January 6, 2021
Present: Jenny Emery (via Zoom), Mark Fiorentino, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber and Brandon Webster, Superintendent Jordan Grossman and Student Representatives Jack DeGray and Jacob Scotto. Absent: Melissa Migliaccio
Thrall, as new Chair, re-assigned board members to subcommittees. Weber was named Chair of the Curriculum Subcommittee, Migliaccio will join the Finance Subcommittee and Peling will move to the Curriculum Subcommittee.
Grossman said that when he came on board a year ago, he gave the board a card and a M&M candy stating it would be a “Magical and Memorable” year, which it certainly was. This year, he gave the board a 100 Grand Bar candy bar and thanked board members for their hard work over the past year.
The recent PJ Day fundraiser was incredible. Approximately $4,000 was raised, and Wells Road collected 157 pairs of pajamas for children in need.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Jennifer Parsons also informed the board about the Waking Up White virtual discussion and stated the event is open to the public and there are still a few seats left. She also updated on COVID; students and teachers are happy to be back. The district is upholding the 14-day quarantine in the school-base setting. There were some cases coming off of the break. Families are using the screening tool and keeping students at home when necessary. A daily assessment of schools is used to determine if there is a need to change models. Two questions asked: 1) Is there enough staff to safely open schools? 2) Are the cases of COVID-19 impacting schools?
Business Manager’s Report
Anna Robbins presented the November statement of accounts that reflects the cost of reopening schools during the current pandemic. The forecast also projects the receipt of the Elementary and Secondary Emergency Relief Fund as well as the Coronavirus Relief Fund. The general fund forecast is negative $180K. Special education is over $205K and regular education is better than budgeted by $25K.
Administration is working closely with food service vendor Fresh Picks Café, to manage the service during the pandemic. The program is projected to run at a loss this year because of implementation of additional health and safety measures.
The balance of the Q&D Fund is forecast to be over budgeted by $49K, and expenses are projected to be $115K lower due to pandemic restrictions, such as summer school, afterschool activities and a PreK enrollment reduction. Revenue to the town is unfavorable by $67K. Over $750K was spent during this budget year for unbudgeted items related to COVID. Thanks to Robbins and Grossman in securing grants, the district has offset the COVID expenses in the general fund. The overage is all due to special education expenses.
High School Building Committee Update
Robbins provided a High School Building Committee update. Architects and town and school administrators have met on a regular basis. The middle school roof is close to completion. The design process for the high school stairwell and science classrooms is complete and work tentatively scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2021. This month, the cafeteria, music space and technology education space are the focus. The grant will be submitted in June 2021 for these projects. The high school roof replacement will begin in November 2021 with actual replacement tentatively scheduled for summer 2022.
Food Service Program Update
Grossman and Robbins discussed an opportunity to expand the Food Service Program to the East Granby public schools. East Granby does not have a food service program at this time. Grossman pointed out that one of the board’s goals is to form cooperative relationships with other towns. The timing is appropriate because all breakfasts and lunches are free for the remainder of the school year. The district will get reimbursed for every meal. He said that this has tremendous support from Fresh Picks and can be accomplished with current staffing.
He has asked our attorneys to draft a Memorandum of Understanding, which is in the final stages and he is still in conversations with East Granby. If Granby needs to pull out due to financial risk, this will be delineated in the MOU and East Granby has also agreed to this. Lunches would be made and delivered to East Granby. Piloting this program is a win/win for both towns and it doesn’t lock the Granby Public Schools into the 2021-22 school year to provide lunches. Collaborating with other districts is something the BOE has been looking at for several years.
Emery commented that the lunch program is volume-driven and it works only if enough students buy lunch. She is hopeful it will prove to be viable even beyond the national program.
FY22 Plus One Budget
Grossman presented the FY22 Plus One Budget and stated this is not the final budget and the current number may not be the number presented on March 3. He would like board members to send any questions to him, Robbins and Powell by Jan. 13. He explained how the Plus One Budget is composed of small capital, large capital and new personnel and program items. Grossman reviewed the new board goals used to develop the budget.
The Board of Finance unapproved budget guideline is 1.5 percent. The budget is currently at 3.71 percent without OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) and 4.5 percent with OPEB. He described a standing-still number that adds nothing new. It includes salaries, transportation, health and benefits, fuel and contracted services. With just those items, there would be an increase of 2.24 percent and when Q & D and special education are added, the increase would be 3.24 percent. Additionally, he explained there are pandemic-related expenses that are not included in this budget—$60K for additional cleaning supplies and $285,250 for additional custodial staff.
Peling inquired if there is an obligation on OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) that if the town doesn’t pay now, we will pay later. Grossman said, yes, that is correct. Peling also inquired “exactly what is OPEB.” Robbins explained that OPEB is a requirement to provide ongoing health insurance for our retirees. They do pay into the fund, however, there is a cost. OPEB ensures the town does not run out of money. Webster inquired if the OPEB cost can be deferred. Robbins responded she would need to refer to the BOF and town for an answer. Fiorentino added that there is some flexibility in funding it and that it was advisable for Grossman to call it out separately as the BOE works with the BOF and BOS.
January 20, 2021
Present: Jenny Emery, Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling (via Zoom), Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, and Brandon Webster (via Zoom), Superintendent Jordan Grossman. Absent: Student Representatives Jack DeGray and Jacob Scotto
Grossman noted that over 100 people joined the virtual conversation for Waking Up White last week and thanked Webster and Fiorentino for working with Assistant Superintendent Jennifer Parsons to make the event happen.
