Town of Rocky Hill Board of Educ

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					                                                                     Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                     Board of Education
                                                                       January 22, 2004
                                                                                 Page 1

                          TOWN OF ROCKY HILL
                          BOARD OF EDUCATION
                   BUDGET WORKSHOP OF JANUARY 22, 2004

Members Present:      Peter Arico
                      Nadine Bell (Chairman)
                      Kirk Bostwick
                      Neil Geldof
                      Charles McMonigle
                      Francis Palazzolo
                      Anne Schmidt
                      Catherine Vargas
                      Jennifer Viggiano-Grosse

Members Absent:        None

The third budget workshop of the Board of Education was held on Thursday, January 22,
2004, in the Library/Media Center of Griswold Middle School. Chairman Bell called the
meeting to order at 5:40 p.m.

The pledge of allegiance was recited.

Mrs. Schmidt turned the meeting over to Dr. Vautour who reviewed the information
requested by the Board members. He noted that administration had not yet completed the
compilation of all of the requested information.

Mr. Pitocco clarified several issues in a January 21 correspondence. The proposed
field trips for World Languages, Diversity Club Family/Consumer Science (2 trips)
were explained. He gave the back up for the accounts where there was no explanation
for an increase or decease. He pointed out that the EDD course is scheduled to begin
during the 2005/06 school year at a cost of $5,100. Most, if not all, of the equipment has
been obtained in the process of teaching the other courses. The cost covers training,
instructor training, supplemental texts and one additional laptop for the teacher.

In his correspondence, Mr. Pitocco explained the uniform purchase rotation program.
The girls’ cross country uniforms were bought two years early. The dance team uniforms
were bought in 2002-03 and were purchased with fund raising dollars.

The high school currently has two training tables.
                                                                       Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                       Board of Education
                                                                         January 22, 2004
                                                                                   Page 2

The developmental guidance curriculum has been completed for grades 9 through 12.

The Booster Club is aware of the high school’s need for a gym sound system.

Dr. Vautour reviewed the information provided by Ms. Marino in her January 21 memo
to him. She included information on the reason for purchase of the baritone saxophone,
field trip grids, library/media titles, athletics uniform rotation schedule, and contingency
information, where funds were budgeted and it did not appear that the money was spent.

The next document Dr. Vautour reviewed was the equipment account, including the
2001-02 appropriation, expenditure, through the 2004-05 budget requests, including the

The Superintendent next reviewed the computer and printer inventory with a break out by
school, recommending hardware from the technology plan. The high school
recommendation is for 259 units; the high school currently has 137 units that are less than
three years old, 110 units that are less than six years old. Moser currently has no units,
and the recommendation is for 33, for the creation of a lab in the library. It is a matter of
manpower to put those in. There are computers in the classrooms at Moser, but none in
the library lab.

The next back-up document provided was an inventory of all music equipment, including
the inventory description, inventory date, replacement date, and original cost. Mrs.
Boutilier added a column showing when the equipment was replaced. Another column
will be added, showing what has been bought.

An additional back-up document listed the extended duty positions, including the current
occupant and stipend. The list covers the academic team leaders, co-curriculum coaches,
and subject area supervisors.

Dr. Vautour also provided to the Board members a description of the technology
lease/purchase history. The report began with years 1996/97 and was broken out over
six-year leases. Rocky Hill is into the sixth lease. Dr. Vautour also provided a detailed
listing of all equipment purchased under each lease.

Dr. Vautour discussed GHMAS, and noted the six unpaid slots that GHMAS is carrying
for the district. There are three students in the ninth grade, two in the tenth grade and one
in the eleventh grade. He discussed the sibling rule, which was clarified this year. After
discussions, the executive board for GHMAS has determined that they will not apply the
sibling rule for the coming year. From now on, students will be chosen by way of a
                                                                        Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                        Board of Education
                                                                          January 22, 2004
                                                                                    Page 3

lottery basis. A letter was sent to ninth and tenth graders this year, and they will be told
that there is no sibling rule. Siblings that are there will be allowed to complete their
remaining years.

Dr. Vautour still needed to put together information on the NEASC report. Further
information was still needed from the elementary schools on the field trips and place
holder account.

