The East Haven Board of Education held its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday at the East Haven High School.
The following is an overview of the meeting's notable discussions and/or decisions.
Basketball Team Cuts
Only one member of the public rose to address the board during the public comment portion of Tuesday's meeting.
Kevin Vineyard, the husband of school board member Kristen Vineyard, discussed his concerns about a recent meeting between some school officials and East Haven High School's varsity basketball coach.
The meeting was attended by BOE Chairman Thomas Hennessey, school board member Patricia DePalma, EHHS Principal Vincent DeNuzzo, district athletic director Michael Marone and Coach Reynolds.
Vineyard told board members that following the meeting — which he noted his wife was not aware of taking place — his son, who is a member of the team, said the coach gathered the players together and told them that "he had met with the board and he is going to put the cut players back on the team."
"Coach Reynolds was hired to coach the team," he said, adding that having school board members and other officials influencing the day-to-day coaching activities of the district's sports teams could set a bad precedent moving forward.
"Someone's kid doesn't make the school play. You can come here — and you give it to them," he asked the board.
"If you start here, I don't know where it stops," Vineyard said.
Later in the meeting, Hennessey directly addressed Vineyard's comments. He said he had called the meeting after noticing there were 13 students on the varsity team, but the school board had funded 17 slots.
He said their was a "misunderstanding" as to the purpose of the meeting, which was to discuss how the district runs its sports programs moving forward — not to effect any decisions that have already been made.
"In no way did the board make any judgements and decisions" regarding putting players who had been cut by the coach back on the basketball team, Hennessey said.
"If it's not on here, we don't act on it," Hennessey said, referring to the school board's meeting agendas.
Both DeNuzzo and DePalma — who chairs the board's athletic oversight subcommittee — agreed, saying they felt the meeting was a "positive" one, with the focus on the future and not on the past.
"There is a huge misunderstanding on this issue," Hennessey said.
The chairman added that, in his opinion, if the district has funded 17 slots on a team, but there are only 13 players on the roster, is cutting those four other players off the team "in the best interest of the students?"
"It just doesn't make sense to me... if the board has funded a slot for that person, the kid should be on that team," he said.
Hennessey added he'd rather have students playing sports "then sit home and do nothing but play on their Xbox and Facebook."
Vineyard had already left the meeting prior to Hennessey's comments later in the evening.
Strategic Planning Process
Superintendent of Schools Anthony Serio told school board members that the district's strategic planning process continues to move forward.
"Everyone is really rolling up their sleeves and trying to get things done," he said Tuesday night.
The superintendent added that right now, the process is focused on gathering up all of the data collected from the various focus groups, and analyzing it.
The core group heading the planning process is next scheduled to meet this Friday, he said.
Serio said the group will use some of that data to draw up a proposed mission statement, and to set "goals that we want going forward."
School board members were scheduled to receive a presentation — titled “Discovery Phase of District Strategic Plan” — by representatives from Area Cooperative Educational Services.
ACES, a nonprofit educational agency that offers its members various programs and services, has been hired by the district to spearhead the board's planning effort.
However, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Erica Forti told board members that that was unable to go forward Tuesday as originally scheduled.
Instead, Forti said the administration would be providing a full status update on the process in January.
"We'll formally brief you and share some of the work (we've been doing) with you," she said.
State of District Finances 'Unclear'
During Tuesday's meeting, Finance Subcommittee Co-Chair Christine Maisano said the board is still not receiving monthly financial reports from the business department as members have requested.
"We haven't seen them... and we have more finance people in the department than ever before," Maisano said.
She added that this makes understanding and keeping tabs on the district's financial situation difficult.
"We may be in the red $40,000. But we might not be," she said. "It's very unclear where we are... but we need to know sooner or later."
Because of this, both Maisano and her fellow Finance Subcommittee Co-Chair James Farrell, urged the board to be cautions with any unbudgeted spending items.
"I don't want to get into a bigger whole than we are already in," Farrell said.
Other Meeting Notes
- The school board unanimously approved a $2,500 donation to the St. Vincent DePaul Schools upcoming basketball tournament, which will be held at Joseph Melillo Middle School.
- The Lady Yellow Jackets Varisty Volleyball team have been honored wtih the Southern Connecticut Volleyball Officials' "Outstanding Sportsmanship Award" this year. "I'm very proud of the girls. It was well deserved," DePalma said.
- The East Haven High School's "Winter Talent Show" will be held on Dec. 21. Auditions for performers begins today and will run up through just before the day of the show itself, according to school board's student representative Michael Brainerd.