September 16, 2020
Held at high school auditorium
Board Members Present: Jenny Emery (via Zoom), Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, Brandon Webster (via Zoom), and Student Representatives Jack DeGray and Jacob Scotto.
Melissa Migliaccio called the meeting to order at 7:03 p.m.
Migliaccio shared opening remarks saying that there have been tremendous resources devoted to the safe reopening of the schools. Thank you to custodians, secretaries, teaching assistants, nurses, and Central Services’ staff who have performed the impossible. The culmination of that and our website Stronger Together says everything.
Dr. Jordan Grossman thanked the public in-person and online for attending the meeting tonight.
The first 11 days of school have gone extremely well. Today’s first full in-person day for Kelly Lane and Wells Road also went very well. It was the first full in-person day since March 13. On Sept. 21 we will welcome back middle and high school students.
Jennifer Parsons, assistant superintendent, will present the metrics from the Farmington Valley Health District. The FVHD will be involved in any decisions we make for school, school closures, etc.
Attendance for the full reopening today for Kelly and Wells were as follows: Kelly Lane had a 98.4 percent (5/311) attendance rate for in-person students and a 94.8 percent rate (3/58) for remote students; Wells Road had 97.8 percent (6/279) for in-person and 97 percent (2/66) for remote students.
The State of Connecticut is requiring school districts to have in-person and remote options.
The final Reopening Task Force Meeting was held last week. A special thank you to Rosemarie Weber who was a Chair of the Committee.
Also, a special thank you to the YMCA child care program.
This evening Athletic Director Brian Maltese, will speak about where the district is with athletics and football.
Open houses will start next week and will run through Oct. 1.
A reminder that the BOE retreat will be held on Sept. 30 from 4 to 7:30 p.m. Kindly complete the two surveys on board goals and self-evaluation, by this Friday.
There will be no school on Sept. 28 in observance of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Parsons collaborates with the FVHD and has a direct line with them on a weekly basis. A document provided by the FVHD was presented that showed the leading indicator in making decisions around school models. That indicator is new COVID-19 cases on a seven-day average per 100,000 people. This document is published every Thursday or Friday and states how Granby is doing week-to-week. A low-risk level and full reopening is less than 10 cases per 100,000 on a seven-day rolling average. Currently there are 1.4 cases per 100,000 in the Farmington Valley, 3.9 cases in Hartford County; and 3.2 cases in Connecticut for the period Aug. 30-Sept. 5. If the rates creep toward the orange category (10-25 cases per 100,000), Granby would be in a true hybrid category. Over 25 cases would indicate full remote learning. The metrics will be reviewed on a weekly basis but the FVHD will contact us on any given day if there are any changes.
Parsons has also been working with teachers and administrators on the various working models as the district may need to pivot at any time into a different model. Across the district before returning to school in-person, all learners have had the ability to participate in live synchronous meetings. Additionally, Parsons has been working with remote teachers and the remote learning coach on scheduling. Technology work is being done on a suite of tools to offer teachers support if they need to move into hybrid or remote learning. Parsons stated another focus of her work has been policies, meeting with the Wellness Committee around the new food service program and meeting with the Professional Development and Education Committee to make a recommendation on flexibility provided around teacher evaluation for more informal observations.
Student Representative Report
Migliaccio extended a warm welcome to Jacob Scotto as the new student BOE representative. Jacob shared that he is involved in football, tennis, drama club and chamber singers.
Jack DeGray stated his experience is going well at the high school thus far.
Football, soccer and field hockey teams are practicing and happy to be doing so.
Today in advisory, there was a class vote to see if students were happy to go back to school. The consensus was that many students fear going forward in full could put them back to full remote; however, speaking for everyone, Jack stated students are happy to be back full time.
Brandon Webster asked how the buses are working for students. Grossman said some buses have one or two students on them, there are others that have up to seven and today some had 15. We will get a better handle on this by the end of the week for Kelly Lane and Wells Road.
