Minutes For BOE June13, 2006 Meeting




June 13, 2006


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


Also Present:   Paula Schwartz - Superintendent

                                 David Lenihan - Business Manager


  I.   Call to Order - The regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting was held in the Har-Bur Middle School Media Center, and was called to order at 7:37 pm by Chairperson Beth Duffy.


 II.   Pledge of Allegiance - The Pledge was recited.


III.      Communications, Resignations – Lauren Sage, Transition Coordinator at LSM will retire effective July 1, 2006.  Letters of resignation were submitted by Jessica Bialobrzski, LSM English teacher and Jane Langlais, LSM Wellness teacher.


Tom Rachielles was recognized for his business start-up project by the FBLC (Future Business Leaders of CT).`


Received letter from Scott Brown at Winding Trails thanking Crew members for their participation in the beautification project of April 29th.  B. Duffy pointed out that Crew not only does fundraising for its organization, but for others such as Habitat for Humanity.


Region 10 has received a history grant from the U.S. Dept. of Ed.  CABE and CAPS have chosen the China Consortium presentation for next year.


P. Schwartz introduced Michael Langley, the new Assistant Superintendent, and provided background information.


IV.      Consent Agenda - A motion to accept the following meeting minutes:  Regular May 8th, special meetings of May 13, 17th, 24th , 30th, and June 5, 2006, District Meeting of May  24, 2006 and May 31, 2006 financial report, was made by R. Sikora and seconded by J. Stocker.  R. Sikora questioned whether there were two meetings on the 24th, and it was decided to exclude them from the motion until clarification could be obtained.  With the exception of the May 24th meetings, all were in favor none opposed.  No corrections or additions.


VI.   Business - Chairperson requested changes to the meeting agenda be made as follows:  Discuss trip to France, followed by budget discussion, postpone the review process for clubs and sports and Board goals until the July meeting.  A motion to accept the recommendation was made by K. Sullivan-Shepard and seconded by R. Sikora.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


VII            Action –

               A.  Approval of proposed trip to France.  Kelly Loveday-Currier and Margaret Tylutki, LSM Language Arts teachers, presented information on trip to France scheduled for April of 2007. 

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                        Cost would be approximately $2,300 per student, with a limit of 25-30 students, preference given to seniors and juniors should there be more than 30 applicants.  Besides 3 chaperones, other interested parents could participate.  Refunds would be granted if a high terror alert should occur, and students could do fundraising to defray their costs.


                        A motion to approve the trip was made by R. Sikora and seconded by K. Sullivan-Shepard.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


               B.         Discussion of 2006-2007 Budget and possible action.  P. Schwartz and B. Duffy gave a Powerpoint presentation covering many of the items that had been discussed at prior budget meetings.  Some of the highlights include adjustments (plus and minuses) to staffing at each school, State projected and actual enrollment figures.  As of this date, the State’s estimated enrollment for Lake Garda was 755 and actual is 736.  State’s estimate for HCS was 637 and actual is 626.  Numbers will change as families move in or out of the two towns over the summer.  Currently, 2.5% less students are expected at Lake Garda and 1.75% less at HCS.


                        It was pointed out that due to elimination of the Chinese program, 23 enrolled students now need to choose another elective.  Chairperson discussed the Superintendent’s salary and benefits package, how it compared with others in Connecticut, and the competition for schools and districts to attract and retain qualified Superintendents.  Items that had been cut from prior budgets were listed such as elimination of the Talented and Gifted program, cuts to supplies and library books, etc., and items which resulted in costs savings such as negotiation to obtain better health premiums, bringing groundskeeping and special ed. transportation in-house, increased State reimbursement rate for Special Ed. Services.  It was pointed out that 37% of next year’s teaching staff will be considered ­new (less than 5 years of experience).  A breakdown by years of experience was presented as follows:


                                 Yrs of Experience         # of teachers

                                    0 – 4                            86

                                    5 – 10                           76

                                    11-20                           30

                                    Over 20                           41


                        A list of communities that had recently passed their school budget showed Region 10 (at 3.98%) was 10th lowest on the list.  It was pointed out that the Town budgets had been set and that lowering the school budget will have no effect on this year’s mil rate (27.82 for Burlington and 24.90 for Harwinton).  If the budget is increased, it may affect next year’s mil rate, but that could be offset by this year’s surplus and any surplus anticipated for next year.


