Marshall Miles Letter To The Editor Register Citizen, Litchfiled County Times and The Lakeville Journal Reply

Contrary to what some people believe, when one opposes the Region One Budget on the grounds of administrative contracts, it does NOT have to affect the education program of Region One. The reasons are simple and irrefutable:

1) The total dollar amounts spent on education programs will not change (the only change to the proposed budget would be that the new additional annuities, the new vacation days, and the new sick days for administrators would be eliminated).

2) Should the budget be defeated, the Region One Board would simply have to re-submit a budget that keeps the current administration contracts (which include already negotiated raises for all administrators) in place for the remainder of their current contract term.

New contracts can be negotiated when they enter the final year of their current THREE YEAR CONTRACTS, as specified in their current contracts.

I, along with many others, oppose the Region One budget for very simple reasons:

1) If one negotiates and signs a three-year contract, common business practice dictates that one honors that contract, and opens new negotiations as previously agreed upon, in the same way that the teachers do (the same way that is stated in their current contract).

2) It insults the collective intelligence to claim that contracts that are being renegotiated (additional vacation days, additional sick days, additional annuities …) are extensions. Extensions are just that, extending the current contract with no changes and no additions. It further strains credulity to the limit by claiming, as some have done, that the new contracts cost nothing. That is not true. “Extended” contracts that call for additional vacation days, additional sick days, additional annuities, etc. are by their very nature not free.

No one is asking for, or has asked for, anyone to lose their jobs of be laid off. No one is asking for, or has asked for, money for the education programs to be taken from the budget. What is being requested, as we have been requesting for two years, is that the administrators in Region One honor their three-year contracts, plain and simple. It’s not about personalities and it’s not about vendettas. It IS about honesty, it IS about a transparent, open administration of our school system, and it IS about one principle: Honoring your word, and your signature on a contract that you negotiated, and signed for a three-year commitment to educate our children.

For the record, all of these concerns were raised prior to last year’s budget vote, but were never addressed in this year’s hearings. In fact, any attempts to raise the issues were shut down by the Region One board before any discussion could take place. It is about time that the board acts as our representatives, rather than the administration’s rubber stamp. For these reasons, I will once again vote no on the Region One Budget May 8th. A no vote will send a message to the board to start acting like an independent entity that leads, oversees and interacts with the administration, instead of the other way around.

Marshall Miles


A letter to Marshall Miles from Gale Courey Toensing…… 2

To: Marshall Miles

From: Gale Courey Toensing

April 21, 2012


During the March meeting of the Region 1 Board of Education I tried to put a list of initiatives on the agenda, but my effort was shut down by the superintendent and Phil who advised the board to vote against adding my item to the agenda. At last Thursday’s community meeting, Lou Timolat asked Phil to put the initiatives on the agenda and Phil said, ”I have no problem with that. . .Anything that should be on the agenda will be on the agenda.”  Below is a copy of the initiatives that I asked to be put on the agenda for the board to take home and think about, so that we could have a discussion the next month. They are all based on the statutes, our policies and bylaws, and Connecticut Association of Boards of Education policies. I plan on re-introducing them next month:


From: Gale Courey Toensing, Falls Village representative

March 5, 2012


Region 1 Board of Education

Meeting March 5, 2012


Suggested Initiatives:


1)      Series 3000/Business

       3160 Transfer of Funds between Categories:

“Transfer of funds to a new item or new position will be done only after full Board consideration and discussion.”

Action: Motion that the board is to review and approve transfer of funds before they are transferred.


       3170 Budget Administration:

“Over-expenditure of a budget category as these categories appeals on the one-page budget summary (see 3120), except as provided in 3171, will not be permitted except by formal action of the Board.”

Action: Motion that the board is to review and approve over-expenditure of a budget category before the category is over-expended.


       3326 Paying for Goods and Services and 3432 Budget & Expense Report/Annual financial Statement

The1990 version of policy 3326 says “payment of properly approved invoices will be made once a month, following approval by the Regional School Board at its regular meeting and upon recommendation of its designated officers or agents.” That policy was revised in 1993 and does not include that sentence. However, policy 3423 requires that the board reviews bills each month. It says, “A monthly report of disbursements and budget balances will be submitted each month at the board of education meeting.” We are receiving budget balances, but not disbursements.

