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First Look: Draft of the OBOE Contingency Plan — If Peck Place is Not Remediated

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Feb 172014
 

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Here is a DRAFT of the OBOE Contingency Plan as requested by the Board of Selectmen.

To: Orange Board of Selectmen
From: Lynn K. McMullin, Superintendent
RE: Requested Orange Board of Education Contingency Plan [Should Town of Orange Choose NOT to Remediate Peck Place School]
Date: February 2014

Introduction:
During the week of February 10 – 14, through several different venues, the Board of Education was given the charge by the Board of Selectmen to develop a contingency plan for the schools in the event that the Town of Orange decided not to remediate Peck Place School either permanently or for some yet-to-be-determined amount of time.

While this is a preliminary response to the request from the Board of Selectmen, for a specific plan, and while it feasibly could be implemented, it is not in the best interests of children. None of the logistics are certainties at this time. The plan that we used to divide Peck Place for the short 3-week interim before the move to Yale was never intended to be a long-term solution. It is far less effective than the grade reconfiguration plan presented below.

The following contingency plan, which reconfigures the grades in Orange to fit into the three remaining schools, was developed collaboratively.

We approached the task dutifully and with diligence, but with heavy hearts. Inherent in this consolidation, we see the demise of many of the features of education in Orange which we and our parents hold dear. Principals have worked hard to build fidelity among their staffs and community among their parents. They know their families well. They have worked hard to implement whole school programs for Safe Schools, PBIS, data teams, PTOs, and too many processes and procedures to mention.

In developing this contingency plan, we considered the following:
Attention to an educationally-sound reorganization of space and grade-levels. (Curriculum and instruction were given
precedence over family convenience, for example.)
o Opportunity for grade-level teachers to work together
o Opportunity for specialists to focus on fewer grades
o Programming that makes sense (Spanish, Instrumental Music, Strings)
Attention to issues of management, including personnel, resources, buses, cafeteria, etc.
o Potential reductions in personnel (painful for us, but no doubt appealing to others)
o Ease of scheduling
o Minimizing potential purchases of furniture, program elements, and equipment (Kindergarten furniture is smaller than
Grade 6 furniture, for example)
o Site licenses for Lexia, Dreambox, etc. can be purchased by grade-level (vs. by whole school site licensing)
o Consolidation of grade-level curriculum and resources
o Library resources based on reading levels and curricular units
o Supervision and evaluation of staff, curriculum, and programming
o Opportunities for differentiation based on age-appropriateness (cafeteria offerings, playground equipment)
In the absence of neighborhood schools, reuniting the students into grade-level schools, such as they have in Kindergarten and will have again in Middle School.

We are fully aware of the plan’s shortcomings:
The loss of the Peck Place School identity, community, and culture
The number of available classrooms in the three schools results in larger class sizes.

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 Overall, there would be 13.5 classroom teachers laid-off in the first year; lay-offs continue until 2016
 Families could have children (i.e. conferences, concerts, PTO meetings, etc.) in two or three buildings
 Excess transitions between schools: transition into K, transition from Grade 1, transition from Grade 4, transition from Grade 6
 Staggered arrivals and dismissals (must be coordinated with Amity)
 Reconfiguration of bus routes; impact on drop-offs and pick-ups; longer bus routes
 Additional lunch waves required to meet minimum occupancy requirements; lunch waves would begin at 10:45
 Exceeds occupancy of the gym/all-purpose room for concerts, assemblies, and all-parent programs (RB = 574; TH = 572); ex: Veteran’s Day at RB, with 497 in student body, would only have 77 spaces for staff, Veteran guests, parents, and speakers, etc.
 Reconfigure the Student Information System and PowerSchool database
 Would need additional computer resources allocated for SBAC testing at upper grades
 Inconsistency of instruction in Special Education with too many grade-level transitions

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What the Superintendent Has To Say About the Orange Elementary School Situation

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Feb 172014
 

BOE Chairman Bill Kraut and Supt. Lynn McMullin at a recent BOE meeting.

BOE Chairman Bill Kraut and Supt. Lynn McMullin at a recent BOE meeting.

Following is an update of the Orange Elementary Schools from Supt. Lynn McMullin Posted on the OESS Website.

