Friday, December 14, 2012

BOE: Minutes for November 13, 2012- Regular Meeting

Board of Education Regular Meeting
November 13, 2012, 7:00 PM
Middletown Common Council Chambers

Board Members Present: Sheila Daniels, Ava Hart, Ryan Kennedy, Cheryl McClellan, Ed
McKeon, Gene Nocera, Ted Raczka, and Mitchell Wynn
Board Members Absent: Franca Biales
Others Present: Superintendent of Schools Dr. Patricia Charles, Associate Superintendent Enza
Macri, Director of Fine Arts and Operations Marco Gaylord (arrived 7:18 PM), Director of
Facilities and Transportation Ken Jackson, Director of Grant Services Elizabeth Nocera, Manager
of Financial Operations Lynda MacPherson, Manager of Human Resources Michele DiMauro,
Middletown High School Principal Colleen Weiner, Spencer School Principal Amy Clarke, Snow
School Principal Jim Gaudreau, Student Representative Michael Durso, Assistant to the
Superintendent/Board Secretary Marcy Poppel, Hartford Courant Reporter Shawn Beals,
Middletown Press Reporter Jim Salemi, and twenty-seven (27) visitors.
Chair Nocera called the meeting to order at 7:00 PM.

Student Rep Michael Durso led in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Dr. Nocera noted we are currently experiencing technical problems in broadcasting this evening’s
Board meeting.
MOTION: Adoption of the Agenda passed with a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Mr.
McKeon – unanimous vote.
Dr. Nocera introduced Spencer School Principal Amy Clarke who presented highlights of Spencer
Elementary School. Spencer School originally opened in 1951, was renovated in 1989, has an
approximate enrollment of 350, and is a Title I school (50% of their students qualify for free or
reduced lunch). She shared that culture and climate are the cornerstones and foundation of their
school’s success and their knowledgeable and dedicated staff. JoAnn O’Leary, a teacher at Spencer
for over 20 years, spoke of the excellence in teaching practice, communication, and collaboration.
Spencer School, as do the 7 other elementary schools in the district, follow Positive Behavior
Supports. At Spencer it is CARES – Cooperate, Appreciate others’ differences, Respect, Enjoy
learning, and Share kindness. Spencer holds monthly CARES assemblies to discuss core values
and recognize/ celebrate students to exemplify or improve CARES values.
Ms. Clarke said last year Spencer was selected as the second Middletown elementary school
recipient of an iCare grant. iCare stands for Identifying Children and Responding Early. iCare
provides early intervention to address social, emotional, and behavioral concerns early to prevent
later school and life failures. TLC. The Learning Center is a space where children can work with
interventionists to solve problems and includes involvement by a member of the faith community,
and a service coordinator who acts as a bridge between the school, the family, and the community.
An outcome of the iCare grant was the development of a Spencer School Climate Committee. It is
a subcommittee of the School Data Team. A recent topic the committee worked on was meeting
the needs of students from military families. Amanda Amtmanis, PE teacher said that Spencer
School is a quietly excellent community.
Principal Clarke said Spencer has seen a strong, positive climate supporting student achievement.
They have had four consecutive years of continuous growth, as well as closing the achievement gap
for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. She shared examples of student scores in the
areas of Math, Writing, and Reading. She spoke of successful practice – a strong climate and
culture that supports achievement, commitment of staff and parents to improvement, the
willingness to learn and take risks, prioritizing time on instruction, high expectations, collaborativepractice, innovation of teacher leaders, differentiation based on student need, and quality of
targeted intervention. Ginny Grasso, who has worked in the Middletown Public School System for
39 years, spoke on behalf of Francie Goodwin and herself, both interventionists at Spencer School,
and addressed the powerful effect intervention has on student academic growth.
A major focus has been the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), which, although they offer
some amazing opportunities, do present some significant challenges, Ms. Clarke noted. The new
standards require teachers to approach their work in new ways and ask students to engage in
learning at a much deeper level, she added. She said if the new standards are implemented well,
children will be much more active in their own learning which has huge implications for the way
instruction is planned. Ms. Clarke spoke of obstacles which include change for teachers, time,
outdated equipment, materials and resources, building curriculum while teaching new standards,
what will happen as we move to the new standards while taking the old assessment, and

Each year Ms. Clarke has been able to outfit one Spencer classroom with a Mimio, white board,

and projector at cost of approximately $1,200. She added that it is likely in the coming years that

technology will move beyond desktop computers to tablets. Currently there is Mimio technology

in four of Spencer’s intermediate classrooms and she hopes to add one to a second grade next year.

She feels every classroom should be equipped with this technology. Tammy Behrens, Grade 5,

shared that she was the third recipient at Spencer School to receive a white board, projector and

Mimio in her classroom. She stated that this interactive technology enabled her to instantly project

geometric shapes, lines, and angles onto the white board that could easily be manipulated and

annotated with the click of a pen during a unit. She said she also was able to enhance her language

arts and science lessons by including video clips from the internet. She noted the positive response

from students.

