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Minutes of Redding Board of Education, 01/05/2021

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education

RECEIVED 01/11/2021 2:59pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

January 5, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
Held Remotely Pursuant to Executive Order No. 7B
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Board members: Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman Oulton, Reilly, Hocker
Administration: Harrison, Pierson Ugol, Zachery, Del Conte
Others: 66 members of the staff and public, and the recording secretary.

C. Parkin called the Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting to order at 7:33 p.m.

C. Parkin wished everyone a very happy New Year and acknowledged the hard work of his colleagues on the Board over the past nine months. He also thanked the members of the school community for their continued patience and flexibility, and thanked the administration for their hard work in balancing the needs of staff, students families and community.

Motion to approve the minutes of the December 1, 2020 Regular Meeting, Reilly, Oulton, Approved. Unanimous.

Vanessa Visners, Pine Mountain Rd, Redding, said that she is advocating for the return to a hybrid and/or all in-person learning model. She said that the people who are suffering the most are the students and that they need to be in school with one another.

Danielle Garavito, Ledgewood Drive, Redding, asked for more transparency as to why we are out of the school buildings; and likewise, why we would go back in. She said she’d like a little more information so that she can feel good about the decision either way.

Laura Nelson, Deer Hill Road, Redding, said that she echoes the comments of the previous speakers and that it’s really hard for her to understand the science behind why we are not in school. She asked for more transparency in the decision making.

Sarah O’Dell, Blackrock Turnpike, Redding, said that her kids are also struggling with distance learning and that we’re all in the same boat. She thanked the schools and Dr. Harrison for making these hard decisions and for trying to keep the community as healthy as possible.

Angela Caes, Deer Hill Road, Redding, said that she was hoping that the BOE or Dr. Harrison could enlighten us about vaccinations for the school staff.

Carolyn Baker, Indian Hill Rd, Redding, said she was advocating to not cut programs even if they don’t touch all students, they are still important, such as the gifted program and art and music.

M. Hoffman said thank you to the public for their comments and that he also advocates for a return to school in any fashion. He said that students are losing motivation and that he is willing to do whatever he can to help make a return to school happen. M. Hoffman also commented on the “Open Choice” program and asked that BOE members and Central Office administration consider this program for Redding.

H. Whaley said that she has long supported and, on at least three occasions, brought up the topic of the “Open Choice” program with the previous Central Office administration. She said that she wanted everyone to keep in mind that we are lucky to have remote learning available in our community, and reminded everyone that we are all tired of the current situation.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Pierson Ugol, said that she would save her report for the discussion on the K-5 math textbook recommendation portion of the meeting.

Redding Elementary School Principal, N. Hammond, wished everyone a Happy New Year and said that we will all get through this together. She said that the RES administration has been asking families to be open and honest and transparent about their recent travel and remote needs. N. Hammond said that this school year has been the most transient for students in her tenure at RES. She said that she is looking forward to the budget process and would like to keep class size small in the 2021-2022 school year, especially because of all the new challenges students have faced during the pandemic. N. Hammond said she is concerned about the availability of substitutes.

John Read Middle School Interim Principal, Dr. P. Amori, said that she echoes everyone’s comments of a Happy New Year and that just as everything has been different this year, so will the budgeting. Dr. Amori acknowledged JRMS Head Custodian, Stephen Seifert, who has been making good use of the time without students in the building by giving the building a thorough cleaning and touching up the paint. She said the students will be given lockers, for their winter coats and lunch boxes only, when they return to the building next week. Dr. Amori said that she and JRMS leadership had a great meeting last week during which they considered the question of, “What can we still accomplish?” She said her main concern is the issue of substitute availability.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. R. Harrison, thanked the public for their comments about getting students back into the classroom and said that he desperately wants the students back in the building as well. He said that the plan is still to go back to a Hybrid Model for next week and the All In Model starting the week after Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, and that there is now an ER9 COVID-19 Dashboard on the ER9 website. Dr. Harrison shared a CDC School Transmission Risk Guidelines report, saying that they had taken a slightly more conservative approach, and that they have learned from the successes they see in neighboring towns and that the mitigation strategies in the schools are working to control the spread in-schools. He also said that as we are bringing back students into the schools, we will make adjustments to the plan so that we can keep the focus on getting the students back to school in a safe way.

Dr. Harrison explained that the budget process will start with personnel and programs in coordination with the district’s mission, enduring goals and aspirations. C. Zachery said that they will be working with new software that will produce a more user-friendly budget presentation. He also said that the percentage of increase in the budget will have a narrative to support any increase. Dr. Harrison said that BOE members will still be able to see an historical perspective on the budget, but just in a different format. C. Parkin said that after the budget presentation meeting on Thursday night, he will circulate a google doc to BOE members on which they should ask questions about the budget.

Dr. Pierson Ugol and J. Reilly presented the recommendation for the new K-5 math textbook, Envision Mathematics, saying that it is a platform with technology, diagnostic abilities, some paper resources and no textbooks. They said that Envision Mathematics is aligned with the Common Core and has a student-centered approach. C. Parkin said that the BOE will take up the question of the new textbook after the required seven-day notification time period.

Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, reported that she is now starting to think about and plan for the Extended School Year, and that she is closely tracking students with IEPs who have moved into Redding. She was asked how students with IEPs are doing with the remote learning and she replied that she is most worried about those students who have chosen to be fully learning from home.

Director of Finance & Operations, C. Zachery, reported that the year is progressing as he thought it would and that approximately 80% of the budget is now encumbered. He also said that the health insurance claims rose from $188K in October to $357K in November and that this is something he will be paying attention to and tracking closely going forward.

M. Hoffman reported that the Facilities Committee had met recently and organized the capital expenditures into three categories of: hard bids, investigating and future needs. He said that the hard bids category includes an alarm system at both schools, recreational area repavement at RES and an elevator update at RES; the investigating category includes a generator at RES and water systems at both schools; and the future category includes window and boiler replacement at both schools.

C. Parkin, reported that the Policy Committee continues to meet on most Fridays at 9:00 am.

John Read Middle School Personnel Search Committee: On behalf of this Committee, C. Parkin reported that a survey is now open for the community to comment with respect to what we are looking for in a Principal of John Read Middle School. He also said that there will be an upcoming community forum and Special BOE Meeting on this topic.

Julia Pemberton, Umpawaug Road, Redding: Suggested that the Facilities Committee talk with the Town of Redding’s Health Director, Doug Hartline, about recent history and possible available treatments concerning contaminated wells in town.


Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting be adjourned. (Whaley, Hoffman). Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:17 p.m.

Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Secretary, Redding Board of Education

Recorded by Sarah Ota