Dr. Addley welcomed everyone back to another school year and recognized students, staff members and parents for their patience and flexibility during the week of extreme heat. He stated the benchmark he looks for is the temperature hitting 90 degrees with the heat index at 95 degrees. It is not a perfect science but “we do what we can to keep the kids safe.”
Three kindergarten teaching assistants were reinstated over the summer. Overall, the district was meant to decline by 44 students but we did not lose students and remained level.
A new software package called StopIt will be rolled out. It is part of an anti-bullying campaign and is an anonymous way for students to make a report about bullying.
The district is working on a collaborative effort to purchase fuel with the town for buses.
The childcare survey completed prior to school ending last year indicated parents would like childcare in the schools. It looks as though we will move forward with childcare in the school system provided by the YMCA.
NEASC accreditation visitation is Sept. 23–26 and a very important event on the calendar. The high school looks forward to hearing their input and has submitted its self-study documents.
A new school zone flashing sign was installed by the DOT on Route 189 near the high school. This will be a 25 MPH zone.
Teaching and Learning
Katie Busbey, Summer Enrichment Academy Director; Jennifer Miller, Director of Camp Kelly; and Lindsay Zuck, Director of Drama Camp, explained that summer programming this year was different and innovative and the district dismantled the look and impression that summer school was a special education program.
Zuck ran the summer drama academy and stated that Hartford Stage sent four teaching artists. Fifty-one students in Grades 4 through 9 attended versus 63 last year and six Open Choice students attended. Students wrote their own scripts, a new activity this year.
Busbey and Miller presented on Summer Enrichment Academy, stating students were able to take enrichment classes, such as drawing bonanza, strings, Spanish, child vs. wild, etc.
Academic classes had a total of 187 enrolled (academic and enrichment); 87 more than the year before. Thirty-two Open Choice students attended plus 71 special education students who were able to participate in the enrichment activities. A total of 22 teachers participated in the program. Miller spoke about the math and reading lab, which was highly structured with specific needs for small group settings. Last year 61 students were tutored vs. 31 this year realizing fewer tutoring hours due to inclusion of the reading and math labs. In the future, Busbey would like to recruit teachers early in order to advertise in the brochure and also explore high school options such as SAT prep and college essay writing as well as increase the promotion in Pre-K for Kindergarten offerings.
Business Manager’s Report
Business Manager Anna Robbins presented the June 2018 and July-August 2018 statement of accounts. FY18 ended with a positive balance of $4,542. Special education expenditures were unfavorable at $285K and regular education expenditures favorable at $289K. Salaries and benefits were favorable at $172K. Although provisions were made for the possibility of an over-budget condition for FY18, no additional appropriation from the town was needed. FY19, as of Aug. 31, is showing a negative forecast of $309K. Special education expenditures are projected to be unfavorable at $315K. The driving factor for this is out-of-district placements for special education students. An additional four special education teaching assistants have been added to the budget in order to accommodate student needs.
Revenue to the town reflects a projection of additional excess cost funding of $102K. The Quality and Diversity Fund shows an unfavorable forecast at $37K. Melissa Migliaccio thanked the administration and Robbins for hiring back in the kindergarten teaching assistants and being creative in finding a way to make that happen. Lynn Guelzow inquired about the $315K negative balance and expressed concerns of continually funding special education costs from the regular education budget. Dr. Addley stated that many placements happen at the end of the school year or over the summer. There is little the district could have done differently.
Finance/Personnel/Facilities subcommittee report
The committee received a full update on the middle school oil tank removal and remediation. The removal came in under budget at a savings of $14K. Roofs on the schools are included in CPPAC numbers but the membrane on one of the high school buildings is ready to fail. The committee’s proposal will be to move forward with replacing the membrane without seeking state reimbursement and get it done by Christmas. This will require a special appropriation of approximately $140-$180K.