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Minutes of Redding Board of Education Joint Meeting with Easton Board of Education, 06/16/2020

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education Joint Meeting with Easton Board of Education

RECEIVED 06/22/2020 2:52pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

REDDING and EASTON BOARDS OF EDUCATION REGULAR MEETING
Tuesday, June 16, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.
Held Remotely Pursuant to Executive Order No. 7B
https://zoom.us/j/5128278190?pwd=a0NKb00rW1JEQ1g1VUQzNkFjVDFPUT09
Meeting ID: 512 827 8190
Password: 06896
Minutes

ATTENDANCE
Easton Board Members: Stinson, Goldstein, Parker, Reed. Absent: Chiada, Hicks
Redding Board members: Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman, Reilly, Hocker. Absent: Oulton
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Del Conte
Others: 55 members of the staff and public, and the recording secretary.

CALL TO ORDER
Redding Chairperson Chris Parkin called the meeting to order at 7:31 p.m.

APPROVAL OF MINUTES
None

PUBLIC COMMENT
Amy Cabot, Gallows Hill Road, Redding: said that she believes that a comprehensive year-long course on African-American history and racism in America should be taught in the schools.

Deb Shultz, Sullivan Drive, Redding: said that she thinks there should be a full-year course in diversity & inclusion at the schools and said we can only learn from our history when we know our history.

Vanessa Alward, Cross Highway, Redding: asked that we add more diversity in our education and incorporate African-American and Native American history.

T. Whaley, Windy Hill Road, Redding: said that she went to RES and JRMS, and is currently enrolled in JBHS, and that she thinks there definitely needs to be more diversity & inclusion at all three schools.

Sarah O’Dell, Blackrock Turnpike, Redding: said that we should take this opportunity to reconnect with our kids when school reconvenes to address social and emotional health by having a honest and thorough action for our school systems around race. She said that race has taken on the perception of being political and that it is just basic decency.

Devin Allbode, 31 Woodland Drive, Easton: said that she echoes what the other public speakers have said and that she thinks there needs to be more teacher training, especially in how teachers choose their content and make their lesson plans.

Devon McBrayer, Bellows Lane, Easton: said that she is a recent college graduate and that she never realized the white privilege in our community until she went to college and suggested ways in which the schools could engage in an anti-racism curriculum.

L. Arici, North Park Avenue, Easton: said that she has faced racism in her school experience and wants the community to now finally address these issues and she suggested ways in which to do that.

Amanda Neville, Blackrock Turnpike, Redding: said that the teaching of African-American history is shamefully lacking she thinks students should be required to participate in Jane Elliot’s “Blue Eyes/Brown Eyes Exercise” because what we are doing is not enough.

Heather Stanton, Fairview Farm Road, Redding: said that she had offered to fund speaking/visiting sessions on the Holocaust for the Redding schools and had yet to hear back from anyone within the school district. She emphasized the need to reach out to all the students, not just the students that are interested in learning about the subject.

BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
H. Whaley thanked all for showing up to the meeting and for speaking up as well. She said that the graduation flip-grids were fantastic and congratulated everyone on their moving up ceremonies.

C. Pilato said happy last day of school and congratulations to the graduates, and those moving-up to new schools next year. She said a special thank you to the RES crew who put together the virtual Stepping Up Ceremony, and to J. Amodio for his speech at the ceremony. C. Pilato also thanked Dr. McMorran for his many years of service and guidance to the district. She thanked the people that had reached out to the board via email and through public comment about race education. She asked that the conversation include giving the Administration the chance to explain what has already been done.

J. Reilly said thank you to everyone who just spoke up during the public comment, and that he also saw the graduation flip-grids and thought they were great.

C. Hocker said that he echoes C. Pilato’s comments.

C. Parkin said that he wanted to acknowledge and thank J. Parker for his leadership as Chairman of the Easton Board of Education for six years. He also welcomed J. Stinson as the new Chairman of the Easton Board of Education and said that he looks forward to working with him.

G. Goldstein thanked J. Parker for his years of service and thanked J. Stinson for stepping up. She also said that she was impressed with the public comments.

J. Parker thanked all the people who have spoken up at the meeting, and said that he hoped this is not the last meeting they will attend.

K. Reed thanked all the people who spoke up in the Public Comment, especially the young people.

J. Stinson thanked the young people for showing up and speaking up at tonight’s meeting, and said that he hopes they continue to show up. J. Stinson also thanked J. Parker for staying on as Chair and shepherding the Board through the budget process.

Redding Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education amend the agenda to add new item 8A, the Memorandum of Agreement between the Redding Board of Education and the Redding Custodial Bargaining Unit. (Hoffman, Whaley). Approved. Unanimous.

DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: DISTANCE LEARNING AND REOPENING PLAN UPDATE
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Stephanie Pierson Ugol, thanked and expressed sincere gratitude to staff, students, and families for finding a way to make distance learning work. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that Central Office had received 777 responses from the second distance learning survey and that these responses indicated a general satisfaction with what had occurred. She said main feedback included the desire for: small-group instruction; non-academic connection time; and, differentiated instruction. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that additional trainings, even for parents; schedule vs. no schedule; and, more defined expectations will also be considered.

Dr. Pierson Ugol then gave a lengthy presentation on the Reopening Planning that included the six areas of: Scheduling, Transportation, Academics, Health & Safety, Facilities and Food Services. She said that Central Office, building administrators and staff are actively working to plan for a variety of possible directives from the State of Connecticut related to a broad set of reopening challenges. Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Tom McMorran, said that he believes the State will offer suggestions and guidance by the end of June. Discussion followed.

DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: RELEASE TIME FOR FALL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
Dr. McMorran gave a recap of how helpful and beneficial the two release days had been for staff during the spring and he asked that the Boards grant this release time again in the fall, but on a predictable timetable. He said this release time would afford the staff the time and structure to take a pedagogical approach to refining distance learning plans. Dr. McMorran suggested two hours, every two weeks for the release time. There were several favorable comments from Easton and Redding BOE members. C. Parkin asked that Dr. McMorran and Dr. Pierson Ugol to come back to the Boards in July with a more concrete proposal for the release time.

DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN CURRICULUM
A discussion took place about what would be the best way to establish diversity and inclusion in the current curriculum. Dr. McMorran read a list of people who have come to ER9 schools to speak about diverse life experiences, and said that the ER9 is definitely in support of more of this and also in favor of child pedagogy of multi-racial backgrounds. He said that all of this involves an investment. Dr. Pierson Ugol said that this is too important to plan in haste and that we need to include the right voices in it. Discussion followed.

Redding Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education establish a Joint Easton/Redding Board of Education task force on diversity and inclusion to be comprised of Educators, Administrators, Board of Education Members, and Members of the Community to discuss and recommend action to the Boards related to the topics of hiring, curriculum, student demographics and funding for diversity and anti-racism initiatives. (Whaley, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.

Easton Motion: move that the Easton Board of Education establish a joint Easton/Redding Board of Education task force on diversity and inclusion to be comprised of Educators, Administrators, Board of Education Members, and Members of the Community to discuss and recommend action to the Boards related to the topics of hiring, curriculum, student demographics and funding for diversity and anti-racism initiatives. (Goldstein, Reed). Approved. Unanimous.

DISTRICT/BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary Principal, N. Hammond, said that she had submitted a report to the Board of Education that detailed grade level activity. N. Hammond also commented on the day’s 4th Grade Stepping Up Ceremony, saying that it was great and spearheaded by Mr. Amodio. C. Pilato asked about the kindergarten enrollment number. N. Hammond said that the kindergarten enrollment number was close to 100.

John Read Middle School Interim Principal, Dr. Phyllis Amori, spoke about the Grade 8 ceremony and said for everyone to take a look at the graduation flip-grids.

Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, said that Extended School Year was starting in July.

Director of Finance & Operations, Scott Reiss, reported that the May health insurance claims were still below average, but were increasing, and he anticipated that approximately $300K will be left in unspent funds.

BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS
Superintendent Search Committee: C. Hocker reported that this committee was moving forward with an aggressive schedule that includes: an emailed survey to ER9; advertisements for the superintendent position being posted; and, a community forum to take place July 7-9, 2020.

PUBLIC COMMENT
Stephanie Benton, Werf Drive, Redding: said that as a member of the minority community I can tell you that diversity and inclusion go hand in hand; that you cannot have one without the other. She said that conversations with children on this topic are necessary, but not at the expense of minority children.

Cheryl Graziano, Deacon Abbott Drive, Redding: said that it is a burden being a person of color when you are the only one in a community. She said that we need to develop metrics and measures to hold us accountable. She also said that diversity in education is everyday education.

L. Arici, North Park, Easton: asked if she could start a GoFundMe account for the Easton and Redding BOEs Diversity and Inclusion Task Force. (C. Parkin explained that raising funds for a public school can tricky, but there may be opportunities and he would leave that to the Task Force to determine.)

Katrinka DeLeon, Picketts Ridge Road, Redding: said that she mirrors much of what the other parents have expressed, and that everyone should be aware that exposure and conversations can make other students feel more left out. K. DeLeon said that this issue is about social-emotional, character development and social awareness and that she hopes the task force will include a broad range of experts, that it needs to be a collective.

BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
None

ADJOURNMENT

Motion: move that the Easton Board of Education meeting be adjourned. (Reed, Parker). Approved. Unanimous.

The Easton Board of Education meeting was adjourned at 10:02 p.m.

Redding Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the Memorandum of Agreement between the Redding Board of Education and the Redding Custodial Bargaining Unit regarding the Head Custodial positions at RES and JRMS. (Hoffman, Hocker). Approved. Unanimous.

LAWN MOWING AT RES AND JRMS
S. Reiss explained that because of custodial retirements there is no longer a staff member to mow the lawns at RES and JRMS. S. Reiss said that he had spoken with the Town of Redding about incorporating these lawns into town responsibilities, but that the town said that they do not have the capacity to mow these lawns. S. Reiss received three quotes from lawn service companies and has identified a company with which to contract.

Redding Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education authorize the Director of Finance and Operations to enter into a contract with Lily Tulip for mowing and grounds maintenance at RES and JRMS for an amount not to exceed $1,000 per week to provide this service. (Hoffman, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.

PUBLIC COMMENT
Angela Caes, Deer Hill Road, Redding: thanked everyone for the school year and said that she urges the Board of Education to look for opportunities to mow for less money, as it is truly a shared service because Parks and Rec uses the fields extensively, yet meanwhile, the budget for library books was cut. She said that this money could be used for things such as books, and even books that are diverse.

BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
None

ADJOURNMENT

Motion: move that the meeting be adjourned. (Reilly, Hoffman). Approved. Unanimous.

The Redding Board of Education meeting was adjourned at 10:23 p.m.

Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Redding Board of Education Secretary
Recorded by Sarah Ota

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