Board of Education: Denny, Florkowski, Gaspar, Hoffman, Irwin, Miller, Sobel
Administration: McMorran, Sullivan, Pierson Ugol, Edwards, Freeston, Martin, Wallin, Wessman Huber, Basta
Others: more than 30 students and members of the public for the student presentations, five remained after the presentations, and a representative of Hello Redding
Chairman Sobel called the March 2, 2016 Redding BOE meeting to order at 7:30 pm.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the minutes of the February 4, 2016 meeting be accepted as submitted. Denny, Hoffman. Approved. 6-0-1. Mr. Miller abstained.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education alter the agenda, moving the Student Presentations to the next item. Hoffman, Irwin. Approved. Unanimous.
- “The Integrated Project” or TIP at Redding Elementary School: students in each of the grades presented their thoughts about their experiences with the TIP program.
- “Think About It” at JRMS: a group of 8th grade students presented their idea on how to curb cyberbullying. The presentation included a video created by the group and information regarding ReThink, an application created by a 15 year-old girl aimed at preventing cyberbullying.
PRESENTATION OF CABE COMMUNICATIONS AWARD
Dr. Michelle Ku, vice chairman of the Newtown Board of Education, presented the CABE (Connecticut Association of Boards of Education) award for communication to Redding Elementary School. Principal Dr. Wessman Huber accepted the award on behalf of the school for the Rain Barrel Project.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENTS
Dr. Irwin acknowledged and thanked all who were involved in the International Day at Redding Elementary School on Saturday. The event was attended and enjoyed by more than 1000 people.
Mrs. Sobel, on behalf of the Board, thanked the administrative team for their work on the budget and the budget presentation. The budget, which the board approved at the previous meeting, is one that she is proud of.
DISCUSSION AND ACTION ON 2016-17 OPERATING BUDGET
There were no further adjustments or technical edits to the budget, which had been approved at the previous meeting. A concern about the kindergarten enrollment was expressed. Dr. Wessman Huber reported that there are currently 79 students enrolled and another nine that are committed, but have not completed the registration paperwork. The Prowda study projected the 2016-2017 Kindergarten enrollment at 69 students. Dr. Wessman Huber commented that with the current budget allotting for 4 kindergarten sections, and current commitments from 88 students, each class will have 22 students. However, if additional students, beyond the 88, enroll she will need to request additional funding to add a section.
Discussion of the Kindergarten enrollment followed. Mr. Miller stated that he would favor increasing the budget at this time, adding the fifth section for the Kindergarten. Mrs. Sobel responded that the board’s approved budget is set to be presented at the Public Hearing the next night (March 3, 2016) and she did not favor making any additions/changes to the budget at this time.
Additional board comments included:
- The approved budget is still a work in progress and may be changed prior to the referendum vote in May.
- Each Kindergarten class/section has one teacher and a paraprofessional.
- The estimated cost of adding an additional section would be $100,000. This includes teacher and paraprofessional salaries and benefits.
- The board has the option of requesting additional funding, even after the budget is approved at the referendum vote. A request would be made to the Board of Finance, and ultimately sent to a Town Meeting for approval, assuming the request is for funding over $20,000.
- If the request for additional funding to add a Kindergarten section was denied by the Board of Finance and/or taxpayers, the administration would look to the operating budget for expenses or programs that could be shifted.
- The budget, as it now stands, is the best estimate of the expenses for the 2016-17 year.
- The enrollment numbers for each of the grades is not a stagnant number, but is subject to new students as well as those students who move out of the district. Any grade could be impacted by these changes.
After a long discussion, Mrs. Sobel assured board members that the budget presentation at the Public Hearing will include information on the current and projected Kindergarten enrollment, as well as the potential need to add an additional section.
SPECIAL EDUCATION PRESENTATION
Ms. Edward provided a presentation to the board titled, “Legal Standards in Special Education.” She followed that with a presentation, “Building the Special Education Budget,” which included all the items and costs that are included in the budget.
No public comment
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education recess to Executive Session for a Security Update. Hoffman, Florkowski. Approved. Unanimous.
Police Chief Fuchs and Superintendent McMorran were invited to be present.
The meeting was recessed at 9:24 pm.
The meeting was reconvened in public session at 9:45 pm.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Gaspar Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting adjourned at 9:47 pm.
Submitted by Allyson Florkowski, Redding Board of Education Secretary
Reported by Mary Maday