REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
March 2, 2021 – 7:30 p.m.
Held Remotely Pursuant to Executive Order No. 7B
Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/93098927134?pwd=M3ZiSkVMU1tRm42ZHU2VjFHR21yQT09
Meeting ID: 930 98927134 Passcode: 052931
ATTENDANCE Board members: Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman, Oulton, Reilly, Hocker
Administration: Harrison, Pierson Ugol, Zachery, Del Conte
Others: 56 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 7:32 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the January 26, 2021 Easton, Redding & Region 9 Boards of Education Regular Meeting; the January 27, 2021 Redding Board of Education Special Meeting; the February 2, 2021 Redding Board of Education Regular Meeting with Budget Workshop; the February 4, 2021 Redding Board of Education Budget Workshop Meeting; and the February 8, 2021 Easton, Redding & Region 9 Boards of Education Special Meeting were deemed Approved by Unanimous Consent.
C. Parkin thanked the hiring consultant and Search Steering Committee for their work on the search for a new John Read Middle School principal.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education accept the recommendation of the Superintendent and Personnel Search Committee to terminate the search committee and to appoint Meghan Ward as Principal of John Read Middle School, effective July 1, 2021. (Whaley, Hoffman). Approved. Unanimous.
After a brief welcome and introduction by Superintendent Dr. Harrison, Meghan Ward said that she is really excited to get to work, and as a Barlow grad, she’s really happy to be back in the Easton-Redding community. The Board also shared words of welcome.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
C. Parkin said a warm thank you, on behalf of the Redding School District, to the Westport-Weston Health District for inviting Redding and Region 9 into their school staff vaccination group (Easton is already a part of this health group). He said the first vaccination clinic for school faculty and staff will be Wednesday afternoon. C. Parkin also said thank you to Maria Frederick for inviting him to read to JRMS students for “Read Across America Day” and he found the event to be energizing and fulfilling to be back in the building after almost of year.
H. Whaley said that when comparing Redding to other districts, it is important to remember that each town has their own budgeting strategies, for example, some towns include portions of teacher pensions in the Board of Selectmen budgets which results in a lower per-pupil-expenditure-cost for those districts. She said this further results in a lower threshold expectation of these districts, and so they receive more money back within the excess cost sharing for items such as outplacement. H. Whaley said that if we put together our budgets like this, we too would get more money back in excess cost sharing and it would be a win-win for everybody.
ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT’S REPORT
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Pierson Ugol, reported that the NWEA will be administered to students in grades 5,6,7 and 8 during the month of March. She said the District chose a different schedule this year to provide more formative information on students and then to provide a larger window for intervention, if it is needed. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that because of the non-standard administration of the test, the assessment results sent home to families will not be a valid comparison from last year’s scores, however staff will intentionally compare to the spring norms to be sure to identify needs. She also said that a secure site for the NWEA assessment is available for Cohort C students.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary School Principal, N. Hammond, reported that a new mural entitled, “RES Has Heart,” has been created on a prominent wall by art teacher Mimi Weiss. She also spoke about the many activities and secret readers during “Read Across America Day.” N. Hammond said that they are paying close attention to the social, emotional learning needs of the students. C. Pilato commented that she could sense M. Weiss’ passion for art and teaching art. J. Reilly said the snapshots are especially appreciated since in-school visits have been restricted due to safety precautions. H. Whaley thanked the PTA for their support.