Action: Motion that the board receives a monthly report of disbursements to include the names of payees and amounts.


2)      Board goals, board self assessment — from CABE Series 2400.

Attached is suggested CABE process for board self assessment. Obviously a board can’t fully assess itself if it doesn’t set goals for itself. Number 2 on the CABE assessment list is that the board sets annual goals. This board met in 2009 and set long range goals, which now appear on our agenda each month. Some of these ”goals” which should not be considered as annual goals because they are part of expected duties and responsibilities as a board (for example, “continue to maintain the building” and “support curriculum,  instruction, and assessment development.”  Setting annual goals will help focus our work and give us standards by which to measure our performance.

Action: Motion to set a special meeting before the end of June, 2012, to set board goals for school year 2012-2013.


3)      Superintendent’s goals and job evaluations from CABE Policy 2400

Clearly, it is inappropriate for an employee to devise his or her own evaluation instrument for his or her employer to use in evaluating the employee’s job performance. Equally clearly, it is inappropriate for an employer to use as an evaluation tool an employee’s self evaluation on how well he or she has performed against a set of goals he or she has set without consultation with the employer, although such a self evaluation can be a supplementary part of the superintendent’s job evaluation by the board. One of the key questions on CABE’s Superintendent’s Performance Evaluation – which was developed collaboratively by CABE and CAPSS – is “Does the Superintendent of Schools consistently meet or exceed the mutually established performance goals . . .?” in the various categories in the evaluation process. The board needs to develop ‘mutually established performance goals” with the superintendent and replace the superintendent’s job performance evaluation document.

Action: Motion that the board meet with the superintendent in public (as required) to discuss and develop district goals and objectives for the upcoming school year.


Board member explains opposition to Region 1 budget Reply

BY RUTH EPSTEIN Republican-American

FALLS VILLAGE — Gale Courey Toensing, Falls Village representative to the Region 1 Board of Education, told community members in an informal meeting Thursday why she is voting against the district’s proposed 2012-13 budget.

Toensing, an outspoken member who conducts community forums a few times a year, focused on the budget that will be considered during a daylong referendum May 8 in the region’s six towns — Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon.

She said she was speaking as an individual and wasn’t advising people how to vote.

The story link is below from The Republican-American

This weeks Lakeville Journal has a great story on the annuity of Patricia Chamberlain 11

The Lakeville Journal has a great story on the annuity of Patricia Chamberlain

Here is a link to the the Lakeville Journal website…

Some excerpts from the story….

An April 13 email letter to the Region One Board of Education from former Assistant Business Manager Choo K. Singer, who worked for Region One from 1991 to 2010, raises questions about how Region One Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain’s annuity has been handled for tax and pension purposes. The letter, which has been widely circulated and posted on a website run by WHDD radio’s Marshall Miles, claims that Region One Business Manager Sam Herrick was wrong when he said at the April 4 public hearing on the Region One budget proposal “that the superintendent’s annuity had always been part of her base salary and had been reported as pensionable income to the Connecticut Teacher Retirement Board (CTRB). Herrick said in a phone interview Tuesday, April 17, that he did not dispute the substance of Singer’s letter. He said that at the public hearing he incorrectly stated that Chamberlain’s annuity had been processed through payroll, when in fact it had not until the current fiscal year. “I thought we had been doing it that way.” Region One board attorney Gary Brochu sent a memo to Region One Chairman Phil Hart Tuesday, April 17, stating “there is nothing illegal or inappropriate with the superintendent receiving some compensation in the form of a tax-sheltered annuity.” Brochu’s memo also says there is no prohibition on converting a nonelective annuity benefit to an elective annuity benefit. In a phone interview April 17, Brochu said, “The Board of Education and any employee are entitled to negotiate [contracts] as they see it.” He said that the CTRB evaluates the pension claims of retiring employees on a case-by-case basis, and in the event of a problem, it’s between the employee and the retirement board. “It has nothing to do with the school district,” he said.“The only impact is on the employee.”

