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School Board Votes On Charter Revision Recommendations

Before voting to schedule Newtown High School’s graduation ceremony for June 17 and Newtown Middle School’s moving up ceremony for June 16 at Western Connecticut State University’s O’Neill Center, the Board of Education discussed recommendations at its April 1 meeting that will be passed on to the Legislative Council for a Charter Revision Commission.

The school board first discussed charter revision considerations during its March 18 meeting. Board of Education member Michelle Ku presented recommendations both during the March 18 meeting and the April 1 meeting for the school board consider.

The first portion of the charter Ms Ku presented for review addresses the political balance of the school board. Ms Ku explained the wording in the charter is confusing.

She also said the section that describes the process for filling seats on the school board has discrepancies, Section 2-70(A) does not seem relevant, the section describing the Legislative Council’s power over the budget needs further clarification, the date of the town’s referendum should be reexamined, the wording of the advisory questions on the referendum voting ballots should be reviewed, and having a bifurcated budget vote should also be looked into.

Ms Ku presented the school board with a review of 13 Connecticut towns that vote separately on municipal budgets and school district budgets.

“An analysis was performed of the number of times that each of the budgets goes to vote before passing,” the document reads. “There is a 30 percent increase in failure rate of the Board of Education budgets relative to municipal budgets. In 2013, Newtown, Watertown, Killingly, and Hampton all passed their municipal budgets before passing the education budgets. No towns passed their education budget before the municipal budget.”

“I think it adds to the idea that splitting the budget is not good for the Board of Education,” Ms Ku said about her findings.

The school board voted unanimously to pass the recommendations for the future Charter Revision Commission on to the Legislative Council. The school board now joins the Fire and Police Commissions, the Commission on Aging and the Water & Sewer Authority in completing their input regarding possible future Charter revisions, according to Legislative Council Chair Mary Ann Jacob.

Also during the meeting, school board Vice Chair Laura Roche announced the board’s Communications Subcommittee will produce a budget newsletter following the full 2014-15 fiscal budget being adopted by the Legislative Council, which happened Wednesday, April 2. Unlike previous budget newsletters, Ms Roche said it will be distributed to the community by PTA members, due to restrictions on budget communications by school boards once the budget is passed on to referendum.

The Board of Education also accepted the retirement of a number of district personnel during its meeting, including Newtown Middle School Assistant Principal Anthony Salvatore, who has been on leave, with his position filled by John Smith. NMS Principal Thomas Einhorn also announced Dr Salvatore’s retirement through an e-mail to parents on Thursday, March 27.

“I am writing to inform you that Dr Anthony Salvatore, assistant principal, has made the decision to retire after 35 years in education, 20 years as a teacher, and 15 years in Newtown as an administrator,” Dr Einhorn wrote. Adding, “Dr Salvatore has done much for our school community. He has been an advocate for students, staff, and parents. He has dedicated his professional life to making a difference in others’ lives. We appreciate his work and wish him well in all of his future endeavors as he will not be returning to our school this spring as previously planned.”

Board of Education members also welcomed and congratulated the Newtown High School’s wrestling team for winning the CIAC Class LL State Championship in February and the school’s dance team for winning the CIAC State Championship, also in February.

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