The Superintendent noted that the amount of money allocated to the staff’s reception was
$1,500. There was a fifteen minute recess for the Board members to review the back up

After the recess, Mrs. Schmidt reported that as the Board members deliberated the
contents of the budget, she attempted to compile a list. She asked Dr. Vautour to start
looking into those items on the list.

Dr. Vautour reported that he brought his administrators together to review possible areas
to look at and to get some reactions from them. The administrators agreed that the $1.8
million budget request was a significant one and that the Town as a whole is facing a
number of issues which might make a $1.8 million budget unlikely or impossible this

From an administrator’s perspective, the items recommended were for maintenance.
Understanding the overall condition of the Town, Dr. Vautour understood that the school
district may have to work at a slower pace than he would like.

Dr. Vautour reviewed a list of potential reductions to his budget. He recommended a
reduction of $121,000 in the health insurance account. He has met with the consultant,
who has put out a request for quotes and who has requested some preliminary
information from four vendors. The choices will be between Anthem and Cigna. There
is the possibility of the district’s realizing a $121,000 reduction to the original estimate,
subject to detailed analysis of the plans. A formal decision will have to be made if the
decision is to switch carriers as well as meeting with the bargaining units.

Another potential reduction is the reduction of one section of high school Spanish IV,
ending up with a savings of $10,250. The original estimate of Spanish IV students could
be off line; if it is not, a larger class would be run.

The high school digital electronics area was being proposed to be reduced by $19,225.
This class was one of the two recommended under Project Lead the Way. Dr. Vautour
                                                                     Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                     Board of Education
                                                                       January 22, 2004
                                                                                 Page 4

has conferred with the Project Lead the Way consultant, and the contract says the Town
will have four courses at the end of five years. A similar course is the EDD course.
Project Lead the Way is still in the budget, and the course in the budget is Civil
Architecture for a cost of $25,000.

The elementary math textbook and supplies have been recommended for reduction by
$21,058. The recommendation had been that in the event the new series was moved
forward in K-2, the money proposed in West Hill’s and Stevens’ budge in the amount of
$10,000 could come out.

The third technology lease would be reduced by $50,000 if one lease was eliminated,
having two instead of three. The district has been told that Aetna is ready to give Rocky
Hill 200 units of computers. Those units are very good units, and that would take the
second lease, which is the replacement lease. The third lease is the enhancement. The
first one is already in place. If the lease is taken off line and the 200 computers are
accepted, the district would not have to purchase 110 additional units as originally
planned. Fred Ames cannot do the work himself, and the recommendation is to put
$7,400 back into the budget for student help, so that Mr. Ames could train them. The
account would be reduced by $50,000, but $7,400 would be added to it.

Dr. Vautour asked for flexibility in the expenditure of Lease Two because if the district
obtains the 200 additional computers, the money that was originally eliminated could
handle the peripherals such as TVs and CD burners. Dr. Vautour would come back to the
Board with Lease Two and forego Lease Three, holding onto the replacement lease. He
was talking about acquiring $30,000 worth of purchasing power. He would talk with Mr.
Ames and come back with an analysis as to how to do it. He could give up the third lease
this year, as long there is student help.

Mrs. Boutilier added that some of that money would come from the repair account,
depending on the condition of the computers. The district would not know until March
what they were getting from the Aetna. Dr. Vautour agreed to not process anything that
exceeds a $50,000 lease.

Field trips were proposed to be cut by $10,477, which was 50% of the restoration. Dr.
Vautour pointed out that field trips associated with the Connecticut River Source to
Sound and the Marching Band were in the budget. When the account was reduced, the
reduction was made to new field trips.

The Assistant Principal position at West Hill School has been eliminated for a reduction
of $91,600.
                                                                       Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                       Board of Education
                                                                         January 22, 2004
                                                                                   Page 5

The special education placeholder has been eliminated in the amount of $30,000.

A reduction in the high school math textbooks and curriculum development area in the
amount of $40,000 has been recommended. The district was working with the math
consultant, and further information would be obtained before making a text selection.
There was $500 allocated in curriculum writing in this area.

Library books and periodicals have been reduced by $3,757, freezing them at their
current level.