Business Manager’s Report
Anna Robbins, Business Manager, presented the June and July/August statements of accounts. For FY20, financial results show a return to the town of $902K. Special education expenses were unfavorable $106K and regular education expenses were favorable just over $1M. Salaries and benefits made up 75.93 percent of the total budget for FY20.
Due to the pandemic and the unprecedented move to remote learning in mid-March, nearly every line item showed budgetary savings except for special education, out-of-district tuition and general supplies. The over-budget condition in general supplies reflects spending on PPE and other COVID-related expenses that were submitted for the FEMA claim.
The Quality and Diversity Fund was favorable $164K due to savings on magnet school tuitions, after-school activities, transportation, and professional development. Revenue to the town showed a shortfall of $55K for FY20 which was offset by unfavorable results in the Excess Cost Reimbursement, rental fees and pay-for-participation fees.
For FY21, as of Aug. 31, the BOE shows a negative forecast of $325K. Special education expenditures were unfavorable $60K and regular education expenses were unfavorable $265K. The driving factor for special education is the net change for out-of-district placements. The forecast for regular education is related directly to the return to schoolhouse learning.
The personnel line items include the forecast for additional custodial support and bus monitors. There are also projected increases for software, transportation and general supplies. The district received a Care Grant for $47K which will offset some of the over-budget conditions and there could also be some additional funds to help offset the additional unbudgeted costs associated with reopening; however, the district has not received an application yet. Revenue for the town reflects a projection of additional revenue from regular tuition from other towns; however, Excess Cost Funding from the state is lower than budgeted. Although out-of-district costs for special education are higher than budgeted, fewer students are meeting the stop loss limits. Projections for rental fees and pay-for-participation are uncertain at this time. The overall projection for revenue to the town is unfavorable $146K.
Jenny Emery stated the board will deal with budget transfers later in the agenda and stated the net is less than anticipated revenue and that $900K returned to the town is unprecedented.
Expenditures in this year certainly would be outside of the budget. Purchased some PPE and other items out of last year’s budget (almost $200K) and still turned over $900K to the town. Emery stated this year’s situation does not concern her yet. Major things are the temporary custodians and bus monitors and both are related to safety.
Robbins has been very proactive in seeking other grants and is hoping to receive more relief.
Grace Matthews, 1 Quail Lane, North Granby, thanked the board for allowing her to express her concerns, stating that she has brought her concerns to leadership and the Association prior to speaking. She stated it is a shared common goal of acting in the best interest of children and wanting students back in the classroom. She stated she feels that every measure must be checked and rechecked prior to a full reopening and it is clear the Stronger Together Plan is intended to be refined based on new knowledge and feedback. Her personal concerns are that, according to students, the self-assessment is not being used and better systems should be implemented since we are not proactively checking temperatures or requiring testing. Student workstations spaced 3’ apart up to 6’ apart will not be the reality for some teachers in her building upon full entry; desk shields will not work unless students stay faced forward; and, the masks distributed to students are not of high quality. Matthews stated fully reopening schools might dissuade families of remote students from sending their students back to school since they chose to keep their children home during the staggered transitional opening. She would like to ensure the district can say everything has been done to protect staff and students.
Karl Kampfmann, Granby, stated his reasons for speaking are twofold: 1) He feels this in-person meeting sends a powerful message that we are back on the road to recovery; and, 2) He thanked the BOE, educators and administrators for all they did during Phase I of the pandemic. The distance learning plan was not perfect; however, it kept students engaged and also put a plan together to get students back to school, not only for education but also for social reasons as well as the mental health of students to get back to a normal way of life. It gives students hope.
Danieka Janski, Granby, stated she is a parent with two children at the high school and she is happy that all students will be back in school on Monday and that keeping our kids in the best learning environment is the best thing for them and their education.