                        Upon conclusion of the presentation, Chairperson asked that Board be allowed to speak first, then open up discussion to the public.


                        R. Sikora stated when factoring out the building project, Region 10 was actually 2nd  from the bottom rather than 10th.  P. Turner suggested, at this time, that the budget be discussed, but no action taken until the next special meeting.

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                        Phil Penn of Burlington expressed concern over elimination of teacher’s aides, and asked what would happen if successive referendums fail.  D. Lenihan stated if no budget is in place by July 1, 2006, the current budget takes effect, and should the trend continue, the district would run out of funds by March 2007 at which point, the State would take over.


                        Linda Stymack of Burlington suggested the Board seek a new strategy to get a budget passed, and that teacher retention and no reductions were important issues for her.


                        Jim Magustes of Burlington, a ’95 graduate was concerned that lowering the budget even more would be detrimental.  Focus should be on kids and programs.


                        Pete Dumers of Burlington suggested having special informational meetings at HCS, Lake Garda, and Har-Bur and was concerned about the Asst. Superintendent’s position.  Chairperson pointed out there was no salary increase, but additional duties had been added.


                        Deb Martin of Burlington stated her children attend HCS and even though there are large classed, the teachers are “doing a great job.”  Does not support additional cuts.


                        Dave Crompton of Harwinton stated the Asst. Superintendent’s position should have been postponed, and should not have been filled prior to approval of a budget.  Asked for and received additional clarification on Superintendent’s salary and compensation package.  Suggested that clerical staff administer some of the testing.


                        Liz Cornish of Burlington, whose children attend HCS, stated she has volunteered in the office during weeks in which tests are administrated, and staff is overburden with extra work.  Does not feel they should be administering tests. The title of Asst. Superintendent position was not an issue, however, there was still apathy in the community and misinformation.


                        A new Public Relations Committee is being formed, replacing the Communications Committee.  It currently is made up of C. Bergstrom and J. Stocker and will hold its first meeting on June 26th.


                        Rosemary Simko of Harwinton expressed concern over class size, feels Board has acted with fiscal responsibility, is confident teachers will be added as needed, and does not support elimination of Asst. Superintendent position.  Jonathan Schwartz of Burlington suggested eliminating the vice principal position at the high school.


                        Debbie Sonstrom of Burlington stated increasing the budget will not affect the current mil rate, that any current and future surplus should be put back into the school budget, and that the issue is about children’s education.


                        Theresa Foley of Harwinton supports fiscal responsibility while maintaining a good educational system.  Inquired about the cost of each referendum ($4,000 each).

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                        Connie MacNoveau of Burlington felt class size was an issue.  Janet Burritt of Harwinton pointed out that other than homeowners and some small businesses, there is no other tax base to lessen the burden on individuals.  Feels the State should be pressured into providing more assistance to small towns such as Harwinton and Burlington.  D. Lenihan stated some movement is occurring in this area, and he and P. Schwartz were planning on attending an upcoming meeting for the purpose of discussing this issue.


                        Ed Gasser of Burlington did not support teacher and aide cuts, praised Lake Garda School’s nurse, and liked the idea of less informal meetings at each school.  Lori Curren of Harwinton recognized the importance of teachers’ aides.


                        Jessie Smiley of Burlington asked how reductions in aides would be determined.  Cuts would include one library aide and one classroom teachers’ aide at each elementary school.  The school principals would determine which aide is needed and where to assign that individual.  Linda Carabis would determine which special ed aides to eliminate.


