Minutes For BOE July 10, 2006 Meeting




July 10, 2006

Members Present:   Joseph Arcuri, Barbara Gilbert, Paul Omichinski, Elaine Schiavone, Ray Sikora, Jayne Stocker, Karen Sullivan-Shepard, Peter Turner


Members Absent:   Catherine Bergstrom, Beth Duffy


Also Present:   Paula Schwartz - Superintendent

                                 David Lenihan - Business Manager


  I.   Call to Order - The regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting was held in the Harwinton Consolidated School cafeteria, and was called to order at 7:35 pm by Vice Chairperson Peter Turner.


 II.   Pledge of Allegiance - The Pledge was recited.


III.   Communications, Resignations – Superintendent received retirement notification from Klaus Gorski, tech teacher at Har-Bur effective 6-30-06.  Received resignation letters from Donald J. Wood, 7th grade social studies teacher at Har-Bur and from Lee Bracken, LSM math teacher.  P.E. instructor, Gina Ventaloni, decline acceptance of position and another candidate has been selected.  Received letter from Constance Campori, Director of the Connecticut Association of  Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (CTAHPERD), designating Margaret Tieman as the 2006 PE teacher of the year.  The awards ceremony will be held in November 2006.  Superintendent mentioned the recent automobile accident in which a former student, Nicholas Biancucci, was killed.


IV.   Consent Agenda - A motion to accept the following meeting minutes:

            District Meetings – June 7, 26, 2006

            Regular BOE Meeting – June 13, 2006

            Special Meetings – June 15, 20, 26, 28, 2006


         was made by K. Sullivan-Shepard and seconded by E. Schiavone.  All in favor none opposed, B. Gilbert abstained.  Correction to the Special BOE meeting of June 26th – Beth Duffy’s last name was missing in the Members Present section.


  V.   Public Participation – Ed Gasser of Burlington asked if the Board was considering making the recent breathalyzer trial run, permanent.  Superintendent stated it will be an agenda item for the August meeting.


         P. Turner suggested that action items be discussed prior to the business item.


VII   Action

               A.  Discuss options and possible action on budget figure for 2006-2007 school year.  P. Turner asked that Board members discuss the issue and then open the floor to the public.  Information on enrollment was distributed to Board and public.  It included the State projections and actual enrollments as of this date.  The table included the class size as it would be if another 4th grade section were added to Lake Garda, for a total of six 4th grade sections.


                        P. Omichinski stated that after discussions with D. Fortin, he was comfortable with the proposed $11K cut in Repair and Maintenance.  This was one of the items in the June 28, 2006 special budget meeting listed as part of additions and cuts proposed.  He was not comfortable with reductions to the contingency fund.  With retirement of Klaus Gorski, it was estimated $35K could be saved by hiring a replacement at a lower step.


                        E. Schiavone stated she had no problem adding another 4th grade teacher.  However, stated that if the budget goes up, citizens of Harwinton will not vote yes and it is not only fixed income citizens, but also parents and professionals who are concerned about costs and taxes.  Additional feedback indicates many Harwinton residents are not pleased with the 3-tiered bus system.  B. Gilbert concurred.


                        J. Stocker stated she does not have a child in the 4th grade but felt this was an important issue for many Burlington parents.  Supports adding the 4th grade teacher to Lake Garda if it will get the budget passed.  She also pointed out this is the 18th meeting this year for the ’06-’07 budget.


                        J. Arcuri felt the budget amount was more of an important issue than adding a 4th grade teacher.


                        K. Sullivan-Shepard did not feel it was equitable to cater to one group of parents.  She is concerned this will set a precedent for parents of other classes to do the same in the future.


                        P. Omichinski proposed the following modifications to the budget:  Add the 4th grade Lake Garda teacher, reduce budget to 3.6% over last year, without any reduction in programs, reduce Repair and Maintenance by $11K, reduce teacher’s aides by $20K, recognize a $35K retirement savings of a top step instructor, and find additional cuts (D. Lenihan and P. Schwartz to determine where to make the cuts).


                        When questioned, D. Lenihan stated it would be a challenge to find an additional $49K to cut out the budget.  There was some discussion on what the operating costs will be for the new 90,000 square foot addition.   It is not known what cost savings there will be due to new efficient systems and equipment.


                        J. Arcuri asked T. Scheidel and Frank Chiaramonti for their input. T. Scheidel felt the Asst. Superintendent shouldn’t have been hired at this time, that Superintendent’s salary was an issue with the community, that 25 students in a classroom is okay, that no votes in Harwinton have increased at each referendum, and that the public is looking for a “bottom line number.”  F. Chiaramonti agreed with all of these points, adding that people are anxious about increased costs in gas, heating and other utilities.

                        P.  Turner reiterated that there will be no additional taxes due to the building project and explained what debit service meant and that it does not effect the school district’s operating budget.  He recommends adding the 4th grade teacher at Lake Garda.  If referendum fails then “all bets are off.”  Dave Crompton of Harwinton supports making only one change to the budget at a time, to see what will work.


                        Liz Cornish of Burlington stated she will be calling families in Harwinton to encourage them to vote.  She asked if the Superintendent had information on the number of families in both towns who voted at the last referendum.  P. Schwartz responded that of the 563 families with school-age children in Harwinton, 158 had one member vote or 28%.  Sixty-three families had more than one family member vote.  Of the 1,143 families of school-age children in Burlington, 446 had one parent vote, or 39%, and 112 had more than one family member vote.


                        Jane Perkins of Burlington felt adding the 4th grade teacher should have been done months ago.  She was concerned that now is the time when many families are on vacation and may not have the opportunity to vote.  P. Turner pointed out that absentee ballots will be available beginning this Friday, and people will have the next two weeks to obtain them and cast their vote.


                        Marion Thierry of Harwinton stated that Harwinton residents are upset over administrative salaries, that adding the additional teacher will be a problem, and that many people think teachers receive both an annuity and social security benefits.  It was pointed out that teachers do not pay into the social security system and that they are covered by a State Teacher Retirement pension fund.


                        Bob O’Connor of Harwinton stated he has opposed the referendums because the administrative costs have come at the expense of programs.


                        P. Omichinski made a motion to lower the budget to 3.6% over last year, add a 4th grade Lake Garda teacher, eliminate $11K from the repair and maintenance budget, recognize a retirement savings of $35K, eliminate $20K from the 4th grade teachers’ aide positions, and ask D. Lenihan and P. Schwartz to find an additional cuts from the budget that will not impact programs.  J. Stocker seconded the motion.  Those in favor include J. Stocker, P. Omichinski, E. Schiavone, and B. Gilbert.  Those opposed were J. Arcuri, K. Sullivan-Shepard, and R. Sikora.  Motion passes.


               B.         A motion to approve the CALL of the Region 10 Budget Meeting on Monday, July 24, 2006 at Lake Garda School for $30,334,361, and referendum to be held on Tuesday, July 25, 2006 from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm at the Harwinton and Burlington Town Halls, was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by B. Gilbert.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.

VI.   Business –

               A.  Discussion of review process for clubs and sports.  This was equivalent to a 1st reading of a regulation as opposed to a policy and procedure.  P. Omichinski pointed out flaws in the flowchart and volunteered to work on a new one with assistance from K. Sullivan-Shepard.  This issue will be revisited at the August meeting.

VIII.         Board Committee Reports

A.  Facilities and Grounds Committee – Nothing to report.

B.  CREC Committee – Nothing to report.

C.            Curriculum Committee – Nothing to report.

D.            Transportation Committee – Nothing to report.

E.            Negotiations Committee – Tentative agreement with teaching assistants.

F.         Technology Committee – Nothing to report.

G.         Building Committee – On schedule and within budget.

H.         PR Committee – Hasn’t met yet.

A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by P. Omichinski and seconded by R. Sikora.  Meeting ended at 9:30 pm.

The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will be held on August 28, 2006 at the Learning Center of Har-Bur Middle School.

 Karen Sullivan-Shepard, Secretary

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