Sarah Scotto, West Granby, stated she is a parent of a Class of 2020 graduate and as well as two high school students. She thanked the board for all they have done to get students back to school and is happy students will be back full-time and in-person on Monday. She stated she is a dentist so she feels confident sending her children to school in a mask. Her children have told her students do keep their masks on.
She stated there are challenges with remote days because her students feel they are not part of the class. Today a teacher was having an issue with technology and got frustrated. There is no substitute for in-person learning. The plan created minimizes the risks.
Karen Richmond-Goddard, resident and teacher at the high school, stated she has a son in 11th grade at the high school. She said she is currently taking a graduate class and her school provided 14 days of professional development, so teachers felt equipped for the return. The technology department and administration tried to give the best they could, but more instruction should have been given for remote and on-line learning. She said technology has shaken a lot of people’s confidence. She also said that social distancing in the commons will be difficult to monitor and expressed concerns that Granby is going back earlier than other districts.
A motion was made by Rosemarie Weber and seconded by Sarah Thrall that the Granby Board of Education adopt the consent agenda. This motion passed at 7:56 p.m. with two abstentions (Melissa Migliaccio and Brandon Webster).
Brian Maltese, athletic director, updated the board on the fall athletic program and stated this year will be much different than sports seasons in the past and the health and safety of the students to get them back to their respective sport is of the utmost importance. Maltese informed the board the first three weeks students will be in cohorts of no more than 10 students with 30 minutes of conditioning and 30 minutes of skill work. Masks must be worn to and from practice.
The NCCC is split into two sections of seven rather than 14 in our geography pool in order to mitigate travel. Each team has sanitizer spray bottles to sanitize equipment between uses. Locker rooms are currently being used for storage and athletes are encouraged to dress in athletic clothing for the school day. Maltese is working with Mike Dunn on revising these protocols with colder weather approaching.
Games will begin on Oct. 1 with six home and six away games. CIAC did not have any guidelines for cheerleading so Granby got together with other districts who have cheerleading and came up with guidelines.
Received news today that the CIAC is not allowing football. There will be no practices in the fall; however, the team will work on conditioning. Awaiting guidance as to what the potential later date might be—possibly the spring. Maltese stated there are 263 total athletes for the fall, which aligns to what we have had in the past.
Middle school field hockey and cross country started this week, aligning with what is being done at the high school. Migliaccio inquired if football athletes will be able to change to another sport. Maltese stated, yes, players can switch up to the first contest of that sport on Oct. 1. Thanked Maltese for his presentation and also Shannon Sullivan for getting water to the fields. David Peling inquired if there was any guidance on the winter season. Maltese stated there is no guidance as of yet. Mark Fiorentino inquired if people are allowed to attend games when they start. Maltese stated this is an ongoing conversation with Dunn and Grossman; however, the district is trying to wait and see what metrics tell us in the next couple of weeks.
First Reading of Policy 6172.3, Homeschooling
The Curriculum/Policy/Technology/Communications Subcommittee recommended Policy 6172.3, Home Schooling, to the board for a first reading. Sarah Thrall stated this policy normalizes an existing practice that a family needs to file with the district when planning to homeschool a student. She has received some comments and will incorporate those changes for the second reading.
First Reading of Policy 4118.237/4218.237/5141.8, Face Masks/Coverings
The subcommittee recommended Policy 4118.237/4218.237/5141.8, Face Masks/Coverings, to the board for a first reading. Thrall stated she has received a few comments on this policy and will also incorporate them for the second reading. Jennifer Parsons stated this policy correlates to the Executive Order in place. Emery inquired if there are any discipline issues with students wearing masks and Parsons stated mask wearing by students has been exceptional. Rosemarie Weber stated she is impressed with the level of mask wearing going on with the students and it is truly a testament as to how much they want to be in school and participating in activities.
