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February 2014

CT School Funding Case Going to Trial

Every Board Chair Needs to Lead Robert Rader

Patrice A. McCarthy

Executive Director, CABE

Deputy Director and General Counsel, CABE

With changes in leadership occurring in many districts over the last two months, I thought it would be helpful to describe the importance of the Board Chair. The Board Chair is generally the â&#x20AC;&#x153;leaderâ&#x20AC;? of the Board. In theory, the Chair has no more authority than other Board members. However, by virtue of having been selected to lead the Board and the responsibilities of setting the agenda, running the Boardâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s meetings and working with the Superintendent, this is a position of potentially great impact. Whether the position is used to benefit the district and its students or is not used to its full potential, will depend on the leadership and leadership style of the holder of the office. Much has been written over the last few years about leadership. The ability to both serve as a member of a team, as most Boards see themselves and to simultaneously be the leader of the Board is a skill that not everyone has. It requires the ability to sublimate ego and move the Board forward and to take difficult positions, if necessary. Doing all of this while trying to reach consensus, in the harsh light of public meetings, tests the skills and often the endurance, of even the most committed Board Chair. Best-selling author Daniel Goleman has written that emotional intelligence is a key to success, whether in a job or in any other position. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Emotional intelligence,â&#x20AC;? according to Goleman, is â&#x20AC;&#x153;the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.â&#x20AC;? Awareness of how our emotions affect what weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re doing is the fundamental emotional competence. Use of emotional intelligence can help make you a better Board Chair or a leader in any aspect of life. Goleman has discussed many of the values which are See EVERY page 11

Richard Murray

Member, Killingly Board of Education and President, CABE


View from the Capitol Patrice A. McCarthy Deputy Director and General Counsel, CABE

When the Legislature convenes on February 5 for the â&#x20AC;&#x153;shortâ&#x20AC;? session, their primary focus is to be on budget related issues. However, they will also have the reports and recommendations from numerous commissions and task forces to consider. The Municipal Opportunities and Regional Efficiencies (MORE) Commission has included task forces on board of education functions, regional efficiencies as well as a special task force addressing special education issues. In addition, there is a newly created task force dedicated to the reduction of education mandates. The School Safety Infrastructure Council completed a series of recommendations for new school buildings and â&#x20AC;&#x153;renovate as newâ&#x20AC;? projects, and the Sandy Hook Commission is looking at

81 Wolcott Hill Road Wethersfield, CT 06109-1242

of Boards of Education Inc.

See VIEW page 3

On December 4, 2013 the trial court in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell denied the Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Motion to Dismiss the case. The State had claimed the case lacked ripeness, was moot, and the plaintiffs lacked standing. Trial is set to begin in September 2014, although the State had proposed delaying the trial to October 2015. The State claimed that the funding system is now so different from the system challenged in plaintiffsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; complaint, that the case was rendered moot. Furthermore, the State argued that their â&#x20AC;&#x153;newâ&#x20AC;? funding system would need several years to show the impact, thus making the case unripe for trial. Judge Kevin Dubayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CCJEF opinion explains that a trial on the merits is necessary to develop a full factual evidentiary record, including resolution of any issues of mootness or ripeness. Judge Dubay also distinguished school funding cases in other states that the Connecticut Attorney General (AG) cited in support of the stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Motion to Dismiss. The AG claimed that â&#x20AC;&#x153;comprehensive reformsâ&#x20AC;? enacted in 2012 rendered the case moot and that the case was not yet ripe because the â&#x20AC;&#x153;reformsâ&#x20AC;? have not had enough time to â&#x20AC;&#x153;take hold.â&#x20AC;? The AG drew analogies with cases in MA (Hancock v. Driscoll), MT (Columbia Falls v. State), and WY (Campbell v. State), where the courts had ended school funding cases. Judge Dubay found that the effect of the 2012 legislation on the constitutionality of Connecticutâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s education system was an issue of fact that would need to be determined by the evidence at trial. In its original 2005 complaint, the CCJEF plaintiffs alleged that Connecticut schoolchildren were being denied suitable and substantially equal educational opportunities due to the Stateâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s flawed school funding system in violation of the state constitution. In 2010, the Connecticut Supreme Court held that the Constitution gives all Connecticut schoolchildren the right to a suitable education and requires the State to ensure adequate educational standards and resources to prepare students for participation in democratic institutions as well as employment and/or higher education. The high court remanded the case, instructing the trial court to determine whether the standards and resources for public education in Connecticut are adequate. CCJEF is a statewide coalition of municipalities, local boards of education, statewide professional education associations, unions, other pro-education advocacy organizations, parents, public schoolchildren aged 18 or older, and other concerned Connecticut taxpayers. Richard Murray, CABE President (Killingly) and Patrice A. McCarthy serve on the CCJEF Steering Committee.

