October 7, 2020
Present: Jenny Emery, Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Brandon Webster, and Jacob Scotto, Dr. Jordan Grossman, Jennifer Parsons. Absent: Rosemarie Weber and Jack DeGray.
Grossman thanked the public in-person and on-line for attending the meeting tonight and said a special welcome to Mindy Shilansky and a student representative who are here to present for Schools in the Spotlight tonight.
The first three weeks of school have gone extremely well: 96.3 percent of students for in-person learning are attending and for remote learners is 95.7 percent attendance. Students, staff and administrators are doing an incredible job. Grossman has visited many classes and can see that students feel very comfortable in the classrooms.
Grossman reminded everyone that Granby Public Schools are depending on the metrics that will indicate if/when GPS goes into a remote/hybrid situation.
The federally funded food service program providing free breakfast and lunch for all students under the age of 18 is going well. Totals for breakfast: Monday 81, Tuesday 104 and Wednesday 118. Previous to this, we had 40 each week for breakfast. We have already exceeded our count and are above average compared to last year. Totals for lunch: Monday 474, Tuesday 537 and Wednesday 648. The average lunch count last year was 280.
Grossman thanked the board for meeting on Sept. 30 to discuss board goals, equity and their self-evaluation. Please give Powell any changes by the end of the day on Monday.
Administrators have received their FY22 budget worksheets. Meetings will begin in November.
On Monday, Kelly Lane Primary School celebrated “National Be Kind Day” by wearing blue.
The Building Committee continues to meet on the high school commons and media center. Grossman thanked student representative Scotto for attending these meetings.
There will be no school on Oct. 12 and on Oct. 13 professional development will focus on sexual harassment, equity and social/emotional learning.
Migliaccio commented on the error from Governor Lamont’s office stating the statewide positivity rate for COVID cases is .7 percent not 1.5 percent as reported. Grossman gave an update per the Farmington Valley Health District (FVHD). The Farmington Valley is at 2.6 percent; Hartford County at 5.6 percent; and, Granby is currently at 1.3 percent. Grossman stated Granby is still well within the guidelines to conduct full in-person learning. If the numbers creep up in the Farmington Valley and Hartford, the FVHD will give Granby a recommendation relative to full in-person, remote or hybrid.
Student Representative Report
Scotto stated all students have been cooperating with wearing masks.
Plans for Coffeehouse/drama are being explored as virtual events.
Sports records: Girls’ soccer 2-0, Boys; Soccer 2-0-1 with next game on Friday at Windsor Locks; Field Hockey 1-1 and they are playing Avon tonight.
The CIAC is creating a fourth sports season in between winter and spring for football.
Schools in the Spotlight
Mindy Shilansky, high school music teacher, and Nick Boyd, grade 12, presented on GMHS music instruction in the time of COVID. Shilansky stated she is pleased to report that music is still being made at the high school and that the students have been amazing. Shilansky said she spent the summer following studies regarding a return to the classroom stating she wanted to make music and still be safe. The State of Connecticut is following a 12-foot spacing guideline for singing. Rehearsals are limited to 30 minutes indoors and then students proceed outdoors. It is very rewarding to see the students making music again. Performances this fall and winter will be virtual.
Nick stated the students have been working tirelessly. A Zoom concert was done during the spring last year. The entire student body is looking forward to some of the performances this year. Migliaccio inquired if Nick feels any equipment is needed. Nick said any easily acquired technology would be great. Peling inquired how Shilansky was able to get 30 students on the screen. Shilansky stated students sang separately with a sound track and all the tracks were sent to her and synched together.
Thrall inquired if there were any remote learners for chorus this fall. Shilansky stated, yes, and that she has a portable amplifier as well as a sensitive microphone attached to her computer for remote learners. Remote students are following along and learning the music with the class.
Secondary School Improvement Plans
Michael Dunn, high school principal, and Taylor Wrye, middle school principal, presented their respective School Improvement Plans for the 2020-21 school year. Dunn reviewed the school improvement plan goals with the board as follows: Vision, Mission, and District Achievement Goal to continue to improve systems and practices to maximize equitable opportunities for all students; Student Achievement Goal for all students to meet GMHS Learning Expectations as measured by departmental and standardized assessments; and; Instructional Goal to refine the use of formative assessments of clear learning targets to adjust instruction, including through an online platform. Dunn stated the high school needs to continue to be really clear with what we want our students to be able to do.