Ms. Clarke said the success of Spencer students is dependent on the support received from families

and their contributions, which enrich the school in many ways. She shared the first Lego League

and spoke of the strength of the parent-community partnership committee. Last year, during a

Partnership event over 100 helmets were given to students and 6 children received new bikes.

Principal Clarke shared that Spencer’s afterschool programs offer many opportunities for

intervention and enrichment and have been helpful towards closing the achievement gap. She

shared two unique programs at Spencer – Amanda Amtmanis’ creation of an adaptive PE class

teaching students with Autism to ride bikes. She also conducts this program at WWMS. Another

program is a choral program by Music teacher Lisa Siegel to second and third grade students once a

week during recess. The children will perform at the holidays.

Dr. Nocera thanked Ms. Clarke and her staff. There was a discussion of the importance of

technology in our schools. Ms. Clarke responded to questions. Board member Ava Hart stated that

Principal Clarke is very open to new ideas, and tonight’s presentation is a reflection of her efforts.

Ms. Hart stated that she is the Board Representative to Spencer School and she thanked Ms. Clarke.

Chair Nocera called a brief recess at 7:32 PM. He reconvened the meeting at 7:37 PM.


Chair Nocera explained the rules of Public Session.

Donna Gagnon Smith thanked Dr. Charles for meeting with her and the documents previously

requested with regard to bullying. She commented on the statistics and spoke about the educational

needs of teen drivers.

Lee B. Smith addressed the Board with regard to freedom of speech and the right to criticize



VI.A. Report of Student Representative

Student Representative Michael Durso reported a strong start by the Student Council for

the 2012 -2013 school year and shared initiatives held and currently working on.


MOTION: Move to accept the Consent Agenda was made by Ms. Daniels and seconded by

Ms. McClellan.

Mr. Raczka requested the removal of Agenda Item VII.A. Minutes of October 6, 2012

BOE Special Meeting. It was noted that Mr. Raczka’s name appeared both present and

absent on the October 6, 2012 meeting minutes. Mr. Raczka confirmed he was not

present and did not feel comfortable voting on them.

Ms. Daniels wished to point out Agenda Item VII.H. Extended Field Trip - MHS

Marching Band, Chorus, Strings, Jazz Ensemble Trip to Washington, D.C. in January,

2013. She commended Director of Fine Arts Marco Gaylord and Middletown High

School students involved in that trip to Washington, D.C. to play at the Presidential

Inauguration. She said this is wonderful news.

VII.B. Minutes of October 9, 2012 BOE Regular Meeting

VII.C. Minutes of October 18, 2012 BOE Special Meeting

VII.D. Minutes of the November 2, 2012, 4:30 PM BOE Special Meeting

VII.E. Minutes of the November 2, 2012, 4:45 PM BOE Special Meeting

VII.F. Personnel Action

VII.G. Humanities Council Grant

VII.H. Extended Field Trip - MHS Marching Band, Chorus, Strings, Jazz Ensemble

Trip to Washington, DC - January, 2013

VOTE: Approval of the Consent Agenda, as amended, passed with a unanimous vote.

VII.A. Minutes of October 6, 2012 BOE Special Meeting

MOTION: Move to approve the Minutes of October 6, 2012 BOE Special Meeting passed

with a motion by Mr. Kennedy and a second by Mr. McKeon, with seven (7) in

favor – Ms. Daniels, Ms. Hart, Mr. Kennedy, Ms. McClellan, Mr. McKeon, Mr.

Nocera, and Mr. Wynn, and one (1) abstention – Mr. Raczka.


VIII.A. Discussion of Consolidation of Certain Services

Chair Nocera said serious discussions are underway for consolidation of the Technology

(IT), Payroll, and Legal areas of the City and the Board of Education. He added that

specific details will be presented to the Board. He stated it was felt by consolidation of

these services, the Board would see cost savings, allow resource sharing, reduction in

overtime, improvement in efficiency and communication between the City and the Board

of Education. He added both the City and Board have IT and Payroll Departments and

often time services overlap. He noted possible other areas of consolidation in the future

such as buildings and grounds. Dr. Charles noted the key is whether efficiencies can be

achieved through consolidation. She noted an example of consolidating would be in the

area of legal service, particularly to the Board for expulsion hearings. Given the Board’s

budget and projections, these types of cost savings need to be considered, Chair Nocera


Mr. Kennedy noted that the technical difficulties may have been resolved and the meeting

may now be live on television.

Several Board members expressed concerns in the areas of IT and the Board and City’s

missions and requested information as to (1) specifically how much the Board would

save; (2) will the savings be on an annual basis; and (3) will the Board have the option of

separation in the future, should it wish to do so. Also noted were the school district’s

increasing IT needs with the Common Core.