Connecticut Association

Periodical Postage PAID Hartford, CT


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February



Board members need to get involved! islators to not only talk about the 2014 CABE Legislative Happy Healthy New Year to everyone! The CABE Priorities, but other issues facing local districts, as well. State Relations Committee, capably chaired by Liz And, don’t Brown from Waterbury, met in December to discuss forget our most the CABE 2014 Legislative Priorities (see page 7). The “guiding principles” begin by saying “It is imper- important advocacy event of the year, ative to allow school districts to implement the multiple CABE Day on the new education initiatives, including educator evaluation Hill, which will be and support and the Common Core Standards, and to on March 5th. This support them in these efforts. . . If adequate resources are not available, the scope and pace of the implementa- is the day in which we first hear from tion of these reforms must be prioritized.” The statement goes on to urge Legislators to analyze leaders in the each piece of legislation by asking “How will this Legislature and legislation promote student achievement,” (I would often the Governor, prefer student learning)? and “What is the fiscal and on educational administrative impact on local communities?” issues they face, The 2014 Priorities are in line with the 2013 Prioriand then provide ties with a couple of significant additions the Committee the opportunity and added under the heading “Maintain funding to local help for school Richard Murray communities” including: board members to • School safety and security, and access to mental speak with their legislators. health services Advocacy is a major • Reduce constraints component for all board of on the delivery of education member’s roles as “I believe we need express the public education leaders education the many good things Remove mandates that in their communities. Our fail to promote student unique position of elected happening in our districts volunteers gives us a powerful achievement (learning) as well as the difficulties was added by the commitvoice in the public education tee under the “Maximize discussion, but only if we are we face in ensuring that willing to use it. Resources” category. The Legislative Breakfasts I would like to thank all students have the the State Relations and Day on the Hill are a opportunity to experience Committee for its focused chance for board members to work on CABE’s 2014 educate their Legislators. I an appropriate and Priorities. The Committee believe we need to express the meaningful education.” engaged in spirited debate many good things happening but came together on in our districts as well as the behalf of boards of difficulties we face in education across the State. ensuring that all students have the opportunity to experience an appropriate and meaningful education. Thanks to the hard work of our Area Directors and CABE Staff, Legislative Breakfasts have been scheduled I also want to thank Patrice McCarthy, Sheila McKay throughout the State in January and February. The and Gail Heath for all the work they put in so that these Breakfasts are a wonderful opportunity for board events are successful. The logistics of all this activity are members, and others, to meet in relatively small gatherstaggering and we are lucky to have such dedicated staff! ings to have in depth discussions with their local Leg-

CABE State Relations Committee Meeting State Relations Committee members met recently to establish CABE’s Legislative Priorities for 2014. See page 7 for CABE’s 2014 Legislative Priorities.

Mission: To assist local and regional boards of education in providing high quality education for all Connecticut children through effective leadership. Vision: CABE is passionate about strengthening public education through high-performing, transformative local school board/superintendent leadership teams that inspire success for each child.

CABE Board of Directors EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE Richard Murray .................................................. President, Killingly Ann Gruenberg ................................. First Vice President, Hampton Robert Mitchell ................ VP for Government Relations, Montville Elaine Whitney ........... VP for Professional Development, Westport John Prins ......................................... Secretary/Treasurer, Branford Lydia Tedone ............................................ Immediate Past President Donald Harris ........................................................ Member at Large

AREA DIRECTORS Susan Hoffnagle ............................. Area 1 Co-Director, Winchester Mari-Ellen (Mimi) Valyo ............... Area 1 Co-Director, Winchester Daniel Gentile ................................... Area 1 Co-Director, Plymouth Jeffrey Currey ............................. Area 2 Co-Director, East Hartford Susan Karp ................................... Area 2 Co-Director, Glastonbury Donald Harris ................................. Area 2 Co-Director, Bloomfield Laura Bush ................................................. Area 3 Director, Vernon Douglas Smith .................................. Area 4 Co-Director, Plainfield Andrea Veilleux ................................ Area 6 Co-Director, Stratford Elaine Whitney .................................. Area 6 Co-Director, Westport Roxane McKay ............................. Area 7 Co-Director, Wallingford John Prins ......................................... Area 7 Co-Director, Branford Lon Seidman ........................................... Area 8 Co-Director, Essex Michael Camilleri ............................ Area 8 Co-Director, Cromwell Aaron Daniels ........................................... Area 9 Director, Norwich

ASSOCIATES Eileen Baker .............................................. Associate, Old Saybrook Sharon Beloin-Saavedra .............................. Associate, New Britain Gary Brochu .......................................................... Associate, Berlin Robert Guthrie .............................................. Associate, West Haven Robert Trefry ........... Associate, CT Technical High School System COMMITTEE CHAIRS Elizabeth Brown ......................... Chair, State Relations, Waterbury Donald Harris ......................... Chair, Federal Relations, Bloomfield Becky Tyrrell ...................................... Chair, Resolutions, Plainville

CITY REPRESENTATIVES Jacqueline Kelleher ....................... City Representative, Bridgeport Matthew Poland ................................ City Representative, Hartford Carlos Torre .................................. City Representative, New Haven Polly Rauh ........................................ City Representative, Stamford Charles Stango ............................... City Representative, Waterbury

STAFF Robert Rader ....................................................................... Executive Director Patrice McCarthy .................................. Deputy Director and General Counsel Bonnie Carney ............................................ Sr. Staff Associate for Publications Nicholas Caruso ............................................ Sr. Staff Assoc. for Field Service and Coord. of Technology Sheila McKay ............................. Sr. Staff Associate for Government Relations Kelly Moyher ......................................................................... Sr. Staff Attorney Vincent Mustaro ..................................... Sr. Staff Associate for Policy Service Lisa Steimer .............................. Sr. Staff Assoc. for Professional Development Teresa Costa .................................. Coordinator of Finance and Administration Pamela Brooks ......................... Sr. Admin. Assoc. for Policy Ser. /Search Ser. Terry DeMars ............................................... Admin. Assoc. for Policy Service Gail Heath ........................................ Admin. Assoc. for Government Relations Wilmarie Newton ........................................ Admin. Assoc. for Labor Relations Corliss Ucci .................................. Receptionist/Asst. to the Executive Director

The CABE Journal (ISSN 1092-1818) is published monthly except a combined issue for July/August as a member service of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, 81 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield, CT 06109, (860) 571-7446. CABE membership dues include $30 per person for each individual who receives The CABE Journal. The subscription rate for nonmembers is $75. Association membership dues include a subscription for each board member, superintendent, assistant superintendent and business manager. The companies and advertisements found in The CABE Journal are not necessarily endorsed by CABE. “Periodicals Postage Paid at Hartford, CT.” POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The CABE Journal, CABE, 81 Wolcott Hill Road, Wethersfield, CT 06109-1242. Email: Members can find the CABE Journal online at: userlogin.cfm?pp=84&userrequest=true&keyrequest=false& userpage=84

The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February





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BRONZE PLUS MEMBERS Brown & Brown Insurance Friar Associates Goldstein & Peck, P.C. Guidepost Solutions, LLC Lindburg & Ripple O & G Industries The S/L/A/M Collaborative Trane UltiPlay Parks & Playbrounds, Inc.Whitsons School Nutrition

