Minutes For BOE January 8, 2007 Meeting



January 8, 2007

 Members Present:   Joseph Arcuri, Catherine Bergstrom, Beth Duffy, Barbara Gilbert, Paul Omichinski, Elaine Schiavone, Ray Sikora, Karen Sullivan-Shepard, Peter Turner

Members Absent:   Jayne Stocker


Also Present:   Paula Schwartz - Superintendent

                                 David Lenihan - Business Manager

                                 Michael Landry – Assistant Superintendent

                                 Jacqueline Evans, Everett Doninger, Alex Murphy – Student Representatives


  I.   Call to Order - The regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting was held at Lake Garda School Media Center, and was called to order at 7:31 pm by Chairperson Beth Duffy.


 II.   Pledge of Allegiance - The Pledge was recited.


III.   Communications, Resignations – No resignations.


         Superintendent received letter from Connecticut School Transportation Association concerning problems in which school bus drivers have been hired on a provisional basis, prior to all background checks being completed.  D. Lenihan spoke with Region 10’s bus companies’ representatives concerning their policies, which are rigorous and thorough. 


         Student & Staff Recognition – Several students from Har-Bur Middle School were recognized for their participation in a stock market club led by study skills instructor Kathy Gilson.  This was a 10 week program sponsored by the Hartford Courant, and included both public and private schools.  First place participants were:  Matthew Oldenburg (team captain), Halie Lyon, Patryk Illinski, Matthew Miller and Hannah Seelye.  Third place participants were:  Sinclair Bush (team captain), Nicole Aldieri, Kelly Cosgrove, Christopher Farmer, and Alyssa Slotnick.  Each student stated their reason for participating and how the experience affected them.


IV.   Consent Agenda – A motion to approve the meeting minutes of the December 11, 2006, and the financial reported dated December 31, 2006, was made by K. Sullivan-Shepard and seconded by B. Gilbert.  All in favor none opposed.


         Corrections include:  Communications, Lillian Korman, should be Corman.  Public Participation, first sentence, last word should be present, not presented.  Under Curriculum Report, discussion of wellness program between C. Bergstrom and M. Landry should have been included.  Addition to the end of the meeting minutes should include the following:  A motion for Board to come out of Executive Session at 10:20 pm was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by P. Turner.  A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by P. Turner.  All in favor none opposed.  Meeting ended at 10:21 pm.

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         Chairperson requested Item G, Board Retreat be added to the agenda.  A motion to add the Board Retreat was made by P. Turner and seconded by K. Sullivan-Shepard.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


  V.   Public Participation – None at this time.  Chairperson followed up on items brought up in the December 2006 meeting.  Ed Gasser had brought up the issue of the boys bathrooms at the high school being locked due to vandalism.  Since that time, no additional vandalism has occurred, and the bathrooms are no longer locked.  There was an issue with a fire alarm going off because workers had covered a unit to prevent damage and had forgotten to uncover it.  D. Fortin asked workers to be more careful.  Dave Crompton’s question on data security is still being researched.


VI.   Business -

               A.  Instant Alert System – M. Landry presented information on the Instant Alert System, created by Honeywell, which Region 10 has chosen as its emergency notification system.  It provides parents and caregivers emergency, and non-emergency notifications to a variety of devices such as landline and cell phones, computers, and PDAs.  It can reach 100,000 subscribers with voice and text messages, emails, etc., in approximately 15 minutes.  Parents may chose up to 5 different devices they can be reached at and once they receive a message, the system disengages trying to reach them by other devices.


                        All students and families are in the system, and parents can access it to change phone numbers, allow the system to access their child’s cell phone, etc.  The system is separate from Power School, and if parents need to make changes to contact and other information, they still need to contact their school’s office to make those changes.  The District will start out using Instant Alert System for basic notification such as school closings or delays and then expand and use more features.  There will be some testing done in the next week or two.  R. Sikora suggested getting the two Towns to participate sometime in the future, something the District is amenable to.


               B.         CREC Technology Audit.  M. Landry presented information on the tech audit the District contracted CREC to do.  The report commended the District’s commitment to technology, use of smartboards, good security measures in place – fire walls, secure rooms, etc., use of specialized software such as Power School for student information, Fast Lane in the cafeteria, Destiny in the Library, wired and wireless networks, and good infrastructure.  At the elementary level the District was better than average in technology and fairly even at the high school with other schools.  All 5th graders in the new wing at Har-Bur will have access to their own computer.  Recommendations include better data management and analysis, reorganization of computer staff, integration of computer technology with curriculum, web page update, and professional development; all areas the District has been working on to improve.



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               C.         Review of Audit – Representatives from the accounting firm of Carlin, Charron & Rosen, LLP discussed their audit of the District’s financial and bookkeeping records.  They reported a surplus of $265,000 for fiscal year ending June 30, 2006.  They did not find any irregularities and found all areas to be “clean”.  Recommendations for improvement include recording grants and student activities on the general ledger, cash disbursement improvements, procedure manual and implementation of new accounting standard for post employment benefits.


               D.         No Child Left Behind District and School Reports.  P. Schwartz stated these had been covered at prior Board meetings, and no new information was forthcoming.