VIII.B. State Department of Education Focus School Identification

Superintendent Charles stated that notification was received from the State Department of

Education that Bielefield School has been identified as a Focus School. A strategic plan

is being developed for submission to the State Department of Education.

VIII.C. District Data Team (DDT)

Associate Superintendent Enza Macri reported that the last DDT meeting was September

28th and the next meeting is Friday, November 16th at WWMS. She stated that Friday’s

meeting discussions will include professional development planning for the February 15,

2013 Professional Development Day.

VIII.D. Transportation Report

Director of Facilities and Transportation Ken Jackson responded to questions about the

installation of cameras on bus arms. Dr. Charles noted that a press release has been

drafted and a letter has been drafted to parents, which has been shared with the Mayor.

VIII.E. Board of Education Legal Representation

Board Chair Nocera said at the last Board Retreat a presentation was done by Shipman &

Goodwin. During the Retreat there was a dialogue with regard to switching to a firm that

provides comprehensive services. It was noted that the district has used Shipman &

Goodwin previously and they have offered to meet with the Board in a workshop format

in the near future to educate the Board on their staff and what they can offer. There was a

discussion on hourly rate comparisons, money being used in classrooms, and savings by

using the City’s Legal Department.

VIII.F. Special Education Audit

Board Chair Nocera reported the Alliance Grant funds have arrived and included in the

grant are funds to conduct a Special Education Audit. We have contracted with Futures to

assist us with the Audit. He said Futures would be invited to the next Board meeting to

share what they plan to do and how they will do it. Superintendent Charles indicated that

they are ready to start.

VIII.G. District News

There was no report.


IX.A. Budget Committee

IX.A.1. Financial Statement

Budget Committee Chair Ted Raczka asked Dr. Charles to address the current budget

status. She noted a significant deficit in the district’s current budget. They fall into

several major areas: Cafeteria Services, Substitute line, Title I and Title III cuts, and

Regular Education Tuition. She also noted that Purchased Services are under-funded.

There were discussions around considering changing building structure, the Substitute

line, teacher absences, not being alarmists, cap services, DDT meeting restructure and

meeting time, conflicts with holding DDT meetings after school, extra teaching time,

increased state mandates, district under-funding in the past four to five years, students

attending magnet schools, clear understanding of each budget line, common accounting

system across the state, and serious problem across the state, savings this year by

consolidation of services
Superintendent Charles expressed the difficulty of addressing a deficit at a time when she

should be building next year’s budget.

IX.B. Communications Committee

Committee Chair Ryan Kennedy stated the committee did not meet.

IX.C. Curriculum Committee

Chair Nocera stated as Committee Chair Franca Biales is not present there is no report.

IX.D. Feasibility Committee

Committee Chair Ed McKeon reported the committee did not meet and is scheduled to

meet later this week.

IX.E. Policy Committee

Policy Committee Chair Sheila Daniels said the committee met on October 16th and

reviewed policies which are on this evening’s agenda under Action Items. At the meeting

there was a conversation on the BOE’s Mission and Philosophy and the committee is

requesting a Board workshop and possibly consolidating a discussion on Mission and

Goals with meeting the new attorney so there can be input from the entire Board. She

added that the committee’s next meeting will be next Tuesday, November 20th. Mr.

McKeon noted the excellent input from the new community members at the Policy

Committee meeting. He stated it was very helpful and they had great suggestions.

IX.F. Representative Reports - ACES and TEMS

ACES Representative Nocera reported that the ACES meeting was cancelled due to the

storm and will be rescheduled. TEMS Representative McClellan reported that the TEMS

meeting was also cancelled and the next meeting will be in December.

IX.F.1. Cultural Council

Cultural Council Representative Ava Hart reported Cultural Council met on

October 15th. The Cultural Council funds activities which include: Silent

Sounds, Keigwin Band Performances, Black History Month, All City Music

Festival, All City Arts show, the All City Strings Festival, and many more. She

noted that principals have agreed to each contribute $200 to Cultural Council.

She added that Cultural Council works very hard to secure funds so our children

are able to have these experiences. She said funds are raised primarily through

foundations, as well as the generosity of principals and PTAs who contribute to

Cultural Council.


X.A. Board of Education Goals

Ms. Daniels said she addressed this in her Policy Committee report. They would like to

have a workshop for the entire Board to provide input. Chair Nocera stated he will work

with Ms. Daniels on setting up a date.
X.B. Discussion and Possible Action on Appointment of New Lawrence School


Chair Nocera said the Board met before this meeting and interviewed the Principal

finalists for Lawrence and Wesley School and are ready to bring the candidates forward.

MOTION: Move to appoint Ms. Melissa Barbuto as the new principal of Lawrence

School was made with a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Ms. Hart.