There are several issues, each of which has a strong rumor base, attracting attention in our district right
now. They are: 1. the progress of the remediation of Peck Place and its relationship to a ‘contingency
plan’; 2. the 2014 – 2015 budget and its related issues such as class sizes and the capital improvements
needed at the schools; and 3. as yet unresolved key issues, such as extending the day for kindergarten
and our current calendar.

With so many people offering suggestions, ideas and opinions, sometimes it’s hard to keep track of the
facts. This communication is intended to update you as to the status of each of these, knowing that next
week could bring changes. In addition, I wrote the DRAFT of a contingency plan, as I was directed to do,
and I was able to share that with the Board of Education yesterday. Some in the community have seen
it, so I am sharing now sharing the draft with all. Find it also attached to the news update.

Here’s an update on the many items which are on your mind and in my inbox, easiest items first:
1. Our snow day on Friday, February 14th brought us to the last day of school being Friday, June
20th. The next snow day will come off of April vacation, as was decided In March 2013 with the
passing of the district calendar. There will not be changes made in that district calendar because
our staff and families trust it and rely on it to make plans and reservations. However, we do
have 181 days in our student calendar; state law requires only 180.

2. My proposal for an extended-day kindergarten pilot was tabled until the next BOE meeting on
March 10th at 7:30. This proposal was presented in February, so it is posted on the BOE section
of the webpage in the ‘Minutes’ tab. The proposal is thorough, and no additional information
needs to be added here. There was much discussion, but no decision about the proposal as a
motion was made to table and passed 6-4.

3. There are three important meetings this week. The two BOE meetings (a. and c. below) are
‘meetings in public’ not ‘public meetings’ which means people are more than free to attend, but
do not participate in the conversation.

a. The BOE Buildings and Grounds Sub-Committee is meeting Tuesday night, February 18,
at 5:00 p.m. upstairs in the Board room. The agenda in posted on the district’s webpage
in the Board section under the ‘Agendas’ tab. The only agenda item is updates regarding
Peck; the BOE will be planning for the upcoming meeting with the BOS on Wednesday.

b. A meeting with the Board of Selectmen, Wednesday, February 19, at 5:00 at Town Hall.

c. A ‘Marathon Budget’ meeting from 5:00 – 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 20th
in which  the BOE will meet individually with each department or principal, in ½ hour intervals,
beginning with Technology and ending with Central Office. I will post the schedule for  the budget meeting in the ‘Agendas’ on Tuesday. I will try to address the remaining, more complex issues, which are becoming interwoven, in a clear and  understandable way.

1. My goal and the goal of the Board of Education has always been and continues to be the
remediation of Peck Place School. I used the words “clean and pristine” to describe this goal,
and those words have been widely quoted. That remediation goal ends with our staff and
students returning to a much improved, cleaner, and healthier Peck in late August. That goal
includes a plan for floors, ceilings, insulation, and heat/air univents for the classrooms. In
addition, we would be prudent to go out to bid and put the new roof on before the interior work
is complete.

2. It is true that work at Peck has currently been halted. After last week’s Board of Selectmen’s
meeting, we had approval only for Phase I of the clean-up. The BOS has requested more specific
information from us and would like to hear from the experts with whom we are working before
discussing Phase II and III. We are preparing for that meeting, which will take place on
Wednesday, February 19th, at 5:00 p.m. at Town Hall. The Board of Education does not have
money of its own. We have the money allotted to us through the budget last May. It would be
gravely irresponsible to have continued to work on Peck with no means of paying for the work,
so the work was halted on Thursday, February 13.

3. Incidentally, the Phase I remediation did achieve a clean air sample at the end of the abatement.

4. Through several different venues last week, the Board of Education was requested to develop a
‘contingency plan’ should the Town decide not to go forward with the remediation of Peck.
People quickly began circulating ideas of tearing Peck down and building one new school for all.
Additional ideas gained a foothold. The idea of a new, town-wide school is not a surprise to
anyone. People have interjected ‘the new school’ idea frequently in conversation. But,
suspending the work on Peck in order to build a new school sometime down the road is a
shocking surprise. A new school would take 5 – 6 years of town meetings, committee work,
design work, and ultimately construction.