He also informed the board the high school will continue to work with the Connecticut Center for School Change around equity; focus on social/emotional learning for our students; and, work on the two-year NEAS&C progress report. Webster inquired if there can be more specificity in the School Improvement Plan as opposed to “on-going” (i.e., quarterly, annually, etc.).
Wrye said he is loving being the new principal but knows there is a lot of work ahead. Wrye reviewed the goals for the middle school as follows: Vision, Mission, District Achievement Goal to strengthen school climate and promote positive school culture through Restorative Practices (creating relationships with each other and students to understand why something happened and create a sense of connectedness within the community); Student Achievement Goal – Goal 1 to improve students’ academic performance by creating and implementing a new schedule that provides a comprehensive middle school experience for all students and Goal 2 to improve overall student academic performance by increasing the Student Growth Percentile in the areas of ELA and Math; and Instruction Goal to expand the knowledge and use of learning technologies of the middle school staff.
A motion was made by Thrall and Emery to adopt the consent agenda. This motion passed unanimously at 7:56 p.m.
Second Reading and Approval of Policy 6172.3 – Homeschooling
The Curriculum/Policy/Technology/Communications recommended Policy 6172.3, Homeschooling, as amended, to the board for a second reading and approval. A motion was made by Migliaccio and seconded by Peling that the Granby Board of Education adopt Policy 6172.3, Homeschooling, as recommended by the Curriculum/Policy/Technology/ Communications Subcommittee. Emery stated she is surprised the policy does not speak about access to other school programs and inquired if the policy is strong enough if problems are raised. Parsons stated homeschooling is when a parent withdraws their student from the Granby Public Schools and the last line in the policy reads that a homeschool student is not part of the Granby Public Schools.
Grossman agreed that the policy is fine as written. This motion passed unanimously at 8:02 p.m.
Second Reading and Approval of Revised Policy 4118.237/4218.237/5141.8, Face Masks/Coverings
The Curriculum/Policy/Technology/Communications Subcommittee recommended
Policy 4118.237/4218.237/5141.8 Face Masks/Coverings, as amended, to the board for a second reading and approval. A revision was made to this policy to reflect masks are needed for all students and staff members to enter a building in lieu of the term “individual”. A motion was made by Migliaccio and seconded by Emery that the Granby Board of Education adopt Policy 4118.237/ 4218.237/5141.8 Face Masks/Coverings, as amended, and as recommended by the Curriculum/ Policy/Technology/ Communications Subcommittee. This motion passed unanimously at 8:04 p.m.
Update on Anti-Bias/Anti-Racism Plan
Jennifer Parsons, assistant superintendent, updated the board on the work of the Granby Equity Team (GET) and presented the Anti-Bias/Anti-Racism Action Plan. The GET has been formed over the past two years. Parsons stated the prior assistant superintendent did a great job working with the committee. The work moving forward is very important especially in the current climate.
Some common language you will see throughout the plan is Consciousness (increase awareness and understanding on the impact of racism); Responsiveness (ability to act on what we know and what we have learned); and Advocacy (increasing agency and action to actively address issues of racism and equity). The GET is representative of teachers, parents, administrators, and Board members who meet monthly in the evening for two hours.
The three buckets of work: to monitor the implementation of this plan; build consciousness between E3 activities; and to develop common language. Working to drive the equity team is the steering committee who will work with the CCSC to develop a progression and through line for the entire year. She reviewed the action steps for building consciousness, responsiveness and advocacy.
Actions to Build Consciousness: The Connecticut Center for School Change will work directly with staff to build consciousness; working with BOE; information will be gathered from surveys in relation to bias and racism; continue ongoing data review to identify trends and gaps; build the mindset and tools of staff to review lesson development and curricular units to view with an equity lens; and the library media center will offer a book club in January, “Waking up White” by Debby Irving.
Actions to Build Responsiveness:The district is looking for our school-based staff, principals and administration to build protected time and space for regular equity conversations; building an equity focus into the school improvement plans and the leadership capacity of our administrative team; looking at data and what the implications are of that data and what adjustments need to be made based on the data; imbeding culturally responsive texts into existing curriculum units; developing comprehensive supports for Open Choice students; adding a community book club in the spring; and, exploring partnership with CREC for minority teacher in-residence program.
