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Minutes of Redding Board of Education Special Meeting, 11/07/2018

AGENDA: Redding Board of Education Special Meeting

RECEIVED 11/19/2018 1:56pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

Special Meeting
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Board of Education: Irwin, Hoffman, Parkin, Whaley, Pilato, Hoeing, Reilly
Administration: McMorran, Pierson Ugol, Reiss, Hammond, Martin
Others: Approximately 4 members of the public/staff

The meeting was called to order by Dr. Irwin at 7:30 p.m.

The Board reviewed and approved the minutes of the October 9th Special Board of Education meeting and the minutes of the Special Joint Redding-Easton Board of Education meeting.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 9, 2018, Special Board of Education Meeting. Reilly, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 9, 2018, Special Joint Redding-Easton Board of Education Meeting. Reilly, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.

Mr. Parkin reviewed changes to the minutes of the October 23rd Regular Easton, Redding, and Region 9 Joint Board of Education meeting, noting that minutes were filed prior to his corrections to the names of individuals making and seconding motions from all three boards being incorporated.

Motion: move that the Redding Board of Education approve the minutes of the October 23, 2018, Regular Easton, Redding, and Region 9 Joint Board of Education Meeting, as amended. Hoffman, Whaley. Approved. 6-0-1 Irwin Abstained.

Mrs. Jeannie Wendschuh, Redding described the administrative cost savings and other non-monetary benefits regionalizing the Easton and Redding school districts could provide as opposed to having three separate Boards.

Mr. Mike D’Agostino, Chair of the Region 9 Board of Education commented on the district’s past efforts at regionalizing the school Boards. He noted an increase in cost and other challenges he felt would divide the Redding and Easton communities. He noted the amount of work the Board would assume including a lengthy study.

Mrs. Amy Arnold, Werf Drive asked if the Board would consider changing school start times to be more in-line with the overall health and physical well-being of students. She noted ongoing discussions in Ridgefield. Dr. Irwin noted that this would be good agenda item for a future tri-board meeting.

Ms. Hoeing also discussed school start times while relaying a conversation she had with a Ridgefield resident. She suggested a thorough review of research studies that had been conducted and a look at the practical issues Ridgefield faced during its transition. She highlighted traffic patterns and appointing someone to manage the process.

Mr. Parkin commented on the upcoming budget season and noted his agreement with a proposal by the Superintendent to assign individual Board members a specific area of focus within the budget to establish subject matter expertise and ultimately avoid duplication of effort. He also supported metrics to report on student data and performance. Mr. Parkin suggested that there may be opportunity for further financial efficiencies but such a conclusion required additional information to fully assess performance. Mr. Parkin discussed assessing programs against the long term vision for the district, potential for outsourcing certain functions, revisiting the efficacy of foreign language the RES, among many other areas for discussion and consideration. Mr. Parkin also suggested the Board could benefit from an initiative similar to the community round-table supported by the Brookfield Board of Education used to solicit feedback from the community on what it thinks are important issues before the budget process is too far along.

Dr. Irwin stated that she and Dr. Yonkers, Chair of the Board of Finance had a similar conversation about hosting a public forum in December and in advance of the budget season. She stated that the Board would have to prioritize holding the public forum or the next tri-board meeting. Dr. Irwin also suggested including this as an agenda item at a public forum. She recommended that the Board review data and cost savings estimates before surveying the community.

Mrs. Whaley also commented on the tremendous amount of community involvement and detailed organization it took during Ridgefield’s still ongoing transition to its start times.

Mrs. Hammond described planned activities during the staff’s professional development day which included a behavioral therapist as an invited guest. She discussed expectations of 2nd and 3rd grade students. She reported that interim cards would go out on Friday and that parent conferences were scheduled to take place during the week of November 12th. She noted school activities on Veterans’ Day and the annual end of year celebrations which begin with the PTA sponsored breakfast followed by a school assembly.

Dr. Martin reported on similar activities during the staff’s professional development day. She commented on the training for historical practices which was led by two of JRMS teachers who were previously trained in this area and the anti-bias training workshop. Dr. Martin said she received positive feedback about the professional development day. She reminded the Board that early dismissals and book fair would take place during the week of the student led conferences beginning November 12th.