Singer was out-of-town this week but said in an email ask ing for comment that her letter describes the “superintendent’s deliberate attempt to ‘deceive the public’ and get around the state government regulation for her personal gain through the business manager.” She also said that, “The annuity may not have any impact on our budget now but it could be costly to all Connecticut taxpayers in the future, if the public school administrators find a way to inflate the pension base a few years before their


regiononereport’s comment on this story…

Get the paper, read the whole story, you will see, that Choo Singer is right on target, it’s not what is paid now, but what we all will pay well into the future on a “pumped up”, deceptive retirement plan for our Superintendent.


A great deal for our Region One superintendent is even better if you look a little closer! Reply

Here is the language in the superintendent’s contract on her reimbursement that found: “The Board shall reimburse the Superintendent for the cost of graduate level courses at an accredited college or university. The reimbursement shall be at one hundred percent (100%) of the tuition fee. Reimbursement shall be made to the Superintendent upon submission of a receipt for payment to the Board”. The high school teachers’ contract, in contrast, has much more specific language: “24-1 Teachers who successfully complete graduate level courses in a program of courses approved by the Superintendent of Schools shall be reimbursed at a rate equal to fifty percent (50%) of the cost of a credit hour at the Connecticut State University up to a maximum of six (6) credits hours annually. 24-2 Reimbursement shall be made within thirty (30) days of the date that the teacher submits to the Superintendent the college receipt for the payment together with written evidence from the college that the teacher has satisfactorily completed the course with a grade of “B” or better. 24-3 To be eligible for reimbursement, the teacher must have prior approval of such graduate level courses from the Superintendent or his/her designee. 24-4 Decision of the Superintendent to approve or disapprove course reimbursement shall not be subject to the grievance procedure set forth in Article 3 of this Agreement.”

As you can see. there is little to no accountability in the superintendent’s contract regarding course work as compared to the teachers’ contract. Apparently she does not have to have her course work approved by anyone – like the Board of Education, she is not limited in terms of tuition costs as the teachers are to state university tuition costs, she does not have to provide evidence of a minimum grade in her course work from the institution from where she is taking courses and there is no provision regarding the number of courses she can take annually.

A sweet deal, on top of a great deal….

Laura Freund, in her own words, dissing the current school district that pays her salary in comparison to Region One . We bet the staff at the Torrington Middle School Special Education Department and the Torrington administration will love to see this! 2

Laura Freund, in her own words, dissing the current school district that pays her salary in comparison to Region One . We bet the staff at the Torrington Middle School Special Education Department, the Torrington taxpayers that pay her salary,  and the Torrington administration will love to see this! 

Video of JAW DROPPING unthruths from Region One Board member Laura Freund and A.B.C. Member Delores Perotti at North Canaan Board Of Finance meeting 1

JAW DROPPING untruths from the Region One Board member

. She claims that Patricia A. Chamberlain did not take raises for several years….WRONG it was ONE YEAR,and that year her annuity went up! She also said, along with the North Canaan Board Of Education Chairman, that by extending the contracts of the administrators, it cost nothing!!!! WHO ARE THEY KIDDING!!!!! Taking a three-year contract, and tearing them up, adding more vacation days (more money), more annuity (more money), that on top of a 2 percent raise! Look at the video

JAW DROPPING LIES from the Region One Board member Laura Freund at the North Canaan Board Of Finance meeting this month Reply

If you watch the North Canaan Board Of Finance meeting from this month, you will see JAW DROPPING LIES from the Region One Board member Laura Freund. She claims that Patricia A. Chamberlain did not take raises for several years….WRONG it was ONE YEAR, and that year her annuity went up! She also said, along with the North Canaan Board Of Education Chairman, that by extending the contracts of the administrators, it cost nothing!!!! WHO ARE THEY KIDDING!!!!! Taking a three-year contract, and tearing them up, adding more vacation days (more money), more annuity (more money), that on top of a 2 percent raise! Look at the video  by clicking  on the YouTube link below! Have your friends look at it as well. The tape does not lie! Laura Freund does!Image  This is exactly the disconnect that we face with our Region One Board, and local boards of education. And it’s exactly the reason the Region One Budget MUST BE DEFEATED..Send the message….The taxpayers are the boss, not the Boards of Education, Not the administration…it’s the taxpayers.