A recommendation has been made to reduce the middle school music equipment account,
eliminating the purchase of a saxophone in the amount of $2,300.

High school music technology II has been reduced by $9,039.

The treadmill at the high school was eliminated in the amount of $3,000.

The high school co-curricular rental account was reduced by $1,000, and the high school
athletics equipment and sound system were reduced by $2,400.

Summer school will run in 2004, at the same level as 2003, saving $21,800. There will
be two two-week sessions at three hours a day. Mrs. Boutilier noted that students attend
summer school on the recommendation of teachers.

Another reduction was being recommended as a discretionary reduction to the schools’
611, 642 and 690 accounts, with a potential savings of $15,000.

Instead of requesting 100 rehearsal chairs at the high school for music, fifty have been cut
this year, and a request will be made next year for another fifty, saving $4,347.

The area of Bright Beginnings has been studied, and a proposed $70,660, a 1.6 FTE, has
been cut. If the district is able to sustain three part time paraprofessionals to add one to
each section, they could increase the number of children in the classes by two, three or
four. They would adjust the mix of children. The program is now running with a 50/50
split. A decision could be made to go with a 10/8 split, with the students still having the
opportunity for an inclusionary activity. Instead of spending $84,000, the cost would be

Regarding GHAMAS, Dr. Vautour has spoken to the executive director about the six
students and the sibling rule. He told the executive director he was having problems
                                                                         Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                         Board of Education
                                                                           January 22, 2004
                                                                                     Page 6

coming up with funding for those six students. There has been an agreement that the
siblings will be allowed to continue at no cost during the course of their term. For this
coming year, Rocky Hill will only have to pay for the eighteen other students. Next year
the district will pay for nineteen, the year after 21, and the final year, it would pay for 24.
That results in a savings of $18,000.

Dr. Vautour increased the area of student technology support in the amount of $7,400 to
help Fred Ames clean and hook up the new computers.

The total proposed reduction was $544,773. The original budget was $1,819,828, with an
8.75% increase and total budget of $22,640,975. With the potential revision, the increase
would be $1,275,055, or 6.12%, resulting in a total budget of $22,096,302.

Mrs. Schmidt thanked Dr. Vautour, Mr. Turansky, and the administrators for their input.

The Board reviewed each proposed reduction again. If there were questions or comments
by a Board member, it would be discussed in greater detail. The Board members had
questions or comments on the special education account, the middle school saxophone,
the discretionary reduction to schools’ 611, 642, and 690 accounts and Bright

Mrs. Viggiano-Grosse asked about the $40,000 in the special education general reduction
area; she asked where the district would get the money if it was needed. Dr. Vautour
stated that, in that case, he would look at what accounts have not been fully expended. If
there has been favorable experience in the new hire area, there may be some money left
over. There would be a total freeze on certain programs that staff thought they would run
over on, and have not. The next step would be to eliminate staff. After that, the Board
would go to the Council and ask for a supplemental appropriation. Any child with a
special need would be addressed.

Mrs. Schmidt pointed out that when the school year started, the account and students
were matched. In October, the district was notified that there has been movement in
special education. That held until the end of December, and the movement went the
other way. She questioned at what point administration calculated the need. She asked if
it was based on October or December information.

Mrs. Vargas noted the tutoring line in the special education account. Dr. Vautour thought
the proposal could work. Mrs. Viggiano-Grosse was concerned with both the special
education placeholder and the special education account in general being cut. Mr. Geldof
recommended putting the middle school saxophone back into the budget. The current
                                                                      Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                      Board of Education
                                                                        January 22, 2004
                                                                                  Page 7

instrument was already approaching sixteen or seventeen years. He thought the new
instrument was necessary for the progress of the students’ music career.

The Board members discussed the discretionary reduction across accounts 690, 611 and
642. Mr. Arico asked what the totals in each account were. Mr. Turansky provided the
following information: the total of the three was $326,406, with Account 642 being
$47,179, 690; being $90,184, and account 611 comprising the rest.

Mr. Palazzolo noted that it was thought that the district has received 100 machines which
were not in use yet, and another 200 were coming in. He recommended working on those
computers to get them running; he recommended giving students an incentive to work
with Mr. Ames. Mrs. Boutilier explained that that was already being done.