               E.         Community Groups – P. Schwartz requested that Board members review and select organizations and groups they’d be willing to speak at.


               F.         World Language Proposal – Grade 3 Spanish – E. Lapman.  World Language Coordinator, Elizabeth Lapman, presented a proposal to begin Spanish instruction in third grade.  Survey went out to parents, the results of which show strong support for an early second language program.   Spanish teachers, Carol Brault of HSC and Monika Kordowski at Lake Garda discussed their programs, and the ease with which students are able to pick up a second language.  Board members discussed how to offer courses in other languages with a suggestion by R. Sikora that a possible partnership could be developed between area schools, in the future.  The Virtual High School was another method in which language instruction could be implemented.


               G.         Board Retreat – The retreat is scheduled for January 22, 6pm at Central Office conference room.  There will be a guest speaker, and the focus will be on communication.


VII            Action -

               A.  Approval of New Courses.  M. Landry presented several new elective courses to be offered.  They are:


                                 Web Design, instruction in HTML.

                                 Material & Process – Use of metal, plastic and wood to create a product.        

                                 Electronic Music – An alternative to band and chorus.

                                 African Americans in Literature and Film

                                 Women in Literature – 19th century to current.

                                 Exercise Physiology


                        A motion to approve the above electives was made by P. Turner and seconded by K. Sullivan-Shepard.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


B.    Football letter to St. Paul High School.  After investigation and discussion with St. Paul, K. Neihoff and D. Tanner determined that the incident of recruiting New Britain High School students was a matter of poor judgement and lack of oversight as opposed to any malicious


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intent on St. Paul’s part.  Administration has admitted to the wrongdoing and has extended apologies to all involved.  Since the incident, certain procedures have been put in place such

as hiring a Director of Admissions, creating an athletic advisory board, creating a reporting process.


                        Separate from the incident, CIAC has determined that due to numbers, there will be no need for the Tri-Op to continue.  It will allow current students to continue in the football program for the next three years.  Current freshmen will then be seniors.  No new students will be allowed into the program.  At that point, the Tri-Op will end and each school will have to decide whether it will form its own football program.  A Co-Op partnership is unlikely.        


                        A meeting with parents is scheduled for January 24, 2007.  A motion to continue with the football program was made by P. Turner and seconded by P. Omichinski.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


                        There was some discussion concerning costs to maintain the football program being borne by parents because ticket sales and fundraising activities did not generate the expected revenue.  Laurie Natalie of Harwinton, member of the football boosters, stated they will continue to assist students based on need.


               C.         Approval of 2006-08 School Calendar.  The proposed calendar shows school beginning on September 4, 2007, ending on June 13, 2008 (if there are no snow days, June 23 if 6 snow days used), a full spring recess and a short February recess.  A motion to approve the calendar was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by K. Sullivan-Shepard.  All in favor none opposed.


               D.         Revision of Budget Preparation Timeline – At the October 2006 BOE meeting, a budget time line was presented.  Two additional meetings need to be added as follows:  Monday, February 26, 2007 District Overview and Monday, March 5, 2007, K-12 presentation.  A motion to approve the revised timeline was made by P. Turner and seconded by P. Omichinski.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


               E.         Approval of the Agreement between Region 10 BOE and Region 10 Administrators’ Association.  Contract negotiations between the District and school administrators were resolved in mediation.  The contract calls for increases of 4.7% in the first year, 3.6% in the second and 4.3% in the third year.  In addition, increase in administrators’ health insurance premiums include 16% the first year, 18% the second year, and 20% in the third year.  A high deductible insurance savings plan (HSA) is now being offered as well, with the District contributing a certain portion to encourage participation.  A motion to ratify the contract was made by P. Turner and seconded by R. Sikora.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


                        K. Niehoff extended thanks to the Negotiation Committee and Board for successful outcome to the contract negotiations.


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VIII.         Board Committee Reports

A.  Facilities and Grounds Committee – Met in November, 2006.  Next meeting is scheduled for January 30, 2007.

B.  CREC Committee – Nothing to report.

C.            Curriculum Committee – Meeting in February.

D.            Negotiations Committee – Will be discussed in Executive Session.

E.         Technology Committee – Tech audit discussed earlier.

F.         Building Committee – Next meeting tomorrow night.  Reasonable progress made over Christmas break.

               G.         Community Relations Committee – Next meeting scheduled for January 29, 2007, 7 pm in the Learning Center.  First draft of survey is being sent to First Experience and is expected

                        back on the 12th.   Production scheduled for the end of January.  In response to question from J. Arcuri at the December meeting concerning who owns the data, C. Bergstrom stated that the District owns the data.


A motion to go into Executive Session was made by R. Sikora and seconded by P. Omichinski.  Regular portion of the meeting ended at 10:20 pm.


A motion to come out of executive session was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by R. Sikora.


A motion to adjourn at 10:32 pm was made by R. Sikora and seconded by P. Omichinski.  All were in favor.


The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will be held on February 12, 2007 at Harwinton Consolidated School.





Karen Sullivan-Shepard, Secretary

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