February 3, 2021
Board Members Present: Jenny Emery (via Zoom), Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, Brandon Webster (via Zoom), and Jacob Scotto (Student Representative)
Thrall announced that Aimee Martin, director of pupil personnel services, is retiring at the end of the year and that the position is currently being advertised.
Currently, the last day of school is Friday, June 11. With the snow day on Monday, two out of the five emergency days have been used. Grossman will bring a proposed date for graduation to the next meeting.
Congratulations to eighth grader Mason Nagy for taking first place, and 7th grader Beckett Malone for placing second, in the National Geographic Geography Bee.
The food service program with East Granby Public Schools was supposed to begin Monday and Tuesday this week but today was the first day. Approximately 350 students have signed up for lunches this week.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Jennifer Parsons answered Thrall’s question regarding what the timeline is for completion of the Vision of the Graduate. Parsons stated there will be three meetings scheduled which will be wrapped up by mid-March and at the end of these meetings, the three skill sets (Powerful Thinker, Effective Collaborator and Compassionate Contributor) will be broken down into three statements each describing exactly what they mean. The work will be lining up capstone experiences and ensuring these statements permeate all curriculum and instruction.
FY22 Budget Update
Grossman provided an update on the FY22 Budget. He attended the Board of Finance Meeting with Robbins and Thrall. The unofficial guideline was set 3.19 percent which includes OPEB. The Plus One Budget is currently at 4.5 percent with OPEB, which is a difference of approximately $470K. Again, this is an unofficial guideline and the Board of Finance is waiting on a health benefits meeting as well as the Governor’s budget.
FY22 Quality and Diversity Budget
Grossman presented the FY22 Quality and Diversity (Q and D) Fund Budget. He stated the district is anticipating receiving 88 students from Open Choice next year, which includes 10 Kindergarten students. Grossman reviewed the guiding principles in developing the Q and D Budget and highlighted two of them: Enrolling 10 Kindergarten students and transferring some Q and D operating expenses into the operating budget.
The Q and D Budget also supports the Summer Enrichment Academy, Bridges Program, extracurricular competitions, and the Granby Equity Team. Some new additions to the Q and D budget in FY22 are an AP Summer Boot Camp and a Minority Teacher Recruitment Program.
Parsons explained that a teacher candidate of color would go through an ARC program and CREC would run an off-site college program for that candidate. While a candidate is starting work during the summer and all next school year, they would be working in a classroom with one of our teachers while taking their coursework. Granby would pay them to be on campus as well as their tuition for coursework. The following year, they would finish up and in the third year hopefully gain a position in the Granby Public Schools. Grossman stated CREC is applying for grants that would help offset the cost for districts. Thrall inquired if the candidate is obligated to work for Granby after the training is completed. Grossman stated this is yet to be determined. Fiorentino inquired if Granby has an option to pre-screen candidates for this hire after they have received their certificate.
Emery expressed concerns about the loss of education and remediation for students due to the pandemic and stated that the $1M saved was education lost and some guiding principles should be developed for the Q and D Budget going forward. Grossman stated the state did release information on the ESSER grant and Granby has been allotted $209K for the next two years and is in the process of analyzing what this means for the budget next year.
Board Standing Committee Reports
Taylor Wrye, principal at GMMS, shared a schedule change at the middle school. The goals are to resolve discrepancies in certain subjects; to make sure students have time during the day to collaborate with teachers; and to expose students to different curriculums. Wrye will return to discuss with the entire board at a later date but a high-level view is there will be eight classes at 50 minutes each, five core blocks for the five main subjects and an opportunity during the day for students to take advantage of flex time to work on projects they are passionate about or to work with other teachers.
February 17, 2021
Present: Jenny Emery (via Zoom), Mark Fiorentino, Melissa Migliaccio, David Peling, Sarah Thrall, Rosemarie Weber, Brandon Webster (via Zoom), and Jack DeGray (via Zoom), and Jacob Scotto (Student Representatives) Absent: Brandon Webster
Thrall welcomed Senators Kissel and Witkos, Representative Anderson and the high school staff and students here to present for Schools in the Spotlight to the meeting.
The collaborative effort of providing meals to East Granby Public Schools is going very well. So far, Granby has provided 1,046 breakfasts and 1,006 lunches to East Granby students.
