LWV OBSERVER REPORT FORM
Board or Commission:
Date of Meeting: October 21, 2008
Members present: All except Bruce Putterman
Nature of meeting Routine __X_____ Special_____________
Called to order (time): 7:02 p.m. Adjourned (time): 9:25 p.m.
The main agenda items were an address by the mayor, budget reductions, and staff reports on high school test results, enrollment and class size, construction, and summer school.
Mayor Scott Slifka addressed the
board on town financial matters, the first time in anyone’s memory that a sitting
mayor has come before the board at a public meeting. He was accompanied by council minority
leader Leon Davidoff and interim town manager Ron Van Winkle. Mr. Slifka’s
purpose in speaking was to request board and citizen cooperation in
developing a “preservation plan” for
Pursuant to a resolution passed by the town council October 14, the board approved unanimously a reduction to the 2008-09 education budget, reducing the appropriation for heating by $100,000. This reduction was part of the total $600,000 in cuts made by the council following defeat of the town budget at the October 7 referendum.
In the superintendent’s report, Dr. Sklarz noted the forum on internet safety that took place earlier in the day at which Attorney General Richard Blumenthal spoke and recommended that parents visit www.cybercompass.com for a host of useful tools for protecting their children online. He also announced that, in line with the town’s hiring freeze, vacant positions in the schools will be filled only after being reviewed and perhaps modified, and even then new hires will be on an interim basis only.
Director of Planning and Finance Chip Ward reported on
high school test results. The class of
2008’s SAT scores declined by a combined 17 points in math and critical
reading to 1064, the lowest total since 1994 and the second straight year of
decline from the record high of 1100 in 2006.
Mr. Ward also reported on October 1 enrollment and class
size. K-12 enrollment rose to 9,896
students vs. 2007’s 9,821, a gain of 35 (.4%). High school enrollment grew 1.8%, while
elementary and middle school numbers dropped 0% and .8% respectively. Including pre-K, total enrollment is now
10, 042. Elementary class size
averages 20.8, the largest since the early 1990’s—the last time prior to now
Assistant Superintendent Tim Dunn reported that, pursuant to a town council resolution, all new construction projects for the schools have been put on hold. Fortunately, the planned addition at Bugbee will not be needed in 2009 due to lower than previously projected enrollment. The project will be reevaluated later this year based on new enrollment projections and the town’s financial situation. Terry Schmitt indicated his intent to keep the Charter Oak Improvement Committee in place, though any actual construction there will have to wait also.
David Downes, Director of
Continuing and Summer Education, reported an increase in both the number of
courses offered (102) and students enrolled (1,461) in this year’s summer
school programs for pre-K through high school students. Though
The next board meeting will take place November 6 at 7:00 p.m. in room 314 at Town Hall.
Observer name: Kathy Wilson