Recognition for an Often Thankless Job

A fond farewell to the four graduating Board of Education members.

Last night the met for their monthly business meeting at .

The meeting began with a recognition of retiring BoE members Natalie Queen, Marianna Ponns Cohen, Jonathan Cohen and Michael Bodson who are “graduating” from the board. Presentations and thanks were offered by State Rep. Fred Camillo (R-151), who presented citations from the state Assembly; First Selectman Peter Tesei, who issued Town of Greenwich proclamations to each; GOSA representatives Angela Schmidt and David Walko, GEA President Cathy Delehanty and PTA Council President Lisa Beth Savitz.

Tesei commended the four stating that the "issues" that they faced were not "easy" and the hours have been long and that their terms have "served a critical purpose in the education of our young people." Delehanty added levity to the display of gratitude stating that "insanity" is the only "rationale" for their years of service, "especially considering the salary."

There also was a presentation of school employees who earned Town of Greenwich Employee Recognition Awards:

  • Carmela Covello, a GHS Custodian, an Award of Excellence;
  • Marie Gapp, Assistant to the Deputy Superintendent, Award of Excellence;
  • Anthony Lackran, a North Mianus custodian, Award of Excellence;
  • Debra Perry, who works in the main office of North Mianus School, Award of Excellence
  • Chantel Carey, an instructional aid at Central Middle School, Team Player Award
  • Diane Bria, a food service workeer at GHS, Customer Service Award
  • Jennifer Imbrogno, Board of Education receptionist, received a Customer Service Award

Other highlights from the meeting included:

Super Search

Board member Nancy Kail announced the board has hired a superintendent search firm Hazard,Young, Attea and Associates with senior associate Bill Attea as the point person. Kail said the search will begin on Nov. 28 with a meeting which will include the incoming board members, who will officially sworn in the following evening at the Nov. 29 budget meeting.

PTA Council President Savitz once again reminded board members that the community wants to have an active role in the superintendent search. "Please include parents and teachers in the superintendent search in a meaningful way as part of the process and not just as a data point- survey or focus group," Savitz said. "Parents can serve on high-profile interview committees with confidentiality intact. We have been doing so for years with principal hiring, including out-of-district recruitment, occasioning no dampening effect on willingness to seek employment here."

Review of Continued Use of Hearing Officer

The board originally approved use of a hearing officer at expulsion hearings on Dec. 18, 2008. A hearing officer is used when there are not enough board members available to attend a hearing (a minimum of three is required.)

Board Chairman Steve Anderson explained that the hearing officer is used as a “safety net”when the board “cannot garner” the required number of available members.

For the explusion hearings during the past year, board members presided over 8 meetings while the hearing officer presided over two. The use of the officer was as a result of a large number of board members attending a Connecticut Association of Boards of Education conference. The use of a hearing officer doesn't have any extra cost to the district because it usually is the attorney for the board.

Calendar for 2013-2014 School Year - First Reading

  • First day of school will be Aug. 29 for all students.
  • Last day (including 5 snow days) would be June 24.
  • Winter break starts Feb. 10, 2014 and spring break starts April 14, 2014.
  • GHS graduation would be held no later than June 23, 2014.

Superintendent Roger Lulow explained that his “criteria” in constructing the calendar is “based on what makes instructional sense.” Citing last week when Lulow said that it “dawned” on him with both Tuesday (Election Day) and Friday (Veteran’s Day), he views the 3-day week for students in terms of a “lack of continuity” and a “burden on families.” Having said that, he also stated that he is “very reluctant personally to open up schools on a paid holiday” because he believes that that “money can be better spent on instruction.”

Lulow suggested one possibility for the 2013-2014 calendar would be to reschedule the February break by one week, starting on Feb. 17 and to hold classes on Election Day (Nov. 5), which would make school end June 20, or with no snow days June 13.

In response to the suggestion of moving the February break, board member Peter Sherr said that he felt maximizing instructional time prior to the March testing schedule was important. The board asked Lulow to discuss the options with the GEA, GOSA and PTAC.  The proposed schedule will be on the board's  Dec. 22 agenda to "make the sausage," Anderson said.

Action on Revised MISA Educational Specifications and Final Plan

Two motions were approved on behalf of the Greenwich High School Building Committee:

  1. A revision to the educational specifications which would modify the ceiling of the choral room to 18 feet down from 20 feet. The Board voted in favor of this motion: 7-0-1 with Marianna Ponns Cohen abstaining.
  2. The plans and project documents dated Sept. 30, 2011 and cost reports dated Nov. 2, 2011. The Board voted in favor of this motion: 7-0-1 with  Ponns Cohen abstaining.

Coming on Monday in the 'Report Card' column, options under consideration on how the district can address the "achievement gap" - including summer school and an expanded Pre-K program.


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