Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Board of Education Elects New Officers

(l to r) Daniels, Loffredo, Charles, Biales

The Board of Education convened on Tuesday for the first time since elections.  New members were all in attendance, and voted to elect Vinnie Loffredo for Chairman, Sheila Daniels for Vice Chair and Franca Biales for Secretary.

This is the second term in which a Democratic chair shared leadership with a minority party (Republican) vice chair in a show of bipartisanship.

The full board, Cheryl McClellan, Marilyn Dunkley, Anita Dempsey, Sheila Daniels, Vinnie Loffredo, Franca Biales, Linda Synkowicz, Christopher Drake and Deborah Cain voted unanimously for these posts.  With seven out of nine seats held by women, it may be the largest contingent of women on the Board of Ed in the city's history.

Christopher Carrillo.
The winning posters.

Early in the meeting Christopher Carrillo was honored as the winner of the anti-bullying poster campaign.  Christopher is a student at Keigwin Middle School and
claims that Language Arts is his favorite subject.  There were also winners at the Elementary School levels, Diya Patel and Leah McMullen.

Director of Pupil Services and Special Eduation Ann Perzan led a review of the installation and progress of Effective School Solutions, a mental health provider service which was contracted last year by the Board of Education.

According to Perzan, and Middletown High School principal Colleen Weiner, and Woodrow Wilson Middle School principal Cheryl Gonzalez, attested to the success of the program.

"It's only been nine weeks, and we know many students would do well in the transition, and that some would struggle," Weiner said.  "And we've brought students back from outplacement."

According to Weiner, ESS, has created welcoming spaces where students and families in the program can seek treatment.

"For us it's been incredibly successful for our kids," Weiner said.

"At Woodrow Wilson ESS is working with 12 students," Gonzalez said.  "Two of those students were to have been outplaced."

Perzan projected that, at year's end, the program would save approximately $1.6 million that might have been spent on outplacement services.

BOE members had many questions about the program, and how students could access care.

New board member Marilyn Dunkley was concerned that mental health problems have been showing up in elementary-aged students, and asked if the program could be extended to those in earlier grades. The ESS staff explained that because of the success of the program, efforts were already being made to find resources for elementary age students and their families.

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