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Tri-Board Schools Approve $1.6 Million Budget

Gina Pina, assistant principal at Joel Barlow High School, discussed school safety plans at the meeting.
Gina Pina, assistant principal at Joel Barlow High School, discussed school safety plans at the meeting. Photo Credit: Ken Liebeskind

REDDING, Conn. – After the Financial Advisory Committee approved a $1.6 million budget for the 2013-14 school year - representing a 1.82 percent increase from the current budget - members of the Tri-Board from Easton, Redding and Region 9 school districts held their annual January meeting, which covered a range of issues, from school food to next year’s calendar.

Representatives from Chartwells Food Service, which prepares food in Easton and Redding schools, outlined its service, which they said complies with new U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines that promote healthier eating by including more fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains.

Free produce from the USDA enables the school system to save money, and Chartwells also cut costs by changing distributors, the representatives said.

Board members asked the Chartwells representatives to discuss the percentage of students who buy full meals at the school. Chartwells said a 30-percent figure is common to area schools, and that this figure is starting to rise after recent drops.

Gina Pina, assistant principal at Joel Barlow High School, discussed the Region 9 Safe School Climate Plan, which strives to create safer schools. She outlined five areas of the plan that conform to state statutes, from promoting a positive school climate to enhancing student engagement.

When Mike D’Agostino, a Redding board member, asked Pina whether parents would have to sign their names to bullying reports, she said the state requires the reports to be signed, but not necessarily by a parent. They can be signed by school administrators, she said.

The schools are planning calendar adjustments for next year - from starting the school year on the Monday before Labor Day to trimming the February vacation to a four-day weekend. Some parents complained about the vacation change, and board members said they would review the requests before instituting changes.

At the beginning of the meeting, John Forgione, an Easton parent with three children in local schools, asked the board to consider full-time armed police officers stationed at all schools in the towns, and gave a printed statement to the board. “The measures taken have not been enough,” Forgione said.

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