Redding Board of Education
Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Board of Education: M. Irwin, M. Hoffman, C. Parkin, C. Pilato, L. Hoeing, J. Reilly
Absent: H. Whaley
Administration: T. McMorran, S. Pierson Ugol, S. Reiss, N. Hammond, D. Martin, C. Twiss
Others: Approximately 4 members of the public/staff
CALL TO ORDER
The Meeting was called to order by Dr. Irwin at 7:30 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
The Board reviewed and approved changes to the minutes of the November 7th Board of Education Special meeting.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the November 7, 2018, Redding Board of Education Special Meeting, as amended. Reilly, Pilato. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
Doug Crites-Moore, Redding, thanked the Board and Dr. McMorran for a tour of the elementary school. He commented on the positive energy displayed by the students, staff and various professionals. He explained his background working with IBM and offered his advice on how to present budget data and information in a more user-friendly format using Excel. He recognized the Communication Committee for being receptive to feedback on the accessibility of information on the district website and presented suggestions regarding accessibility of budget information.
Mike D’Agostino, Chair of the Region 9 Board of Education acknowledged receipt of Mr. Crites-Moore’s email and advised that Excel is not compatible with the systems used by Finance to prepare the budget. Mr. D’Agostino suggested to change the date of the proposed November 5, 2019 Board Meeting as it conflicts with Election Day.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
M. Irwin addressed the Public Comments and added that email is another way to communicate effectively with the Board. She then reviewed the Budget Workshop dates and stated that the presentations summarize various line items and buckets within the budget. She invited members of the community to attend these workshops.
M. Hoffman distributed a handout and reiterated previous information the Board had been presented with that showed anticipated versus actual special education costs. He noted the increase in the district’s special education identification rate since 2015 and the rising costs of special education. He reviewed potential topics for suggestion and requested information on how state mandates and intervention impact special education costs.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary School
N. Hammond commented on the school’s Veteran’s Day Celebration. She thanked C. Parkin and C. Pilato for their contributions, C. Pilato as a Board Member and C. Parkin as a Board Members and Eagle Scout. She mentioned the Veterans who sent letters expressing their joy and C. Parkin added that he also received a letter from a student in Mr. Farina’s class. N. Hammond reported that parent conferences were a success and commented on the value added and progress made socially and academically. She noted that the format of the parent conferences had not changed in response to a question from the Board.
John Read Middle School
D. Martin provided the Board with an update on the school’s music program which is funded by the one time grant. She reported that various students auditioned for Western Regionals, or attended a string program hosted by Joel Barlow, and singing in small groups around town or locally. She also reported on the school’s partnership with Redding Police Department and the PTA to arrange for a presentation by Detective Diaz who would discuss how to keep kids safe using social medial and other trends police are seeing on social media. D. Martin then provided an update on the use of electronic devices in those problem areas recently conveyed to the Board. She reported a decrease in use at the Learning Commons and stated that there has been no significant change in hallway use. D. Martin discussed the benefits of cellphones in the classroom and then in response to a question from the Board, she explained how the school balances classroom use for kids who don’t have a device against those who do. She stated that there is never a situation where a student is left behind if they don’t have an electronic device.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction
S. Pierson Ugol highlighted the recent efforts of the ER9 Joint Long-Range Planning Steering Committee. She reminded the Board of the Committee’s existence and noted that its members included representatives from all five schools in the combined districts. She described how the Committee aligns and implements course work using professional development courses specific to curriculum mapping and other innovative practices in terms of space, instructional models, and designs. S. Pierson Ugol explained the concept of “Backwards Design” and offered to provide the Board with a future presentation on the design model. She stated that the Committee is currently devising a strategy to communicate the information it receives to teachers. The Board discussed continuous improvement and asked for a deeper understanding of classroom trends and how the design of the environment transfers into a re-design of the learning experience in the event it led to a discussion about the impact on the budget and the overall benefit to students.
Director of Finance & Operations
S. Reiss referred to the reports included in the Board materials. He reviewed the Budget Object Summary and discussed line items impacting the 2018-2019 Unexpended Budget and transportation costs. He commented that there are no additional costs for outplacements, which were not reflected in the budget. He reported that he and C. Twiss, Interim Director of Special Services met to discuss how special education costs fluctuate throughout the year. The Board discussed low-cost alternatives to in-district special education opportunities. Dr. McMorran described how the Bridge program at Barlow is a pilot in-district service option, designed to provide appropriate levels of academic and social-emotional support for students in the least restrictive environment and in a cost-effective manner. He explained how the pilot supports students with IEPs who have a history of difficult attending school. Dr. McMorran suggested partnering with neighboring towns to get the necessary economies of scale due to the cost of the program.
Next, the S. Reiss discussed the rising costs for heating/oil due to various factors. He reported that the district was over budget due to the strike price for oil/heat. He then explained how being a part of a consortium affects oil prices. He discussed the Transfers Report and noted that these had been approved by the Board at its last meeting. He discussed the Health Insurance Analysis Report, the number of claims received to date, residuals lapsing over prior months and deductibles.
