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School Board Elects Leidlein Vice Chair, Buzzi Secretary



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School Board Elects Leidlein Vice Chair, Buzzi Secretary

By Eliza Hallabeck

In consecutive votes during its meeting on Tuesday, October 19, the Board of Education elected Debbie Leidlein as its new vice chair and Andrew Buzzi its new secretary.

The school board also heard an update from Assistant Superintendent of Schools Linda Gejda on the district’s first early release day to hold professional learning community meetings, and discussed adding opportunities to hear from the public during the next budget season.

“I had a very heartfelt conversation with Debbie about this board, and the direction this board is moving in,” said Mr Buzzi, speaking to his motion to nominate Ms Leidlein for the school board’s new vice chair. Mr Buzzi added Ms Leidlein encompasses the goals and desires the school board is moving toward.

School board member David Nanavaty seconded the motion, and it passed the board unanimously. Ms Leidlein had been serving as the school board’s secretary, but when Kathryn Fetchick resigned her seat in September before taking a seat on the Legislative Council, the position of vice chair was left open.

“But now we need a secretary,” said Board of Ed Chairman William Hart.

Member Lillian Bittman motioned for Mr Buzzi to fill the position, because he had served as the school board’s secretary during his previous term on the board. Ms Leidlein seconded Ms Bittman’s motion, and it passed unanimously.

While discussing the 2011-2012 School Budget Development Calendar, Mr Nanavaty suggested the board should “throw in a public hearing.”

Ms Bittman suggested adding 45 minutes to the start of a meeting or meetings to allow for extended periods of public participation, and if a public hearing is scheduled, she said, it should be held after Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson holds her Superintendent’s Budget Presentation, scheduled for January 25.

“I think if we are going to have a public hearing, we need to give enough time for people to voice their opinions,” Mr Hart said.

Whether through collecting e-mail responses or through holding public hearings, Mr Hart said the overall concept is hearing from the community in some way while the budget process is occurring.

Mr Nanavaty said even holding discussion on the possibility of hearing from the public was a step in the right direction, because in his years on the board the topic has never been brought up before.

Early Release

Earlier in the meeting, the school board heard from Dr Gejda on the outcome of the first early release Wednesday, held on October 6, for district teachers to meet in professional learning communities. Teachers from the elementary schools met at Sandy Hook School, and the intermediate, middle, and high school teachers met at their respective schools.

“We are all just very grateful to have the opportunity,” said Dr Gejda, after saying she is thrilled with the results from the day.

Dr Gejda said feedback from teachers have described work the teachers went through during the day, and explained how the first meeting was also to establish how the future professional learning community meetings will continue. Writing is the focus for the professional learning communities, and during the next early release Wednesday, scheduled for November 3, teachers will be examining examples of writing.

The Board of Ed also went into an executive session at the end of its meeting to discuss Business Director Rob Bienkowski’s contract. According to Mr Bienkowski on Thursday, the contract had an extra year added to its duration, and was modified to reflect the administrator’s medical insurance stipend of 18 percent from 17 percent. Mr Bienkowski’s said his salary was also adjusted, but a stipend was removed, to end up being roughly $400 less than the $144,214 he made in the previous year.

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