Mrs. Vargas asked what was reasonable to expect with 100 computers off line that need
to come on board, along with the potential of getting 200 more. Mrs. Boutilier did not
know how many of the 200 computers Rocky Hill would get, since there were other
districts vying for them as well. During the summer months, if staff has access to the
buildings and classrooms, that gives them a chance to start working on the computers.
The figures do not mean that the district will end up with 300 additional computers. It
means taking out eight or nine old computers and replacing them with six or seven newer

The Bright Beginnings area of concern was discussed. Mrs. Viggiano-Grosse pointed out
that ten more children were being referred to Bright Beginnings. Dr. Vautour told her
there would not be ten additional children in any one session; there would be only two or
three. Chairman Bell added that there would also be eight to ten who would no longer be
in the program. Dr. Vautour said there would not be more than twenty children in the
program without adding an additional paraprofessional.

Mrs. Viggiano-Grosse asked if, in Bright Beginnings, there was a 1:1 pupil to
paraprofessional; Ms. Levy said there was, if needed. Dr. Vautour noted that now, the
district was dealing with a ratio of regular students and special education students. The
district was within the spirit of the law and giving the children plenty of students to role
model from. If there is a similar increase in numbers next year, the district may reach the
breaking point.

Chairman Bell asked if the severity of the special needs was taken into account and
balanced across the classrooms; Ms. Levy said it was. Mrs. Viggiano-Grosse asked if
there were grants available to get the class back into the budget; Dr. Vautour said there
was not. Bright Beginnings was a typical model, and the district would not be able to get
                                                                     Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                     Board of Education
                                                                       January 22, 2004
                                                                                 Page 8

the funds for a special innovative program. A certain amount of money goes to Rocky
Hill because of education, and the budget is built from that.

Mr. Arico noted that the amount indicated in the discretionary accounts was less than 3%
of the $15,000 budget. He asked if that could be increased to 4% to allow the district to
purchase the saxophone for the middle school. Mr. Geldof pointed out that the amount
could be reduced in one account; for example, $10,000 in the 690 account. Dr. Vautour
agreed to increase the amount of reduction in the discretionary accounts to $18,550, and
delete the saxophone from the potential reduction list. He would add account 640 to the
discretionary accounts.

Mr. Palazzolo discussed hiring a purchasing agent to get a lower cost for supplies. Mr.
Turansky explained that most of the supplies are purchased from the CREC bid list and
State bid list. The purchasing functions are maintained in the schools by the principals
and staff. CREC does the bidding process for the district. It was pointed out that there is
no room in the schools to store additional supplies. Dr. Vautour said he was not opposed
to investigating the concept, but it would have to be coupled with a space issue. Mrs.
Schmidt recommending looking into the merits of the idea. The committee could review
the idea.

Mrs. Vargas asked if the schools have looked into e-mailing newsletters rather than
mailing them. Dr. Vautour explained that they cannot be e-mailed because not all parents
have access to e-mail. The schools would end up using both e-mail and U.S. mail.

Mrs. Vargas noted the Board was discussing whether the schools should have a
saxophone or treadmills. She felt they should be giving a dollar amount and letting the
administrators figure out how to prioritize. She discussed whether to fund the pole vault
equipment for five students or a music class with ten students in the class. Mr. Pitocco
explained that the pole vault equipment was part of the track and field program. Without
the equipment, Rocky Hill would not be able to compete in that event.

Mrs. Vargas discussed the equipment leases; Dr. Vautour pointed out that a lot of the
equipment for this year was pre-purchased using last year’s funds. Mrs. Vargas
discussed the repairs and maintenance account. She recommended looking at that
account and adjusting it by $9,000 to save the music program.

There was a short recess at this time. Dr. Vautour met with the administrators to discuss
the recommendations.
                                                                         Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                         Board of Education
                                                                           January 22, 2004
                                                                                     Page 9

Dr. Vautour came back stating that he and the administrators reviewed the repair account
across the district. On a general basis, the district has kept certain placeholders. He gave
the example of money in the budget to repair the kiln at Stevens School. The kiln did not
need to be repaired, although over the course of several years, the kiln may need to be

The administrators agreed to give up $10,000 additional dollars in the repair account 430
and to keep the high school music technology II.