                        Sue Giesler of Burlington, whose children attend HCS, praised the Board for the work on the Budget, requested smaller class sizes, if possible, and praised the HCS teachers in providing quality education despite large classes.


                        Michele Shingleton of Burlington pointed out that parents may be voting no because of reduction in teachers.  Lori Mazacola of Burlington pointed out that many of the school buses look empty and perhaps money can be saved in that area.   D. Lenihan stated that the State mandates a school system to provide a spot for each student irregardless of whether that student uses the bus or not.  Changes need to be made at the State level.


                        Joe Oaks of Burlington stated some people may be voting no because they want more cuts and others may be voting no because they want more money put back into the budget.


                        Art Johansson of Burlington felt the Board has not listened to the public, reiterated suggestion of students and teachers paying for parking and pay for play programs, suggested cutting an administrator.  Ron Packard of Burlington does not support eliminating any aides at Lake Garda.


                        Chairperson stated that after a referendum is defeated, State Statues requires another referendum to be held within 30 days.  June 27th was suggested as the next referendum date.  

                        The District meeting would be held on June 26th.  Another meeting to further discuss and set the budget would be held on June 15, 7:30 pm at the Har-Bur Learning Center.  Chairperson asked for members’ opinions and feedback.        


                        J. Stocker recommends adding another 4th grade to both schools.  J. Arcuri did not want to add any additional teaching positions now simply to obtain favorable votes.  P. Omichinski and R. Sikora agreed and stated $20K could fund two additional aides.  P. Schwartz suggested holding off on hiring aides until the Fall.  K. Sullivan-Shepard and B. Gilbert both

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                        support using and hiring additional teacher’s aides, and to allow the principals to best determine how to utilize them.


               C.         Approval of 2006-2007 BOE Meeting Schedule.  A motion to approve the schedule was made by R. Sikora and seconded by Barbara Gilbert.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


               D.         Approval of Technology Plan – Leigh Pont discussed the State’s requirement that schools develop a 3-year technology plan, due this year.  The State provided a list of questions which Region 10 responded to.  The responses were submitted to CREC in April and were approved and are now to be submitted to the State for approval on June 30th.  A motion to accept the technology plan was made by R. Sikora and seconded by P. Turner.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


               E.         Approval of New Textbooks.  R. Sikora presented three new textbooks for consideration.  They include “People of  Sparks” grade 7 language arts, an addition to “City of Ember,”  a grade 6 “World History: Ancient Civilizations” to replace the current textbook which is 13 years old, and a new middle/h.s. Spanish 1 textbook “Realidades” to replace the current 12-year old textbook.  A motion to accept the recommendations was made by R. Sikora and seconded by P. Turner.  All in favor none opposed. Motion carries.


               F. Approval of Extending the Bus Contract for Sikorski for two years.  Sikorski had requested a three-year contract.  D. Lenihan recommended continuing contract for a two-year period.  A motion to continue bus contract for two years was made by R. Sikora and seconded by K. Sullivan-Shepard.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.  E. Schiavone asked if other vendors were looked at, and D. Lenihan stated he had compared Sikorski’s cost with other providers and found them to be competitive.


                        Janet Burritt asked if the problem with Harwinton’s routes earlier in the year had been resolved and the response was yes.


               G.         Teacher request for leave of absence.  A motion to grant maternity leave to Janet Woof, sometime in October of 2006 was made by R. Sikora and seconded by E. Schiavone.  All in favor none opposed.  Motion carries.


                        It was decided to postpone the Executive Session until Thursday’s meeting (June 15, 2006) and the Board Reports until the July 10th meeting.  A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by R. Sikora and seconded by P. Turner.  Meeting ended at 11:30 pm.


The next regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 10, 2006 at the Learning Center of Har-Bur Middle School.



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