click on this link to see the entire CATV 6 video of the meeting

It’s time for our local board, and public to know the truth….It’s time for the local board to INVESTIGATE and EXPLAIN to the public why they have lost control. Read this letter to the area press from Choo Singer, retired Region One Assistant Business Manager. Let’s hope all the area media print it, AND, more importantly, COVER IT with follow up calls to the Teachers Retirement Board…. 2

Members of the Press,
Please note that the CTRB benefits are calculated based on the average of the three highest annual base salaries. Please refer to CTRB Manual available on their website.
Thank you.
Choo Singer
Click on this link
to see actual

April 12, 2012
TO: Region One Board of Education
Re: April 4, 2012 Public Budget Hearing – Superintendent’s Tax Sheltered Annuity (the annuity)
My primary residence is Sharon, CT. I was employed by the Region One School District for over 19 years, from September 1991 through October 31, 2010. My position was assistant business manager handling employees’ payroll, benefits, governments’ reporting and fund accounting. I prepared and transmitted the CT Teachers Retirement Board (CTRB) report every month of every year for almost twenty years.
I have been keeping up with the Board of Education (the board) public meetings and budget hearing shown on I am concerned about the false information that was given at the hearing regarding the board paid annuity for the superintendent.
The superintendent’s annuity began in the amount of $3,000 as an additional compensation approximately 10 years ago when she was assistant superintendent. I understand that she told the then current superintendent that her single health coverage was a “bargain” for the board and the board consequently agreed to contribute $3,000 to her tax sheltered annuity as an additional cash benefit. The amount became $4,000 effective July 1, 2004 when she became the superintendent and later increased to $7,000. Effective July 1, 2009, however, the dollar amount was changed to 6% of the base salary in accordance with the contract addendum made available to me. For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011 an annual electronic “accounts payable” payment of $8,727 was made directly to her designated financial institution during the summer of 2010 before my retirement as the assistant business manager of Region One.
The business manager indicated at the hearing that the superintendent’s annuity had always been part of her base salary and had been reported as pensionable income to CTRB. He also said that the board paid annuity had always been paid to the superintendent and thus through a payroll deduction deferring the amount by the superintendent in accordance with the salary reduction agreement. He mentioned that other public schools may issue an “accounts payable” check for their board paid superintendent’s annuity and mail it directly to a financial institution, but if it was done in this fashion that the annuity could not be included for CTRB purposes. He stated that in the case of the superintendent’s board paid annuity
Page Two
Region One did not make the payment through an “accounts payable” check sent directly from Region One to her financial institution, but through a payroll deduction.
Contrary to the business manager’s statements at the hearing, from fiscal years 2003-2011 the Region One business office ALWAYS cut an “accounts payable” check for the superintendent’s annuity once a year and mailed it directly to the financial institution she selected. During my tenure, the annuity payment was never processed through the payroll as an elective deferral deduction. The annuity payment was made directly to superintendent’s selected financial institution as an “employer’s 403(b) pension contribution.” Therefore, she couldn’t have elected to defer in accordance with the salary reduction agreement, as the annuity was never included in her base salary for CTRB purposes during my tenure. In fact, we withheld Social Security and Medicare taxes from the non-payroll annuity check by creating a dummy pay code and deduction code, “Taxable Benefit Annuity” (TBA) in our payroll system. This mechanical device was necessary for the purpose of withholding Social Security and Medicare taxes in order for us to follow the general ruling of any income not reportable to CTRB, is reportable to the Social Security Administration.
None of the superintendent’s contracts and addendums made available to me during my tenure as assistant business manager indicated the annuity as “a component of the base salary.” In fact, all of the contracts and addendums clearly indicated the annuity as an “additional compensation.”
The business manager implied at the hearing that CTRB has a different set of rules regarding a board paid annuity for administrators. To my knowledge there is one set of rules that apply to all CTRB members just as the same Social Security rules apply to all income earned by the people belonging to the Social Security system.
In March of 2006 when the superintendent and I were alone at the lunch table she said the following to me: “I understand, if I change the wording in my contract, I could include the annuity for CTRB purposes.” I did not respond. A few days later she repeated that statement to me again. I did not respond verbally, but responded in writing a few days before the public budget hearing of that year indicating that it would be inappropriate to do so as she had suggested.