On tonight’s agenda is the approval of a graduation date. The Governor is loosening some restrictions on outdoor and indoor events. On March 19 outside capacity increase to 200 so it is hoped more can be done with graduation than last year.
Schools in the Spotlight
Brian Maltese, athletic director, and Lauren Shafer, English teacher at the high school, as well as The Bears Broadcast Crew (Nick Boyd and Owen Danke) and Poetry Out Loud winners (Chase McGee, Prior Waskan and Linus Waskan) showcased Virtual Events “At” GMHS.
Maltese noted that the spring season was lost last year; however, Granby was able to have a fall and now a winter season. This year, Nick Boyd and Owen Danke approached Maltese to stream the sporting events live. With funding from the Athletic Boosters Club and the Granby Education Foundation, equipment was purchased to make this happen. After he got this started, Nick found that there were many other students interested in streaming the events. All home games in the fall were live streamed except on rainy days. There has been an incredible reaction from students and families.
The equipment was also used for performing arts events. Owen shared a clip of a basketball game and told the board about streaming coffeehouse, which is very different as the audio for these events is very important. Students would mix the video and send it out on the YouTube video channel. Linus shared his Coffeehouse and the Broadcast Club experiences.
Lauren Shafer stated Poetry Out Loud is a nationally recognized competition and GMHS has been involved since 2016. The program encourages students to develop their public speaking skills as well as their poetry. Chase MGee stated he has been part of this competition for the past four years. The competition starts with classroom competitions, moves on to grade competitions and the finals are usually held in the auditorium in front of the whole school. The winner moves on to a state competition and, if successful, to the national competition in Washington, D.C.
Prior Waskan said a smaller virtual school-wide competition was held, run through the poetry club, and he was runner-up in the competition and shared his poem that was submitted via video. Chase, the winner of the contest, shared his winning poem, which was recited and taped live. Weber suggested the Broadcast Club try to grow the audience and include senior citizens in town. Peling commented that even post-COVID, this should continue for families who cannot otherwise attend events.
Senator John Kissel, Senator Kevin Witkos and State Representative Mark Anderson discussed educational issues as they relate to the state budget.
Anderson said he was able to see the music performance this past weekend and also enjoyed tonight’s performance.
He stated that the Governor has presented his budget and it appears to level fund ECS funding at $5.28M and that the budget may not come out until the second week of June. He informed the board that pending education bills include 184 bills, of which 24 have been raised by the committee to be drafted into legal language for public hearing. Some highlighted topics are as follows: Education Cost Sharing Grant and funding for small towns, minimum budget requirement, graduation requirements, school security, and the most controversial, regional cooperation among school districts.
Kissel said he is very proud of Granby and its great school system. He informed the board that he sits on judiciary, general law and transportation as well as regulations review committees.
Witkos extended his congratulations to the Bears Broadcast Club in bringing events to the community. Witkos said there is no change in the ECS formula of funding being received by districts. He mentioned the possible removal of the religious exemption for vaccinations which states that public schools do not need to admit a student if they are not vaccinated.
Peling inquired what attributes should be sought in the new State Commissioner of Education. Witkos stated it is the Governor’s pick and he believed he is going to look for a minority and stated if he had his choice, he would choose Superintendent Rodriguez from the Hartford Public Schools as she has a vision that can move the state forward as a whole. Emery stated she is a big believer in regionalization; however, if proposals target well-run districts like Granby with financial penalties it totally misses the mark.
Assistant Superintendent’s Report
Parsons updated the board on the Teacher in Residence Program and stated this program involves minority teacher candidates with a bachelor’s degree. A candidate would spend 18 months in Granby in a teacher’s classroom and in the second full school year, the district could hopefully offer a position. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) would be created for a three-year mutual commitment but be non-binding and would involve CREC as they would be supporting the teacher. The teacher would receive $47K while they are in the classroom as well as $9K for tuition fees.
Student Representative Reports
Jacob Scotto reported that the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were victorious over HMTCA. A player on the boys’ HMTCA team tested positive for the coronavirus and all the Granby players in the game are quarantined until Feb. 27, pushing back the varsity schedule as nine out of 10 players will miss five games.
The board discussed setting the date for high school graduation on Friday, June 11. A motion was made by Thrall, and seconded by Migliaccio, that the Granby Board of Education approve setting the date for graduation on Friday, June 11, as recommended by the Superintendent. This motion passed unanimously at 8:21 p.m.
Rosemarie Weber, Board Secretary