: Said welcome to Mr. Zachery and that she wanted to express her appreciation and gratitude to teachers and administrators for all that they are doing. J. Pemberton also said that she appreciated the SpEd report.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
C. Hocker said that when the pandemic first struck, we all thought that was tough; but now that we are faced with the constant uncertainty, this is really tough. He said that he appreciates everyone who is hanging in there and that the next few months are the hardest part.
H. Whaley said thank you to everyone who was there; to Dr. Harrison, she said that she knows you have a hard decision, but that she fully trusts that you have everyone’s best interest at heart.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education meeting be adjourned. (Hoffman. Whaley). Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting was adjourned at 10:28 p.m.
Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Secretary, Redding Board of Education
Recorded by Sarah Ota