TOWN OF SIMSBURY
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Record of Proceedings Regular Meeting September 11, 2007
Mr. Sennott called the meeting to order at 7:02 p.m. in the Board of Education
Members present: Mmes. Lydia Tedone and Susan Salina. Messrs. Jack Sennott,
Mike Goman, Chris Kelly and Mike Wade. Mr. Moret arrived at 7:45 p.m.
Also present: Superintendent Diane Ullman, Assistant Superintendent Erin Murray,
Director of Human Resources Mark Zito, Business Manager David Holden and
Recording Secretary Katie Wilde.
DISTRICT LEADERSHIP RECOGNITION District
Dr. Ullman noted that the majority of new district leaders have been promoted from Leadership
within the school system. Mr. Zito introduced the new principal at Henry James Recognition
Memorial School, Susan Homrok. He introduced Kim West, newly appointed Social
Studies Supervisor, and Sara Steinnecker English Department Supervisor at Henry
James Memorial School. Mr. Zito also introduced Jacqueline Petrella who was
named Math Department Supervisor at Simsbury High School. Also recognized were
Eileen Eustis and Scott Dunn both appointed to the position of Assistant Principal at
Simsbury High School.
STUDENT RECOGNITION Student
Dr. Ullman stated that three students who have shown their talents in very different Recognition
ways are being recognized this evening. Neil Sullivan, Simsbury High School
Principal, introduced Whitney Bartell who has been named as a student
representative to the Connecticut Board of Education. He noted that she is the first
Simsbury High School student to hold this position. Mr. Sennott requested that Ms.
Bartell come back to the board next spring to let them know what she has learned
through her experience.
Mr. Sullivan introduced Kevin Su as one of the most talented students in the senior
class and who was named a Governor’s Scholar last spring. Susan Homrok, Henry
James Principal, introduced Greg Balawajder with whom she attended the National
Federation of High School Association’s Student Leadership Conference this
FACULTY RECOGNITION Faculty
Dr. Ullman recognized Paul Kulikowski, Simsbury’s first Teacher of the Year. She Recognition
noted that Mr. Kulikowski was selected by his peers through an extremely rigorous
process and he represents the beliefs of the Simsbury Public School system. Dr.
Ullman stated that Mr. Kulikowski addressed the faculty during Convocation and will
represent Simsbury as an applicant in the Connecticut Teacher of the Year Program.
Mr. Kulikowski addressed the board and thanked Dr. Ullman and the teachers on the
selection committee for this recognition. He stated that he has been successful
because Simsbury has been good to him and he represents the entire Simsbury
Public School community. Mr. Kulikowski briefly discussed the work he has done for
Hurricane Katrina victims and the grant he received to research the affect of the
hurricane on the artist community in New Orleans.
Dr. Ullman noted that as part of the district’s work to expose students to other places
and cultures, international trips are frequently coordinated by teachers in the district.
Laura Tinerella, Simsbury High School world language teacher, discussed the
student trip to France last year, as well as the French student exchange program.
Six students from France spent 6 weeks in Simsbury last year and in June four
students from Simsbury stayed with families in France and visited French schools.
Scott Dunn, World Language Department Supervisor and Lisa Krusienski, Simsbury
High School world language teacher, briefly discussed their trip with students to
Spain. Students who participated on the trip shared their experience with the board.
PUBLIC AUDIENCE Public Audience
BOARD AND ADMINISTRATIVE COMMUNICATIONS Communications
Mr. Sennott welcomed the two new board members, Susan Salina and Mike Wade.
Ms. Tedone reported that she is now the Chairman of the CREC Council and she
welcomed all CREC faculty and staff to the new school year.
Mr. Moret stated that he attended the dedication of the Central School playground
and he expressed the appreciation of the board to all of the parents and volunteers at
Mr. Goman reported that the Personnel & Negotiations Committee is moving forward
with negotiation meetings.
Mr. Holden reported that the Public Building Committee received an update on the
Tariffville School addition/renovation design by OakPark Architects. Review of the
project by the School Facilities Unit is scheduled on November 6th. Board approval of
the plans and specifications is required prior to the November 6th meeting at the
Department of Education.
Ms. Murray discussed the alumni network that connects Simsbury High School
students with current college students and alumni is being rolled out this fall to
seniors and this winter for juniors. A Guidance Advisory Committee is being formed
that will include parents who will work with the Director of Guidance to look at overall
Dr. Ullman reviewed items distributed to the board such as the list of board meeting
topics, the curriculum newsletter, and Hartford Courant articles regarding the
Simsbury schools. She noted the great results of Simsbury students on both the
CAPT and CMT tests.
Mr. Sennott reviewed the board committee assignments for 2007-08. He stated that
he, Mr. Holden and Mr. Askham met with the auditor from Blum Shapiro in
preparation for the town audit.
A. Personnel Personnel
Mr. Goman: MOVE that the Board of Education accept the notice of intent to retire of
Joan Adorno, Pam Bosko, Dorrie Hess, Priscilla Lester, Mary Lucca-
Speiser, Marguerite Marceau, Bill Mickewicz, Jan Olsen, Pia Pagano,
Diane Philippe, Joan Ramsay, and Diane Zalewski effective June 30,
Ms. Tedone: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Moret: MOVE that the Board of Education accept the retirement of Judy
Bartusewicz effective July 31, 2007.
Ms. Tedone: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Kelly: MOVE that the Board of Education accept the resignations of Monica
Briggs, Shannon Lessley, and Lisa Zawilinski effective June 30, 2007;
Sarah Bakulski effective July 17, 2007; and Christine Giordano effective
July 6, 2007.
Mr. Horowitz: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Zito reviewed his PowerPoint presentation providing information about all of the
new teachers hired for the 2007-08 school year. He also presented graphs outlining
the academic experience of new and existing certified staff in the district.
INFORMATION AND REPORTS
A. International Teaching and Learning Opportunities International
Dr. Ullman noted that the vision for the Simsbury schools states that “we provide our Learning
students with the foundation to thrive in an ever changing and global society and we Opportunities
believe that an understanding of and respect for diversity in beliefs, cultures,
backgrounds, abilities and perspectives enrich the lives and learning environment for
all students.” She stated that the school district is beginning a significant effort to
bring the world to students in Simsbury and to bring students to the world.
Dr. Ullman noted that the Chinese language is offered at the middle and high school
this year and 80 students are registered for these courses. She reviewed the
partnership Simsbury has with the premier middle and high school in Jinan, China.
Dr. Ullman stated that 7 students and 3 teachers from Jinan are scheduled to visit
Simsbury beginning September 24th and in April, 2008 Simsbury will send students
with a teacher to Jinan. Ms. Tedone spoke as Chairman of the International Visitors
Committee about their role as part of international teaching in the Simsbury
Dr. Ullman stated that an elementary principal from China will be visiting Simsbury for
10 days in October. In November Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Dunn are scheduled to travel
to the Shandong Province which will be paid through federal grant funds. Dr. Ullman
pointed out that part of the district vision is to open Simsbury Public Schools to the
B. School Year Opening Report School Year
Dr. Ullman noted that three reports will be presented covering staffing, recruitment
and hiring; facilities, financial status and technology; and curriculum instruction and
assessment, and Special Education.
Mr. Zito stated that 25 new teachers were hired this year and every vacancy has
been filled with the exception of a Spanish position at the high school which is being
temporarily covered by a retired teacher. Mr. Zito provided an overview of the new
teacher orientation that was held the week of August 20th.
Mr. Zito stated that student enrollment was a little higher than NESDEC had
projected, but there was a decrease of 48 students overall. Classes across the
district are within the Board of Education class size guidelines. He noted that an
increase of students was anticipated at the high school, but enrollment was down 19
students on the first day of school. Mr. Zito stated that a full enrollment report will be
presented to the board in October.
Dr. Ullman noted that last spring she and Mr. Zito visited all of the new teachers and
asked them what could have been better their first year. She stated that the majority
of teachers felt they received a lot of support at the start of and throughout their first
year. Dr. Ullman suggested that making teachers comfortable in their first couple of
years in the district helps with retaining these teachers over the long term.
Mr. Holden reported that the 2006-07 fiscal year concluded with a $17,522 surplus.
He reviewed the major capital improvement projects that were completed over the
summer as well as the summer maintenance projects at each school. Mr. Holden
commented that the schools are in the best condition he has ever seen them for the
start of the school year.
Ms. Gunsalus reviewed the elementary curriculum work that was completed over the
summer. She noted that over 100 elementary teachers participated in writing
curriculum, engaging in professional learning at the Home Grown Reading and
Writing Institutes, teaching students at the literacy and math academies, and
supporting new teachers as part of the new teacher orientation program.
Ms. Gunsalus stated that 13 teachers, representing grades 1-6, worked with the
Reading & Language Arts Consultant to continue to write and revise the reading units
of study. Teachers in grades 3-6 aligned the fall district reading comprehension
assessments to the essential teaching points to ensure that our classroom instruction
is aligned to the district assessment. A reading assessment folder has been
distributed to replace the previously used Benchmark Book Assessment tool in order
to assist with determining the independent reading level of students.