5. Even more surprising is the idea that, rather than repairing the damage at Peck and returning to
the school, Peck students and staff could be housed somewhere else for 5 – 6 years while the
new school is being built.

6. Incidentally, the price tags in the millions which compare the price of repairing Peck to the cost
of constructing a new school are speculation, not factual.

7. Oddly, (since most families have actually had a child at MLT recently), the idea of housing Peck
Place at MLT gained a lot of ground.

a. Peck has 22 regular education classrooms in Grades 1 – 6. In addition, to support an
effective program, Peck has a library, computer lab, several Special Education rooms, an
art room, a music room, and additional spaces for OT/PT, Speech, Guidance, and
tutoring. There are 372 Peck students.

b. MLT has 12 classrooms: 7 Kindergarten classrooms; 1 Special Education classroom, and 2 Pre-K classrooms. There is an art room and one classroom being used as the Library/Reading/Tutoring room.

c. Using MLT to house Peck suggests we move the entire kindergarten and pre-school program of 9 classrooms (including the Peck kindergarteners) to Race Brook (5  classrooms) and Turkey Hill (4 classrooms). It’s hard to see where those extra classroom spaces exist at Turkey Hill and Race Brook without eliminating their classroom spaces for art, music, Spanish, tutoring, and the computer labs.

d. If we did move Kindergarten and pre-K out of MLT, we would now have 12 classrooms
available for the 22 regular education classrooms. If we partitioned the upstairs BOE
meeting room into 2 classrooms, we’re up to 14. My office (I’m being serious, not
sarcastic) is nearly classroom-sized and would get us to 15. MLT would still be 7 regular
classrooms short and that does not include the children’s needs for a library, computer
room, or Special Ed.

e. Many people have mentioned bringing in portables to MLT, as if it were as easy as a
phone call. Portables are expensive and need to be ordered about a year in advance.
They are expensive to install and need a poured concrete foundation, septic, electric,
and water. They are expensive to remove, as well. If they are ‘well-used’ at the end of
their stint, no one wants them back. Lining the field at MLT with portables is extremely
hard to envision and impossible to support.

8. So, charged with the responsibility of developing a contingency plan, I did that in the most
educationally sound, sensible way possible. I don’t have a full appreciation of the intention or
purpose of this contingency plan. Is the plan supposed to house Peck until a new school is built
in 5 – 6 years? Or, is the plan supposed to house Peck if we don’t make the August move-in
date? If it is the latter, this is frustrating; remediating Peck in time for opening IS achievable and
should be everyone’s primary goal. The contingency plan does include grade reconfiguration
rather than redistricting (please see the need to move one full grade in c. below) for these
reasons:

a. The make-shift arrangement we used in January, with the Peck students divided in half,
was a stop-gap measure and never intended to be anything other than temporary. We
could not replicate that plan without overcrowding the classrooms again. We certainly
couldn’t repeat it for years.

b. Many other options have been considered (phone calls, visits, etc.) and ruled out. I’ll
provide at least one brief negative for each, but please know there are many negatives.

i. Renting empty retail space (negatives: bus drop-offs and pick-ups; need for extensive dividers, wall covering, and lighting for industrial-looking space; Internet meeting occupancy codes for children; playground)

ii. Empty schools in Milford, New Haven West Haven, including parochial (negatives: some have been repurposed by the town; some have been stripped;  some were not up to code; need for renovation)

iii. High Plains (4 available classrooms, occupancy, condition)

iv. Hubble (drop-offs and pick-ups; narrow entrance road, basement spaces, need of renovation; occupancy for children)

c. Thus, we needed a plan that incorporated our existing buildings. To do this, the plan required moving one whole grade into MLT to lighten the student load on Turkey Hill and Race Brook. We also needed a plan for the remaining grades that yielded a number of student sections that actually ‘fit’ into the real number of classrooms we have available to us in Turkey Hill and Race Brook

9. The class size discussion is a moot point IF Peck is not remediated and brought back into the
mix. If Peck is to be closed, and if four schools are to be housed in three schools, this town
simply does not have the number of classrooms it needs even to simply maintain the programs
and class sizes that currently exist.