BRONZE MEMBERS Chinni & Meuser LLC Dattco Inc. Fuller & D’Angelo Architects and Planners Kainen, Escalera & McHale, P.C. The Lexington Group Muschell & Simoncelli Ovations Benefits Group

EDUCATIONAL AFFILIATES American School for the Deaf Area Cooperative Educational Services Capitol Region Education Council The College Board Connecticut Association of School Business Officials Connecticut Center for School Change Connecticut School Buildings and Grounds Association Cooperative Educational Services EASTCONN EDUCATION CONNECTION LEARN Unified School District #1

Speak Kindly, Take Notice I recently learned about a group that is encouraging those in the Norwich area to regard immigrants in the region and the country in a more positive way. There are many terrific groups doing work to help the undeserved across the State, but I wanted to call attention to this one because the model may be appropriate for other areas of the state. The name of this social action movement is We Are Blended. It facilitates integration between immigrants and nonimmigrants. It has both a website and a documentary, in which immigrant children and the Leo Butler, Director of Diversity of Norwich Free Academy, discuss the hardships faced by immigrant children. In Norwich, all sectors of the community participated in this effort as partners, including Norwich Public Schools, Norwich Adult Education, Norwich Free Academy, Norwich Technical High School, and Three Rivers Community College, along with the local hospital, library, churches and businesses. Why Norwich? Well, the two casinos have attracted thousands of immigrants, with dramatic increases in those residents of Hispanic, Asian and Haitian descent. Public school students now speak 75 different languages at home and one in four have a dominant language other than English at home. Statewide, it’s one in seven.

The Melting Pot There are approximately 30,000 English language learners in Connecticut, according to We Are Blended. The State Education Resource Center (SERC) says that students in Connecticut schools “speak a diverse array of languages, from Akan and Algonquian to Zande and Zurate. I never heard of some of these languages – and I’ll bet, you haven’t either. There are currently 148 dominant languages other than English spoken by students in schools throughout Connecticut. Children of immigrants are sometimes seen as burdening our public education system. Many of them are less educated than students already in the system and enter the schools unable to speak English. Some students speak English as taught in their native countries but, sometimes the language used in learning here is different from what they are used to. According to We Are Blended, these students battle “fear, loneliness and misunderstanding.” Because of these issues, immigrant students often need more services than students who were born in the communities in which they attend school. The We Are Blended mini-documentary relates the inspiring, educational stories of immigrant students and a social media writing campaign to encourage students to welcome their new neighbors and to reflect on the positive impact of immigration.

The campaign culminates in an assembly of celebration of cultural diversity. The theme of the initiative is: “Speak kindly. Take Notice.” Adam Bowles, a former reporter for The Day, who brought this initiative to my attention, explained to me what “Take Notice” refers to: “Students with direct, personal connections to nations around the world are attending Connecticut schools, but many of them feel invisible behind walls of cultural misunderstanding. Still, if their peers are taught to ‘take notice’ of these students’ personal journeys they will discover similar hopes and dreams and will learn valuable lessons about our increasing global connectivity.” He urged boards and superintendents to

“Immigrants . . . bring new ideas, new foods, new culture and other diversity that strengthens our economy, our quality of life and our knowledge of the world in which we live.” “ ‘take notice’ of immigrant students in light of historic global migration and a shrinking global economy that makes learning to work with people of other cultures essential.” Norwich Superintendent Abby Dolliver said this about the effort: “Our students are so diverse that it is always helpful to focus on these issues. We are Blended has made a difference in helping to ensure that we are doing all we can to help all of our children. David Klein, Norwich Free Academy’s Superintendent also was positive on the initiative: “We were very glad that We Are Blended came to us. As you can see from Director Butler’s statements on the website, we believe that to raise student achievement, we must understand where our students are coming from, in a very literal way. Leo is a wonderful ambassador from our district to the community.” I asked Sr. Staff Associate for Policy Services Vin Mustaro if a policy on immigrant students was recommended. His answer was no and that “the issue of better assimilating these children into our schools can be served through the manner in which schools fully implement the required school climate plans which are a mandated part of the bullying policies. In addition existing policies for ELL instruction and international education also relate to this topic.” Much of the national commentary on immigration reform focuses on illegal immigration and concerns that immigrants use too many resources, pay fewer taxes, take jobs away from citizens and are a burden on our society.

Robert Rader

Whatever one thinks of this viewpoint, immigrant students are children who have been brought by their parents to a land promising better opportunity than where they were born. The children did not decide to immigrate, their parents did. And, some of these children have moved more than once from their country of birth. Let us not forget that demographers often speak about the very positive effects that immigration brings to a community, a state and the nation. For instance, they bring new ideas, new foods, new culture and other diversity that strengthens our economy, our quality of life and our knowledge of the world in which we live. Almost all of us or our parents, grandparents or great grandparents were immigrants to our nation years ago. It behooves us to treat today’s immigrant students with the understanding and empathy that our heritage and our values demand. They are our children, too. Speak kindly and take notice is a sentiment that all of us, longtime citizens or more recent arrivers, should keep in mind, when dealing with immigrant children, or others. It is at the heart of the American dream. The website for the mini-documentary is Adam Bowles can be contacted at Further information is available on the SDE website, at: cwp/view.asp?a=2618&q=320848.

View from the Capitol (continued from page 1) safety requirements pertaining to all school buildings, as well as mental health issues. The Regional Calendar Task Force has completed its work, including a recommendation to extend the deadline for implementation to the 2016-17 school year, with provisions for waivers in 201718. Board members and superintendents will have multiple opportunities to discuss these and other educational issues with their legislators at Legislative breakfasts around the state, as well as at CABE’s Day on the Hill on March 5.


