Thursday, May 16, 2013

BOE Boogey: A Brief Summary of the Meeting

Brief summary of last night's Board of Education regular meeting.

 There was a presentation regarding reducing the number of special education students who are out placed. The gentlemen said that the average across the state is 5% whereas in Middletown the average number of special education students of the total special education population is 12%.  There was discussion of goals; the BOE would to send a consistent message throughout the system with a unified set of goals in 4 key areas.  These goals will appear in every classroom, the website and correspondence and presented at the teacher orientation in August.  

An item on the agenda caused a bit of discussion and that was the Memorandum of Understanding between the BOE/City and the Teamsters' Union.  There was confusion about how this MOU came about with Dt. Nocera first saying it was a result of the global settlement agreement between the City and the Teamsters; however, Dr. Charles did correct that and say it was result of negotiations with the Teamsters regarding their loss of a position by the outsourcing of the cafeteria services.  Dr. Charles stated that this MOU which basically trades the Director of Transportation position for the Manager of Food Services position (the Director of Transportation position has been vacant for several years and the previous administration had claimed that it was no longer necessary with the duties given to the Director of Facilities.  The Director of Facilities has retired and the duties now are being handled by BOE Administrators).  The thought is that by hiring a new director it will free up the administrators to do more education related duties.Board members Ryan Kennedy and Ted Razcka both disagreed with this saying that now was not the time to hire another person at that level of pay, may be with benefits 6 figures, when they are laying off teachers.  Kennedy expressed concern that the contract with the outside company for cafe services may not work out and be terminated in a year or so but once you hire a director you'll have them conceivably for 25 years or so.  The Administrators now handling the transportation duties stated that it was no longer working well, they were being taken from truly educational duties; that by dividing the duties all over the place was not a good plan, not a safe plan.  BOE member Sheila Daniels stated that being able to go forward with the hiring of the outside company for cafe services would enable them to hire a company with nutritional background so that now the children with have " healthy" meals.

At the end of the meeting, Board member Ed McKeon made a statement directed to the Common Council members regarding the upcoming vote on the city's budget.  He stated that no one can call themselves a supporter of education if they make those kinds of cuts that he is hearing.  He said that the BOE has worked diligently to get out of the hole; worked hard to give the city has asked for.  Even though they had done what was asked of them they don't seem to be getting anything from the other side.  He stated that we are on the brink of very hard times.  Layoff could be as many as 25 or 30; these are not scare tactics but the budget proposed by the BOE was cut to the bone already.  He felt that it would be unconscionable and unfair it the BOE funding is cut.

After that, the meeting was to move onto communications but it appeared that the recording got stuck and meeting must have ended soon after.

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