Actions to Build Advocacy:Develop the district’s vision of the graduate with equity and social emotional learning embedded; partner with Equity challenge; Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards, conduct a curriculum audit with an equity lens; hold open sessions to provide forums to have dialogue around race and bias; and create a plan to expand the Bridges program.
Parsons stated this is a high-level view of the plan and entertained questions. Fiorentino thanked everyone for their work on this plan and appreciated actionable items to follow progress on. Regarding Open Choice students, he would like to set a goal around the BOE’s and administration’s presence in their communities. Migliaccio inquired if the district is looking for a community partner and Parsons stated the district is looking for a partner/agency that would reach an additional audience in the community. Fiorentino suggested the Chamber of Commerce. Emery inquired if monthly updates on equity can be put into The Granby Drummer and the Vision for full transparency regarding the work of the GET. Webster inquired if a “goals” column be added to know if/when the goal was achieved. Parsons stated, yes, both of these items can be accomplished
Board Standing Committee Reports
Emery reported this subcommittee had a special meeting last week to discuss the lunch program. It is impossible in the current climate to sell lunches so the district took advantage of the extension of the Federal program which will run until Dec. 31. This gives an opportunity to increase the numbers. She stated it is great to get the early reviews of the success and to spread the word.
October 21, 2020
Present: Jenny Emery, Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, Brandon Webster, Jack DeGray, Jacob Scotto, Dr. Jordan Grossman, Jennifer Parsons, Anna Robbins.
Migliaccio shared opening remarks and thanked the technology team, Jon Lambert and John Kroninger, for their efforts in broadcasting these meetings. She also thanked all staff members for their work in reopening schools.
Granby is in its fifth full week of school and the attendance average is consistently in the mid-90 percent range for both in-person and remote learning.
The food service program is doing very well because of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant. Children under the age of 18 receive free breakfast and lunch. The district is working on free breakfast at the high school.
Awaiting word from the Commissioner of Education regarding inclement weather days and giving local decisions to superintendents to have remote learning on these days.
Attendance at athletic events has been increased from 100 to 150 outside. Students are also able to attend games if they have a pass from a player.
A tentative schedule for winter sports would begin in late November. Awaiting guidelines.
Congratulations to Luke McFarland, senior, who is a semi-finalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program as well as a 2020-21 Hispanic Scholar for excellence in academic achievement. Additionally, Aidan Goodrow, Chase McGee and Colby Milbrandt, seniors, were recognized with a Letter of Commendation for outstanding performance on the PSAT National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test in 2019.
Emery inquired about police coverage for the Route 189 high school entrance. Grossman reported that the town engineer looked at the situation and we are awaiting his recommendation. As a tentative solution, the GPD officers have been directing traffic in the morning and afternoon.
Peling inquired about the predetermined COVID cases rate for the Farmington Valley. Grossman said that we are now looking at a 14-day average as well as the threshold of over 10 cases per 100,000. Last week the average was a little bit higher than 2.6 percent. The Farmington Valley will make a recommendation if we need to pivot into a different learning model.
Webster inquired if another letter will be sent to the public with an overview of what learning model would be enacted and when. Grossman said the district will give as much notification as possible to families. Thrall inquired if, almost five weeks in, there are any changes in the number of students requesting to come back.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Parsons provided updates and stated that to date there are zero cases of Covid-19 in Granby Public Schools. Parsons stated, as Grossman mentioned that he has no less than three meetings a week with the FVHD and is on the phone with them multiple times a day. The FVHD has a multitude of information and know-how and if they start to see more community spread, they will inform us. The rise in cases in the Hartford County is related to specific towns. She provided an update on remote learners and stated 16 percent of students are learning remotely. Elementary is coming up to the end of the first trimester and 12 students are coming back. A minimum of two-weeks’ notice is required to re-enter.
Emery inquired how the district will manage space if everyone comes back. Parsons said the district can handle it; that is what was planned for initially. However, if necessary, classes will be moved to larger spaces. Peling inquired if the 2.7 percent positivity rate is based on people getting tested or the population. Parsons stated it is the percentage of positive cases; the Farmington Valley is in a good place at this time.