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February CABE and Baldwin Media: Partners in Managing Communications


Media Message

from Ann Baldwin, Baldwin Media Marketing, LLC

When Talking with a Reporter It’s Not a “Normal” Conversation Even some of the most seasoned spokespeople need a refresher course when it comes to dealing with the news media. Unlike talking with your friends or colleagues, talking with a reporter is a whole different ball game. The first thing that you have to figure out is: what it is that you are going to say to a reporter before you speak to them? In other words, what is your key message? Remember that the media has its agenda…what’s yours? If a reporter asks you a question that seems to be off topic, you don’t have to answer their question directly. You can deflect it and get back to the main message that you want to get out. For example… Question: Do you know who is responsible for vandalizing your school? Answer: This is very disturbing and we are working closely with police who are investigating this incident.

Right now our focus is on fixing the damage to our computer lab and when we do find out who is responsible for the damage, we are confident that appropriate action will be taken. You also want to make sure that your answers are short and direct, and that you know when to stop talking. Again, remember, this is not a normal conversation. Oftentimes people complain that what they said has been taken out of context. Usually, that is because they didn’t know when to stop talking and the reporter has to cut you off somewhere. It doesn’t make it right, but that’s what happens. Reporters will also use silence to try and get you to ramble. Don’t be afraid to stop and wait for them to ask the next question. My favorite tactic when I was reporting was to end an interview with, “Do you have anything else to say?” Those with some interview savvy used this as an opportunity to restate their key message, while others got caught digging a hole that just got deeper and deeper. The news industry today is going through its own economic meltdown and fewer

reporters are being asked to do more work. Take it upon yourself to establish a relationship that allows reporters to start thinking of you as a resource who can help them get their job done. In order to do that, you should: • Provide them with useful information. • Return their phone calls or emails promptly. • Find out what their deadline is and do everything you can to meet it. • Learn what kind of stories they write or produce and pitch them on positive story ideas in the future. Probably the most important thing that anyone can do for their school district is to try to keep the message as positive as you can, even in negative situations.


What will the Connecticut Online Policy Service (C.O.P.S.) provide YOUR district? • A policy manual updated within days of a board meeting. • Access to your policy manual 24/7 anywhere with Internet capability. • Timesaving links to legal and cross references. • A search engine specifically designed for board policy manuals. • The ability to search other online districts for similar policies or language. • A happier staff that will have less paper to deal with. If you would like additional information on CABE’s Connecticut Online Policy Service (C.O.P.S.), call Vincent Mustaro at 860-571-7446 or email vmustaro@ for full details.

Let the CABE staff make your policy life easier.


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February 2014 See You in Court – The Nutmeg Board of Education

The Nutmeg Boards deals with administrator conditions of employment Thomas B. Mooney, Esq. Shipman & Goodwin

The Nutmeg Board of Education makes many mistakes. The latest imbroglio created by the board will be reported here each issue, followed by an explanation of what the board should have done. Though not intended as legal advice, these situations may help board members avoid common problems. Perhaps it is due to his seasonal affective disorder, but Bob Bombast, veteran member of the Nutmeg Board of Education, has been critical of virtually everything that Mr. Superintendent and the Administration have been doing. At the Board meeting last week, Bob’s grumpiness spilled over onto the district administrators as he looked out at the almost-empty Board room. “Where are the administrators?” Bob asked suddenly with an edge in his voice. “None of the administrators was scheduled to present to the Board tonight,” explained Mr. Superintendent. “They will be happy to come when they are needed.” “They are needed,” Bob snapped back. “They are needed at every meeting. They are our key leaders. They need to hear all of the Board’s deliberations.” “Give me a break,” interjected new Board member Mal Content. “No one

needs to hear all of this Board’s deliberations. That could be hazardous to one’s mental health. We should just follow our practice of having them here when needed.” Bob was not persuaded, and he cleared his throat and said, “I move that administrators are directed to attend all Board meetings except for executive session.” “Point of order,” said Board member Red Cent. “What administrators are we talking about? There are a lot of administrators . . . .” “All of them,” responded Bob. “I just want all of them to attend every meeting, beginning to end. Given their salaries, is that too much to ask?” With no further debate, the Board passed Bob’s motion unanimously, and Mr. Superintendent dutifully notified all district administrators of this new requirement. It took less than twenty-four hours for Bill Alot, local legal scourge and counsel to the Nutmeg Association of School Administrators, to send an email to Mr. Superintendent: You are hereby put on notice that Nutmeg Administrators dispute your recent directive to attend all Board meetings. Administrators have not been required in the past to attend Board meetings, and your directive is thus a unilateral change in working conditions. We demand that you immediately rescind your directive and

Seventh Edition

A Practical Guide to Connecticut School Law by Thomas B. Mooney, Esq. Shipman & Goodwin

The Guide comes with a CD which provides hyperlinks to many cases and statutes and will permit word searches as a supplement to the Index. New to the Seventh Edition: Bullying, Background Checks, Child Abuse Reporting, Discrimination Issues, Educational Reform, FERPA, Freedom of Information, State Aid for Education and much, much more The 7th edition is now available from CABE. Call and order your copy TODAY at 860.571.7446 or 800.317.0033

apologize in writing to each affected administrator for the emotional upset you caused by issuing your illegal directive. Mr. Superintendent forwarded the email to the Board, and soon the Board server was abuzz with Board members comments, ranging from questions about Bill’s assertions to Bob’s outrage that

hours and other conditions of employment . . . .” (subject to statutory exceptions such as the school day or the school year). Moreover, as interpreted by the State Board of Labor Relations, the TNA requires that employing boards of education maintain past practices on mandatory subjects of negotiation unless they negotiate a change with the exclusive bargaining representative of the adminis-

