Board of Education: Denny, Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Sobel
Administration: McMorran, Sullivan, Pierson Ugol, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber, Basta
Others: nine members of the public and representatives from The Redding Pilot and Hello Redding
Chairman Sobel called the February 4, 2016 meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the Joint Boards of Education Meeting on January 27, 2016 meeting as submitted. Irwin, Gaspar. Approved. Unanimous.
Mary Urban, resident and JRMS staff member: Mrs. Urban offered her perspective and thoughts on the importance of exercise, eating well and learning to handle stress. She related those things to what the students at JRMS are learning through the physical education, wellness, world language, music and arts programs.
Keith Rich, Putnam Park Road: Mr. Rich commented that the board is considering reductions not savings. He asked why consideration was not being given to relocating the bus depot to Redding. He also suggested moving 5th grade to RES and relocating the Central Office to the 5th grade wing of JRMS.
Linda Mitchell, speaking for Amy Cabot of Gallows Hill Road: Mrs. Mitchell read a letter from Mrs. Cabot that urged no reductions in the music or arts programs.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Mr. Hoffman commented on the importance of being creative in the use of the staff and resources to find savings.
Dr. Gaspar questioned how smaller districts were handling the various state mandates and suggested there might be lessons to learn from them.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION ON 2016-17 OPERATING BUDGET
Dr. McMorran began the discussion with comments on the impact of the decline in enrollment in Redding and Connecticut.
Dr. McMorran described the work of the Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN) in Redding and the importance of collaborating with the organization. One goal is to develop program support in-house over time. He also compared the cost of CCSN with the costs from 3 different outplacement services for students in those situations. He noted that the investment in CCSN services is a sound investment with a good return on money spent.
The administration then moved on to discuss the overall 2016-17 operating budget. Mrs. Sullivan provided a list of an additional $40,800 in reductions from a variety of accounts. Also included were four suggested options for the use of the $40,800 in response to board members concerns about specific programs such as, Lunch & Learn paraeducator, Kindergarten Spanish, JRMS Homework Club, JRMS library paraeducator and JRMS writing specialist). In addition, funds would be allocated to the Assistant Superintendent to improve the K-8 math curriculum and delivery. These adjustments would bring the proposed budget to a zero percent increase over the current year operating budget.
Discussion of the various options followed.
- Dr. Pierson Ugol noted that the specific use of the funds for math improvement would be allocated once she knows how much is available.
- Mr. Hoffman suggested that the board consider an early retirement incentive.
- Mrs. Florkowski requested further clarification on the role of the JRMS writing specialist and how a loss in that area would affect students/teachers as more writing is required due to common core and STEM.
- The administration noted that decreases in art, music, physical education and world language are all enrollment driven, but that there would be no reduction in services for students.
- A recent State grant for technology, $10,000 for each school, was anticipated and incorporated into the proposed operating budget. The grant is specific in nature and is to be used to increase Internet bandwidth within schools.
Following further questions and discussion, a motion was made that would take the additional reductions of $40,800, and return to the budget the JRMS Lunch & Learn program ($8,380), the JRMS Homework Club ($7,500), and allocate $25,000 to the Assistant Superintendent for use to improve K-8 math instruction. The following motion was proposed:
MOTION: move that the Redding Board of Education approve an operating budget for fiscal year 2016-17 of $21,300,000, representing a 0.0% increase. Denny, Gaspar. Approved. 5-1. Mrs. Florkowski voted against the motion.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION ON THE FIVE YEAR CAPITAL PLAN
The Five Year Capital Plan was approved at the February 2, 2016 meeting. No further discussion on this item.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
Dr. Gaspar thanked the members of the public who attended the meeting for listening and for their patience.
Dr. McMorran thanked the board members for their probing questions and their deliberations to reach a decision. He noted that the declining enrollment trend will persist and that the board will continue to face hard decisions in the future.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Gaspar, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:48 pm.
Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary
Reported by Mary Maday