Ms. Daniels noted that she and Ms. Hart served on the committee as BOE representatives.

The entire committee was very happy with Ms. Barbuto and felt the Lawrence School

staff would be pleased. Superintendent Charles and Ms. Macri praised Ms. Barbuto’s

accomplishments and were very supportive to the selection of Ms. Barbuto.

VOTE: Move to appoint Ms. Melissa Barbuto as the new principal of Lawrence School

passed with a unanimous vote.

X.C. Discussion and Possible Action on Appointment of New Wesley School


MOTION: Move to appoint Mr. Tom Cannata as the new principal of Wesley School

was made with a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Mr. McKeon.

Ms. Daniels noted that Ms. Hart and she served on the committee, as Board of Education

representatives, as well as the interviews done together. She said the entire committee

was very much in favor of Mr. Cannata and felt he would be a wonderful addition to

Wesley School.

VOTE: Move to appoint Mr. Tom Cannata as the new principal of Wesley School passed

with a unanimous vote.

Chair Nocera stated the Board has hired outstanding people. Despite the distressing news on our

budget, we will do whatever necessary to pull ourselves out of this, however, we have hired some

really outstanding people. He commended the staff for their hard work in bringing candidates of

this high caliber. Both candidates are exceptional and will do great things. Ms. Daniels added that

the candidates expressed their desire to come to our district as well as their admiration of the

leadership of Superintendent Charles.


Associate Superintendent Enza Macri said they met with Dr. Donald Leu of the UCONN

Neag School of Education at UCONN who has funding and selected our district,

specifically WWMS Grade 7 students, to participate in the ORCA Project (Online

Research and Comprehension Assessment). WWMS will participate in a state-wide

sample of schools which will take place in late 2012 and early 2013 (prior to March). The

study will evaluate students’ preparation for online research, online reading

comprehension, problem solving, and learning in the 21st Century. It will be a sample of

80 students at the 7th grade level with one (possibly two) English Language Arts teacher.

For participating, WWMS Principal Cassella will receive a $100 honorarium to use for

any school improvement purpose and the selected teacher will receive a $200 gift

certificate to purchase curriculum and professional development materials. Our district

will be provided with free access to an online professional development site, as well. On


Page 8

two separate days students will use UCONN-provided laptops, complete a survey on the

day in between. At each of the two 60-minute sessions students will complete an online

research activity in Science. In advance packets will be sent home to parents, and

students’ identities will be protected. Ms. Macri added that UCONN is doing this as a

study and it is a pilot program.

MOTION: Move to authorize district participation in the UCONN Neag ORCA Project by

WWMS passed with a motion by Mr. McKeon and a second by Mr. Kennedy –

unanimous vote.

X.E. New Course Proposal - MHS - Engineering and Robotics 2 Course

Superintendent Charles provided an overview of this new proposed course and said it is a

full year course and this new program would continue students’ pre-engineering skills.

Middletown High School (MHS) Principal Colleen Weiner responded to questions.

MOTION: Move to approve the new course proposal for MHS of Engineering and Robotics

passed with a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Ms. McClellan –

unanimous vote.

X.F. New Course Proposal - Historiography Course

Superintendent Charles explained the new course proposal for Historiography.

MOTION: Move to approve the new Historiography course proposal passed with a motion

by Ms. Daniels and a second by Mr. McKeon – unanimous vote.

X.G. Policy #0050 Code of Ethics (revision) - First Reading

Policy Committee Chair Sheila Daniels explained the changes to this policy and stated

that it is a recommendation of CABE.

MOTION: Move to approve the first reading of Policy #0050 Code of Ethics passed with

a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Ms. Hart – unanimous vote.

X.H. Policy #0300 Policies for the Public Schools (deletion) - First Reading

Policy Committee Chair Sheila Daniels said this is for the deletion of Policy #0300.

MOTION: Move to approve the first reading for the deletion of Policy #0300 Policies for

the Public Schools passed with a motion by Ms. Daniels and a second by Mr.

McKeon – unanimous vote.

X.I. Policy #0500 Comprehensive Improvement Plans/Schedules (deletion) - First


Policy Committee Chair Sheila Daniels said this policy is not recommended by CABE.

MOTION: Move to approve the first reading for the deletion of Policy #0500

Comprehensive Improvement Plans/Schedules passed with a motion by Ms.

Daniels and a second by Mr. Wynn – unanimous vote.

XI.A. New Items

There were no new items.


MOTION: Move to adjourn at 8:57 PM passed with a motion by Mr. McKeon and a second

by Ms. Daniels – unanimous vot


  1. When did Marco Gaylord take over the school food services ?

  2. I have no idea, but that is one of the reasons we have been posting minutes of CC, Building Committee, and BOE- so people can find issues both positive and bad.


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