In response to a question from the Board, Dr. Hammond referred to the Principal’s Report included in the materials and explained the change in projected enrollment data and actual enrollment data for 2018-2019. She explained how final enrollment data isn’t available until after the first day of school. She supported the Administration’s preference for smaller class sizes and then the Board agreed to continue this discussion in anticipation of the upcoming budget season. Several Board members suggested they would consider adopting a policy to support class size based on research.

Mrs. Whaley noted that the JRMS listserv for extracurricular clubs and activities was operational and available on the school’s website. She reported that the recent listserv contained information on the music ensemble. Dr. Martin agreed to add members to the listserv as a way of staying abreast of JRMS clubs and activities.

Mr. Reiss, Director of Finance & Operations, reviewed the Budget Object Summary Report, Transfer Report and the district’s Health Insurance Analysis Report. He provided an update on the Joint Transportation meetings. He then stated that the Board will be asked to consider no seatbelts, or a 2- or 3-point seatbelt option. Mr. Reiss reviewed costs and the use of seatbelts in neighboring towns. He reminded the Board that it would have to approve either of these options before the transition to the new service provider in January.

Mr. Reiss then reviewed the transfer requests as outlined in the materials. He explained recent technical changes required by the CT State Department of Education guidelines relating to how preschool expenditures are tracked. The Board discussed the transfers and the effect the change would have on the special education budget line item before approving the technical changes.

Motion: move to transfer $13,000 from budget line item #23-2330-561 to budget line item #23-1118-565 and $13,000 from budget line item #24-2330-561 to budget line item #24-1118-565. Reilly, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move to transfer $29,567 from budget line item #23-2330-510 to budget line item #23-1118-510 and $29,567 from budget line item #24-2330-510 to budget line item #24-1118-510. Hoeing, Reilly, Approved. Unanimous.

Motion: move to transfer $560,313 as more fully described in his report and set forth in the minutes, from function code 1200 (Special Education) to 1201 (Preschool), a new function code. Hoffman, Reilly, Approved. Unanimous.

Accounts to Decrease Description Amount  
1-01-24-1200-111 Salary-Certified 365,398.00  
1-01-24-1200-114 Other Payments-Certified 6,097.00  
1-01-24-1200-112 Salary-NonCertified 167,145.00  
1-01-24-1200-115 Other Payments – NonCertified 3,250.00  
1-01-24-1200-221 SS/Med – Certified 5,387.00  
1-01-24-1200-222 SS/Med – NonCertified 13,036.00 560,313.00
Accounts to Increase Description Amount  
1-01-24-1201-111 Salary-Certified 365,398.00  
1-01-24-1201-114 Other Payments-Certified 6,097.00  
1-01-24-1201-112 Salary-NonCertified 167,145.00  
1-01-24-1201-115 Other Payments-NonCertified 3,250.00  
1-01-24-1201-221 SS/Med – Certified 5,387.00  
1-01-24-1201-222 SS/Med – NonCertified 13,036.00 560,313.00

Mr. Reiss included in his presentation a discussion on offsetting pre-school tuition, substitute teachers and transportation costs related to outplacements and its impact on the budget.

Dr. McMorran revisited previous discussions regarding the Board of Finance Audit. He reviewed the history and then reiterated opinions he and the Board expressed at past meetings. The Board noted the substantive and optical questions raised by the tone and use of persuasion in the firm’s engagement letter. Dr. McMorran stated that outside counsel approved the engagement of PKF O’Connor. Going forward Dr. McMorran said he would recommended changes to certain polices based on the nature of the audit.

Motion: at the recommendation of the Superintendent and with the approval of the Board’s legal counsel, and without the intent to set any future precedent with respect to the disclosure of student records, the Board authorizes the Chair to enter into the proposed engagement with the audit firm of PKF O’Connor Davies subject to the terms and conditions set forth in the October 11, 2018 preliminary draft. Parkin, Pilato.

