REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION SPECIAL MEETING
Held Remotely Pursuant to Executive Order No. 7B
Meeting ID: 512 827 8190
May 7, 2020 – 7:30 p.m.
Board members: Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoffman, Reilly, Oulton, Hocker
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Del Conte
Others: 54 members of the staff and public, and the recording secretary
CALL TO ORDER
C. Parkin called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the April 7, 2020 Regular meeting as submitted. Approved by Unanimous Consent.
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education table the minutes of the April 30, 2020 Special Board of Education Meeting. (Whaley, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
C. Pilato said that she wanted to acknowledge Teacher Appreciation Week. She said that crisis learning combined with the budget season is intense and thanked the staff for their continued efforts. She also said the Communications Committee would look into the policy review request recently emailed to the Board.
C. Hocker said that he had recently met with representatives from other Boards of Education that are Cooperative Educational Services (CES) members. He said that it was an interesting meeting and that as they went around the table and reported, in terms of their budgets, he found that every district is roughly in the same position as Redding.
C. Parkin said that he gives thanks to the teachers, many of whom were listening to the meeting from their homes. He said that he also appreciates the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) meetings, where he and other Board of Education members get together to discuss what is going on and how we are all managing it.
BUILDING ADMINISTRATIVE REPORTS
Redding Elementary School Principal, N. Hammond, said that the staff at RES was working tirelessly to really understand and embrace this new learning. Her report highlighted morning activities and learning taking place through the RES distance learning plan, as well as, examples of school work produced by the RES students. N. Hammond said that she and RES Assistant Principal, J. Amodio, were attending all of the team meetings. She said that the students at RES are engaged in the same learning opportunities and the same unit of study. C. Pilato said to let her know if something was needed from the Board of Education to make things run smoother and asked how consistent the learning experience was across a grade level. J. Reilly said that it is most important that the little kids do not feel isolated, and that he appreciated hearing about how the teachers are welcoming the students in the RES report.
John Read Middle School Interim Principal, Dr. Amori, spoke about some of the virtual activities of JRMS including a spirit week, field trips and the creation of a student version of “Newsweek Magazine.” Dr. Amori also spoke about the postcard project in which all JRMS students received a personalized postcard from a staff member. C. Pilato asked about the consistency of the student experience and if there was anything the school was missing to help with distance learning.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: UPDATE ON DISTANCE LEARNING
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. McMorran, reported that a maturation of Redding’s distance learning has occurred. N. Hammond said that she looks forward to what we are bringing to our children and that there is continuous improvement; she said that there is now more student voice happening. N. Hammond said that she was proud of the work and social connectedness going on at RES. C. Parkin asked what percentage of students are not engaged. N. Hammond replied that the numbers are low and that they are keeping close tabs on it, with teachers, administrators and counselors doing personal outreach to bring back these children.
Dr. Amori said that the distance learning program has been a journey with an incredible learning curve and that JRMS now has a rich program. She said that she and Assistant Principal, D. Wallin, have focused on schedules, opportunities for students to learn at their own pace, connecting staff and students during office hours and have insisted that teams continue to keep their meeting days. Dr. Amori read through an 8th grade daily schedule to explain the wide array of activities and learning taking place.
Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, reported that her staff started live-online-learning right from the get-go and that she feels her staff of Special Education teachers have raised the bar. She said in addition to live-online-learning, they are also giving these students social opportunities. J. Del Conte said that speech and OT/PT have student sessions, and that there are mental health and parent check-ins occurring too. She also said the Special Education staff is in regular communication with the General Education teachers. Discussion followed.
Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ugol Pierson, said that it has been such a benefit for her to sit in on the team meetings because she can see the collaboration and sharing going on between the teachers. Dr. McMorran said that teachers are willing to accommodate and modify the work. He said, on the whole, they are feeling pretty positive about where they are going and that he is proud of the faculty. J. Reilly asked if the distance learning continues in the fall, if any thought had been given to a team structure approach, so that students would be working with all the teachers. Dr. McMorran replied that he had asked the teams to think about inter-grouping, and that this topic will be considered more thoroughly in the summer.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: ALLOCATION OF UNSPENT FUNDS FROM 2019-2020 FISCAL YEAR
A discussion ensued about whether to use a portion of the unencumbered funds from the 2019-2020 school year for the health insurance reserve. Discussion then continued as to the amount of funds to place in the health insurance reserve.
Motion: move that the Director of Finance and Operations shall be directed to deposit unspent funds into the health insurance reserve to achieve a total balance of $500,000 at the close of the 2019-20 fiscal year. Any unspent funds in excess of that amount shall be returned to the Town of Redding. (Hoffman, Whaley) Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: NON-LAPSING ACCOUNT PER CONN. GEN. STAT. 10-248a
Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education authorize the Chairman of the Redding Board of Education, in consultation with the negotiating committee, to enter into negotiations with the Redding Board of Finance regarding the memorandum of understanding for the establishment of the non-lapsing account, which would then be brought back for approval. (Whaley, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: PLANNING FOR REOPENING OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS
Dr. McMorran reported that he has been meeting with other superintendents of schools from the region and that it is unclear at the moment what the fall will look like for school. He said that there is an administrative team working on a plan and that they are looking to the State for more guidance. Dr. McMorran said items being considered include, but are not limited to: buses; split schedules; fuel costs; nursing staff; PPEs; custodial staff; dividers; signage; feeding kids; OT/PT; library media centers; auditoriums; door openings; sanitation stations; health and wellness policies; extra curricular activities; athletics; supplies for students and staff, at home and in the buildings; and common areas. Discussion followed.
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction: Dr. Pierson Ugol reported that a subcommittee on reopening will begin meeting weekly. She said that we’ve learned a lot during this period, and that we’re moving from crisis mode to distance learning by design. C. Pilato said that if there is something that the Board of Education can do to help you, let us know.
Director of Special Services, J. Del Conte, said that her department is having many virtual meetings and that they are receiving a lot of good guidance from the State. She said they will continue to meet with other regional directors to ensure that we are aligned with our neighboring districts.
Director of Operations and Finance, S. Reiss, said the budget object summary and monthly transfer reports are included in the packet and he welcomed any questions the Board may have.
BOARD COMMITTEE REPORTS
Food Service: H. Whaley said that this committee had met, and asked Director of Finance & Operations, S. Reiss, to report on his meeting with Chartwell’s Food Service. S. Reiss said that the issue of Chartwell’s new contract will be put on the agenda for the Tri-Board meeting later this month.
Angela Caes, Deer Hill Road, Redding: said that she would like the Board of Education to send a memo soon regarding the opening of schools in the fall so that families are not surprised. She also said that she would like decisions to be made about Extended Day & programs at Parks and Rec because a lot of parents depend on those programs.
BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
H. Whaley said that Redding needs to have someone start up the Redding Education Foundation again. She said thank you again to the teachers and to the parents who didn’t expect to become teachers.
C. Parkin said that he also wanted to acknowledge the Central Office staff and the meeting schedule they are enduring with the tri-district structure.
Motion: move that the meeting be adjourned. (Hoffman, Reilly). Approved. Unanimous.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:57 p.m.
Submitted by Colleen Pilato
Redding Board of Education Secretary
Recorded by Sarah Ota