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RSD #17 BOE: Summary of February 2022 meetings

Submitted by Shawna Goldfarb, RSD #17 BOE. 

Cougar Pride:  Burr Principal Brianna Whidden presented a number of her 3rd Grade students who presented and read their adaptations of fairy tales.  The 3rd graders had just finished their unit on fairy tale writing and each student had to adapt and write a favorite fairy tale in their own words.

Superintendent’s Update:  Superintendent Wihbey reported on the state level changes to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions in place at our schools, which included the removal of mandatory masking in the schools.  He discussed the pathways, monitoring and mitigation strategies that will remain in place to continue to reduce transmission.  Additionally, the District has received a limited supply of COVID testing kits and masks from the state to be used for staff and students. Superintendent Wihbey met with multiple groups including town leaders and students to help understand all viewpoints on the decision.  After much research and discussion, Superintendent Wihbey adopted a “masks optional” approach for RSD #17 and has assured he will continue, with the help of CDC and DPH guidance, to monitor the data for our region as we move forward.

HK Highschool:  HKHS Principal Donna Hayward presented to the board her 2021 Graduation Report.  She discussed the number of students who applied to, were accepted and are now continuing their education via University, College, Community College or other institutions, along with those students who chose to join the military or workforce after graduation.

Principal Hayward also discussed the new Social Studies programming and briefly discussed the new textbook associated with the program.

Pupil Services: Dr. Kris Lindsay-Stevens presented the Board with the 2021-22 Special Education Continuous Improvement Plan.  She spoke on three goals: Improve the Mental Wellness of the Students, Improve the Provisions of the Nursing Services, and Continue to make Improvements to the Preschool Program.

Facilities:  Peter Sonski, chairman of the Facilities Committee, introduced Justin Hopkins from Tecton Architects.  Justin presented his finding from the RSD #17 buildings assessment that had been approved by the Board last fiscal year.  Justin discussed Introduction, Scope of Work, Existing Conditions, Order of Magnitude of Budget and next steps.

Board Liaisons:  Finance and Facilities Chair Peter Sonski reported from Finance, information on COVID Expenditures and the cost of the Emergency Repairs this year are up and are being taken out of the Operations fund.  He also reported the price of fuel for the district has increased significantly.   Peter reported from Facilities on upcoming Capital Projects along with information regarding the Tecton Assessment.  Policy Chair Nelson Rivera updated the Board on their work on the 3000 series.  Personnel & Evaluation Chair Suzanne Sack updated the board on Central Office Staffing.  Strategic Planning Chair Jennifer Favalora updated the Board regarding the upcoming workshops for the committee that will be happening in February and March.  Curriculum Chair Dr. Kathy Zandi recommended to the Board to replace existing Smart Boards with View Boards and to purchase new equipment for the Robotics Program for the HK Middle School.  Communication Chair Shawna Goldfarb recommended to the Board to no longer live stream the Board of Education meetings, though they will still be recorded and posted on the website.  Also, she recommended the Board no longer read emails during the Board meetings, however a new email address will be created,, that will be directed to the BOE Chair and Superintendent who will reply to the writer and forward to the rest of the Board.  Shawna also updated that there will be a new BOE FAQs document that will be posted on the website.

On our Website: In March, the Board of Education will begin work on the 2022-2023 RSD17 School Budget.  All meeting dates, including the Superintendent’s March 1st Budget Presentation, can be found on website under “District”→“Board of Education.”  Proposed budgets and the budget timeline will be updated as they become available under “District”→ “Budget Information.”

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