FY20 Year-End Budget Transfers
The board discussed the approval of FY20 year-end budget transfers as recommended by the Business Manager and Finance/Personnel/Facilities Subcommittee. A motion was made by Emery and seconded by Peling that the Granby Board of Education approve year-end budget transfers for FY20 as recommended by the Business Manager and Finance/Personnel/Facilities Subcommittee. Emery stated there are several specific pages in the packet about budget transfers. The budget is approved by the voters but the BOE has the discretion of returning money to the town. Some accounts are underspent and accounts are moved around. $199K was spent in June once the equipment needs were known but, other than that, it is just the moving around in line items and the BOE needs to approve the changes from one line to another where the money was spent. This motion passed unanimously at 8:29 p.m.
Board Standing Committee Reports
Thrall reported this subcommittee had a special meeting this evening to discuss a draft Title IX policy and it was decided to keep the policy in subcommittee for one more meeting as it is a pretty comprehensive policy. In May, there were new federal regulations on Title IX and changes to the definition of sexual harassment and broadens the district to events and supervision as well as who you can report sexual harassment to and the process followed. Migliaccio stated she prefers that the subcommittee takes their time with this policy. Parsons stated although we do not have this policy revised as of yet, we are in compliance with our current Title IX policy as well as staff training.
Emery reported this subcommittee met this evening and discussed food service issues. Last spring Granby participated in the federal seamless summer option program to keep feeding students despite schools closing. Sodexo was our food service provider at the time and the program was supposed to be cost neutral; however, now Sodexo is stating we owe them money which administration is working to resolve. Separate from that issue, Fresh Picks out of VT, our current vendor, has been dealt a difficult hand to make the food system work and be cost neutral to us. This requires a certain level of participation and since school has restarted, we are at 20 percent or less of what is normally expected for students purchasing lunch. This is happening to all of the vendor’s other customers as well. CDC guidance states for students to bring food from home even though there is no instance of transmission with food service. This is causing a real cost to the district so we invited the food service representative to talk to us and through a combination of expense reduction and activities that promote more utilization of the food service program, looking to try to ultimately move toward the revenue neutral program. There is no final answer but the good news is the federal government re-upped the summer seamless option program and Granby may want to participate in this which would allow access to food service to everyone for free. Administration will summarize the details and make a recommendation to the subcommittee at the next meeting.
Other Board-Related Reports
Fiorentino said that CREC met today for the first time this school year. CREC schools went back in full five days a week at the beginning and reported it is going well. Additionally, CREC is expanding the program to help certify minority teachers and Granby should not lose focus on this for our plan.
Calendar of Events: Open houses will be done virtually this year.
A motion was made by Migliaccio and seconded by Thrall to enter into an Executive Session to discuss a collective bargaining agreement. This motion passed unanimously at 8:43 p.m. The Executive Session ended at approximately 8:50 p.m.
September 30, 2020 Retreat
Held at high school commons
Board Members Present: Jenny Emery, Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, and Brandon Webster.
Melissa Migliaccio called the retreat to order at 4 p.m.
Dr. Jordan Grossman shared updates of activities around the district.
Assistant Superintendent’s Update
Jennifer Parsons presented Let’s Talk: A responsive approach to uncomfortable topics that was presented to the staff by the Connecticut Center for School Change.
The board reviewed and discussed annual survey results for their self-evaluation.
The board discussed BOE and budget goals for the 2020-2021 school year. They reviewed the current goals and Grossman presented a draft of goals for 2020-2021. The board will review these goals again at an upcoming meeting.
The board also discussed its strategic goals and will begin the development of a new strategic plan.
A motion was made by Dave Peling and seconded by Brandon Webster to adjourn the retreat and enter into an Executive Session to discuss a collective bargaining agreement. This motion passed unanimously at 7:05 p.m. The Executive Session adjourned at 7:25 p.m.
Rosemarie Weber, Board Secretary
Note: Minutes for the Sept. 2 BOE meeting can be viewed on the BOE website.