School Committee Confirms Pension Decision, Discusses School Vaccinations
Items regarding a Committee retreat, pension resolution and un-vaccinated students were on the Jan. 22 agenda.
During Tuesday's meeting, School Committee members revisited the Coventry Teachers' Alliance/School Related Personnel Pension Plan (CTASRP) Resolution agenda item that was voted on at the Jan. 8 meeting after concerns had been voiced by members of the community that the vote was not valid at the time.
"We do believe that the vote we took was valid based on our bylaws but as a precaution, we're prepared to discuss this again and vote," said Patenaude.
After no additional discussion, the Committee voted 4-1, with member Judi Liner opposed, to support the Town Council's resolution that neither the Town of Coventry or the School Committee is liable for the apparent $24 million under-funding of the plan.
"I'm aware that legally we have no responsibility for this, but I feel a moral obligation to this group and I want that to be known," said Committee Vice-Chairperson Nancy Sprengelmeyer. "I understand how we have to proceed but it is regrettable that when this pension was started, not everything was the way it should have been which has led us to where we are now."
School Committee Retreat
Superintendent Mike Almeida and Vice-Chair Sprengelmeyer discussed the idea of organizing a retreat to allow Committee members (and possibly other school district members) to gather as a group outside of the traditional meeting setting. The retreat would be an opportunity to discuss strategic planning, budgetary issues, education terminology for newer Committee members and the upcoming superintendent's evaluation among other topics.
"I think Nancy felt that this was something she had passion about and it's something that I think will benefit each and every one of us," said Almeida.
"Our meetings are generally tied up with business items so I think it's a good idea for us as a group to think about our own strategic plan and how it dovetails into the district's plan," said Chairperson Kathy Patenaude.
Superintendent Almeida plans to organize a list of those who should be involved in the event as well as goals, objectives and appropriate time-lines to be discussed at a future meeting.
Vaccination Clinic Update
Superintendent Almeida told the Committee that Saturday's vaccination clinic at Coventry High School brought many families in for their flu, pertussis (Tdap) and pneumonia shots. He explained that the school department is currently working with the Department of Health to see which students have not been immunized, and with parent permission, a second clinic will likely be organized for them.
"The School Department has the right after Grade 7 to exclude students who don't have the pertussis vaccination," he said. "We will take that directive from the Department of Health if and when necessary but right now we don't have plans to do that unless the outbreak continues."
According to Almeida, there are between 200 and 500 students who do not appear to have been immunized, but the large variance is caused by a lack of confirmation paperwork from families of children already vaccinated.