“Under the Teacher Negotiation Act, boards of education are required to negotiate with the exclusive bargaining agent for the respective unit over ‘salaries, hours and other conditions of employment . . . .’ (subject to statutory exceptions such as the school day or the school year).” “district leaders would seek to avoid their professional responsibilities through union nonsense.” Through these emails, a consensus emerged: a response to Bill’s claims would be seen as weakness, and thus Mr. Superintendent should simply reiterate that administrators will indeed be expected to attend all Board meetings. Mr. Superintendent did just that. He sent out a new email to all administrators stating that in response to a question that had been raised about his recent email, he wanted to clarify his directive. “Administrators must attend all Board of Education meetings. Period. Any failure to attend will result in serious disciplinary action. Period.” All was quiet after Mr. Superintendent’s clarification . . . for about two weeks. Then in the mail yesterday morning Mr. Superintendent received notice from the State Board of Labor Relations that the Nutmeg Association of Schools Administrators had filed an unfair labor practice charge. Should the Nutmeg Board of Education be worried? “Worried” is a subjective term, and no one is going to jail here. But the Board did violate the rights of the Nutmeg administrators under the Teacher Negotiation Act (TNA). While it may be counterintuitive, with limited exceptions the TNA gives all certified staff below the rank of assistant superintendent the right to unionize, and indeed most such administrators in Connecticut are in bargaining units. The law separates teachers and administrators into two separate bargaining units. The “administrators’ unit” is composed of all certified staff members whose job requires that they possess the intermediate supervisory or administrative certification and who spend at least fifty percent of their time doing such duties (except for assistant superintendents or other administrators who are otherwise directly responsible to the board of education for personnel relations or budget preparation). Other certified staff members are placed in the teachers’ bargaining unit by operation of law. Under the Teacher Negotiation Act, boards of education are required to negotiate with the exclusive bargaining agent for the respective unit over “salaries,

trators or teachers respectively. Here, apparently the past practice was that administrators have had to attend Board meetings when they were presenting to the Board and not otherwise. The directive Mr. Superintendent issued at Bob’s insistence, therefore, was a unilateral change in working conditions. The Board should have offered the Nutmeg Association of School Administrators a chance to negotiate before imposing this change. When unions wish to raise such claims, they file unfair labor practice charges with the State Board of Labor Relations (SBLR). Typically, the first step is for an agent of the SBLR to convene an informal conference between the parties, and such charges are often resolved through discussion and settlement agreements. However, when the parties are unable to resolve the matter informally, the SBLR will hold a formal hearing on the matter, and after the hearing the SBLR will issue a formal decision that is binding on the parties (subject to judicial review through appeal). The email discussion following receipt of Bill’s email raises an interesting legal issue. Normally board member discussion of an issue over email would be considered an unposted (and thus illegal) meeting of the board. However, the Freedom of Information Act definition of “meeting” excludes “strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining.” Accordingly, the consensus that emerged after the Board members reviewed Bill’s email was a permissible strategy discussion that the Board could hold over email without worrying about the “meeting” requirements of the FOIA. Finally, Bob’s crankiness did cause one other problem. The issue of administrator attendance at Board meetings was not on the Board’s agenda for that evening. Therefore, the Board’s action that night, without prior posting on the agenda and without any special vote to put it on the agenda that evening (permissible only at regular meetings), did violate the Freedom of Information Act. Attorney Thomas B. Mooney is a partner in the Hartford law firm of Shipman & Goodwin who works frequently with boards of education. Mooney is a regular contributor to the CABE Journal.


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February

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The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February

Guiding Principles It is imperative to allow school districts to implement the multiple new education initiatives, including educator evaluation and support and the Common Core Standards, and to support them in these efforts. The effectiveness of these changes should be analyzed before any additional requirements are enacted. If adequate resources are not available, the scope and pace of the implementation of these reforms must be prioritized. CABE urges Legislators to analyze each piece of legislation by asking “How will this legislation promote student achievement?” and “What is the fiscal and administrative impact on local communities?”



2014 Legislative Priorities Support Existing Initiatives ➢ Maintain funding to local communities including: • Educator evaluation and support implementation • Common Core standards implementation • School safety and security, and access to mental health services • Secondary School Reform • Education Cost Sharing grant • Alliance District funding ➢ Fully fund the Special Education excess cost grant

Address Achievement Gap ➢ Support opportunities for expanded learning time to accelerate student achievement

Maximize Resources ➢ Reduce constraints on the delivery of education and remove mandates that fail to promote student achievement

➢ Increase access to early childhood programs and full-day kindergarten

➢ Place the burden of proof in special education due process hearings on the party challenging the placement

➢ Provide support to low performing students, utilizing research based best practices

➢ Support interdistrict collaboration ➢ Continue to focus the State Department of Education resources on support to local districts rather than enforcement of instructional mandates

Mark your calendar and take part in the 2014 Day on the Hill March! Leadership attended last year’s briefing session!

CABE Day on the Hill March 5, 2014

Governor Dannel Malloy

8:30 am The Bushnell, Hartford Learn About the Issues Hear from Legislative Leadership Representative Andy Fleischmann Senator Toni Boucher

Lobby your Legislators


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February

CABEMeeting CABE-Meeting is a userfriendly, web-based service specifically designed to assist the board, superintendent and central office staff in preparing for and running board of education meetings. An exciting feature designed for use by committees, in addtion to boards of education, was recently added to CABEMeeting. Now all your board work and committee information is conveniently located in one place!

“CABE is incredibly user-friendly and serves as a model for so many others on how to offer a quality product with exceptional service”. Dr. Joseph V. Erardi, Jr. Superintendent, Southington Public Schools

For more information, or to schedule a demonstration for your board, call Lisa Steimer at 800-317-0033 or 860-571-7446 or email


The Policy Corner Vincent A. Mustaro, Senior Staff Associate for Policy Service, CABE

Practice Policy Oversight Board members, as educational leaders in their communities, have definite ideas about what should be accomplished and the desired student learning outcomes. Through effective boardsmanship, firmly rooted in district policy, boards contribute to student success. The key elements of vision, structure, accountability and advocacy help boards determine school system progress. Accountability is the key element of effective boardsmanship because the board is accountable for a high level of student learning. The time-worn phrase, “It’s the board’s role to make policy and the administrator’s role to implement policy,” is well known. However, it is imperative to add to this phrase the crucial understanding that it is also “the board’s role to oversee its policies.”