Student Representative Report
Applications for the National Honors Society opened this week for all qualified juniors and seniors, and are due tomorrow and for review in November.
Seniors have finished intake meetings for the first two college deadlines and met with Guidance Counselors for recommendations, essays, resumes, etc.
All seniors who took the SAT received their scores this past Friday. Five Granby students received a perfect score in Math.
Juniors and sophomores took the PSAT two weeks ago and should get their scores back by next week.
Drama auditions for the fall play, It’s a Wonderful Life, were on Monday with the first rehearsal this evening.
Migliaccio inquired about the play and how that is going to work. Jacob said the Drama Club is going to try to offer a radio show where the characters will converse with a talk show host on stage and instead of a stage set will work on sound effects. Migliaccio inquired if this will be available via Zoom. Jacob said yes for the play as well as Coffeehouse.
Business Manager’s Report
Robbins presented the September statement of accounts stating it reflects a comprehensive forecast of the cost of reopening schools. The forecast projects the cost of the reopening including two grants. Before the application of the grant funds the forecast was negative $723K. Regular education is over-budget $640K and special education is over-budget $83K. The major line items that cause the over-budget conditions are Custodial and Maintenance Salaries, Bus Monitors and General Supplies for Maintenance.
The CRF grant allows expenditures up to Dec. 30, 2020 but due to this date constraint, the general fund continues with a negative forecast of $124K.
In Quality & Diversity, forecast expenses are lower than budgeted due to the summer school program; however, the fund is projected to be favorable $10K. The projection for revenue to the town continues to reflect additional revenue from regular education tuition from other towns and the excess cost funding from the state is projected to be lower than budgeted.
Rental and pay-for- participation fees are uncertain at this time; however, fall pay-for-participation fees are anticipated to be $20K. Overall projection of revenue to the town continues to be unfavorable. Emery stated the Finance Subcommittee reviewed the statement of accounts in detail this evening and administration is being prudently conservative in forecasting the cost to keep the schools open all year, which we hope we can do. Because of the great work done in securing the large grant, even if we are over budget, the amount is much less due to this grant.
Schools in the Spotlight
Leanne Sullivan, eight grade science teacher, and eighth grade students, Jasmine Burnham, Ava Gallinelli, Hailey Mills, and Isabella Therion presented how the garden grant is used during academic enrichment and science. Sullivan stated she is very proud of the students and their efforts in the classroom. She stated academic enrichment focused on creating a native habitat and that there is much potential for future cluster endeavors. Bella spoke about composting and weeding and stated students enjoy working with their hands. Hailey informed the board that she never had a class like this before and hopes the Granby 4H group can get involved in the garden. Ava stated this is a weird year and being able to go outside is refreshing and an escape. It helps students in science and all classes including art. Jasmine spoke about what she has learned about monarch butterflies.
A motion was made by Webster and seconded by Peling that the Granby Board of Education adopt the consent agenda. This motion passed with one abstention (Rosemarie Weber) at 7:59 p.m.
Draft Revised Board of Education Goals
The board discussed the draft of revised Board of Education goals. A motion was made by Emery and was seconded by Peling that the Granby Board of Education adopt the revised Board of Education goals as presented. Grossman reviewed the categories of the goals: Student Learning and Achievement; Community Engagement; Safety and Social Emotional Well-Being; Budget Development and Fiscal Management; Embracing Diversity; and Professional Learning.
Migliaccio stated she is pleased with these goals but inquired if there could be clarification to innovative investments, which will be changed to “innovative educational investments.” This motion passed unanimously at 8:06 p.m.
Board Committee Reports
Emery reported this Subcommittee met this evening and discussed the finances; food service program – the numbers are very good but need to see what the dollars are compared to reimbursement from the federal government; Nursing services through Farmington Valley VNA contract will be coming up for renewal; earlier planning at the end of each year to put a schedule together.
Fiorentino reported CREC met today. Very brief legislative report – CABE is starting to message the next legislative session to basically leave us alone.
Calendar of Events
The calendar of events is as presented. Jack DeGray clarified that each student gets four sports passes for parents, siblings, or students. It was originally two passes but was bumped up to four. Webster inquired about the sports being live streamed. Jack answered, yes, soccer games are livestreamed on the GMHS Boosters channel on YouTube. The link is available under the athletics section on the website.
Rosemarie Weber, Board Secretary