Congratulations to Lily Vincento, Grade 6 second place recipient, and to Sierra Ashe, Grade 8 third place recipient, in the Daughters of the American Revolution Essay Contest.
Congratulations to Jody Bascetta and Gina Magennis who will retire at the end of this school year. Mrs. Bascetta has also announced that she will be retiring from coaching field hockey as well.
The high school was recently awarded the Michaels Cup for athletics. Grossman stated Brian Maltese will explain exactly what the reward is and stated it is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a school district.
Conversations are continuing with East Granby Public Schools regarding collaboration on our food service program. There is a potential start date of Feb. 1.
Schools in the Spotlight
Kelly Lane Primary School teachers Lindsay Sessions (Grade 1) and Ingrid Budlong (Grade 2), presented Writing Instruction in the Primary Grades, sharing how students are empowering their learning through the writing process by using rubrics, mentor examples and goal setting to develop a final piece of writing. Kelly Lane teachers are working with Teachers College in New York using different resources for our students. She stated the art of writing is complex and the art of teaching writing more so. First grade and second grade students were introduced, and a video shared their writing and showed how students take ownership of their writing with various tools, such as goal setting, editing checklists, transition words, etc.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Parsons provided COVID updates, saying a slight uptick in positive cases over the holidays had very minimal impact at the schools. She reiterated if anyone in your home is testing or quarantining, all members of the household should stay home. School nurses have been vaccinated and Granby Public Schools is prepared to upload a list of employees for the vaccine when the Governor’s Order and State Department of Health determines it is time to do so. In other news, she stated a meeting was held today for the vision of the graduate and the committee is working to determine what the essential skills our students need in order to graduate. Skills will be broken down into sub-skills and statements as to what it looks like for students to be effective collaborators in second grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, twelfth grade and when connecting to capstone projects.
Parsons also met with Taylor Wrye, GMMS principal, regarding the schedule. The biggest impact will be on world language and math. Wrye will attend a subcommittee meeting in the near future to discuss this.
Business Manager’s Report
Anna Robbins, business manager, presented the December statement of accounts and stated it continues to reflect the costs of reopening schools during the pandemic. After receipt of the grant funds, the general forecast is negative $62K, which is better than the previous month by $118. Special education is over-budget $121K which is also better than the previous month by $84K. Regular education has a positive forecast of $59K and is better by the previous month by $34K. Expenses are expected to be $118K lower than budgeted and revenues are projected to be $66K lower than budgeted due to the change of activities related to the pandemic. Revenue to the town is unfavorable $97K. Although special education revenue from other towns has a positive forecast, all other line items are unfavorable at this time.
Brian Maltese, athletic director, shared an update on the fall and upcoming winter sports seasons. He reviewed the fall successes. The cross country teams did extremely well with the girls’ team placing fourth overall and the boys’ team placing second; volleyball won the regional regular season and the regional tournament.; boys’ soccer won the regional tournament and girls’ soccer won the regular season regional championship and the regional tournament and finished the season with a perfect record 13-0; field hockey had a great season – and advanced to the finals of their regional tournament with an overall record of 11-3. Cheerleading stepped up when needed most for teams and attended many of the soccer and field hockey games. The football team did not play in the fall and were hopeful for a winter season or an alternative season; however, the CIAC decided that football was a high-risk sport and would not be played this school year. Maltese informed the board that live-streaming home events were a great thing to come out of COVID. The goal this winter is to continue during basketball season and perhaps ice hockey. Granby is working with other schools in our league to offer these options and will communicate with parents to see if a parent(s) or students would attend and live-stream away games.
Maltese stated winter sports have officially started with the primary focus on health and safety. The first games will be played the week of Feb. 7. One change from the fall season is that students are now required to wear face masks at all times during practices and games. Mask breaks are built in. Equipment is sanitized after each use. Each level—Freshman, JV, Varsity—of teams will have their own bus to and from events. He said wrestlers are allowed to condition and do skill-specific, non-contact drills; however, there will be no competitions. Cheerleading is permitted to do sideline cheers only. The start date for spring sports is March 29.
Maltese proudly announced that GMHS received the CIAC Michaels Cup Award. This award recognizes exemplary athletic programs for their willingness to subscribe to the Class Act Sportsmanship standards, empowering students to take an active role in their school climate and their continued support for community service. GMHS will be formally recognized during the CIAC’s virtual Sportsmanship Conference on Feb. 10.
FY22 Plus One Budget
The board continued to discuss and consider the approval of the FY22 Plus One Budget. Grossman reminded the board and community that the Plus One Budget is just a snapshot of today. He reviewed the current budget increases at 3.71 percent without OPEB (Other Post-Employment Benefits) or 4.5 percent with the OPEB contribution. If all current expenses were rolled over to next year, it is a 2.24 percent increase and adding in the special education increase it comes to 3.24 percent.
There were a few questions about enrollment increases and class sizes. Grossman confirmed that enrollment will increase over the next five years.
Migliaccio felt it was important to note that $1M was returned to the town last year and inquired if we ever calculated what the budget increase was after that fact. Grossman stated he would get that number.
A motion was made by Fiorentino, and seconded by Emery, that the Granby Board of Education approve the FY22 Plus One Budget to be forwarded to the Board of Finance. This motion passed unanimously at 8:33 p.m.
Rosemarie Weber Board Secretary