February 15, 2023
Board Chair Sarah Thrall shared that the Board appointed itself as the Superintendent Search Committee at the last meeting and has started the process of recruiting a search firm that will conduct focus group discussions and conduct a survey. She anticipates having a new Superintendent in place by July 1. Updates on the process will be communicated via the website, eblast and The Granby Drummer.
Schools in the Spotlight
World Language Content Area Specialist Karen Richmond-Godard and Chase Alexander, Jr. from her French IV Honors Class, highlighted the high school’s Virtual Exchange Program with students from Caen, France. Granby now partners with Simsbury. The last time the group traveled to France was in 2019. Since that time, Granby students have conversed with French students virtually and also began writing in French and English with pen pals in France.
Guest legislators Senator Lisa Seminara, Senator John Kissel and State Representative Mark Anderson discussed upcoming legislative issues as they relate to education.
Senator Lisa Seminara shared the biggest thing happening is HB5003 with regard to Education Cost Sharing (ECS). Senator Seminara stated she represents 11 towns, all of which approached her on the reading curriculum issue, and she hopes that some adjustments are made on it. She stated she believes the purpose of the bill is to address districts which are not doing as well as other districts and there is a huge expense to many districts. She shared that she submitted bill with regard to the waiver process. She also submitted a bill in with regard to the Excess Cost Grant for full 100 percent reimbursement to each town. She stated the focus of the Education Committee is on the retention of the workforce; school nursing; school resource officers (to further define their role – not to remove them); and civics education, media literacy and financial literacy for high school students.
State Representative Mark Anderson spoke about two bills related to schools: HB5003 for $80K/year in ECS and HB6606. The controversial part of HB5003 is double funding, i.e., Hartford Public Schools has 18,000 students; however, only half attend public school with the other half attending magnet schools, charter schools, etc.
Hartford retains the money for all 18,000 students. Representative Anderson stated this bill is in competition with the Governor’s bill. With regard to Senate Bill 961 and HB6606, Representative Anderson shared that CABE testified against both of these bills. The first bill is an act concerning carbon-free requirements for new school construction. This bill would make it very difficult for any new school construction and HB6606 would stop the use of polystyrene in schools.
The Board asked questions of the legislators. David Peling asked when all of the decisions regarding bills get made. Senator Seminara said she does not believe the decisions will be made in time for this year’s budget cycle. Senator Kissel stated a good rule of thumb is if you use the governor’s proposed numbers, the legislators will generally add to that figure. Representative Anderson stated he did not think there would be much discussion against HB5003 and, in the end, Granby should receive more money.
Rosemarie Weber commented on the reading curriculum bill stating Granby implemented a program that they would like to stay the course with and continue the work in the district. She would like to see support on the waiver. Senator Seminara stated she will definitely give her support on this as not all districts need the guidance.
Dr. Grossman asked about one bill at the end of the legislative session that lumps everything in at the last minute. Senator Kissel stated, yes, this is called the implementer bill and that is a difficult one because some things are put into this bill that are not fair to legislators or school districts. He stated there have been some things passed in that implementer bill that if they knew how districts felt, they might have vote.
Sarah Thrall inquired regarding the financial literacy piece at the high school level and stated she believes this serves Granby students well. Senator Seminara stated they are talking about coupling financial literacy with civics.
Dr. Grossman stated he will have Linda Powell send the legislators contact information for all the Board members so they can get in touch with them directly if necessary regarding important legislation. Thrall thanked the legislators for attending this evening and informed them that they have a standing invitation to attend all school events in Granby.
Business Manager’s Report
Business Manager Anna Robbins presented the January 2023 statement of accounts stating the full-year forecast shows an anticipated overbudget condition of $64K which is better than the previous month by $43K. The favorable forecast for regular education of $35K is $36K worse than the previous month. Purchased instructional services, specifically substitutes, continue to contribute to thet overbudget condition. Special education is overbudget $689K which is $78K better than last month. The shift is primarily due to changes in out-of-district tuition and transportation. Revenue to the town is projected to be favorable $433K. The special education Excess Cost Grant continues to be favorable. Ms. Robbins shared the new PPE rate for FY22 was received and is $18,897, a slight change from the prior year.
FY24 Budget Update
Dr. Grossman provided an update on the FY24 budget stating the board of finance set the guideline at 4.99 percent. He stated his number as of today will be below this guideline. The board will vote on the budget March 15 and present it at the board of finance meeting on March 27.
The board of education set the date for the high school graduation ceremony for Friday, June 9, 2023 (rain or shine).
Board Standing Committee Reports
David Peling reported that Principal Colleen Bava made a presentation on Kelly Lane mid-year student assessments that were impressive regarding student achievement and growth. The Assistant Superintendent’s Monthly Report included information about: Continuing to work with instructional coaches for Tier 1 support for students; implementing changes for Math and World Language course progression; looking at data platforms for next year (student achievement tracking K-12); the reading waiver for state is in process; there was a presentation on counterfeit drugs; they’ve switched to TalentEd applicant tracking; they’re reviewing the advisory structure at the high school; recruiting third teacher in residence; Choice Program recruitment is ongoing; and at the district level they are looking at how to implement changed leadership.
They also discussed a revised bullying policy where a single act of bullying can now constitute bullying: this policy will stay in subcommittee for further review. Two policies reflecting new language will come to the Board for a first reading at the next meeting regarding child abuse and sexual abuse prevention.
Granby Education Foundation
The GranBee will be held on April 28 at 6:30 p.m. and Mr. Whitten will be the Emcee. GEF uses the funds raised from this fundraiser for many GEF grants given to the school and community. A grant was just accepted for $4,101 for a Blues and Beyond Music Concert at the high school.