Govern Through Policy A board which governs through a process of policy oversight is in a good position to work with the administration to successfully influence student achievement. A board, through policy, determines what it wants to see accomplished in the district. The major focus must be student learning. After adopting policies and setting district goals and objectives, it is essential that policy be disseminated, implemented, monitored, evaluated and revised as necessary. This is policy oversight, a systematic process to ensure that public monies produce acceptable levels of educational performance. It also provides useful information for the improvement of school performance. An effective board exercises continuing oversight of education policy, programs and their management, drawing information for this purpose from many sources. It is also knowing enough to ask the right questions. Policy oversight is not micromanaging of the district by the board and intruding on the superintendent’s rights and responsibilities. It is an appropriate and recommended practice for a board to monitor, review, evaluate and revise its policies as necessary through policy oversight. Boards must review policies to determine if they reflect the direction the board wants them to provide. Once in place, it’s important to determine if a policy is doing what was intended. As the governing body of the

district, it is important to know the right questions to ask and not to be afraid to ask them. In exercising policy oversight, a board seeks answers to the timely and important question, “Is this what we want to have happen?” Good information is the primary tool in the oversight process. The information gathering process provides the board with an effective decision making tool. Put in place a system to ensure timely and well organized information on specific policy implementation. Annually determine, with the superintendent, the type of information the board wants to receive to carry out its oversight responsibilities. In seeking answers to whether the district is accomplishing what it desires through its policy direction, the board needs quantifiable data from its administration. It is necessary to stay informed about how well the policy, and where applicable and in existence, the administrative regulations are working. A schedule, made a part of the board’s annual board meeting calendar, should be established for presenting the information. Policy oversight is not an annual review of all or some board policies nor is it the board’s self-gathering of the information. In policy review the board basically looks at its policies for possible change and studies them for possible errors. The board cannot and should not be involved in school operations. Therefore, the board’s most effective oversight tools are reports presented by or through the superintendent, presentations which answer questions and explain programs and appropriate evaluations, especially of the superintendent.

Annually Determine Policies for Review A board should annually determine the policies it wants to review for effectiveness and request the superintendent to provide the needed information. Included could be a schedule for oversight of educational programs meeting specific state and federal requirements as well as oversight procedures for issues of concern to the local board and community. Four areas where oversight is critical are curriculum, students, finances and personnel. Allow sufficient time at board meetings devoted to a review of educational programs. Work sessions of the board could be scheduled to consider specific educational issues. In addition, staff,

through the superintendent, should be invited to present program elements and instructional issues for board review, related to policy. The superintendent, working with the professional staff, can formulate measures of district performance relative to goals and objectives. This will include state mandated measures as well as specific local performance indices. Requesting proof of student learning is a major board responsibility. Many policy areas impact student learning and are prime targets for policy oversight. Boards have the responsibility to provide students safe, educationally sound facilities, adequate equipment and supplies, and a competent instructional and supervisory staff. These need to be in place to achieve demonstrated learning by all students. The key element remains what happens in the classroom. Therefore, as part of the oversight process, boards must receive the required annual report from the superintendent pertaining to the effectiveness of the district’s evaluation program.

Policies Powerful Tools Board policies are powerful tools for solving district problems and for establishing and achieving district goals. However, unless their implementation is ensured, they are just words on a page. When a board practices policy oversight, which can be both challenging and rewarding, it is exercising an appropriate leadership role and demonstrating its leadership to the staff and community. It also makes policy review a desired ongoing process. Policy oversight is a critical responsibility of boards because of increased demands for accountability and the need for objective data. The process has the potential for improving the quality of schools because it determines whether or not a specific policy is producing its intended effects and places the emphasis on performance. Policy oversight means being careful to set realistic goals through policy with sound means of determining how well they are being accomplished. Ask the right questions!


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February 2014

Educator Evaluation and Support Chris Seymour Reporter, CABE

The State Department of Education (SDE) is implementing numerous supports – including rigorous training for evaluators as well as a plethora of online assistance that will be available 24/7 – to aid Connecticut school systems and teachers as they make the dramatic switch to new teacher evaluations this academic year. “When we talk about educator evaluations, we are very clear that we say ‘educator evaluations and support,’” stressed Dr. Sarah Barzee, Interim Chief Talent Officer at the State Department of Education and Director for Leadership Development. “It is educator evaluation aimed at educator effectiveness; it’s the Common Core State Standards, it’s Smarter Balanced assessments,” added Barzee. “Our biggest push now is for us to work diligently to create coherence and alignment between and among those large initiatives so that we can help districts make that same sense-making and coherence-making in their districts,” said Barzee. “So we really are working with a single-minded focus on creating coherence between and among the Common Core, assessments and educator effectiveness. We are trying to support entire systems not just one piece of a system.” With respect to the new teacher evaluations, the state, according to Barzee, has developed a “very robust training plan” for educator evaluators. “We do acknowledge this will require new skill sets for both teachers and administra-

tors in observing educator practice, so we have a very robust training plan to provide training to all evaluators in the state in the observation of practice and performance, which in our system, comprises 40 percent of an educator’s evaluation – and that will be ongoing over time,” said Barzee. “Out of the gate, we had to make sure that all the evaluators were able to use a common core of teaching aligned rubric; some are using our actual common core of teaching rubric,” said Barzee. “Others are using an aligned rubric, but in essence, they all focus on generally the same domains of effective teaching.” The new teacher evaluation system was born with the June 2012 passage of Public Act 12-116, An Act Concerning Education Reform. The law requires each school district in the Nutmeg State to adopt either Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) – which is the state’s “model evaluation system that is aligned to the guidelines” – develop their own, or formulate a hybrid. Whichever model districts select, their evaluation system must break down as follows: teacher performance and practice, 40%; parent or peer feedback, 10%; student growth and development, 45%; and whole-school student learning indicators/student feedback, 5%. With teacher performance and practice playing such a large role in the model, the state obviously wants to make sure evaluators are properly prepared/trained. “So some of the support we are delivering is to ensure that people are very proficient in the observation of practice and perfor-

