Salisbury Board of Education January 27
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Common Core is coming, lets start a community dialogue
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Region 1 board considers public comment
BY RUTH EPSTEIN
FALLS VILLAGE — The Region 1 All Board Chairmen Committee discussed public comment, and how to handle it, at its meeting last week. North Canaan representative Dolores Perotti brought up the subject, noting her board came up with a policy after incidents at meetings where there was a lot of talking back and forth between board members and the audience. She said some meetings got out of control.
Falls Village representative Dominick Caiati said the board should be inviting to the public. He said the board has to use its time efficiently and if concerns are raised they can’t really do anything about it during meetings. Cornwall’s Rebecca Hurlburt said there has to be a distinction between questions and comments.
“You don’t have to answer questions. There’s not supposed to be an exchange.”
Claude Rolo of Salisbury said those with concerns can always put those concerns in writing and the committee can take its direction from what it hears.
Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain said hearings — rather than regular board meetings — are held to allow for discussion.
Andrea L. Downs of Falls Village, chairman of the Region 1 board, said she thinks questions can be answered. “To me if taxpayers have questions they deserve answers.”
She said at those board meetings she has told audience members she would try to answer their questions at the next meeting so they don’t think they are being ignored. “We’ll see how it works.” She said as long as control is maintained and people are respectful she doesn’t see that practice as a bad thing. Sharon’s Electra Tortorella asked members to send examples of practices used to her.
Region One Board of Education January 13
BY LYNN MELLIS WORTHINGTON
KENT — The Kent Board of Education is girding for a tough budget year, knowing it faces a large increase next year for insurance costs and an increase in teacher salaries from a recently negotiated contract.
The health care insurance is obtained through a regional collaborative that involves all seven schools in Region 1 and the six towns. Region 1 Business Manager Samuel Herrick has indicated the schools may have to plan for at least a 20 percent increase, but the final numbers haven’t been calculated yet.
The education board’s budget subcommittee met Tuesday to begin developing the 2014-15 budget for Kent Center School.
Board members zeroed in on several areas and asked for additional information about cafeteria operations and costs, common core curriculum impacts, paraprofessional salaries and benefits compared to the region’s other schools, and reducing supply costs by reducing paper usage.
“Unless it is an absolute necessity, I would not expect there to be an increase in anything,” said board Chairman Paul Cortese.
No budget numbers had been filled into the draft document the committee worked with. A second workshop will be held Jan. 28 at 5:30 to firm up the numbers before a Feb. 6 meeting of the entire board.
Sharon Board Of Education January 13
Critics say reforms go too quickly
Parents, teachers question pace of program’s testing
BY ANDREW LARSON REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN
BY RUTH EPSTEIN
CANAAN — With another large assessment looming for the town in the proposed 2014-15 Region 1 Board of Education budget, local school board members expressed the need to let the state know that help is needed to curb the rising costs.
During its meeting last week, the North Canaan Board of Education heard from Ned Gow, its representative to the Region 1 board, that the preliminary figures show an increase of $460,000 for the town’s share. This comes on top of a $300,000 rise in the current plan. The proposed total for Canaan is $4,641,430 out of a total $15,592,880, which reflects a 7.98 percent increase. Gow said the town’s percentage is rising from 30 to 32.3 percent of the total, but also the overall budget is higher.
When he pointed out that the town’s share of the state Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) grant is more than other towns, member Karen Riccardelli noted while that’s true, their revenues from the grant have remained stagnant as their percentage of the costs has increased over time. She said she is sure the high school is as important to the other five towns in the region as it is to Canaan and all have an interest in making sure it’s affordable. She suggested as a group they go out to Hartford to express their concerns.
She suggested that before the costs become too much of a burden to Canaan the town should request the state either increase its share of the ECS grant or allow it to be more flexible and do what it thinks necessary to keep the school affordable.
Gow said he’d be looking at where cuts can be made without hurting the students.
But Riccardelli, noting that if the current proposal goes through, the town would have a $760,000 increase over two years