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RSD #17 BOE Meeting Notes 12/5/17

By Kathy Brown.

On Tuesday, December 5, 2017, the Regional School District #17 Board of Education met for their first meeting of the month at Central Office on the High School campus. Every two years, approximately half of the seats are open for re-election. Last night’s meeting included 3 new members (a fourth new member was absent) so there was a round of introductions to open the meeting.

Every two years a new Chairman is elected, and that position traditionally goes back and forth between Haddam and Killingworth. Outgoing Chairman, Joel D’Angelo of Killingworth, opened the floor for nominations for the new Chair, and Joanne Nesti, of Haddam was voted in. Ms. Nesti immediately took the Chair’s seat, and the rest of the executive board was elected: Vice Chair Suzanne Sack of Killingworth, Secretary Eileen Blewett of Killingworth, and Treasurer Peter Sonski, of Haddam.

In the audience of last night’s meeting were 11 boy scouts from Haddam Troop #44 who were attending the meeting as a requirement for their Communications merit badge, according to Nick Pach, one of the scouts. There were six other guests in the audience.

The student representatives from Haddam Killingworth High School spoke about the Holiday Show which will air right before the holiday break. This year’s Holiday Show will benefit the new Patsy Kamercia Scholarship Foundation. Winter sports will be starting soon, and Junior parent night will be next week.

The Subcommittee reports gave a short synopsis of what the subcommittee entails so that new board members could decide which committees they would like to volunteer for:

  • Facilities: This subcommittee works closely with the district’s Facilities Director to supervise maintenance projects and the purchase of items for district buildings and property.
  • Finance: This subcommittee oversees and approves the monthly district finance records of the district Director of Fiscal Operations.
  • Policy: This subcommittee oversees the policies of the school system.
  • Communications: This subcommittee deals with getting Board of Education information out to district residents via Board of Education Updates. Using the District 17 Website, Facebook page, Haddam and Killingworth news websites are also important sources for Board communication. The establishment and the maintenance/updating of this Board of Education Handbook, which serves as a guide for Board members, is the responsibility of this subcommittee.
  • Curriculum: This subcommittee is responsible for reviewing the district curricula and supervising any changes suggested by the Superintendent, administrators, and teachers. This subcommittee will be represented at the monthly district Curriculum Council meetings.
  • Personnel: This subcommittee is responsible for the evaluation of the Superintendent, as well as for contract negotiations involving the Superintendent, the Administrators, the Teachers, the Support Staff, the Nurses, and the Custodians. This subcommittee interviews final candidates for administrator positions in the district and sends its recommendation on to the full Board.
  • Strategic Capital Planning (special subcommittee): This special committee was set up to look at all of the district’s resources and determine a long-term plan for the district’s resources.

After that, each of the liaison positions were also described so that new board members could decide which of those positions they would like to volunteer for:

  • Healthy Communities – Healthy Kids: This is a coalition subcommittee under Haddam-Killingworth Youth & Family Services. This group of diverse individuals from the community meets once a month. The mission of the HCHK Coalition is to engage every sector of the community in an effort to change policy, education, and implement strategies to prevent and reduce substance abuse, other risky behavior, and to promote the wellness of the community.
  • Haddam Board of Selectmen: A Haddam resident member of the BOE attends one Board of Selectmen meeting each month to engage in a sharing of information. A report is given to the full Board of Education at its first meeting of the month–the business meeting.
  • Killingworth Board of Selectmen: A Killingworth resident member of the BOE attends one Board of Selectmen meeting each month to engage in a sharing of information. A report is given to the full Board of Education at its first meeting of the month–the business meeting.
  • Curriculum Council: The Regional School District 17 Curriculum Council meets each month at the Central Office. The council is made up of administrators, teachers, community members, and any Board members who wish to attend. At each meeting areas of the district curriculum are presented and discussed. A report from each of the five schools and the Pupil Services department is given.
  • LEARN: This Board member becomes a member of the Board of Directors of LEARN, our regional education service center (RESC). It meets monthly at the LEARN center in Lyme.
  • Park & Recreation: The liaison attends the monthly meeting of the Parks and Recreation Authority. He or she brings questions and concerns back to the Superintendent and the full Board. This Board member facilitates the relationship between the district and P & R Authority as the representative of the Board.

The communication plan for SCPC was described. At the last meeting the Board decided to go forward with more research into “Scenario A,” which would be to close one of the schools located in Haddam, and have the fourth grade students in the district move up to the middle school. This could save approximately $1 million/year in staffing and infrastructure costs. The tentative plan is to schedule meetings with the schools’ PTOs in January, an informational meeting for all staff, as well as one informational meeting in Haddam and one informational meeting in Killingworth in February. “Nothing has been decided,” said Chairman Nesti. For example, which school in Haddam was closing, which positions would be downsized, and the timing of any of those changes.

The Board then approved the consent agenda. They also got a “first read” of the budget timeline/schedule and the 2019-2020 academic calendar. They will not be voted on until the “second read” at a subsequent meeting.

The Chairman said that on December 13, the Executive Board plus Superintendent Thiery were going to meet with town leaders to discuss state budget ramifications.

Joanne Nesti closed the meeting by saying, “It may be a volunteer job, but it’s not a hobby . . . Thank you to all of you [speaking to the Board]. We promise to do a good job for you [speaking to the audience/camera].”

The meeting was then adjourned (approximately 8:43 p.m.).

When the minutes are released, they will be found on the website.

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4 Responses to RSD #17 BOE Meeting Notes 12/5/17

  1. Fitzgibbons Family

    December 6, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Thank you to the Board Members. There are many in the community who recognize the time you put in. It is an important job. Our schools are one of the best things about Haddam and Killingworth. We are grateful for all you do.

  2. Susan Dean

    December 7, 2017 at 1:22 am

    Outstanding report for the first official meeting of the new Board of Education. Tremendous responsibility for these 11 people! Sending my best wishes to the new officers and the new Board members.
    Balancing the need to maintain high academic standards with the equally demanding task of being fiscally responsible is the supreme challenge.
    Detailed reports such as the one above are informative and helpful. Information can always be found on the district website:
    It has been a pleasure and an honor to be a teacher in this district for 43 years and a Board of Education member for 8 years.

  3. Earle Decker

    December 7, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Agree with the 2 posting above and very happy that Ms. Nesti and Ms. Sack are in the key positions of leadership. Also pleased that the BOE is continuing to look at closing one of the schools for efficiency. Thank you all for your commitment to the town.

  4. Edward Munster

    December 9, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Kathy Brown, Thank you for this comprehensive report on the BOE as the new Board gets underway. As a community the towns of Haddam and Killingworth and our BOE are facing tough decisions. We appreciate the challenges that we are forced to consider in this new future.