New Milford School Board Discusses Potential $63 Million Referendum and Educational Enhancements

In a recent meeting, the New Milford School Board deliberated about matters such as a potential $63 million referendum for school construction projects, developments in educational enhancement, and concerns about harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) incidents. The meeting also featured updates on various school initiatives and upcoming events.

The potential referendum took center stage due to its significant financial implications. The Board grappled with the uncertainty of the $63 million cost estimate and the range of projects it would fund. The emphasis was on the need for a thorough evaluation of these projects and a transparent communication strategy with the community. The Board was especially concerned about potential misconceptions and backlash due to the premature release of figures. Plans for detailed information packages and a tax impact calculator for the public were discussed, aiming to ensure the community is accurately informed once the project scope is finalized.

The Board members acknowledged the challenge of presenting a cost that taxpayers would find acceptable. They emphasized the need to prioritize necessary repairs over luxuries, indicating a commitment to the responsible use of public funds. To this end, the Board considered the allocation of SDA Rod grant funds to address pressing needs such as roofing and air conditioning at the high school, among other facilities.

In addition to the potential referendum, educational enhancement was another focal point of the meeting. Dr. Murphy presented the development of a profile of a New Milford graduate, highlighting the skills and habits students need for future success. The initiative received commendation for its potential impact on the district’s curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Dr. Murphy highlighted community involvement in the profile’s development, including input from students, parents, and other stakeholders.

The presentation also covered the use of visual representations, and the incorporation of the profile into classroom activities and projects, such as the Capstone project for 12th-grade students. The Board was excited about the initiative, with examples from the Ramsey school district, where a similar initiative resulted in significant community engagement, further fueling optimism.

On a more distressing note, the meeting also addressed concerns related to HIB incidents in the district. Emotional public comments from parents indicated concerns about the handling of these cases and the impact on their children. In response, Superintendent Danielle Shanley reported on suspensions and HIB cases, emphasizing the criteria that must be met for an incident to be classified as HIB. The Board discussed targeted lessons for students and monthly closed sessions to review each HIB case, with the entire administrative team, HIB specialists, and investigators participating in a comprehensive training session with the board attorney.

Despite the serious matters addressed, the meeting also featured lighter moments as McKenzie Forte, the student board representative, promoted upcoming events like the fall play and winter Spirit Week. The student council’s efforts to raise over $600 for Martin Luther King Day in service activities were also noted, along with the seniors’ victory in a volleyball game.

Note: This meeting summary was generated by AI, which can occasionally misspell names, misattribute actions, and state inaccuracies. This summary is intended to be a starting point and you should review the meeting record linked above before acting on anything you read. If we got something wrong, let us know. We’re working every day to improve our process in pursuit of universal local government transparency.

Danielle Shanley
School Board Officials:
Heather Gomez, Nicole Dunne, Anthony Albro, Cheryll Calderon, John DaCosta, Stephanie Kauffunger, Andrew Lombardi, Joseph Loonam, Paige Ryan, McKenzie Forte (Student Board Representative)

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