mance through those large domains and more granular sized indicators that we all agree define effective teaching,” explained Barzee. “And what we think that’s doing is supporting the field in a more common vision for: what is effective teaching? What do we mean when we say we need effective teachers? And how will we know when we see it?” she continued. Barzee stressed that “The big trend is really the ongoing training and ongoing proficiency; we never expected that this would build people’s skill sets overnight. The good news is that we are hearing anecdotally through many, many feedback loops that evaluators’ instructional leadership absolutely appears to be strengthened through this laser-like focus on good teaching through the domains of effective teaching, so we are very encouraged by that.” With respect to support being directly offered to teachers, Barzee noted that “a large piece of the support” being offered is through BloomBoard, an online professional learning service utilized by the state. “It’s a marketplace that provides 24 by 7 access to learning of all sorts – of articles, of research, of videos,” explained Barzee. “BloomBoard is the state’s sponsored data management system but also knowledge management system and professional learning suite.”

According to Barzee, the state is currently working on web series and webinars that will also provide teachers support as they work their way through the new process. “We have begun and will continue to develop opportunities for webinars and ongoing web series where we can provide that 24 by 7 access so that we can continue to provide some professional learning opportunities in writing good Student Learning Objective’s [SLO’s], writing good IAGD’s [Indicator of Academic Growth and Development],” said Barzee. A recently released report from the University of Connecticut’s Center for Education Policy Analysis gave a positive review – with the caveat that more support was needed – of the SEED model, which was implemented in 14 districts on a pilot basis in 2012-13. “Our data suggest that, if sufficiently supported and properly implemented, SEED has the potential to improve teachers’ practice and students’ learning. Therefore, we recommend that the SEED model be maintained but that the infrastructure to clarify and support its implementation be strengthened.” The report added, “We expect that districts will begin to experience greater benefits of SEED as educators become accustomed to its components and adjust SEED to their own contexts.”

NOW Available from CABE!

Understanding the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act and Access to Public Meetings and Records Fourth Edition Written by: Mark J. Sommaruga, Esq., Pullman & Comley, LLC Some of the topics covered in the book are: Section One • The FOIA’s Public Meetings Provisions; When is a Meeting Not a “Meeting”?; Notice of Regular Meetings; Agenda; Minutes and Votes; Access of Public and Media; Adjournment; Special and “Emergency” Meetings; Executive Session: The Exception(s) to the Rule; and When is an Executive Session Permissible? Section Two • The FOIA’s Access to Public Records; Some Notable Exemptions to Disclosure (Educational Records and Tests, Personnel Records, Preliminary Drafts and Notes, Attorney-Client Privileged Documents, and Other Important Exceptions to Disclosure); Responding to a Request for Documents; E-Mail – The FOIA Hits the 21ST Century; Destruction of Records and the Records Retention Act; Other Important Exceptions to the Usual Disposal Requirements.

to order the FOIA book go to the CABE Online Bookstore at

CABE Search Services is recruiting for Watertown Public Schools Superintendent of Schools 3,100 PK-12 students

ACES - Executive Director 2,200 students served in 8 schools, special education and magnet as well as a number of programs/services. For an update or more information on vacancies go to our website: For more information contact, CABE Search Services, 860-539-7594 Jacqueline V. Jacoby, Senior Search Consultant Paul Gagliarducci • Associate Consultant Mary Broderick - Associate Consultant Bob King • Associate Consultant P.O. Box 290252, Wethersfield, CT 06129-0252 • Equal Opportunity Employers


The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February


CABE: working for YOU Individualized Workshops • Professional Development Opportunities Legal Services • Policy Services • Representing You Statewide and Nationally Below are the highlights of activities that the CABE staff has undertaken on your behalf over the last month. We did this:

➤ By helping school boards to increase achievement

• •

Sent out two issues of Policy Highlights via email listserv covering topics that affect student achievement. This included use of social media in schools, bullying, field trips, online education, blended learning and discipline policies. Met with Adam Bowles on the We Are Blended project (see article on page 3). Worked with the Columbia Board of Education on district priorities.

to meet members needs:

Met via phone twice with Vice President for Professional Development to discuss 2014 CABE/CAPSS Convention. Completed the audit of the policy manual for Cromwell Board of Education and currently working on the audit of the Thomaston Board of Education policy manual. Completed as part of the Custom Update Service packets of new and/ or revised policies for the districts of East Windsor, New Fairfield and Regional School District 6 Boards of Education. Completed and mailed the second edition of the Policy Update Service publication. The topics covered included adult education, civility in the school setting, safe routes to school programs, disabled students access to sports, and teen dating violence. Participated in staff meeting 2013 CABE/CAPSS Annual Conference debrief. Participated in meeting of the CABE Finance Committee.

Organized CABE’s 10th Annual Leadership Institute.

➤ By representing Connecti-

cut school boards on the state or national level:


➤ By providing services •

• •

• • •

• • • • • •

Took part in Big 6 teleconference (CABE, CAPSS, CCER, CBIA, and ConnCAN) concerning the upcoming Legislative Session. Participated in Educator Preparation Advisory Council meeting on next steps. Participated in meeting of the ParentsTeacher-community Committee on upcoming (January 25) forum on Common Core. Participated in conference call with Representative Rosa DeLauro to discuss federal education funding. Participated in CAPSS Personalized Learning meetings. Attended meetings of the Municipal Opportunities for Regional Efficiencies Committee on education and special education. Attended meeting of the Regional Calendars Task Force. Met with State Department of Education, CASBO and CAPSS to discuss uniform chart of accounts. Attended Sandy Hook Commission meeting. Attended School Safety Infrastructure Council Meetings. Attended CREC Council and Legislative Committee meetings. Participated in conference call to plan NSBA State Association Counsel meeting.