Mr. McMonigle asked about the digital art course. He asked if there was anything
similar in the school now that the students could take; Mr. Pitocco said there was nothing

Dr. Vautour explained that some of the proposed courses would be an enhancement to the
programs. Because of the feedback, the district would be delaying the introduction of
some of the new courses. He did not feel from the beginning that they could be put in,
but he thought he owed it to the Board to present them. Mrs. Schmidt understood the
discussion about digital art, but she pointed out that the Board made a commitment to
Project Lead the Way. The Board was adding in the digital electronics. If there is an
opportunity to secure the equipment through donations or through movement in the
school, she asked that it be done.

Chairman Bell questioned whether there was a way to pursue a grant to secure the
equipment in anticipation of putting the course forward next year. Dr. Vautour said he
would pursue all options. He brought the subject to the Education Foundation, but they
rejected the proposal. They said it was a course offering at the high school, and they
were not inclined to sustain a course offering.

Mrs. Schmidt recommended looking at the art department in general for next year. She
asked if there was a possibility of taking something else offline with less attendance to
take over the digital art course. Dr. Vautour said he would look at it. He recognized the
interest in trying to get a solution to the digital art. If he finds a solution, he would bring
it to the Board.

Chairman Bell stated that at this time, she would not feel comfortable about adding the
$31,000 to the budget as it is. Through creative funding, it might be able to be reduced.
Mr. McMonigle thought the digital art class has merit, and he recommended it be
reviewed for further consideration. .
                                                                      Town of Rocky Hill
                                                                      Board of Education
                                                                        January 22, 2004
                                                                                 Page 10

Tony Cozza, a member of the audience, was concerned about the budget as it was; he was
concerned that the Town Council would cut it further.

Mrs. Schmidt pointed out that the Board of Education had a very good working
relationship taking place with the Council. With the current Council, there is a certain
level of confidence in the Board members and that they will take careful consideration of
the financial status of the Town. Mr. Cozza felt the $22 million budget was really cut to
the bone. Mrs. Schmidt explained that this budget meets the continuing needs of the
classroom size guidelines. The needs of all students are being met. Classroom
offerings are being added. There is a continuing commitment to Project Lead the Way.
Curriculum development is proceeding, as well as professional development. Field trips
have been increased. Pay for Play has been eliminated. This group of people has made a
conscientious effort with this budget.

Dr. Vautour stated that the administrators met several hours yesterday. He felt that they
have achieved a certain comfort level, knowing that the Board has to do something.

Mrs. Vargas was concerned that every child gets what they need to graduate. She did not
view the budget as a number. The Board was looking at things and being creative. They
were relying on the staff’s and administration’s expertise to share that with the Board.

Mr. Pitocco stated that administration appreciated the signals that the Board has given
them. They were trying to make it work, no matter what. He felt comfortable with the
proposed budget. There would always be a feeling of being able to do more.

Dr. Vautour noted the high morale level in the staff. It would not be there if they did not
feel the Board supported them. The teachers are appreciative and understand that the
Board members are elected officials of Rocky Hill. The staff knows the Town is making

Mrs. Schmidt stated that the list would be cleaned up and forwarded to the Board
members. If issues arise, she would notify the members. She expected that the Finance
Committee would present the budget to the full Board at their February 5 meeting for
adoption and forwarding to the Town Manager. She asked if any member could not be
present at that meeting, that they contact her if they were not sure of the budget as
proposed tonight or if they had any reservations. If a member chose not to support the
budget, she asked that they indicate what their objection is.

Mrs. Schmidt thanked the new Board members for their attendance at the workshops.
She thanked the administrators for their consideration and creativity.
                                                         Town of Rocky Hill
                                                         Board of Education
                                                           January 22, 2004
                                                                    Page 11

The Tuesday budget workshop was canceled.

       MOTION by Mrs. Vargas to adjourn the meeting at 8:00 p.m. Mr. Geldof
       seconded the motion.
                                                                 FAVOR: All
                                                          MOTION CARRIED

Respectfully submitted,

Rosalie W. O’Neill
Recording Secretary

Accepted by: _________________

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