A long evening of meetings began with a curriculum session where a new science curriculum was introduced and a joint board meeting before the actual Redding Board of Ed meeting which didn’t adjourn until almost midnight.
BoE member Colleen Pilato said that she had received feedback that the public wanted more communication from the board. She had spoken to the board’s attorney who advised that board members are not allowed to advocate for a yes or no vote for the public while in their official capacity. She had asked specifically about using a BoE Facebook page, but was advised to reconsider.
Heather Whaley, BoE member, commented that she wanted to see a celebration of Black History Month similar to the event remembering Veteran’s Day.
Finance Director Scott Reiss discussed air conditioning and boiler problems on an RES wing that had not been upgraded. He also talked about the water issue and the upcoming report.
This years surplus was expected to be between $200,000-$250,000. The board voted to move every penny to the health care reserve. Reiss said the surplus was equal to 1% of the budget.
Superintendent of School Tom McMorran said that the 38 less students in the school was across all grades so they could not easily reduce sections although the second grade would have one less class.
Board member Laura Hoeing expressed a concern on reaching a tipping point. She pointed out that people are seeking education alternatives with an uptick in home schooling, private school and magnet schools.
Board Chair Melinda Irwin proudly shared that the 8th grade math scores were 4th in the state. She said that although the math interventionist was cut, classroom teachers would still be supporting personalized learning.
After the routine agenda items were completed, the discussion turned to further cuts in the budget. The Board of Finance requested that the BoE cut their budget by a further $101,944.
Christopher Parkin, board member, opined that since the Board of Education didn’t make the full cut that was requested, that the BoE should make a lesser cut as well, proportional to the BoS budget. This idea was later rebuffed by Reddingite Stan Rhodes during public comment who said the BoE must live with what the Board of Finance said and it wasn’t their job to decide how much to cut.
BoE member Michael Hoffman said they needed to concentrate on a budget that the voters would approve, not to make cuts with the Board of Finance in mind. He was concerned about what would happen if the budget failed again.
Hoeing agreed and said that it was a bad idea to pit boards against each other.
John Reilly, also a BoE member, commented that the board should commit to Superintendent Tom McMorran’s long term goals.
Dr. McMorran made his recommendations on where to cut the additional $101,000+. This plan included eliminating Spanish at RES, homework clubs at both schools, some incentives, author visits, legal representation and supplies. (see photo) Previously, Latin had been discussed as a possibility to eliminate but because the students would need to be accommodated in another language class, there would be no savings.
The board discussed if the Spanish instruction at RES was disruptive more than helpful to the students since it interrupted class teaching time.
Parkin suggested taking bites out of substitute teaching and electricity
Public comment included those who advocated for keeping the clubs and Spanish.
The idea of taking funds form the health insurance line instead of cutting programs was discussed at length. Whaley stated that the previous board of finance had agreed to backstop the BoE if needed.
Parkin thought it would be a misrepresentation and Pilato said it was not budgeting with integrity.
Dr McMorran stated that the Board of Finance had ordered a 2 year audit of the Central office to make sure they were following procedure and best practices. He said that if the board was going to do this he would respectfully ask the BoF to stop the audit because it would be duplicitous to have one set of standards for the central officer and another when it was convenient.
He said that it was his job to make suggestions and “get them to the neighborhood” but they were the board and “had to land the plane.”
Hoffman made a motion to eliminate everything on the list except the homework clubs, chorus and the radios and then take $26,079 from the health insurance line. That motion failed.
The value of the Spanish push in model was further debated. McMorran said he would rather cut Spanish than have increased class sizes. Hoffman said it was the 2nd time that Spanish was on the cut list and that was meaningful to him.
Whaley made a motion to retain Spanish and the clubs and take $69,725 from the health insurance line. The remainder of the items cut equaled $32,219. She insisted that the BoF would backstop the costs if needed.
This motion passed 4 (Whaley, Reilly, Hoffman, Irwin) to 3 (Hoeing, Pilato, Parkin)
Dr. McMorran said he wanted it known that his preference on the budget was the original 3.5% increase instead of the cuts realized since.