Additional discussion regarding the motion and its wording followed. Board members expressed reluctance to create a legal fiction but also felt it necessary to accept the recommendation of the Superintendent and take steps necessary to complete the audit. The Chair called the question and the motion was approved. 6-0-1 (Whaley abstained).

Dr. McMorran referred to the presentation included in the materials and began the discussion on aligning resources to support measurable goals. He anticipated future budget discussions if the district maintained a minimal budget for another year. He stressed the importance of cost while not taking significant resources from staff, professional development and curriculum instruction. He noted that Dr. Martin and Dr. Hammond would present information which demonstrated how well the schools in the district performed.

Dr. Martin reviewed JRMS’ Smarter Balance Math Performance. She reported that 79% of the students met or exceeded the Smarter Balanced goals. She also reviewed continuous improvement standards and Redding’s rank in the top 10% for ELA and Math. The Board discussed how districts improve their consistency in curriculum and instruction over time by aligning practices with human resources. Dr. Martin discussed how academic goals are measured by certain indicators (pulled out of the budget). She also commented on the life span of a textbook, student enrollment and human resources, and Tier 1 intervention. Dr. Pierson Ugol discussed academic vocabulary. Dr. Pierson Ugol discussed incorporating social growth into the curriculum, focus areas for 2018-2019, restorative practices, Tier 1 differentiation and Prioritizing Standards among other topics.

Dr. Hammond then reviewed the RES Student Assessment Update. She stated that last year’s goals measured academic progress and this year the school is putting plans in place to introduce purposeful play and social & emotional learning. She then reviewed targets, the role of the Student Intervention Team and the Crisis Response Team. She elaborated on how classrooms can be used to create community partnerships through communication.

All three administrators answered various questions from Board members throughout.

The building administrators were then excused by the Chair.

In the discretion of the Chair, the matter was passed. Mr. Parkin asked that the policies he submitted comment on be referred to the Policy Committee prior to being raised with the full board.

Mrs. Pilato, Chair of the Communications Committee led a discussion about the Board establishing a presence on social media. She reported that outside counsel advised that it was ok so long as the Board established certain guidelines like not responding to comments or making any statements about pending referendums. The Board acknowledged that using Facebook would be a good way to engage with the community initially. Mrs. Whaley described the sample layout of a Facebook page and encouraged the use of email to solicit feedback.

The Board discussed Bylaw 90-20, the possibility of the Central Office hosting a Board approved Facebook page and other social media alternatives during its deliberations. The Board thought it would be useful to solicit feedback on the social media policy employed by the Board of Finance and Board of Selectmen. As a takeaway, the Communications Committee was tasked with identifying means by which the Board could better disseminate meeting recordings and draft guidelines for a proposed social media presence for further discussion.

Dr. Pierson Ugol reviewed the November Assistant Superintendent’s Curriculum and Instruction Report. She explained how students in grades 8-11 participate in the College Board suite of assessments. She discussed PSATs and SATs. She compared the district’s assessment test for to the College Board assessments. She complimented the reporting features, in-depth analysis and the level of detail the district’s assessment provided. Dr. Pierson Ugol detailed the cost of administering the assessment per student.


Mr. D’Agostino disagreed with Mr. Reiss’ seat belt assessment, and regionalization of the districts. He suggested that the Region 9 Board should play a role in the decision on seat belts. He provided feedback on the presentation of the student performance data and voiced his concern that the Board’s goal is to continue to preserve high quality education.

Mrs. Wendschuh applaud the Board’s approach to try communicating with residents. She suggested using the Town’s messaging system which residents can opt-in to receive communications on topics of relevant interest. Mrs. Wendschuh then suggested holding the Board meetings at the high school which had better video equipment and would save on purchasing new equipment for future Board meetings.

The Board discussed the timing of the public forum/community round table and the structure and format of other organization’s public meetings.


Motion: move to enter Executive Session to discuss Superintendent’s Evaluation and invite Dr. McMorran to attend. Parkin. Reilly. Approved. Unanimous.


The Board returned from executive session at 11:17. No further action taken.


Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Parkin, Hoffman. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting was adjourned at 11:17 pm.

Submitted by Chris Parkin,
Redding Board of Education Secretary
Recorded by Stephanie Benton