[The last summary, for the third videos, will be added later today; 2 p.m., Thursday, August 30]
The New Hartford Public Schools Board of Ed met for several hours on Tuesday, August 21, to discuss an extensive agenda; download a copy of the agenda: BOE Agenda August 21, 2012 (5) . By the end of the meeting the only item they did not discuss was the Superintendent’s Evaluation which was postponed until the next Board meeting. We have broken the meeting down into three video segments to make it easier to view; following are those segments in chronological order.
Video 1: New Hartford BOE 8/21/12 – Antolini Field Work
Bryan Keilty, Chairman of the Board of Ed, rearranged the agenda and moved New Business up to the top of the agenda and added a new item to the published agenda: First Selectman Dan Jerram presenting his Antolini field expansion project to the Board of Ed members.
“Everybody knows we have some space dilemmas in town for our recreational opportunities,” the First Selectman said as he spread out the map of the field expansion he is pursuing at the Antolini School. He said he had talked to Bryan (Keilty) and to Dr. O’Reilly (Superintendent) who had written a letter to the Planning & Zoning Commission supporting the work at Antolini.
The work will basically double the size of the field space using the Recreation (Commission) budget. He went through the plan that will construct a new softball field and a soccer/football field in the area. Assuring the Board members that it would not involve Board of Education funds he said that over the next two years it will take 2,200 cubic yards of fill. He said they will not be working while the school is in session and that this phase of the work will take approximately 2-3 weeks to complete. The affected area of the project is 1.28 acres.
Bryan told the rest of the Board of Ed members that he had walked the area with the First Selectman and that the work was beyond the existing fields at the back of the school and wouldn’t impact the school. Katie Natale asked where the parking was going to be for the fields and Dan Jerram said they would use existing parking which numbered about 125 to 130 spaces. He said originally the Planning and Zoning members had been concerned about how many people would be using the space and P&Z was told about 100 which was fine with them. Sue Lundin asked how it would affect the new playscape, and she was told it would not impact the playscape’s location at all.
At the end of the presentation Bryan asked when the whole project would be done and he was told it would be 2-year cycle; this year the goal is to cut the trees and clear the stumps and next year it will be to make the whole area level and then seed it next fall. Board member Josh Adams asked if there was any possibility that there might be difficulty obtaining the funding to complete the project next year beyond the $25,000 that has been approved in this year’s budget and he was told by the First Selectman that he didn’t foresee any problem getting that additional funding from the Board of Finance.
Steve Tuxbury, who was not able to be at the meeting, submitted a list of questions regarding the project, including a question on whether the funding of the field project was going to impact the Board of Ed’s need to obtain funding for the replacement of windows and doors at the school. The First Selectman said that the funding for the field wouldn’t be tied to the windows and doors project, although when the Board of Ed prepares its package of work to be done, he added, it should include additional parking, since the P&Z is looking for additional parking to make the use of the school safer. Melissa Giaconia voiced concern about the play area becoming muddy as a result of the construction work which would then force the children to be be moved onto the blacktop. She was assured that wouldn’t be the case.
Following is the video segment of the First Selectman’s presentation of the Antolini field work to the local schools’ Board of Ed:
Video 2: New Hartford BOE 8/21/12: New Business – Education Connection 2012-13 Lunch Program
Christine Wallace, Director of Food Services at Education Connection, presented to the Board of Ed members the changes in the USDA regulations regarding school lunches that were released in January of 2012 and that had to be implemented by the first day of school this year. Superintendent Philip O’Reilly explained to the Board members that he had had discussions with both Christine and Christine’s boss at Education Connection about the repeated deficits in the school lunch program and that, even though that program was a free-standing program that was self-sustaining, the Board has had to subsidize the account every year because it was in a deficit mode and Christine would be going through a plan to address the deficit situation.
Christine said that the plan used the approach of trying to increase the revenue where reasonable and looking at expenses to see where they could be reduced. The labour component wasn’t specifically addressed, Christine said, since the configuration of buildings that would be operating over the next few years wasn’t known; instead they had done a meals per labour hour study which balanced out the number of lunches being served at each school against the number of hours of labour assigned to each school. “It’s a challenging situation when you have two buildings such as New Hartford Elementary and Bakerville with very small enrollment. As I’m sure you try to balance out the maintenance costs and staff, the food service situation is the same. You really do need a threshold of activity to support any presence there.” Meanwhile, she said, they would present their reccomendations to work as effectively as they could in all three buildings. While maintaining a presence in all three schools, Christine said that they would try to improve the program, entice more children to participate in the program. There are also lots of new regulations from USDA to take into account, she added. Lower total enrollment is also a factor; Philip pointed out that the enrollment this year is 27 kids lower than last year.
Christine went through the proposed plan for the 2012-2013 school year; download a copy of the Lunch Program improvement Plan – Revised that was handed out at the Board Meeting: BOE Lunch 8-21-12 (9).
Melissa Giaconia asked about what the specific changes in the menus would be and Christine listed a number of them including:
- one plant-based protein source a week;
- dark, leafy greens two-three times per week;
- red-orange vegetables on two times per week;
- 51% of all grains served in one week must be whole grains; starting in 2014, she added, 100% of all grains served must be whole grains.
Christine also said that once a month, they will be having “Tasting Tuesdays” when two-three items will be available in the lunch area for student to try out. Students who participated would receive an “I Tried It” sticker or a small certificate for a “Two Bite Club,” meaning the students ate more of the food than just a little taste.
Philip summed up the situation as follows: “We will likely go through a dip because of the increase in price, based on history… but then again it picks up, but then there are fewer kids, there are a lot of things factored into it.”
Following is the video segment of the Education Connection presentation on the schools’ lunch program:
Video 3: New Hartford BOE 8/21/12 – Magnet School Tuition/Air Handlers & Superintendent’s Report
A short summary of the discussion regarding the magnet school tuition declaratory ruling, the air handlers at Antolini and the Superintendent’s report will be added here.
Also see our August 21 article regarding the magnet school declaratory ruling.