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Minutes of Redding BOE Special Joint Meeting with Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen, 12/17/2018

AGENDA: Redding BOE Special Joint Meeting with Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen

RECEIVED 12/27/2018 10:13pm
Michele R. Grande – Redding Town Clerk

REDDING BOARD OF EDUCATION
Special Joint Meeting with Board of Finance/Board of Selectmen
December 17, 2018

Meeting Minutes

Board of Education: Irwin, Hoffman, Parkin, Whaley, Hoeing, Pilato, Reilly
Board of Selectmen: Pemberton, O’Donnell, Thompson
Board of Finance: Yonkers, Mazzucco, Clark, Dean, Barickman
Administration: McMorran
Public: Approximately two dozen, including representative from the News Times

Dr. Irwin called the Board of Education to order at 7:30 p.m.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Sarah O’Dell, Black Rock Turnpike, urged the Boards to ensure enrichment is restored to RES budget. She has noticed a difference in her family and has heard the same from others. Likewise, she noted that we cannot rely on donations from family foundations to fund clubs and extracurriculars and they should be restored. Finally, she requested that the BOF make their email addresses public.

Doug Crites-Moore, Gallows Hill Rd., echoed Ms. O’Dell’s comments on transparency and availability of BOF by email. Susan Clark commented that they were not allowed to communicate on a one to one basis. Rob Dean commented that email provides a false sense of authority and that no one member can speak on behalf of the Board. Ward Mazzucco commented that he’s happy to talk at the Ridge or around town but meetings are what matters.

Sarah O’Dell, suggested that the BOF consult with the BOE and BOS on how they handle email, since both boards list email addresses on their websites to facilitate communication.

William Brown, Lonetown Rd., thanked members of the three boards for their service. He noted that he’s concerned about the impression created by what amounts to penny pinching going on in the K-8 district and at Region 9. He also expressed concern about whether the RPD is sufficiently staffed to handle safety issues such as the recent scare at JRMS. He expressed concern that perhaps the town is not as committed to education and safety as we say we are. Finally, he expressed concern about the demise of The Redding Pilot and wondered how facts will be fairly disseminated. If left to others, the facts may be misrepresented.

Julia Pemberton commented that the Pilot had already been in decline and that the News Times and Susan Winters were still working to report information.

Kim Yonkers commented on the BOF email issue to say that there was an instance where incorrect numbers were transmitted and that the decision was made to confirm numbers before sending and not to make unfettered use email to communicate to preserve accuracy.

Rob Dean commented that he agreed with Dr. Yonkers but also agrees with Ms. O’Dell and Mr. Brown. He noted that the need for communication is real and it is a tough balance to strike. He rhetorically wondered how to recreate the Pilot.

Bob Moran noted that BOF and BOS meetings are on Channel 79.

DISCUSSION AND POSSIBLE ACTION: 2019-2020 BUDGET, PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS

Dr. McMorran presented an overview of his goals for the 2019-2020 budget, discussed the current enrollment projections, and reviewed recent budget history.

Discussion between Board of Finance members and the Superintendent followed.

K. Yonkers sought, and received, clarification regarding early retirement incentives.

R. Dean commented on demographic trends and suggested the uptick in enrollment will be sooner than anticipated. He noted that our schools have been holding their own by carving down discretionary program but that there is no fat left. He warned that it is important to invest sufficiently to sustain Redding’s place in the market.

S. Clark noted that the budget has been tight. She asked what structural change was possible including whether we needed a separate elementary and middle school, whether we needed to principals, and whether something could be done about buses. The Superintendent noted that there is no potential for school or administrative consolidation and briefly described the new bus contract.

K. Yonkers noted that special education costs continue to rise and that some of the services we provide are medically billable. The Superintendent commented that we are too small a district to make the benefit of billing worth the administrative cost. He also suggested that a significant driver of special education cost was the burden of proof in Connecticut, which imposes the burden on the school to prove an appropriate educational plan while in most states the burden is on the family to show unreasonableness.

W. Mazzucco asked if CABE has a view on the burden of proof. The Superintendent said they probably do.

J. Barickman suggested collaborating on a k-12 or multitown basis to recognize economies of scale sufficient to make billing insurance companies or otherwise reducing special education cost worthwhile. He noted that the town has many committed and intelligent people who would surely assist in such a project.

R. Dean commented that 70% of the budget is pure meat and potatoes and that five years of cost shaving has brought things down to the bone.

MUNICPAL BUDGET DRIVERS

First Selectman Julia Pemberton reviewed budget drivers on the town side. Discussion with the Board of Finance followed.

REGION 9 BUDGET DRIVERS

Region 9 Chairman Mike D’Agostino highlighted that there was another enrollment shift at Barlow which results in a $567k shift in cost to Redding for next year.

K. Yonkers asked about capital projects. M. D’Agostino noted that the track needs replacement, Barlow Drive will be paved, and the tennis courts have developed significant cracks.

J. Barickman asked if there was any way to smooth fluctuations in cost that occur annually due to demographic swings between the towns. M. D’Agostino said it was driven by statute.

PUBLIC COMMENT

Amy Arnold, Werf Drive, commented that she respects Dr. McMorran and that we should take into account that the school budget is at bare bones. She rhetorically asked, “If a cop said he needs a car, do we give him a bike?” She hopes we can come together more as a community this year.

Wes Higgins, Great Pasture Rd., thanked Dr. McMorran for an excellent, “adult,” presentation.

BOARD MEMBER COMMENT
None

ADJOURNMENT
Motion: move to adjourn the meeting. Pilato, Hoeing. Approved. Unanimous.

The meeting adjourned at 9:28 p.m.

Recorded and Submitted by
Chris Parkin
Redding Board of Education Secretary

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