Presented a roles and responsibilities workshops for the Canterbury, Granby and Marlborough Boards of Education. Provided policy information to 18 districts 1 newspaper and NSBA through 26 answered requests for information or sample policies, on 23 topics. Further, districts continue to access CABE’s online Core Policy Reference Manual and/or online manuals posted by CABE for policy samples. The topics of greatest interest pertain to physical exercise for students and discipline and board committees.

➤ By promoting

public education:

• •

Participated in meetings and helped develop white paper on the future of boards of education with other state association executive directors and NSBA. Participated in meeting with UConn Capstone graduate students on their work to provide CABE with insight into how to remove obstacles to board member participation in advocacy efforts. Spoke on WTIC radio shows to discuss student discipline and regional school calendars. Answered questions about the current legal isues facing boards of education. “HOT” topics this month were: Rights of the public at meetings, home school instruciton, line item transfers, termination proceedings, and school building projects.

➤ By providing opportunities ➤ By ensuring members for members to learn how to better govern their districts:

• •

Planned and implemented successful Pre-K Hot Topic Workshop. Provided support for the CABE Leadership Institute.

receive the most up-todate communications:

As part of the development of new policy manuals utilizing the Custom Policy Service, materials were prepared for Avon, Ellington, Regional School District 12 and Wethersfield Boards of Education.

Mark your CALENDAR Don’t miss these professional development opportunities! February 6 Area 4 Legislative Breakfast 8:00 am Plainfield High Schools Plainfield February 6 Budget Adjustments Webinar 12:00 noon February 13 Area 2 Legislative Breakfast 8:00 am Capitol 3rd Floor Hartford March 5 CABE Day on the Hill 8:30 am The Bushnell, Hartford Workshop information as well as registration information is also published on the CABE website at: If you have any questions, please contact Lisa Steimer at the CABE Office 800-317-0033 or 860-571-7446 or email Lisa at

We want to meet your needs! Beginning with last months issue of the CABE Journal you will receive this publication both electronically and a paper copy via U.S. mail. Please contact Cory Ucci (860571-7446/ to let her know which way you prefer to receive the CABE Journal in the future. If you do nothing, you will continue to receive the CABE Journal both electronically and via U.S. mail. Thank you for your cooperation.



• High ethical standards, commitment to the students and the district, passion about education and ability to build coalitions are all crucial components of an effective Board Chair. We wish the best of luck to those who are, will become or aspire to become Board Chairs. Chairs are leaders on a

board of leaders and have a critical role to play in any district. [Editor’s Note: In the next few months, CABE will provide professional development opportunities aimed specifically at Board Chairs. In addition, Who’s in Charge is available from the CABE Office.]

The Journal – Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February Every Board Chair Needs to Lead (continued from page 1) crucial to operating organizations in positive ways and how individuals can help strengthen their organizations and themselves by learning more about their own emotional intelligence. He writes of integrity, conscientiousness, flexibility and other values and how ability to work with others is becoming more and more necessary in almost all of our relationships. In the Harvard Business Review, Goleman wrote that his research shows that the most effective leaders combine a number of distinct leadership styles, such as “coercive”, “authoritative”, “democratic” and “coaching”. Each style works well in the right measure and at the right time. But he wrote that “emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership. Without it, a person can have the best training in the world, an incisive analytical mind, and an endless supply of smart ideas, but he still won’t make a great leader.” Goleman states that core emotional intelligence competencies can be learned over time (and with much effort). But, Board Chairs rarely have the time while on the job to develop these competencies. So, what are some strategies to becoming an effective Board Chair? Start by understanding the basic roles and responsibilities of the type discussed in CABE’s Who’s In Charge? Guide. Make sure you look at your district’s policy manual and know the Board’s bylaws. Also keep in mind these keys to emotional intelligence, which will help you work well in these important role: • Keep an open mind on issues and let the facts guide you in your decisionmaking. • Be inclusive and do your best to

bring members of the Board to consensus. While this is not always possible, by being inclusive, even minority or dissident Board members will feel more a part of the “team”. Compromises and new solutions that move the enterprise forward may be available, where before the Board might have been stuck. Start inclusion early, especially with new Board members. The Board Chair should be part of an orientation (usually done with the Superintendent) for new members and should continue to stress the importance of continuing professional development for all Board members. Fairly represent the Board to the Superintendent, staff and community and work with other Board members, as appropriate, to ensure that the Board speaks with one voice. Use different leadership styles depending on the situation. Sometimes being authoritarian may be appropriate, while in other situations, probably more often, a collaborative style may work better. Personally speak (usually in private) to an individual member of the management “team” when he or she is acting in an inappropriate manner. Be a role model for the other Board members. Like the Superintendent, the Board Chair is often the center of media and public attention and the way in which the Chair comports him- or herself and acts will generally set the tone for the whole Board.

Highlights from the January State Board of Education meeting Sheila McKay Sr. Staff Associate for Government Relations, CABE

The State Board of Education voted to pursue the 10-4b complaint concerning the Winchester Board of Education and included the town as a respondent. It also voted on the Racial Imbalance plan for the Manchester Schools. The plan will be phased in over a number of years. Racial imbalance exists when the proportion of minority students for any school exceeds 25% more or less than the district. Presentations to the Board on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation Pulmonary (CPR) as the state seeks to comply with new law were informative and we await more work on this issue from the department. The Connecticut Council for Education Reform presented its recommendations to board – to encourage expansion

of the Alternative Route to Certification program, to allow more programs and a review of categorical grants for opportunities to reallocate funding to low-performing schools. The Board received an update on the creation of the Arts Standards and the Common Arts Assessment Initiative that is due to be released in June. The standards are “designed to empower students to create, perform and respond to the arts”. Work on guidelines for Mastery Based Learning, which is beginning to be put into place in 21 high schools in CT, is in the early stages, and the Board appreciated the update. Finally, the update on the Commissioners Network schools was a review of efforts to reach out to more schools in the Alliance districts for the next academic year. Three schools have been approved and more districts are expected to come forward.


The Journal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Connecticut Association of Boards of Education/February


CABE Journal - February 2014