In early August of 2006 the superintendent and the business manager asked me to include the annuity in the September 2006 CTRB report as pensionable income. I asked her to follow the proper procedure, get the entire Board’s approval and show the correct figure in the budget and then perhaps it could be done. She indicated to me she did not want to follow that procedure.
Page Three
In August of 2006 the business manager and I attended a CTRB workshop in Hartford. During the question and answer session Chief Accountant, Louis Lacavolle made it very clear that any superintendent’s annuity check sent directly to a financial institution from the employer in prior years cannot be included for CTRB purposes.
In September of 2006 the superintendent and the business manager met with Region One auditor, Christopher King when he was in the office conducting the annual audit. They met without me first and then I was asked to join them. The business manager told me that the auditor had indicated that we could report the board paid superintendent’s annuity to CTRB. Naturally, I corrected the business manager’s statement citing the reasons why we couldn’t do that under the current conditions of the contract. The auditor asked the superintendent for the contract, which she had in her hand, so that he could review the language. She declined to give him the contract to review. At some point before this meeting ended the business manager walked out. At the conclusion of the meeting I asked Mr. King to present the case to CTRB based on the copy of the contract that I had been given. The next day I mailed Mr. King the copies of the contracts available in the personnel file and also the paperwork substantiating that the” accounts payable” checks had been cut and sent directly to the superintendent’s chosen financial institution. In January of 2007 Mr. King reported to the business office that CTRB did not approve her annuity as includable/pensionable income.
In March of 2009 I wrote a memorandum to the Board of Education with copies to the superintendent and business manager asking them to consider following the proper procedure in order to include the superintendent’s board paid annuity for CTRB purposes. I felt the business manager was signaling me to resurrect the annuity issue of 2006 as he began forwarding me several emails from other school district business managers discussing their superintendent’s board paid annuity for CTRB purposes. I did not want to be in the same position as I was during 2006. I also felt the timing was right to make the change because the superintendent did not receive a pay increase for the fiscal year 2009- 2010.
In April of 2009, the superintendent met with me, the business manager, the non-certified employees union representative and the local union president apparently because I sent the March, 2009 memorandum to the board members without the superintendent’s approval. During the course of the meeting the superintendent raised the annuity issue indicating that she knew she could “include my annuity for CTRB purposes, but I’m not going to this year.” The business manager mentioned that the superintendent had a long way to go before retiring and was not going to include her annuity as part of the base salary for CTRB purposes at that time. I told them that CTRB contributions have certain mandatory guidelines and that you could not go for years excluding a board paid annuity as part of the base salary and then
Page Four
several years before an anticipated retirement suddenly include it as part of the base salary. The business manager, as I understand it, sent an email memorandum to the board dated April 2, 2009 indicating that the superintendent did not include the annuity as pensionable income for CTRB purposes.
I do not know how the administration is handling the annuity for the current year (fiscal year 2011-2012), but it is very hard for me to believe that the CTRB administrator would approve the annuity as includable income, as the business manager implied at the hearing, unless he or she didn’t get all the pertinent facts.
The business manager also mentioned at the hearing that the case was reviewed by the board’s previous and current attorneys, Messrs. Meuser and Brochu who approved the annuity as reportable income to CTRB. It does not make sense to me that the administration would consult the two attorneys regarding this matter, as if suddenly the administration doesn’t know the difference between the base salary and the board’s paid annuity that had been an additional compensation (non-elective tax sheltered annuity) in all prior years. Please refer to the CTRB Employer’s Manual page 8-11 for the exact guidelines which is available on their website.
I have written this communication because I am absolutely convinced that it is my personal obligation to inform the Board of Education of the actual facts regarding this issue. It would be inappropriate for the history of the superintendent’s board paid annuity to be altered for the purpose of inflating the superintendent’s State Teachers’ pension base.

Choo K. Singer
Copies to: Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain, Business Manager Sam Herrick, Asst. Business Manager Sue Bremer, All Board Committee, Christopher King, CPA, Attorneys; Craig Meuser and Gary Brochu, Judge Manning, former Board Chair & the Members of the Community present at the public hearing