John Read Middle School Interim Principal, Dr. Amori, said that it was exciting to have had visitors come into the building that day to be guest readers for “Read Across America Day.” She said that many extracurricular clubs had started up and that students are very happy to have the clubs back. Dr. Amori said that the staff will be having a professional development session from Welcoming Schools on the topic of creating inclusive communities.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: COMMITTEE CHARGES AND APPOINTMENTS
C. Parkin read the Board of Education committee assignments as: Communications Committee, C. Pilato and H. Whaley; Curriculum Committee, J. Reilly and H. Whaley; Long Range Planning, C. Parkin and J. Reilly; Redding Policy Committee, C. Parkin and J. Reilly; Structure and Working Ways Committee, C. Parkin and C. Pilato; Facilities Committee, M. Hoffman and C. Hocker.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the charge of the Facilities Committee. (Hoffman, Hocker.). Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: 2021-2022 OPERATING AND CAPITAL BUDGETS
C. Parkin started by saying that he would like the Board of Education to come to a number on the budget tonight and to be able to vote on that number. Dr. Harrison said that since the last Budget Workshop Meeting, some more cuts had been made to the proposed budget. C. Zachery said that included in this draft of the budget is the two-stop loss for insurance and the Junior Bridges Program. C. Zachary shared a working budget spreadsheet that reflected reductions to: a Learning Commons paraprofessional, corrections to math curriculum budgeting and professional development, lawn care, salary lines because of retirements, and a new custodial position. A lengthy and thorough discussion took place that included the topics of: special education outplacement and services, the purchase of technology at RES and JRMS that are urgent, the purchase of a flagpole at RES, the status of the DEI professional development and consultancy work, the need for a 5th grade and 1st grade classroom teacher, the need for a full-time music teacher at JRMS, the need to increase the .6FTE RES P.E. teacher to a 1FTE, and the two-stop loss vs. a one-stop loss for the health insurance reserve. Several scenarios were presented and considered by Board of Education members. Some smaller, miscellaneous budget items were scrubbed from the RES and the Special Services, Department budget lines, and it was agreed upon to use unencumbered funds from FY21 to purchase the urgent technology tools and the flagpole. It was also agreed upon to go with the one-stop loss for the health insurance reserve and add the two classroom teachers, music teacher and increase the P.E. teacher.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education recess until the call of the chair. (Hoffman, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
The Redding Board of Education recessed at 10:52 p.m.
The Redding Board of Education returned to Regular Session at 11:20 p.m.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the Redding School District Operating Budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year in the amount of $22,249,211. (Hoffman, Whaley). Approved. Unanimous.
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, said that much time had already been spent at this evening’s meeting, and that she would report more at the next Board of Education meeting.
Director of Finance & Operations, C. Zachery, reported that there was only one small transfer this month and that next month he will have much more to discuss.
BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS
H. Whaley reported that the DEI Task Force had just met and that they are formulating surveys to be distributed to middle school and high school students, parents and staff.
C. Pilato reported from the Wellness Committee that the school’s food services are still providing the “grab & go” meals. They are concerned that the community does not know about these meals and they will send out another communication about them.
H. Whaley, from the Food Services Committee, said that she had spoken to T. Johnson and they both feel that this committee needs to meet soon.
C. Parkin reported that the Easton, Redding, Region 9 Joint Policy Committee is still working on a number of issues, including a policy about Tri-Board of Education governance. He said that they will be conducting a forum on the evening of April 8 to resolve issues concerning how the three Boards of Education work together.
Chris Hesketh-Tutton, Howe’s Lane, Redding: said that he thinks the reduction in the health insurance reserve budget is huge and that he hopes the Board of Education will be explaining this to the Board of Finance. He said that he went on the websites for the New Canaan and Ridgefield School Districts and that both of these school districts have class sizes in the range of 20-ish for 5th grade and 18-ish for 1st grade. C. Hesketh-Tutton wondered if we are comparable to other towns.
Daniel Souza, Fire Hill Road, Redding: said that he appreciated Dr. Harrison’s and the Board of Education meticulous review of the proposed budget, and that he would rather the Board of Education rely on the Brown & Brown number for the health insurance reserve. He said that as a member of the community and a taxpayer he wants to know what you need. D. Souza said that the practice of some school districts to transfer budget lines to the town budget sounds funny to him, and if true, we are truly at an unfair disadvantage.
Carolyn Baker, Indian Hill Road, Redding: said that parents are concerned about student needs next year and class size and that she appreciates the thought that went into the budget.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
H. Whaley said that small school districts are being disadvantaged and that our local representatives are working on it in Hartford. She said that Redding really needs someone to run the Redding Education Foundation and asked for someone in the community to volunteer to run this important Redding organization.
J. Reilly thanked his Board of Education colleagues for a really thoughtful conversation and said that he is proud of the work they accomplished tonight.
C. Pilato thanked C. Zachery for his input and guidance during the budget process.
C. Parkin thanked everybody for their diligence and dedication during the budget process, especially since they were conducting it all over Zoom meetings.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education Regular meeting be adjourned. (Hoffman, Whaley). Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting was adjourned at 11:48 p.m.
Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Secretary, Redding Board of Education
Recorded by Sarah Ota