Following the presentation by Jonathan Costa of Education Connection on Wednesday, August 22, on the implications of the new education law, PA 12-116, on local schools, the Regional # 7 Board of Ed held its regular meeting. To view the presentation by Jonathan Costa, see the NewHartfordPlus video on YouTube.
The meeting began with High School Principal Ken Chichester giving a report on the start of the school year. Ken said that there will be a group of educators coming to Regional # 7 between September 30 and October 3 to evaluate the school as part of the accreditation process through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The visiting educators will speak with different groups in the school community, including with members of the Board of Ed., and they will review the school’s self-study. The value of the accreditation from a school’s point of view, Ken said, is that it is an opportunity for a school to be self-reflective, for the staff to look at their practices and compare them to best practices.
Ken Chichester also informed the Board members that this year there were two additional AP History classes that were being offered to students. The school also two courses – one in Physics and one in Spanish – for which the students receive dual credit at both Regional and at UConn. The curriculum of the courses is the same as that offered at UConn with the Regional teachers working with UConn faculty at Storrs. The students receive the college credits for a fraction of the cost of taking the course at UConn. There is also interest from the Social Studies teachers to offer the same type of courses, Ken said.
Middle School Principal Candy Perez was not in attendance until later in the meeting since she was involved in a 7th Grade Student Orientation program. Candy gave a brief report on Middle School preparations for the new school year (at 46 minutes in the video).
Judy Palmer gave a brief run-down of how Regional was prepared to comply with the provisions of the new education law, PA 12-116. With regard to the administrators’ and teachers’ evaluations under the new law, Judy said that the superintendents would be working together and also with Education Connection and the teachers would be part of the discussion to make it a really collaborative effort.
Regarding the new education law, Judy said: “One of the things that I take away from it myself, is that it’s not just about focusing on getting those (students) from below basic to basic to proficient, it’s about the whole matrix, you want to continue to move all the students forward.”
Regional # 7 Board of Ed member Noel Gauthier from New Hartford asked the Superintendent: “I’m curious about how we are going to get to all the students having the right tools (pointing to his laptop) to get to where they’re going to have to be.” Judy answered that they had taken a very good first step last spring by taking 20% of each department’s line item allocation – something that the administration ordinarily would never do – and putting it towards purchasing the devices that they would need. “My goal is to continue to increase technology – the opportunity for students to use technology in the classroom – without impacting the bottom line.”
Director of Finance and Operations
Richard Carmelich, who has been hired to replace Roger Newbury who retired at the end of the last school year, reported on the new carpeting in the school. On the business side, he said that Regional # 7 now has instituted AppliTrac on the district’s website so that all jobs available are listed on the website and applicants and job applications can be filled out online.
Old Business – Fee Structure
Regional # 7 Board of Ed Chairperson Molly Sexton Read took up the subject of the potential fee structure for school activities (50 minutes into the video). She proposed that for the September meeting, she and Judy (Palmer), with input from the school principals, would put together a prospective outline focusing on the transportation idea developing a schedule for transportation for student activities with what the money would be for each student, etc. At the October meeting, the Board members would take a vote on whether they would instruct Judy and Rich (Carmelich) to build that fee structure into the school budget. By doing that, Molly emphasized, they wouldn’t be committing themselves to implementing it, but if the Board voted to do so, it could become part of the budget proposal that would be presented. There would still be the opportunity during the budget process to get rid of it. Board member Theresa Kenneson expressed the concern that the idea had not been communicated to the public, there had been no newspaper coverage regarding it, and athletic parents’ input had not been sought. Board of Ed member Rob Jerram also expressed his concern that the Board does not have a good way to communicate with taxpayers in general to get their input on something like this. Molly said she’s open to all suggestions for getting that input. The Board continued to discuss the subject. Molly ended by saying it gives the Board two more meetings to consider the issue and to gain the public’s input.
Following is the video of that meeting: