2011-11-14 BOSCMIN.doc - City of Manchester

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2011-11-14 BOSCMIN.doc - City of Manchester Powered By Docstoc
					                         MANCHESTER SCHOOL DISTRICT
                                 November 14, 2011

       The Board of School Committee met on Monday, November 14, at 7:00p.m. at City Hall
in Manchester. Present were Mayor Gatsas, Vice Chair Gelinas, and Committee Members
Ambrogi, Briggs, DeBlasi, Herbert, Vaughn, Soucy, Katsiantonis, Beaudry, Avard, Beauchamp,
and Langton. Present from Administration were Supt. Brennan; Asst. Supt. Burkush; Asst. Supt.
Tursi; and Business Administrator, Ms. DeFrancis.
       Mayor Gatsas presided and called the meeting to order. The Pledge of Allegiance was led
by 2 students from Jewett Street School; John Sinotte and Emily Newman. A moment of silent
reflection was observed. The clerk called the roll.

    Vice Chair Gelinas made a motion to approve the minutes of the previous meeting.
Comm. Katsiantonis seconded the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

American Education Week
       Mayor Gatsas presented a resolution to Mr. Ben Dick recognizing American Education
Week and the impact of teachers and all educational support personnel in our lives. Mr. Dick
said teachers are the foundation of our educational system. In Manchester there are 16,000
students and 1,200 teachers and it is nice to be recognized not only for the classroom lessons
taught but the life lessons that are taught every day. He said on behalf of the teachers of the
District they look forward to continuing doing the job of teaching to the best of their ability.

    Vice Chair Gelinas recognized 2 of the newly-elected Board of School Committee
members; Kathy Staub and Roy Shoults, present at the meeting.

      Comm. Beaudry recognized the field hockey team of Memorial High School. The team
made it to the finals. Unfortunately they were beat in the finals but the team broke several
records this season. They set a record for wins with 15 wins, goals scored—39, goals allowed—
6, shut-outs—13, consecutive shut-outs—9, and the longest winning streak—14. He commends
the coaches and the student athletes for a job well done. He asked that the team and the coach
would be invited to come to the next Board meeting to be publicly recognized along with Central
High School’s soccer team, the Division I State champions.

     Comm. Briggs recognized newly-elected Alderman Levasseur on the birth of his son who
was born on November 11, 2011 at 11:00a.m.

    There was no public forum.

     Vice Chair Gelinas made a motion, seconded by Comm. Katsiantonis, to take all written
documentation under advisement and to receive and file any documentation presented. The
motion passed by unanimous vote.

       Supt. Brennan thanked all who had assisted the School District after the unexpected
snowstorm that occurred a couple of weeks ago. The City departments helped by providing him
the information needed relative to cancelling school. It was an outstanding effort by all. This
was the first time that the shelter at Memorial High School was activated. He thanked Arthur
Adamakos, the principal of the school, for his efforts in making the preparations needed to take
care of the individuals who came there. He appreciates all of the support and information he was
provided during those days.
       On Saturday, all 3 of the District’s high school bands performed in the Veterans’ Day
Parade. They did an outstanding job. He said “as I walked with them and with the members of
the JRROTC, to see the response of the citizens along the way was very heartfelt and I was very
       He too congratulated Memorial’s field hockey team and Central’s boys’ soccer team for
their accomplishments. They will be invited to the next Board meeting for recognition.
      Finally, he recently attended a celebration for Operation Pearl Harbor. The Board
approved Central’s band’s participation in this event and the time is nearing for them to go to
Hawaii for this commemoration. Their itinerary was provided to the Board in the last weekly
update packet.

     Mayor Gatsas asked if any Board member wished to remove an item from the Consent
Agenda for discussion. Comm. Langton asked to remove item ‘a’, the School in Need of
Improvement Grants, from the report of the Curriculum & Instruction Committee.

Curriculum & Instruction Committee
Grants and Gifts

Building & Sites Committee
Use of Rebate Monies
City Service Invoices
Manchester School District Bonds
Parker/Varney School Parking Lot

     Vice Chair Gelinas made a motion to approve the remaining items in the Consent
Agenda. Comm. Beaudry seconded the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

      Comm. Langton referred to item ‘a’ School in Need of Improvement Grants. She said
there was some information the C & I Committee was supposed to receive before this item
would go before the Full Board and that information was not provided. She said “I’m guessing
we need to table this until we get that information.” Asst. Supt. Tursi stated that that information
went out in the Board update packet on November 4 as requested by the C & I Committee.
Comm. Langton said she did not recall receiving or seeing the information. Comm. Avard said
he recalled that it was sent electronically. Other Board members concurred that they had
received the requested information.
      Comm. Herbert made a motion to approve the School in Need of Improvement
Grants. Comm. Vaughn seconded the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

     Comm. Soucy made a motion to recess the meeting and to convene as the Committee of
the Whole on Finance. Vice Chair Gelinas seconded the motion. The motion passed by
unanimous vote.

       Comm. Soucy said the Sub-Committee on Finance had reviewed and approved several
items including the Financial Update, the Operating Statements for FY12, the City Service
Billings in the amount of $61,489.72, the Manifest of Authorized Expenditures in the total
amount of $13,503,436.38, and the Professional Leave Requests in the amount of $7,154.56.
The Sub-Committee accepted the Treasurer’s Report. It also approved the Patricia Stips Library
Bequest for an amount of $9,486.64, and the Grants and Gifts Report. The grants included the
School in Need of Improvement Grants for 6 Title I schools, the Books for Schools
Award/Target Grant for Gossler Park School, the Bob’s Discount Furniture Award for Wilson
Elementary School, the Harvard Pilgrim Grant for the Guiding Stars Program in the District, and
the Bean Foundation Grant for West High School. This report included 2 items that were for
information only. The Committee approved the Dunkin Donuts Donation Proposal. The
proposal originally in the agenda material was for a donation of $20,000 to the school but the
actual donation was for $25,000. There were several Donations that were accepted including the
donation of classroom furniture from Hesser College and the donation of a THerAdapt inclusion
chair. And the RFP for Winter Athletics was approved with the removal of all of the items for
West’s cheerleading. Those will be part of a subsequent bid. Comm. Soucy said the Committee
considered the Copier Machines Disposal Requests. An item was removed from the table; the
Letter of Understanding with the Auburn School District, and the Administration’s
recommendation was approved.
       Comm. Soucy made a motion to approve the items presented by the Sub-Committee
on Finance. Comm. Herbert seconded the motion.
       Comm. Briggs said his understanding with the Dunkin Donuts’ donation was for Weston
Elementary School to offset the substantial issues that will be there with traffic etc. with that
establishment now being across from that school. His understanding too is that money won’t
necessarily go to Weston but it would go to the District’s General Fund. He asked “what is the
distribution of that money?” Comm. Soucy said “the proposal was that the funds do go to
Weston. Weston identified its priorities in the expansion of its early childhood literacy,
technology, and interactive language-based programming. What they will be providing is 2 to 3
Ipads for 16 classrooms as well as the identified applications that the school requested.”
       Comm. Briggs said “there was some concern from the PTO at Weston that those things
that the principal requested, are things that the District should be providing as we are for the rest
of the schools such as by these grants that we have just approved. I would encourage and advise
the Finance Committee take into account that the PTO felt as though this is money should go to
offset the impact of that school and maybe it should be used for purposes such as the playground
etc. The items really should come out of the General Fund for curriculum and instruction and I
would encourage the Board to consider that.”
      Mayor Gatsas called for the vote on the motion. The motion passed by unanimous

Other Business
     There was no other business presented in the meeting of the Finance Committee.

      Comm. Soucy made a motion to adjourn the meeting of the Committee of the Whole on
Finance and to reconvene the meeting of the Board of School Committee. Vice Chair Gelinas
seconded the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote.

        Comm. Soucy made a motion to approve the report of the Finance Committee. Vice
Chair Gelinas seconded the motion.
        Comm. Beaudry said he would vote against item ‘a’ of the Professional Leave Requests.
It is his understanding that this is supposed to be for Ipad classes. We have teachers going from
Gossler and Parker/Varney schools. In the meeting of the Sub-Committee on Finance he asked
the question why the grant writer needs to go too and the answer was to see what the grant is
about. He will vote against this because this is an educational conference to bring back
information or knowledge to the students and the grant writer doesn’t work in a classroom. He
feels the $573 can be used to go into the classrooms.
        Comm. Langton said she needed clarification as well. She asked “would that individual
actually be training teachers or is it a one-time occurrence just to see what’s happening? That is
quite a bit of money that I would like to see us have go back into the classrooms.”
        Supt. Brennan said “in my response to Comm. Beaudry it was for the grant writer to go
see. Oftentimes we write grants and there isn’t truly a sense of what will be the benefit or if it is
a benefit. I would expect that some of that training would be passed on by the grant writer or our
person who is in charge of the grants. I also believe that that individual would enjoy doing that
as well. We didn’t get into a conversation, Comm. Beaudry, so I didn’t understand the depth of
what you were looking for at the Sub-Committee meeting.”
        Comm. Langton asked “is that something that the grant writer generally does, comes back
and does professional development for our teachers or would this be a first?” Supt. Brennan said
“in this case that individual is also responsible for our professional development programs that
we put together. That individual oversees that process. I think that would be very helpful for her
to get that kind of training and to be able to talk about the relevance of it. Also, it would help
with future attempts to secure grants.” Comm. Langton asked “how many individuals in our
District do you think will benefit from the individuals’ that are partaking in this endeavor?”
Supt. Brennan replied “I believe school-wide it would be each of those schools. Beyond that, I
believe, having her go to that meeting we would be able to expand on the early-release days that
we currently have and other such opportunities. I believe she would be available for that
training. As we go forward in the purchasing of Ipads I think we have to have qualified trainers
out there to instruct our teachers on the best use of that. That is one of the reasons why I signed

off on this request.” Comm. Langton asked “how many schools currently have the Ipads?”
Supt. Brennan said in a quick identification of the schools, he would say there are 5 schools.
       Comm. Beaudry asked “to bring back information to our teachers would it be beneficial to
have our GMPDC coordinator go to something like this? If you want to disseminate information
to our teachers that is where they go to get educated, correct?” Supt. Brennan said “that is one of
the venues that they can take advantage of. I think we are very fortunate to have the GMPDC
coordinator and the assistants that work there. They are probably more in tune with the
technology than all of the people that we are sending.”
       Mayor Gatsas called for the vote on the motion. The motion passed by unanimous
vote. Comm. Beaudry said he was opposed to item ‘a’ of the Professional Leave Requests.

Redistricting Implementation Process
       Supt. Brennan said things continue to move forward with the timeline that had been
presented to the Board. They are finalizing all of the reports that they sought and received. He
looks forward to the next 3 weeks when he will be sharing with the Board the overall initial draft
and developing opportunities to speak with the public. The public forums are to be scheduled for
the latter part of November into December.

Tabled Item: Superintendent’s Evaluation and Contract
       Comm. Briggs made a motion to take the item of the Superintendent’s Evaluation
and Contract off of the table. Vice Chair Gelinas seconded the motion. The motion passed
by unanimous vote.
       Comm. Briggs said “I was looking for a process to better formulize the evaluation of the
Superintendent to provide him with the feedback that he needs from the Board to do his job and
to acknowledge his accomplishments and to identify areas that maybe should be improved and
what goals for the next term. It really is one of the 2 key responsibilities of the Board along with
setting and presenting the budget request.” He said “the work that is going to be done is really
for next year. What I’m concerned about is exercising our obligation to provide that review for
this year. I provided each Board member a copy of a streamlined procedure to evaluate the
Superintendent’s performance that I recommend we use this year.”
       Comm. Briggs made a motion that the Board adopt the streamlined procedure to evaluate
the Superintendent’s performance publicly and get that done either tonight or at the next
       Mayor Gatsas asked “did you give this to the Superintendent before tonight?” Comm.
Briggs said “I gave it to him tonight and I reviewed it with him.” He said “I think we need a
simple procedure. We would start by the Chair asking each Committeeman in voting order the
following 2 questions. What do you wish to recognize in the Superintendent’s performance this
period? You have 2 minutes. What do you wish to criticize in the Superintendent’s performance
this period? You have 2 minutes. Then to respond to the question, what goals or changes do you
offer the Superintendent for the coming period? You have one minute. After that, the Chair
shall then ask the Superintendent if he would like to take not more than 10 minutes to respond
collectively or singularly to any of the comments offered by the Committeemen. Lastly, the
Chair shall call for a roll call vote on the single issue of should the Superintendent’s contract be
extended for one more year? I think that is a very simple vote where we can exercise our
obligation to the Superintendent and to provide critical and constructive feedback and we can do
that in a deliberate way and in a way that we won’t be here all night.”
        Mayor Gatsas asked Supt. Brennan if he had a problem doing this in public. Supt.
Brennan replied “no.” Mayor Gatsas asked the Superintendent if he had a problem using this
format for his evaluation. Supt. Brennan replied “no.”
        Comm. Beaudry asked “did I just hear we’re going to do all this in public now?” Mayor
Gatsas replied “yes.” Comm. Beaudry said “I wouldn’t participate.” Comm. Herbert said he
would prefer this be done in non-public session. Mayor Gatsas said it was up to the
Superintendent to decide whether it be done in public or non-public. Comm. Herbert said “I
agree with the basic format and I like the idea of a discussion that has certain time limits as that
would entice the Board members to be concise as to what they approve of or disapprove of. I
guess we’re going to have 7 new Board members so half the Board is going to be brand new so I
have a little concern about this Board making that decision. Someone can convince me that it is
quite fine. I agree if we’re going to do it, it be just for one year. I prefer an uncluttered agenda
at a specific meeting where this is our one and only item to decide. If it is going to be public
because that is the Superintendent’s wishes, I’m fine with that, but I would prefer that we have a
particular meeting for that purpose.” Mayor Gatsas said “we’ve gone through this agenda faster
than any other agenda I’ve seen. We have an as uncluttered agenda as you could possibly find.”
        Comm. DeBlasi said “I was going to say this is about as light an agenda as you can get.
We’ve already delayed this process and postponed it and tabled it, so I think it is perfectly
permissible to have this tonight. As for the public or private comment, it is my understanding
that the employee has the sole discretion to make that call and we shouldn’t squawk. The
Superintendent has the right to have this in a public session.”
        Comm. Avard said “in past years the process was that we as a group, the 15 Board
members, met privately without the Superintendent in the room, and we discussed our opinions
of the different answers on the matrix that we had filled out prior to tonight and then we
presented to the Superintendent. The Vice Chair presented the report to the Superintendent as to
how we collectively presented the evaluation and whether or not we were going forward with
another year. I think this format gives us the opportunity to have discussion back and forth so
that if someone is presenting something publicly their interpretation of how he should be
evaluated it could be filled with misunderstandings that could be clarified in the discussion
between us. I disagree with this being done in this manner where nobody is allowed to comment
towards each other and we’re not allowed to have that discussion privately and to discuss our
evaluation between us before we present it to the Superintendent or to the public.”
        Comm. Briggs said “first to Comm. Herbert’s comment whether it should be done by the
incoming Board, this is our responsibility. This is our responsibility just like the preparation of
the budget request. I think it is incumbent that it reflects a history and it reflects something that
has happened already. It is important that we do our obligation to the employee, the
Superintendent, and provide constructive feedback. I think it is important that this Board and
future boards do it in a very timely manner. And regarding the process, I can appreciate very
much Comm. Avard’s comments about that process but we have a hard time with those things
and they go on so long and we struggle with the format and I don’t think anyone is really
satisfied. That is why if we have a process that gives each member the opportunity to speak and
we can get this over with and the core issues of providing constructive feedback and making
declarations and describing goals for your ward and the School District in general it can be
       Comm. DeBlasi said “I disagree with Comm. Herbert. It is this Board’s right to evaluate
the Superintendent. It would be foolish to think that an incoming board with 7 new members
could remark on the past year of what this Superintendent, who we worked closely with on a
daily basis, was able to accomplish and where there might be areas we would like to discuss in
terms of communication. I do think it is the responsibility of the sitting Board to complete its
task of the evaluation process.”
       Comm. Langton said there was another Board meeting in 2 weeks. She asked “couldn’t
this be done in 2 weeks?” This wasn’t on tonight’s agenda per se to do it in this format. And
there are 2 Board members not present this evening. Where it wasn’t planned for she doesn’t
think it would be fair for some of us to come up with information off the cuff or for the 2
members that are not present. This is important enough that we all should be here when we give
the Superintendent his evaluation and the feedback from the Members.
       Mayor Gatsas said “there was a vote to take this off the table so it is now on the table.”
Comm. Beaudry made a motion to table this item, the Superintendent’s Evaluation and
Contract. Comm. Langton seconded the motion.
       Comm. DeBlasi asked a parliamentary inquiry. He said “in reviewing the
Superintendent’s contract and to be sure that the Board is aware, there is something in there
under ‘performance evaluation’ which specifically states that this Board prior to December 1,
2011, shall present the Superintendent with an evaluation. So, that, once again, puts the
premium on this Board to get together to conduct this evaluation and to provide the results
sharing them verbally and written with the Superintendent prior to December 1.”
       Mayor Gatsas said “I would assume this Board would want to evaluate the Superintendent
tonight. We have plenty of time to do it.” Mayor Gatsas called for a roll call. Voting in
favor of the motion were Comm. Beaudry, Avard, Beauchamp, Langton, and Herbert.
Voting in opposition of the motion were Comm. Ambrogi, Briggs, DeBlasi, Vaughn, Soucy,
Katsiantonis, Vice Chair Gelinas, and Mayor Gatsas. The motion failed by an 8-5 vote.
       Comm. Beaudry said “I would respectfully request that we at the end of the meeting go
into non-public session and go through the questions. There were 6 of us and I believe some
other Board members that submitted their evaluations after the last meeting and we compiled
those. If people want to talk about the reasons why they wrote what they did I would do it in
non-public. It could not only be one individual but it could be many individuals’ reputations that
could be at stake. I would rather go into non-public at the end of the meeting and discuss this and
submit the evaluation to the Superintendent that way.” Mayor Gatsas said “we’re in a process
right now so let’s go through this process. The Superintendent wants it done publicly and it is up
to him whether he wants to do it publicly or not. He has chosen to be out to do it so…..” Comm.
Beaudry asked for a point of order. He said “I’m concerned if somebody says something that
then litigation can come forward. It would be a concern that a name or something comes out,
even with the Superintendent, and even though he wants it done in public, if someone says
something and he says ‘well, you’re defaming my character now’ all of a sudden you get slapped
with a lawsuit for defamation of character. If you’re in non-public, that can’t happen.” Mayor
Gatsas said “I don’t think there is anything more that we’ve done to him in public in prior
meetings that he could probably have said the same thing. I certainly would say that whatever
the Superintendent wants I don’t have a problem obliging him.”
       Supt. Brennan said “I’ve never asked for an evaluation to be done in public before. I don’t
know if it has ever been done but I think with everything that has been going on with the last 3
years plus in a sense of where I stand with this Board and where I stand with our District, I think
it is important that we get it out. I know there are areas that I must work on. I did provide a self-
evaluation in the last Board packet and I believe I hit upon most of the things that have already
been shared with me throughout the years. I just want to get it over with, quite candidly. There
are some opportunities that may be out there for me if you don’t want me. I certainly want to be
here but as the Board of School Committee you feel you could do a better job for our students
with a different leader, I am not going to stand in your way. When I was first hired, I believe
that was one of the things I said that when it became time for me to move on either I’ll know it or
you’ll know it. In either case, that’s the time to move on. That is the only reason I want to bring
this to an end. Not to get carried away here, there is a strain, and I would just as soon get it over
with one way or another. I will take every comment that is made, whether it is positive or
negative, in the spirit that it was given and if you still have faith in me and believe that I can
make adjustments I will do so. If not, you can tell ‘thanks for your effort’ and you can start a
new search.”
        Mayor Gatsas said Comm. Briggs’ suggested process would be followed and Comm.
Ambrogi would start.

       Comm. Ambrogi said she would like to set the tone for this process to be as constructive as
possible. She said “I would like to recognize the Superintendent, primarily with what I have felt
to be his responsiveness, certainly to me individually. When I have questions or when I present
issues to the Administration, I get answers, and therefore very frequently I do not need to bring
issues up in public because I feel the issues have already been addressed. I do honor the
Superintendent for that and I honor him for his patience with the Board. I also would say I think
some really great things have happened in our schools over the last few years that I think he can
lay at his door. I think he has allowed his principals to experiment and to move forward with
new issues to try to make our schools better. If I have any criticism at all it would be that I do
have concerns that sometimes there are issues that I know come up in C & I Committee meetings
in particular, for whatever reason they seem to involve the high schools, and I feel that
sometimes we do not move forward on those issues. And I do feel those are issues that are up to
the Board to bring up and pursue because they are essentially policy issues. I think in terms of
goals or changes for the future I would like to see us really put an effort on some of the issues
that have come up with some of the curriculum and instruction requests. Overall, I think the
Superintendent, in my view, has worked hard in a difficult environment, budgetarily. One other
issue I would be remiss not to mention is I did feel there were some issues with communication
in the last budget cycle but I know the Superintendent is aware of that and I think we can move
constructively forward in the future.”

      Comm. Briggs said “I’d like to recognize the Superintendent’s performance this year for
the mammoth effort in recreating and the forming of our policies; our policies on bullying and
our policies on the dress code. We did a complete revamping of all of the District’s policies and
that was a huge amount of work. I worked very closely with the Superintendent over several
weeks in that process and I think that was a significant accomplishment. I think another
accomplishment of the Superintendent was in addressing issues that many parents had had great
concern about in equal treatment and equal access of all students to the benefits to the school and
to programs and to equal treatment under the policies. I believe there was a lot of work done
behind the scenes on that and I want to recognize him for that.”

       He said “in terms of criticizing the Superintendent’s performance this year, I do believe
that during the budget cycle separating himself from the School Board was an issue that I would
hope would not be repeated. That was unusual and I would like to see that not occur and that the
Superintendent’s budget be presented to the School Board and the School Board should
deliberate and then exercise their obligation under the Charter and present their recommendation
to the Aldermen.”
       Comm. Briggs said “in terms of goals, I would like to see the continued implementation of
leveling in the middle schools; this time with true leveling with curriculum differentiation
between the levels and a strengthening of the curriculum in the middle schools and a genuine
increase of the challenge of what we expect students to do with the level of the homework and
the level of what we’re asking them to do at the upper levels. That really isn’t happening today.
We’ve got separation but we don’t have true leveling and I would like to see that completed. I’d
like to see the completion of the 4-year technical high school as a goal. And lastly, I would like
to see the implementation of off- hours in our high schools, whether is Saturday or whether that
is after hours, for the extension of the school day and a better utilization of our teaching and our
structural resources.”

       Comm. DeBlasi said “I’ll start off my evaluation as such talking about the Superintendent
personally. I think he is an individual who has dedicated himself to this District and put forth a
tremendous effort over the past 3+ years. I do believe he is a man of principles and integrity and
I recognize that it must be difficult when he has to deal with the excrutiating minutae on a daily
basis of some colleagues of mine and others. I commend him for some of the community
partnerships that he has established and for managing a budget that was riddled with shortfalls
and holes. I think those are a good basis that the Superintendent when judged against his
predecessors would certainly stand above the pack, at least in many recent years.”
       He said “with that being said, I do feel the Superintendent fell woefully short in a couple
of major areas this year. We as a Board took direction from the Mayor who said to give the
Superintendent more leeway and more flexibility and to treat him as if he were the CEO of the
School District and let him make decisions without our intervention and if those decisions
proved to be less than prudent to hold him accountable. I think there needs to be accountability
for some of the Superintendent’s decisions as they relate to personnel; particularly some of the
leaders in our District or should-be leaders. If I was handing out a grade, that would be a D at
best. We had some very well documented experiences that were less than pleasant and others as
it came to the hires that were supported and endorsed by the Superintendent, particularly, over
the past year. If we’re going to continue to move forward, I think if nothing else, the Board
needs to regain its oversight in terms of the interview process because we presented an
opportunity and in this area I do believe the Superintendent fell short.”
       Comm. DeBlasi said “another area that requires some accountability is our District budget
this year. As Comm. Briggs alluded to, I think it was very disappointing, certainly for me and
Comm. Briggs and others on this Board, to see the Superintendent work towards a District
budget solely alongside the Chairman of the Board and at times the Vice Chairman while
completely distancing himself from the majority of Board members. It was always my
understanding that the Superintendent reported to the Full Board and not to any one particular
individual. To not have a legitimate and appropriate School District budget as presented and
voted by the majority of the School Board with the Superintendent at the helm is completely
irresponsible and there is no doubt and no question as to why Aldermen did not reach a little bit
deeper into their pockets. It is pretty tough to justify giving additional funds when you’re told
you don’t need them by the person who is in charge.”
       He said “lastly, because I don’t want this to come off as any type of beat-down here, but it
is an evaluation which needs to be honest and direct and straightforward., a year ago, or not
quite, we were told this District could do without hundreds of para-professionals. That was a
terrible blunder to make that estimation. Not only did we find out that we required these para-
professionals in the classroom, but in some instances, we required more. The blow and the
perception of that particular decision that went out to the community that we had to deal with for
weeks on end with dedicated professionals in this District was worse than unfortunate. I would
hope that moving forward there would be a greater priority based on uncovering and discovering
absolute fact before presenting forward fiction.” He concluded by saying “I think what you’ve
heard was a personal opinion of the Superintendent as a man and an individual and my
professional opinion of some areas of performance over the past year.”

       Comm. Herbert said “I have found Tom Brennan to be personable and responsive to my
requests for information or help in the event that somebody called me. I can’t think of a time
when I called him when he didn’t respond promptly with some resolution to some parent’s
concern or to my own concerns. I give him very high marks in that area. I am concerned, as has
been mentioned already, that the Superintendent, in my opinion, forgot who he was and what his
responsibilities were in regards to proposing a budget for the School District and he came
forward with essentially a budget that had not been passed through the School Board in any
meaningful way. It essentially came about through his meetings with the Mayor and possibly the
Vice Chair. When he stood up and said to the Aldermen that he was concerned with the
financial constraints of the City etc. etc. that shocked me because determining what the
constraints are of the City is with the body of the Board of Mayor & Aldermen. The
Superintendent, in my opinion, under all circumstances, argues and militates for what he
considers to be adequate funding and I felt that he did precisely the opposite this time around. It
was very, very disappointing for me. Joe Briggs and I ended up presenting the budget without
the Superintendent. And that budget that was presented to the Aldermen was in fact the budget
preferred by the Board’s majority yet the Superintendent could not be there because he had
already told the Aldermen that he preferred another budget which the Board did not approve nor
did the Board have much to do with. It turns out that what we had recommended and the
methods we had for balancing the budget were the ones that proved to be true and accurate and
were used to balance the Mayor’s budget, minus $2million and 50+ teachers that were in the
School Board’s budget. To say that I was disappointed with the Superintendent can’t be
       He said “this was my primary concern but a corollary to that is I have noticed a tendency
of this Superintendent, and I think it is in part because who the Mayor is, to remove the School
Board not only from the budget but from the redistricting proposal. There was one point when a
School Board member asked if he could sit in on the meetings and was told by the
Superintendent that he would prefer that the School Board member not do that. I think there has
been sort of a movement to do things on his own with consultation from the Mayor and then
come to the Full Board with a proposal. It may be great or not but it hasn’t been vetted by any of
the elected members of the Board. I’m almost positive that is not how the process was
envisioned. I have a disappointment in the tendency I see for too much secrecy and too much
distrust. I can see why he would be hesitant sometimes early on to come out with his thinking on
certain things because sometimes that can be a tough thing to do with this particular Board but I
don’t think it is going to be any easier to come out with a proposal, no matter how well thought
out, and then find out that there were a lot of people that weren’t consulted and they have some
very different ideas about what needs to be done. I’m not going to be on the Board when this
occurs so I’ll watch it on TV with some interest but I think the Superintendent needs to work on
that and overcome his fear of sharing with the Board early on some of his thinking.”
       Comm. Herbert said “I know Tom Brennan can think outside the box, to use a well-worn
cliché, and I know he has a lot of ideas that I think are terrific so I would urge him to continue
thinking along those lines. I also would urge him and the Mayor to focus a little more on the
synergies we might have with our existing post-high school institutions in the City of which we
have many. During the campaign I talked a lot about making education the #1 priority in the
City. We are a college town and an R and D town and I would urge the Superintendent to
continue thinking and expanding along those lines.”

       Comm. Vaughn said “in the positive column, I think the Superintendent works very hard
and he has a very demanding position that I think he puts most of himself into every day. I can’t
imagine there is a lot left afterwards. I think he has many positive, interesting ideas and he has
worked on some interesting initiatives. As said, he is willing to think outside the box and I hope
that he continues to do that. He doesn’t feel constricted by the normal confines of what a
traditional education is viewed as. He is very active in the community. It is evident that he cares
about Manchester and its students. I think there lots of really good things happening in our
schools that are often overlooked that are attributable to many different people and I think he
needs to be included in that group. Going back to the challenging position, I think he has a very
challenging position responding to everyone on this Board’s inquiries and questions on a regular
basis and I think there is a desire of some people to micro-manage him. Unfortunately, I think
that leads him to getting distracted from policy in managing the School District and having a
strategic vision for the School District at times and unfortunately he gets caught in the weeds.
While some of that may be his fault, I think also it is our fault as a Board at times.”
       She said “in terms of other issues, I think at times at meetings there is a feeling we get less
than complete answers on topics or that he may be somewhat distant from topics and I think
there is a feeling among the Board that we would be more comfortable if he was a little bit closer
to those issues he was speaking to but I realize it is difficult given the size of the District and
everything that is going on at once. But I am agreeing with my colleagues that the biggest issue
I’ve had this year was the budget process and the communication on that. And with the
personnel decisions that were advanced by the Superintendent during that process that were
incredibly frustrating for many of us on this Board. That was my main concern.”

       Comm. Soucy said “I think the Superintendent’s signature phrase is always ‘kids first’ and
I think when the Superintendent is at his best is when he is actually interacting with the students
in the District. That is probably his greatest strength. I think his sincerity and his compassion
for the students of this District really shows through. I think he has assembled a good
management team. Sure, there are some personnel decisions that some of us disagreed with. I
think any one of us could point to 1 or 2 but I think by and large the professionals sitting behind
us have provided very good support for him and to the members of this Board. I applaud him for
having put together a good team. I think there is communication with the Board and we are
provided with a lot of information. Sometimes it is challenging to provide it in a timely fashion
but I think every effort is made to try to provide more information. I think there are some of us
that want limitless amount of information but certainly we get very regular updates. The other
strength that I want to point out is what I think is a strength of character and that is there have
been instances where the Superintendent has come before the Board and has been willing to
admit to having made a mistake. That is not always an easy thing to do in a public forum. Tom
Brennan has done it and I think he has done it with a great deal of dignity. I truly respect that
and I think that says a lot about him as a person and also as a leader in this District.”
       She said “if I had to criticize anything I think I too would have to point to the budget
process. That was probably by far the most disappointing experience that I think all of us had
here. The budget for the Superintendent I believe needs to be about kids first and it needs to be
about what is in the best interest of this District; not deciding what this District can or can’t
afford, but talking about what this District needs. Each one of us sitting around this table are
elected to determine what this District can and can’t afford and balancing that with the needs of
the District. I do think that the needs of the District and some of the policy decisions made in
implementing the budget were not good ones. And the process was not a good process. That
was by far the most disappointing thing.”
       Comm. Soucy said “in terms of establishing goals, I think what would be most helpful is
for the Board to work with the Superintendent to establish those goals and the Superintendent
forcing us to stick with them. The other problem we have in this District is we start something
and we ask the Superintendent and team to gather all kinds of data and then we change direction.
First we’re going to redistrict and we’re going to have K through 8 and then we’re going to have
5 through 8 and then we’re going to have something else. We never seem to set on a large-
enough goal and provide just enough information to allow the Superintendent and his team to see
a process through and then based on that to go forward and make our decision. It seems there are
so many fits and starts. There are times when the Superintendent and the team are unable to
provide us with information because they are so busy running in different directions gathering
information. I think it as much our responsibility and his responsibility to keep us to that task of
establishing one, two, at most three large priorities for this District and then sticking to those and
making us aware of what goes into compiling the data and helping us to make those decisions.”

       Comm. Langton said “as far as things to recognize, I agree that the Superintendent is very
personable and he is very easy to talk to. I believe he is loyal; actually he is loyal to a fault. As
far as criticism, I think it has been said several times, I do question the Superintendent’s
understanding of the needs of our District. With regards to the budget, especially going back to
the idea of cutting of 200 para-professionals, that made me wonder if the Superintendent really
had a grasp on special ed and what actually does take place in a classroom. There have been
several incidences over the past year too that I don’t need to go into, we’re all aware of those.
My next concern is his accountability with personnel choices. There have been a number of
hires that a number of Board members questioned before they got to this level yet they were
brought aboard and there was one that lasted not even 24 hours and another 2 months. That is
concerning to a Board member and I would say with the public at large having individuals in our
schools and not being able to fulfill their obligations being with this District for the time that is
necessary. I think we need to take a look at both of those things seriously.”
       She said “as far as goals, that is something that we as a Board along with the
Superintendent should be agreeing upon in a session without an agenda so that can be recognized
to the public as well.”
       Vice Chair Gelinas said “much of what has been said positively or negatively about the
Superintendent has been said, but I can make my comments based personally on my experiences
with the Superintendent during the past year plus. Obviously he is a gentleman who works hard
and is dedicated. I think he has demonstrated a sincere effort to do the very best that he can for
this District. I think he has shown a sincere effort to do all that he can to communicate with this
Board. I think we have seen his involvement in the community. I think those of us who did not
know the Superintendent would probably think he was running for Mayor or something because
he has made a complete effort in being throughout the District. He has also demonstrated his
ability to communicate with our teachers and with our principals. He meets with our principals
on a regular basis. He reviews policy and the direction that the Board wants this District to take.
I know he does that because I have witnessed it. He visits with the community and he visits with
the community of our educational system, not just the community of our City. He has worked as
hard as anyone can work with a 15 member Board who sometimes go off in directions which
makes the direction for the District and for the Superintendent and the Administration at times
very difficult. I have known him to be a gentleman. In the past year plus I feel that I have gotten
to know him personally and I think all that I know of him is not only positive for him as a man
but also positive for our District. If the Superintendent has any negatives, I’m sure there will be
others who have their own list but I think probably his greatest weakness is not his inability to
communicate with the Board but rather to communicate with the Board as individuals. I have
mentioned to him often that he needs to communicate with the Board as individuals whether it be
a personal sit-down or a phone call. There are times that he wishes to have ideas for this District
that he presents to us as a Board that I feel he would have been able to sell so much easier and
get through so much quicker if he was willing to speak to Board members individually more
often. As for goals, I’m sure that is something the next Board will discuss with him. I have
every confidence he will be re-appointed and the Superintendent will have some ideas as well as
the members returning and the 7 new members coming in.”

      Comm. Katsiantonis said “I want to say I was glad working with Dr. Brennan for the last 3
years. Since day one when I got on the Board he helped me. I do respect him and as Comm.
Soucy said any time he was wrong he has apologized. Not that many people do that. I think he
has done a great job. Any time I personally called him with an issue we had in our District he
was there calling me back the same day. He has done a great job working with the teachers and
with the principals and working with us with all of the policies. If I had to grade him from 1 to
10 I would give him an 8. The reason why I couldn’t give him a 10 has to do with the budget;
that was the only issue that I wasn’t really happy about. I do like to see him working here

      Comm. Beaudry said “Comm. DeBlasi said it all for me.”

       Comm. Avard said “I want to start off by saying I have a lot of respect for Dr. Brennan. I
like Dr. Brennan as an individual; I think he is a great man and I think he is a very dedicated
educator and he wants nothing more than the best for the students. I agree with the positive
comments that were made about him tonight. I do have some issues. I do have some concerns
about the job that has been done. As has been pointed out, he has repeatedly told us that if he is
not doing a good job to hold him responsible, to hold his feet to the fire. We gave up a lot of our
position, a lot of our influence in the hiring process of building-level administrators and it was
done with the concept of if we don’t like the choices that were made he is the one to be held
responsible because he is bringing those names forward. We’ve had some issues. That has been
brought up here. I’m very concerned about some of the new hires and the way the process has
changed. I don’t like the way we’re doing this right now and I’m very concerned that we’re not
getting the best people in all positions.”
       He said “while talking about new hires I do have to hold him in part responsible, not
entirely, but in part responsible for the difficulties with the scheduling and with the whole
situation going on at Parkside this year. We had a building with 3 new administrators that didn’t
have the support at a critical time when they were coming into the School District. As the head
administrator, that is why I believe it comes down on him. It’s his job, in my opinion, to make
sure that the support is in place for all of our employees but especially for our new hires. And
that our schools have everything they need, all the resources that they need to be functioning
properly on day one when the students walk in. Those students all arrived this morning to new
schedules and we’re into the 3rd month of the year. That is a very difficult situation for those
students. There are many of them that are placed on new teams.”
       Comm. Avard said “as I’ve talked to different teachers and principals and assistant
principals, it’s a problem at the building level at a lot of our buildings and it is a problem as we
come all the way up the structure, that there is a lack of leadership and direction District-wide
from the top all the way down to the lowest tier of employees. I’m hearing this at all levels.
Again, it’s not just Dr. Brennan but I think he sets the tone for the District and I think that a tone
of leadership and direction be throughout the City and that everybody knows where we’re going.
Maybe that blame falls on us that we need to give leadership and direction. That is a discussion
for the next Board to have as I think that is something that needs to change in the City.”
       He said “my biggest problem, however, is I see a lack of follow-through. It’s something
that I’ve seen over the past 4 years. We have West High School that is still floundering with too
few students. There is such a deficit of students over there they’re not able to have full classes or
full sports teams and they’re not having the same opportunity that the children throughout the
City are having. Ideas have been brought forward such as academies, charter, you know,
redistricting, and various population shift ideas but I’m not seeing anything being done. The last
time that the question was broached it was answered with ‘well, we’re just going to wait and see
what happens, we’ve been waiting for many years’. There are too many things that we’ve been
waiting for. In December of 2009 the C & I Committee was supposed to have a report on high
school class levels and what we would be doing with level 4 classes and whether it was
appropriate to have performing arts have level 4 while graphic arts do not. This was a discussion
that was going to go off in many different tangents because how far-reaching a domino effect it
could have. And it was whether we would have weighted GPAs or not and whether that would
affect the valedictorian and salutatorian. This had been promised to us all throughout the year of
2009 that in December at the C & I Committee meeting that was when we were going to have a
report. We still haven’t had that report. It has been too many times where he has had to come
forward and say ‘I don’t have anything for you, I’m not ready, I didn’t prepare it’ and that really
concerns me. I don’t see the follow-through. Right now we’re still incomplete on the
redistricting. It’s coming forward and I’m willing to give it more time to make sure the process
is done right but we’re still waiting for that and we’re still waiting for more information for a 4-
year trade school. The last I heard we’re still in limbo. There is my biggest concern that we’re
not seeing the follow-through. I know on past evaluations the #1 thing we gave as a goal was for
the Superintendent to develop the sense of personal pride and the ability to stand up against those
that he is feeling are pushing him around. We asked the Superintendent to step and assert
himself. I have not seen that assertiveness to this day and this is 3 years later.”

       Comm. Beauchamp said “I respect Dr. Brennan. He is a likable man and approachable.
Every time I have had issues or complaints from constituents he has always addressed them in a
timely fashion. It is obviously noticeable that he is loyal to the District and he works long hours.
He is active in the community. Some of the concerns I have are the past budget process. That is
an issue with me. On many occasions there have been questions that have been brought to the
Superintendent in this forum and he comes back and he does not have the answers. I personally
have an issue with Dr. Brennan not having a physical address in this City. It is my understanding
he doesn’t have a personal domain in the City; he rents. That is an issue with me. I think he has
to demonstrate to me better communication with the constituents throughout the City. I too
would like to see what’s going to happen with West High School.”

        Mayor Gatsas said “certainly, Dr. Brennan, working with you over the past 2 years I can
tell you we’ve had our ups and our downs. I don’t question that one bit. It seems as though
everybody forgets about the first budget that we brought together. It was a budget that this
Board voted 15-0 to approve and it was the quickest time that any School Board had ever voted
for it. To talk about the accomplishments, it was you that convinced me to go to the Board of
Mayor & Aldermen to seek $3million for new books for this District. I think it was you that said
to me the first thing we need to do is find a new building that we can call our home and not
continue paying $380,000 a year in rent. So, there have been a lot of good accomplishments.
Maybe the budget process in this last process could have been a little easier. There is no
question if there was more money on the table maybe it would have been easier. We didn’t talk
about lay-offs in the first budget so it was pretty simple. Let me tell you for the 7 people that are
going to be returning, there is a $12.8million problem in this School District in the next budget.
I recommend we give the Superintendent every tool he needs to meet those requirements; every
tool. So we can’t sit here and criticize him about budgets when we don’t give him the tools. The
tool being RIFfing teachers. We didn’t do that. That’s the only tool that he has to have people
come forward and talk about how are we going to get health insurance under control. There’s
opportunities. He does a great job throughout the School District. He’s in all the schools. He’s
there talking to the principals and assistant principals and the students and he is there making
sure that our kids get every opportunity. It’s not about blowing up the box, it’s about throwing
the box away, because the box doesn’t work. I don’t know who said it over here but we own
buildings for 24 hours a day but we only use them for 6; all buildings, elementary to high school.
We’ve got to find a way to get kids’ education ramped up and kept in school because people in
Europe are going to eat our lunches pretty soon. Are we talking about redistricting? Sure, K
through 8. That wasn’t something he brought up, it was something I brought up and nobody had
to go because I presented it to the community. I went out there and listened to people and
wanted to see what they wanted to say. So we listened to them. A lot of you folks joined me.
But to say that this Board didn’t have input on the redistricting and it came from the
Superintendent or the Mayor, I don’t know, I think we sat here for the better part of 3 or 4 hours
talking about redistricting. I think the biggest fault that Dr. Brennan has is that he is too good a
guy. He’s too good a guy. He hasn’t stepped up and said ‘you’re fired today’ without trying to
take every preventive purpose that we have in this District. He’s too good a guy when he walks
in a school and we put out dress codes and he is sitting there saying as we walk through the
schools ‘I hope you didn’t see that’. He’s too good a guy because the principals are still in 24
silos. But I respect him and I’m willing to work with him because it’s got to change. I look at
this next budget and you’d never find anybody that is going to come into this District to try to
meet the challenges of a $12.8million problem anywhere quick. Anyone that wants to challenge
the number, that was a number that was given to you last March when I presented my budget.
So, with that, Dr. Brennan, I’m willing to work with you for whatever it is, one year, 2 years, 3
years, or as long as you’re here but certainly I look forward to the next year moving forward.”
He said “now Dr. Brennan you’ve got 10 minutes to wrap it up and we can take a vote.”

        Supt. Brennan said “I don’t think it will take 10 minutes. I would say thank you for the
compliments and I thank you for the constructive criticism which I agree probably more so than
you can imagine. I did submit to you a review of my past performance. I have not been happy
about it in some areas. I think the greatest area is my lack of trust of you so that I can have those
conversations that the Vice Chair has encouraged me for 3 years to have. I think anyone gets a
little tired of getting beat up all the time. That doesn’t mean you have to stand there, you should
think of ways to make sure the beat up isn’t as bad as it was the time before. I do think if you
ask me to stay or tell me I can stay, those would be the primary areas that I need to work on and
that is around communication. I do have ideas as some people have talked about in what we can
do; I’ve just been very reluctant to share them because for the most part when I share a thought
or an idea it gives me about 30 times that to get more work and more answers out or it is
dismissed immediately. Comm. Avard and others have said that I need to stand up in a
respectful way and that is what I will do if you want me to stay. I just needed to say that. It’s a
place I want to be. I know Comm. Beauchamp talked about my address; I do have an apartment
here. I spend a lot of time here. I probably spend more time here than some residents for
different things and events. I do have a life beyond Manchester. My wife may disagree with that
but she is included in that and she is living her life so that I can do what I love to do. That is why
I do go home, and I use the word ‘home’ on weekends or every chance I can but I also am here
when I need to be here when I think it is appropriate. Perhaps the best thing that we can do if we
decide to continue this relationship is to really spend some time in outlining what needs to be
done, whether it’s West High School or weighted or unweighted GPAs, personnel decisions,
whatever. With the next Board we need to sit down and spend some time to have that

      Vice Chair asked a parliamentary inquiry. He asked “could we go the sheet that Comm.
Briggs just handed out and go to item #6?” Mayor Gatsas said “that is what I was about to do
and to ask for a roll call vote on the single issue of should the Superintendent’s contract be
extended for one more year.” Vice Chair Gelinas said “my question is how that is worded.”
Mayor Gatsas asked “do you want to change the wording?” Vice Chair Gelinas said “it says to
extend the contract one more year. Does that mean we are limiting the ability to rehire the
Superintendent beyond another year because it says ‘one more year’?”
      Comm. DeBlasi said “the contract is written as such that this is a completely unnecessary
move. The contract automatically renews for the period of July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.
The salary and benefits have already been negotiated. The only thing that would negate the
contract from renewing would be if we took a specific vote to inform the Superintendent prior to
January 1 that we did not want him back in this District. He is under contract that is in effect
through June 30, 2013 unless we tell him otherwise in the next 5 weeks.”
       Vice Chair Gelinas “the number is correct in the assessment of the contract so I think if we
are going to vote on a roll call motion I think we need a motion that is different than what is
being indicated here in #6.” Mayor Gatsas said “I’m not too sure that we can commit to longer
than a year because of the next Board. It would be to the expiration of the contract moving
forward for another year.”
       Comm. DeBlasi said “in case there is any disconnect here, the Superintendent is under
contract, which we have in front of us. That contract, unless this Board takes a vote otherwise,
runs through June 30 of 2013. We are not required to take any action if we want the
Superintendent to remain in his position. That’s already been worked out. We wrote this
contract as a 2-year contract, just like previous contracts. What we did was put the impetus on
this Board to conduct an evaluation like this. Should we want to make a change, we would have
an additional timeframe to find a search for replacement and thus the Superintendent would also
have the benefit of a longer opportunity to seek different employment.”
       Mayor Gatsas said “I agree with what you’re saying but I think as a vote of confidence for
the Superintendent we would take a roll call saying we are willing to support him going forward.
Or do we want to change it and make it …..?” Comm. Ambrogi said “I might suggest what we
could do in light of what Comm. DeBlasi has said, would be that the vote could be phrased as
confirmation that we will continue to follow the terms of the contract. In other words, we
confirm that we want the contract to remain in effect to June 30 of 2013. It could be a yes or no
on that issue.”
       Comm. DeBlasi said “I’m just making sure that we understood that we would not be
adding an additional year on to the end of the contract as it exists.” Mayor Gatsas agreed.
       Comm. Beaudry said “as far as what we did tonight, how do we develop an evaluation
from the comments. It says under the contract we’re supposed to give the Superintendent his
evaluation by December 1. Now we talked about it but how do you compile whether it is a
favorable or non-favorable evaluation with what the comments were tonight. I know there was
one that was passed out that was rated and the numbers that I saw that were given to us……I
guess I can disclose that because he wanted these numbers disclosed….it was 1.7 which was
below medium. So, if you go strictly by the evaluation that’s a concern that I have. If you go by
the evaluation he is below par. We did this this evening so how does that go into his evaluation
as far as the numbers?”
       Vice Chair Gelinas said “I’m not sure what Comm. Beaudry is using for the figures.”
Comm. Beaudry said “they’re the figures that were given to us.” Vice Chair Gelinas said “I
believe some Board members have submitted some evaluations that were after the last meeting.”
Comm. Beaudry said “I don’t know about anybody else sending in evaluations after the fact. We
got a packet at the last meeting that had the evaluations and I’m assuming it was from the 6
people that handed it in. I don’t know if they took anybody else’s evaluation and figured that in
or not but we got a slip of paper indicating what those evaluations came up to as far as the 1, 2, 3
and it was a 1.7. I don’t know about any other information and who did what after that meeting.”
       Mayor Gatsas said “I think if you remember not everybody submitted them. There was a
motion to table. I don’t remember where the motion to table came from but…..” Comm.
Beaudry said “I moved to table.” Mayor Gatsas said “because not everyone got the evaluations
in. There were only 6 of us that turned them in. But we tabled them waiting for other ones.
There were more that were turned in.” Comm. Beaudry said “that’s my question. Are we going
to get the evaluation number or is the dialog tonight……” Mayor Gatsas said “I think that’s the
evaluation. I think everyone had an opportunity to weigh in on these items as an evaluation.”
Comm. Beaudry said “my concern is we had pros and cons. Now did the pros outweigh the
cons? How do you evaluate that as far as did he meet expectations or did he not meet
expectations?” Mayor Gatsas said “it will be very simple on the next vote that we take.”
       Comm. DeBlasi made a motion that this Board take a vote to extend the
Superintendent’s contract for a second term commencing July 1, 2012 running through
June 30, 2013 according to the terms that have previously been agreed upon and outlined
in the existing contract. Vice Chair Gelinas seconded the motion. Mayor Gatsas called for
a roll call. Voting in favor of the motion were Comm. DeBlasi, Herbert, Vaughn, Soucy,
Katsiantonis, Beauchamp, Ambrogi, Briggs, Vice Chair Gelinas, and Mayor Gatsas.
Voting in opposition of the motion were Comm. Beaudry, Avard, and Langton.

Tabled Item: Evaluations
       Comm. Ambrogi made a motion to take the tabled item, Evaluations, off the table.
Comm. DeBlasi seconded the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote.
       Supt. Brennan said the Board as a whole should have received copies of the evaluations
that he presented relative to the management/leadership team we have in the District including
Asst. Supt. Burkush, Asst. Supt. Tursi, and Ms. DeFrancis, the Business Administrator. He said
“in lieu of that tabling I did supply those evaluations for the Board’s review and it is my
understanding from the contracts that an evaluation provided by the Superintendent should seek
input by the Board members and that is why this is being brought back. Also, that a satisfactory
evaluation would lead to the contracted agreement relative to salaries for this current year.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “the concern I have is as you stated earlier that we have a
$12.8million hole. I at this point am not willing to extend any contracts until the budget process
gets taken care of. It’s only my opinion but some of these positions may be downgraded. If we
have to come up with money, I would downgrade an assistant superintendent for teachers in a
classroom then having 40+ students in a class. So, I would like to leave all the tools in the
toolbox available. We should look at the top when we look at that instead of always looking at
the bottom and working our way to the top. That would be my issue tonight and I am going to
vote against extending any contracts until the budget process.”
       Comm. Langton said “I too am in agreement with what Comm. Beaudry said. My concern
is one of these contracts already has a 2.5% increase. That is quite a hefty amount. I do believe
we have to start looking at the top. I think it is very important that we staff our classrooms when
a teacher is out; we absolutely need a substitute in place. When an administrator is out we make
do and we made do in this District without an assistant superintendent for a while as well. But
we can never make do without a teacher in a classroom.”
       Comm. Herbert asked “the issue of pay raises built into the contracts, is it possible to
freeze existing compensation when we make the same vote if we decide to vote yes on it?”
Mayor Gatsas said “I think the compensation was put in based on what everyone else in the
District was getting. That’s what it was.” Comm. Herbert said “I’m not disputing that. I’m just
saying can we consider freezing compensation at current levels? It’s a question.” Mayor Gatsas
asked “Mr. Superintendent, what’s your recommendation?” Supt. Brennan replied “my
recommendation is that that freeze not take place. Three years ago, four years ago, when I first
came here fortunately I had Asst. Supt. Burkush and Business Administrator, Ms.DeFrancis, next
to me to help me get through this budget. But when we point to advancements in this District
relative to curriculum and instruction, there is one person whether you agree with or disagree
with what he has brought forward, is responsible for that, and that has been Asst. Supt. Tursi. If
you want to set us back another 3 or 4 years deeper then you can restrict those or suspend them.
They are asking, or I am asking, that they receive no more than what educators in this District are
receiving. In fact, as you know, Asst. Supt. Burkush did not take any advancement on her salary
last year and no advancement this year and will not take an advancement next year. Other
people have other reasons for making decisions and I’m not going to question them. To say that
you are going to make a difference at the top by starting at the top, that hasn’t worked very well
the last couple of years. When myself and Ms. Burkush, voluntarily I would add, volunteered
not to have those increases, I didn’t see any real response from anyone else, other than numerous
comments from educators in this District and I’ll paraphrase ‘what an idiot, or idiots, they are’
and ‘are you kidding me’. Those are the things that you hear. So, if you want to talk about role
models, I think we have attempted to do that but I do not think that that should be extended
beyond this year. Asst. Supt. Burkush and I have made that commitment and we will live by that
commitment, but I am recommending those increases. They are well deserved and should be
given. When you talk about a corporation, and that’s what we are, ladies and gentlemen, we’re
nearly worth $200million and we’re responsible for nearly 20,000 lives, that’s a significant issue
and I would just recommend that it would not be frozen and that they receive their 2.5 increase.”
        Comm. DeBlasi said “I have 2 questions. Perhaps Dr. Brennan could answer, is it correct
that neither Asst. Supt. Tursi nor Asst. Supt. Burkush nor Ms. DeFrancis are seeking a contract
extension. They currently are under contract. Is that correct?” Supt. Brennan said that was
correct. Comm. DeBlasi said “and the raises that you recommend or the salary increases are
already outlined as terms of their existing contracts. Is that correct?” Supt. Brennan replied
“yes, it is.” Comm. DeBlasi said “so in this case what you are presenting are the 3 evaluations
and for us to honor the contracts as they are written consistent with the salary increases and one
of our administrators has declined that salary increase so that is a moot point. Am I right there?”
Supt. Brennan said “yes, you are.” Comm. DeBlasi said “I just wanted to make sure that the
Board was aware that our Administration is under contract and this is not a new contract or an
extension of a contract and anything other than adhering to the contracts as they are currently
written.” Mayor Gatsas said “and they also took the change in health insurance.” Comm.
DeBlasi said “they have gone to the increased pay to the health insurance.”
        Comm. Ambrogi said “I would just like to urge my colleagues for us to uphold the
contracts. I think it is really important that we do that. I think when we begin to talk in terms of
not honoring contracts I think we’re on the beginning of a slippery slope. The other issue I
would raise is I think that one of the things we were all talking about when we gave the
evaluation is we are really talking about the need for the Superintendent to look forward and to
continue to think in terms of strategic improvements to our educational system. I would really
query and question Board members how we think he will be able to do that if we deny him any
of his administrative support at the top. They cannot lead us into a new era of education without
all of them working together.”
        Comm. Beaudry said “I just want to make it clear that I’m not here to say we should go
against any contract. There is one contract that expires the same as the Superintendent’s
contract. By voting tonight we are extending it another year. They have the same exact
language that we could terminate or state that we were not going to extend the contract. What
I’m looking at is during the budget process do we need contracts for these individuals to begin
with. How many people on the City side, Your Honor, have contracts? Not one department
head has a contract. They’re all at-will employees. Yet with the School District we have
contracts where we’re locked in for 2 years and sometimes 3 years. Why can’t we do like what
the City is doing and go with at-will employees? That way if we don’t need 2 assistant
superintendents maybe we need 2 directors instead and then the salaries would be different. We
would be able to do that.” Mayor Gatsas said “the City side laid off employees last year.”
Comm. Beaudry said “we lost 51 positions this year. We were just fortunate enough that enough
people retired that we made the difference. Now actually we’re paying the $650,000 that we just
talked about in the Finance meeting which was supposed to be to buy books. We’re paying 1%
increase on that and now we’re paying salaries with that $650,000 so we’re paying interest on
salaries. Don’t get me started on that. My initial comment is why are we having contracts to
begin with. We don’t do it on the City side. They should be at-will employees. I’m looking at a
budget, as Your Honor has stated, of $12million plus and do we need assistant superintendents or
could we do with directors. That’s all I’m stating and there will be some more comments
coming. I wish we go into non-public tonight when it comes to our personnel report. I have
grave concerns about salaries that we’re giving out to some of the employees that are coming up
under the personnel report.”
       Vice Chair Gelinas said “Comm. DeBlasi took the questions and comments exactly where
I was going to go.”
       Vice Chair Gelinas made a motion to accept the Superintendent’s recommendation
regarding the evaluations of Asst. Supt. Burkush, Asst. Supt. Tursi, and Business
Administrator, Ms. DeFrancis. Comm. DeBlasi seconded the motion.
       Comm. Beaudry asked “with that recommendation, I understand Mr. Tursi and Ms.
DeFrancis’ contracts, we can’t touch them, but Asst. Supt. Burkush’ contract, by doing this are
we automatically extending it to 2013. So that would be not just this year but we’re extending it
for the additional year so we would be locked in to the contracts throughout the budget process.”
Mayor Gatsas said “well, she is not getting a raise to begin with.” Comm. Beaudry said “I
understand that but what I’m saying is by supporting this what are we saying, are we locking that
in for the additional year?” Mayor Gatsas said “I think we say that.”
       Comm. DeBlasi said “after review, the contract language is the exact same as the
Superintendent’s so in effect we would be doing the same thing which is extending the contract
through 2013 with the terms that are outlined.” Comm. Beaudry said “I just want to reiterate my
concerns. You want to talk about all the tools in the toolbox. You know, as we keep extending
contracts, the City-side doesn’t do it and I don’t know why we do.”
       Comm. Briggs said “I agree with both sides here. We have contracts and Comm. Ambrogi
is right, we need to honor that. I would support the retention of these important personnel.
However, we’ve discussed this issue before. I think we need the Superintendent to come back to
us with a plan, if it is the will of the Board, with a plan of how to transition away from contracts
on senior personnel making over $100,000 a year. In my view, they don’t need the protection of
a contract. They’re professionals. That doesn’t happen in private business and it doesn’t even
happen at the City level. I’d like to see a plan that over time could transition away from the
concept of contracts into a paradigm of hiring directors or people day to day based upon their
performance. I’d like to see a plan on that.”
       Vice Chair Gelinas asked to move the question. Mayor Gatsas called for the vote on
the motion to approve the evaluations. The motion passed by majority vote; Comm.
Beaudry and Langton voted in opposition of the motion.

Resolution—2011 School Bond
       Mr. Bill Sanders, the City Finance Officer, came forward. He stated that as everyone has
seen in the media and in one’s own investments interest rates have fallen quite a bit over the
course of the last year. Particularly within the City, the Finance Department has been monitoring
the interest rates and looking at opportunities to re-fund bonds; primarily with bonds of the
School District and one with the Water Works. These bonds have opportunities for savings if we
re-fund them. The School District bond is the remnant of the original design/build bond that was
issued back in 2003. At the time about $70million of that was re-financed in 2004. Today there
is approximately $20million left that was not re-financed at that time that we have an opportunity
to re-fund. One can never guarantee interest rates, but the expectation today is we would
probably realize something in the vicinity of 80 basis points to 90 basis points; almost 100% less
in the interest we would be paying. We’re paying today on average about 4.7% on these bonds
and we should be able to do something at 3.85 to 3.9%. This would be a savings for the School
District’s next year’s budget of about $90,000. If we get a little late it would be a little higher
than that.
       Mr. Sanders said this proposal that has been brought forward to the School Board has been
approved by the Aldermen. The School Board would need to approve and authorize the City to
re-finance these bonds.
       Comm. Herbert asked “you said $74million was re-financed?” Mr. Sanders replied “yes,
approximately. We paid off some of that money in the last 11 years.” Comm. Herbert asked
“are you contractually obligated and you cannot re-finance that larger number as well?” Mr.
Sanders said “the bonds were re-financed with non-coll-able option which does not permit us to
force you to give us back your bond in return for the money. By virtue of having non-coll-able
bonds we got a lower interest rate at that time.”
       Comm. Beaudry asked “as far as the 90 basis points we may save, we won’t recognize any
of that in this budget?” Mr. Sanders said “yes. I should have mentioned that in 2012 there
would probably be a savings of about $45,000; almost half. If all things go well we should be in
a position to issue these bonds, re-fund these bonds, by the first week of December. So we
would get about a half year of savings this year.”
       Comm. Beaudry made a motion to accept the bond transfer resolution. Vice Chair
Gelinas seconded the motion.
       Comm. Beauchamp asked how much would it cost to re-finance? Mr. Sanders said “it has
all been netted in to the rates. We do have bond rating agency fees and bond council fees. For
this that would be about in the $30,000-$45,000 range. That has all been incorporated in.”
Comm. Beauchamp said “so, you’re just rolling it into the re-finance amount.” Mr. Sanders
       Vice Chair Gelinas said “so December 1 would be the target date and we would be looking
at a total savings of $135,000?” Mr. Sanders replied “no, it would be about $45,000 this year
and about $90,000 each year until the bonds are paid off in 2028. Over the whole term of the
bond it will be about $1.3million you would save.”
       Comm. Herbert asked “are these going to be non-coll-able as well?” Mr. Sanders
responded “they are.”
       Mayor Gatsas called for the vote on the motion. The motion passed by unanimous

Personnel Report
       Vice Chair Gelinas made a motion to approve the Personnel Report. Comm.
Ambrogi seconded the motion.
       Comm. Beaudry said “with #2, I have a concern. Again, it seems like every time
somebody leaves we start that new person with that exact same salary, or close to it, as the
person that has left. I question that and I also question as far as what was handed out to us this
evening regarding the job requirements of the position. It states that it should have a BA or an
MA in human resources or related fields. I don’t believe the education that this individual has is
considered a related field. Also, a minimum of 7 years of successive experience in human
resources; I don’t believe also that this individual meets that goal. If you look at the back-up
documentation, we had 2 individuals that are current HR directors and I’m wondering why we
wouldn’t pick somebody that has been in the position over someone that again is going to be
learning the ropes as they go. I have a lot of respect for this individual and I hope my comments
reflect that in some way but I want the best. Since I have been on this Board I believe we have
had at least 4 to 5 HR directors. The ones that we get right, it’s because of politics that they
leave, because of the political pressure that is put on them. I just have a concern that we are
missing out. I would rather go with an interim person if we can and at least get us through this
budget process instead of again giving a salary up in the $80,000 range. Those are my comments
and for those reasons I am going to vote in opposition of this. Again, I would like to see my
colleagues follow suit. That is my concern with that position. I don’t know what the thoughts
are of the Superintendent as far as having an interim person. We’ve done without that position
for how long now, what is it 2 months?” Supt. Brennan said “2 to 3 months.” Comm. Beaudry
asked “can we go along with that and maybe give a stipend to the individual that is in the role?
Those are just some things that I’m throwing out there to try to save some money because we
keep saying money is tight.”
       Mayor Gatsas said “then I would think we’re not going to have a Christmas party because
that is going to cost us $700. And we give out clocks. I would think that is something we would
eliminate for this year. I agree, money is tight.” Comm. Beaudry said “it doesn’t look like it
when we seem to do these hirings.”
       Comm. Langton said “I too believe this salary for this individual is a little excessive. The
individual is a wonderful person but again, I think we need to try to keep money available for
direct student services right in the classroom. Time and time again in this District we have hired
people at the individual who is leaving’s salary. This is a little less. I was not in agreement with
the last individual that was in this position and that hiring salary. That was way above the last
person prior. Again, it doesn’t seem as though we have met the criteria as far as what is
absolutely necessary for the position and certain criteria needs to be met as far as what is
considered qualified. And starting at that salary, again, I disagree with that.”
       Comm. DeBlasi said he had a question for the Superintendent. He said “as I look at the
starting salary recommended here it is close to $11,000 less than the predecessor’s salary or
about 12.5%. Is that correct?” Supt. Brennan said that was correct. Comm. DeBlasi asked if the
starting salary or the recommended salary that is listed is consistent with the lower end of that
type of director’s position in a school district. Supt. Brennan replied “yes, I believe it is. We’ve
looked at other districts and that number is lower than many of the others.”
       Comm. Briggs said “one of the primary purposes of Human Resources is to recruit and
hire. The Mayor is talking of a $12million shortfall. Getting to Comm. Beaudry’s point, are we
likely to be in the hiring mode or firing mode in the next 12 months and is this really warranted?
The second point is, as several members had mentioned in the review earlier, there has been a
number of hiccups in the hiring process, whether that is with the formation of the committees or
people that actually ended up getting hired. We had a few people that were hired and they didn’t
end up taking the position. It was a hiccup. Then someone else came in. There have been a
number of issues. I would feel more comfortable before we voted on this position with some
type of informal analysis of what went wrong, what do we think was wrong in the previous HR
director and approach and how this new position addresses a fix to that.”
       Supt. Brennan said “I think we’ve made, I’ve made, after the committees have interviewed
the candidates, the decision that I feel is in the best interest of the District. In terms of previous
employees, there are reasons for their leaving. This individual has worked in the District since
1999 and has moved around within the HR Department and has done an excellent job, from all of
the reviews that I have read and understood, in her position. Do we need it? Most of the time,
unfortunately, that individual’s time is spent on investigations of individuals for alleged
inappropriate behavior and other areas. Even though it may look like on the surface that it is the
role of the HR director to provide the strategies to make new hires or to find qualified people for
positions, that hasn’t really been the case over the last 2 and a half years in this District.”
       Comm. Beaudry said “I tried to research but I couldn’t find it on any website as far as the
average salary for HR directors but I did find the average salary for superintendents and business
administrators and assistant superintendents. We’re going to be paying this individual to start at
$80,000 when the average Statewide for business administrators is $83,000 and for assistant
superintendents it is $93,000. I’d put them in a much higher level than the HR director. I would
like to start getting a wider range for salaries. Under the job description there was no range
posted as far as what we were going to pay. I don’t know what our range is but it seems like our
range is always starting at the high end. The one prior to the individual that just left was only
making, if memory serves me right, about $68,000. We bumped it up to $85,000 because we
couldn’t get anybody supposedly unless we paid that kind of money but with the economy the
way it is I would have to say we could find somebody for less than $80,000 a year. I’m going to
vote no. Actually, I’d like to table this to see if we could do like Comm. Briggs brought up. He
said he would make a motion to table this item until some of these answers come in.” Mayor
Gatsas said he wouldn’t accept the motion. He said “let’s finish the discussion.”
       Comm. Langton asked “was less than $80,000 offered for this position?” Supt. Brennan
replied “yes, I did discuss another number and that was not acceptable. I felt $80,000 was
something we offered 2 and a half years ago and I thought that was consistent with the approach
of not hiring someone at the higher end of the salary scale. That is why I am recommending that
salary.” Comm. Langton said “the individual in this position prior I believe had a degree related
to that and had more schooling and had had a similar position in industry. Is that correct?” Supt.
Brennan said “I don’t have the exact number in my head nor do I have the resources to look that
up. I think one of the issues that became evident was the fact it was more important to have
someone with School District HR experience than corporation. There are many reasons for that
so that is why we looked for someone who had been involved in HR experience at the School
District level. I could not give an accurate answer off my head to the other part of that question.”
Comm. Langton said “I agree with you wholeheartedly. That was my concern back a few years
ago that they need experience with education. My concern again is I don’t believe we have a
salary range and we just throw out a number until….” Supt. Brennan said they did survey other
districts and they did talk about other compensation. His feeling is if that salary was not offered
we would lose that individual. He believes this is the right decision.
      Comm. Avard questioned whether he should abstain from this vote for a reason he stated.
Vice Chair Gelinas said it would be up to the individual Board member to decide whether he or
she should vote on a motion or to abstain.
      Comm. Beaudry made a motion, seconded by Comm. Beauchamp, to table #2 on the
Personnel Report. A roll call was requested. Voting in favor of the motion were Comm.
Beaudry, Beauchamp, Langton, and Briggs. Voting in opposition of the motion were
Comm. Avard, Ambrogi, DeBlasi, Herbert, Vaughn, Soucy, Katsiantonis, Vice Chair
Gelinas, and Mayor Gatsas. The motion failed by a vote of 9-4.
      Mayor Gatsas called for the vote on the motion to approve the Personnel Report.
The motion passed by unanimous vote. Comm. Beaudry, Beauchamp, Langton, and Briggs
wished to be recorded in opposition of #2 on the personnel report.

Personnel Report

Resignations: Administration
Eileen Wrisley     Human Resources Coordinator              Admin.                   $41,333

Nominations: Administration
Paula Wakefield    Director—Human Resources                 Admin.           $80,000/$50,435
                                                                        annual/pro-rated salary

Leaves of Absence: Certified Staff
Nicole Lavallee     Teacher—SPED                            Webster                  $44,985

Nominations: Certified Staff
Johanna Dickson      Teacher—Elementary                     Jewett          $33,904/$25,382
                                                                        annual/pro-rated salary

Retirements: Non-Certified Staff
Virginia Cassidy    Para-professional—SPED                  McLaughlin         $16.90 per hour

Nominations: Non-Certified Staff
Anna Mugica         Interpreter/tutor-visually impaired (temp) Memorial        $19.39 per hour
Erica Chakmakas     Para-professional—SPED                 Parker/Varney       $11.48 per hour
Paul DeBye          Para-professional—SPED                 Parkside            $11.48 per hour
John Larkin         Para-professional—SPED                 Parker/Varney       $11.48 per hour
Christine Marquis   Para-professional—SPED                 Parkside            $11.48 per hour
Daniel Papen        Para-professional—SPED                 Parkside            $11.48 per hour

       Comm. DeBlasi asked a question about the letter dated October 27 that Board members
received in the last Board packet regarding the IRS statement regarding the fees being assessed.
He wanted to check to see if there has been a resolution.
       Comm. Soucy said that was an informational item that had been discussed at the meeting
of the Sub-Committee on Finance. The issue was raised by the District’s treasurer. A human
error was made. The funds had been set aside but then an error took place. This was caught by
the treasurer and she reported the error to the IRS. She was told to wait until the District had
received the fine before action was taken. Everything has to be in writing and the issue is
pending. Notification was received informing the treasurer that it would be 30-45 days for a
resolution. So at this time we are waiting through the process.

      Comm. Beaudry made a motion for the Administration to write a letter to the Board
of Mayor & Aldermen to suspend the 1% interest on the remaining $650,000 in the
textbook account. Comm. Avard seconded the motion. The motion passed by majority
vote; Comm. Herbert and Mayor Gatsas voted in opposition of the motion.

       Mayor Gatsas made a motion to not have the scheduled Christmas party. Comm.
Beauchamp seconded the motion.
       Discussion ensued. Mayor Gatsas expressed his view against the expense of the dinner
and the clocks that would be given to departing Board members. Questions were asked about the
cost of the dinner and how much the cost would be per individual. Comm. Beaudry said he
would like a breakdown of the $740 cost figure that had been provided. Vice Chair Gelinas said
the cost would be more around $600 and he said he is working on possible donations for the
purchase of the clocks. He explained how the dinner and the presentation of the clocks became a
tradition in the District. Comm. Avard said he would be willing to pay $20 for his dinner in
order to cut down on the cost and so that the dinner would not be cancelled. He suggested that
individuals pay the $20 for the dinner. Vice Chair Gelinas said Board members should report to
the Superintendent whether they would be attending the dinner and paying the $20 for the cost
by November 28 because arrangements need to be finalized with the people in the culinary arts
department at MST that would be preparing the dinner.
       Mayor Gatsas and Comm. Beauchamp withdrew their original motion to not have the
Christmas dinner and the Mayor called for a vote that Board members would pay $20 if they
would be attending the dinner. The majority of the Board voted in agreement with Comm.
Briggs and Herbert voting in opposition.

     Comm. DeBlasi made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Comm. Katsiantonis seconded
the motion. The motion passed by unanimous vote. The meeting was adjourned at 9:18p.m.


Suzanne O. Sears
Clerk of the Board


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