10. The extended-day Kindergarten pilot is a moot point if the kindergarten and pre-K are to be
reshuffled, or if Grade 1 is to be moved to MLT.

Finally, regarding the Budget Workshop, the Board of Education and I are proceeding with a 2014 –
2015 budget as if Peck were to be remediated and online for the opening of school

Hope this helps you to sort out the information as it stands today.

Sincerely,
Lynn K. McMullin
Superintendent of Schools

Orange School Schedule — If It Snows

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Feb 112014
 

SNOWFrom Supt. Lynn McMullin regarding the snowstorm threatening to impact our area:

Please read this letter carefully and in its entirety. It details plans for this week’s school schedule should Thursday, February 13th and Friday, February 14th be weather-impacted.

I am using this current forecast from New Haven: “A snow/ice weather event is forecast to begin Thursday morning from 4:00 a.m. – 7: 00 a.m. with heaviest accumulations in the mid-morning to afternoon. Some snow/ice mixing is possible for later in the day and evening. Another round of all snow is forecast for Thursday night with a rough ending estimate of 2:00 a.m. – 5:00 a.m. on Friday. Early predictions for accumulation: 6″ to 12″ across the state.”

Thus, these two (2) possibilities exist:

1. IF, the storm dissolves and is a complete miss and we have NO weather-related cancellations, delays or dismissals: We will follow our schedule as regularly planned for this week with a minimum day on Friday.

2. IF the weather forecast is correct, and the Orange Elementary has ANY cancellation, delay, or early dismissal, or ANY combination of the three: We will have a 1:25 dismissal for MLT and a 3:00 Friday dismissal for RB, TH, and PP (as if Friday were a full day of school).

NOTE: It is understood that some families have made vacation plans which begin Friday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. Any children with such plans will be guaranteed an excused absence or excused dismissal to meet their family’s needs. We do NOT expect families with vacation plans to change their plans at such short notice.

Here are some sample scenarios:

 Thursday Closed and Friday Open: If the weather is significantly bad on Thursday, we would be closed. On Friday, we would cancel the minimum day and have a full day of school. Valentines’ Day would go on as planned and students would be dismissed at 1:25 p.m. for MLT and 3:00 p.m. for the elementary schools.

 Thursday Closed and Friday Delayed-Opening: If the weather is significantly bad on Thursday, but improves enough during the morning on Friday to allow for a delayed opening, we would cancel the minimum day and school would dismiss at 1:25 for MLT and 3:00 p.m. for the elementary schools. Valentines’ Day would take place in the schools as fits with this delayed opening.

This change in schedule is aimed at preserving instructional time in a particularly challenging winter. In the event of a possible delayed opening on Friday’s minimum day, by canceling the minimum day, we will be able to: 1. save a snow day; 2. allow for instruction to take place; and 3. allow for Valentines’ Day celebrations.

I realize some families have already made vacation plans for Friday afternoon and will be inconvenienced by having to sign-out their children from the elementary schools at 1:00 p.m. On the other hand, this shift in the hours will be much appreciated by teachers, staff members, and other members of our school community for a wide variety of reasons.

Sincerely and in the best interests of our children,

Lynn K. McMullin

Supt. McMullin addresses Peck Place Families re: Yale Move

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Jan 212014
 

Peck Place School

Peck Place School

The following letter is posted on the Orange Elementary Schools Website and was sent out to school news subscribers:

Dear Peck Place Families and our Wider School Community, 

As you may have read in the press releases, our place at Yale is secure through the end of the school year. This long-range date will even enable a jumpstart on the roof project we were planning for this summer.

More importantly, we are closing in on a definite move-in date for the kids. Eric and the key officials supporting Principal Eric Carbone — from Yale security to the Yale movers to the Orange and West Shore fire marshals — meet daily to go over the punch lists and evaluate our progress.

This move is so much more complicated than just packing up the curriculum and furniture. Exit signs needed to be lowered; we needed to bring in bottled water and a PA system; the doors all need panic bar installations. There are more permits than anyone ever imagined. The elevators need to be refitted with keycard access, and Eric must provide his staff, and you, with a new handbook.

We are nearly there! We fully expect to announce a definite move-in date on Friday afternoon, after our last punch-list review. But here are some updates by which you can judge the progress.