Special Services Report
C. Twiss continued the discussion on the district’s identification rate for special and general education. She felt that during the upcoming budget season, the community should not pit special education costs against general education cost. She strongly cautioned against treating students like widgets and expecting children to function with one type of service. She felt that the type of services a student receives shouldn’t make them different because they are all our kids. She explained how staff makes decisions based on the information available at that time. She commented on compulsory unfunded state mandates facing most towns in the United States and not just the district.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: POLICIES FOR REVIEW – 2nd READING
Dr. McMorran presented the policies for a 2nd Reading. He noted that policy 6162.51, Surveys of Students, should be removed from the list pending a final review by Central Office. As a member of the Policy Review Committee, Ms. Hoeing explained the process it uses to recommend policies to the Board for approval. She added that the Committee will reject policies if they don’t apply to the district or are otherwise not favored by the Committee.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the following policies for 2nd Reading:
− 6163.32, Live Animals in the Classroom
− 6159, Individualized Education Program/Special Education Program
− 5144, Appendix – Alternate Education Opportunity for Eligible Expelled Students
Reilly, Pilato. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: BUS SEATBELTS
M. Irwin led a discussion of the available seat belt options for the newly ordered school buses. She asked the Board to consider the actions taken by the Easton and ER9 Boards of Education. S. Reiss noted that the bus company does not have a position on either the 2-point harness versus the 3-point harness. Dr. McMorran asked the Board to consider safety over cost and actual student use in their deliberations. Brief discussion ensued with members agreeing that the three point cost was de minimis over the life of the buses and an investment worth making while the buses are being built.
Motion: move to approve 3-point seatbelts for newly ordered school buses. Hoffman, Reilly. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
The Board briefly continued to discuss the new transportation provider, cost, and communicating the seat belt choice to parents.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: ENROLLMENT PROJECTIONS
Dr. McMorran reviewed Dr. Peter Prowda and NESDEC’s enrollment projections for 2018 – 2019. He reviewed data for the current school year, enrollment projections for 2019-2020, the projected increase or decrease from one year to the next, the difference in the total number projected since 2017, grade levels and other information and data. Dr. McMorran advised that the decline in enrollment is not as vast as expected and advised against reducing staff or programing. He explained how home schooling, private schools, the decline in demographics and the cost of housing impact enrollment.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: APPROVAL OF 2019 BOARD MEETING SCHEDULE
The Board reviewed the proposed calendar and discussed the number of joint meetings it would have with the Easton Board of Education, holiday scheduling and the number of off-site meetings it would hold during 2019. The Board discussed when and how it could facilitate the receipt of public feedback at these meetings leading up to budget season. The Board also discussed the likelihood of holding future meetings at Joel Barlow instead of JRMS given the installation of new A/V equipment at Barlow that permits live streaming. The Board continued to review the 2019 schedule and suggested the following changes:
– Add January 3rd meeting to facilitate public comment on the budget
– November 5th meeting changed to November 6th
– Add regular meeting on June 25th to address any year-end budget requests and transfers
Motion: move to approve the 2019 Board Meeting Schedule as amended at this Meeting. Hoffman, Hoeing. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: BOE MISSION AND VISION
The Board discussed additional changes to the draft Mission, Vision and Purpose of the Redding School District included in the Materials. C. Parkin provided a history of the revisions and explained how the statement dovetails with the district’s work on continuous improvement.
Motion: move to direct the Superintendent of Schools to solicit feedback on the “Mission, Vision, and Purpose of the Redding School District”, from the appropriate stakeholders and report back on or before January 8, 2019. Parkin, Pilato. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent)
DISTRICT ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
C. Pilato provided an update on the Board’s use of social media, namely Facebook. She noted the Committee expressed strong reservations about using Facebook with open comments. She advised that the Committee felt it could use the Town’s newsletter as an effective mode of communicating with the public; the Board discussed the advantage and disadvantages. The Board also discussed the recent closing of the local newspaper, the Pilot, and the sudden loss of where to put information. The Board weighed the possibility of sending quarterly board memos via direct mail to members of the community. The Board felt this would be a good ideal if it were approved by budget and noted that it would also be a good agenda topic at a tri-board meeting.
Motion: move to request Central Office to inquire about the cost of sending a quarterly Board of Education newsletter via direct mail. Reilly, Pilato. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
BOARD OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE REPORTS
Stephanie Benton, Redding mentioned that the cheerleaders from the Redding-Easton Falcons cheer squad would be competing in Florida at the National Championships on December 8th and December 9th . As one of the recordkeepers for the various Board of Education Meetings, Mrs. Benton requested a table for recordkeepers to sit at during the meeting to facilitate taking the minutes.
Mr. Crites-Moore discussed paper versus email communications.
Mr. D’Agostino commented on the logistical and legal challenges the Boards are presented with when communicating with the community.
RECESS TO EXECUTIVE SESSION: SUPERINTENDENT’S EVALUATION
Motion: move to enter Executive Session to discuss Superintendent’s Evaluation and invite Dr. McMorran to attend. Pilato, Hoeing. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
RETURN TO PUBLIC SESSION FOR POSSIBLE ACTION ON ITEM DISCUSSED IN EXECUTIVE SESSION
The Board entered Executive Session at 9:38 and exited at 10:27.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
M. Hoffman expressed his concern that his comments about special education cost were misconstrued such as to pit special education against general education. He emphasized that he is a strong believer of the district’s special education program and understands the unfunded mandates that must be addressed in allocating resources.
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Pilato, Hoffman. Approved. 6-0 (Whaley Absent).
Meeting was adjourned at 10:29 p.m.
Submitted by Chris Parkin
Redding Board of Education Secretary
Recorded by Stephanie Benton