Ms. Gunsalus reported that teachers from grades 1-6 developed essential teaching
points and mini-lessons for writing units of study that were not completed in 2006-07.
All units of study taught at their grade level will be completed for the entire 2007-08
school year prior to the unit’s implementation. Teachers in grades 2-6 worked on
editing and revising mini-lessons to address the weaker CMT strand related to
grammar instruction. Twenty six teachers also participated in 3 days of professional
development at a Teachers College writing workshop.
Ms. Gunsalus stated that this summer teachers reviewed and revised the elementary
science units for grades 3-6 in order to align the lessons and assessments with the
CT DOE document entitled Grade-Level Learning Expectations for K-5 Science. A
draft Curricular calendar was also created for each elementary grade level. The
science curriculum for grades 3-6 has been organized into the UBD (Understanding
by Design) format in order to align the process of standards-based unit development
throughout the district. Other elementary content areas, such as Social Studies,
have also adopted this format.
Ms. Gunsalus reported that the revised Investigations math materials were organized
this spring and a calendar was created that contains a full year of lessons that align
with the Connecticut Standards. In August, all teachers received professional
development from the grade-level teachers who created grade specific binders for
each teacher. A lot of effort was made to ensure that all curriculum items that are
tested on the CMTs in grades 3-6 will be taught before the test is administered in
Ms. Gunsalus stated that revisions to the Social Studies curriculum have begun in
order to combine the Connecticut State Frameworks with the district’s five universal
social studies themes. A team of grade 1-6 teachers met with the Social Studies
Resource Specialist to write one new social studies unit for each grade level. During
the 2007-08 school year, all teachers are invited to pilot the new unit and to provide
feedback with improvements prior to full district implementation in the fall of 2008.
Ms. Donaher stated that Response to Intervention (RtI) is a regular education early
intervention process to identify and support students at risk before they are referred
to Special Education. During the 2006-07 school year the Central School RtI team
worked to streamline the procedure for teachers requesting assistance and over the
summer the team focused on expanding resources for classroom teachers. Dr.
Ullman noted that this work will assist in serving students in the classroom and will
hopefully reduce the number of students referred to the Special Education program.
Ms. Murray addressed the secondary curriculum work completed during the summer.
She noted that 37 teachers worked on curriculum during the district’s Summer
Curriculum Institute which was facilitated by twelve of Simsbury’s seventeen 7-12
program supervisors. Three teachers worked as peer reviewers during this colleague
collaboration. Nearly 50 new units were drafted during the three-day Summer
Ms. Murray stated that Ms. Lytwynec is in the process of collecting curriculum units
so that they can be stored electronically and accessible to teachers through our
website system. The teacher portal on our website system will assist teachers in
preparing for and planning daily classroom instruction.
Dr. Ullman pointed out that one of the board’s five year goals is to revitalize the
curriculum. She noted that curriculum development, professional development, class
size and providing support services for students have all been budget priorities. Dr.
Ullman stated that there will be a transformation of the curriculum at the end of five
Mr. Moret questioned whether the current number of professional development days
is adequate to complete all that is needed. Ms. Murray responded that the
administration is in the process of planning out the professional development days
and although more time is always needed, they will be able to work within the
parameters for this year.
Mr. Moret questioned the amount of curriculum work that is needed this year
compared to last year. Ms. Murray stated that the elementary curriculum is in a good
place and work on the social studies curriculum will be proceeding this year. The
middle school curriculum will involve some writing, implementation and mostly
revising. The high school curriculum is very complex due to the number of subject
areas and they are moving toward a 4-5 year cycle for writing curriculum. Dr. Ullman
pointed out that high school administrators spent two years on the NEASC process
and their curriculum work is in midstream.
C. Wellness Committee Report Wellness
Dr. Ullman stated that the Wellness Committee was formed last year as a result of Report
state statute. Ms. Murray reported that during the 2006-07 school year the Wellness
Committee focused on an examination of the quality of the school lunch program and
an analysis of food given to students during the school day. She noted the next
steps of the committee: (1) provide additional information regarding our school lunch
program to parents and students, (2) implement an online lunch prepayment system,
(3) address food in the classroom, and (4) develop a partnership with the YMCA to
provide fitness/wellness programs that extend beyond the school day.
PUBLIC AUDIENCE Public Audience
EXECUTIVE SESSION Session
Ms. Tedone: MOVE to enter Executive Session at 9:10 p.m. to discuss pupil and
Mr. Horowitz: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Kelly: MOVE to return to Public Session at 9:35 p.m.
Ms. Tedone: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Goman: MOVE to adjourn at 9:35 p.m.
Mr. Wade: Seconded. So moved.
Mr. Chris Kelly Katie Wilde
Secretary Recording Secretary