• Myers is moving Peck to Yale on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of this week.

• On Monday, we are giving the Peck teachers a full day to unpack and set up their classrooms. (We’re hiring substitutes for Race Brook and Turkey Hill to help the classroom teachers that day.)

• Eric is scheduling a staff meeting, as there are  many new rules and protocols to review.

• Plans are already underway for the Open House, when you and your children can visit Yale, and then we’ll open the doors for the First Day at Yale.

• The Peck facility is still completely closed and off-limits. Please don’t visit.

• One section of the building is abated and was being air-quality tested today (Tues. Jan. 21)

• Mike Luzzi, our Facilities Manager, and Scott Allen, Orange Sewer Superintendent and Wetlands Officer, are working collaboratively on the Peck clean-up

• We are putting our full efforts towards a lofty goal, using the mantra ‘clean and pristine,’ before the kids’ return.

Sincerely,
Lynn K. McMullin
Superintendent

Latest Update Re: Peck Place School Is Not What Anyone Expected

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Jan 092014
 

Peck Place School

Peck Place School

On Monday, Jan. 6, at 7 a.m. the custodian at Peck Place School discovered that a water pipe had frozen and broken and flooded much of the elementary school.

Students were sent to two other schools all week, so their studies would not be interrupted.

Supt. Lynn McMullin has kept the Peck Place community abreast of everything that school administrators have been doing and everyone had high hopes that the children would soon be able to return to their own school.

A few parents have contacted Orange Live, stating that they are pleased with the immediate response to the emergency situation and the communication they have received from McMullin. Others, however are growing anxious, wondering what will happen with their children next week.

The most recent notice is posted on the Orange Schools website offers details of the damage sustained in the flood.

In short:

Contractors were working to reinsulate and install new ceilings in some classrooms; replacing damaged rugs and floor tiles where needed; and the administrators were working on reordering damaged technology, classroom materials and supplies with the goal of getting students back into the building by Monday, Jan. 13.

Unfortunately, everything came to a halt on Wednesday, Jan. 8, when workmen and school administrators discovered that flooring tiles throughout the affected area were increasingly popping up as they dried.

The floor tiles, which were installed in 1969 using mastic glue (containing asbestos) broke as people walked on them. Air quality testing was ordered and any teachers who stayed behind to do inventory in the school were sent back to Race Brook and Turkey Hill schools.

Orange received an emergency abatement permit from the CT Department of Public Health to remove the old tiles and mastic — instead of any other temporary fix.

Although air quality tests came up negative, during the abatement, no one under the age of 18 can be present on the Peck premises.

Parents with questions or concerns about this may contact Environmental Sanitarian Laschone Garrison at 860-509-7367 or by e-mail at laschone.garrison@ct.gov.

What now?

The temporary accommodations at Race Brook and Turkey Hill schools worked out well this week, but with the recent damage assessment, McMullin, Principal Erc Carbone and Business Manager Kevin McNabola are working tirelessly to locate a facility or facilities that can provide classroom space for the Peck Place students until the abatement work is completed.

Click on THIS LINK for full notice that was sent out on Wednesday, Jan. 8.

 

Editor’s Note: As many of you know, the Orange Live work computer died on Christmas Day leaving me to do this site on antiquated equipment, some of which will not recognize nor open gmail or PDF documents. It has been a challenge getting the news out and I know many of you are disappointed by the lack of coverage on this issue.  I hope to get a replacement computer to get Orange Live back on track by Friday afternoon. 

Extended Day Kindergarten Input Requested: Take the Survey

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Dec 042013
 

Extended Day KindergartenSuperintendent Lynn McMullin and the Orange Board of Education are beginning discussions about an extended day kindergarten pilot.

“While our current Kindergarten program at Mary L. Tracy is very strong, and students are meeting and even exceeding all of the CT State benchmarks; the BOE is nevertheless looking at options for extending the day for those families who would be interested,” McMullin said.

If you have a preschooler, your input is requested.

The survey is available at the www.oess.org webpage in the pop-up window or by typing the following address in your address bar: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/ExtKsurvey.

The survey is open until Monday, Dec. 30, and all orange parents of preschoolers are encouraged to respond.