SEYMOUR — The Board of Education hired a business leader, authorized an early retirement incentive program and discussed national food supply shortages at its meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 3.
The board unanimously hired Salvatore A. Bucci as business manager.
“I come here with most of my career behind me with a lot of aspirations about what I can contribute to the kids and the growth of the school district,” Bucci said. “I can not wait to be there.”
The board authorized an early retirement incentive program for eligible teachers and administrators in accordance with the collective agreement.
“I went back and did the history of what some of the past superintendents did, and I think that’s fair,” said Superintendent Susan Compton, Ed.D.
Member Fred Stanek said he had voted against early retirement plans in the past.
Mr Stanek said he believed that if the school offered an early retirement incentive, it should encourage young teachers between the ages of 25 and 30 to retire.
“It may not be part of the next contract, but I’m going to vote yes tonight so I’m leaving on a high note,” he joked.
Chairman Ed Strumello said he also had concerns.
“I thought we sometimes encourage teachers to leave,” Mr. Strumello said. “That’s my concern.”
Member Kristen Bruno said she would vote yes, acknowledging that it is a requirement.
“I think we’ve been through this for the past two years, we need all the good educators out there.
“I hope no one takes advantage of this because the need is definitely there for the quality staff we have in the district,” Ms Bruno said.
The motion passed unanimously.
Food Service Director Cindy Brooks spoke about the food service and product shortages the country is facing.
“We are running out of everything from pizza to chicken products to milk, lactose-free milk, paper products and utensils that students eat with every week,” Ms Brooks said. “The list is lengthened increasingly.”
Ms. Brooks also noted cost increases for some items, such as five-compartment trays.
Before Covid-19, trays cost around $16 for a pack of 500. Earlier this year, trays cost $34 for a pack of 240.
She said that on the day of the meeting, she was able to order 100 cases of 500 trays for $95.
“My budget is separate,” she noted, adding that she hopes the sets will get her through November.
Throughout it all, she said her staff did a great job. She said staff served 38,251 meals in September. In October, staff served 40,723 meals.
Ms Brooks also thanked the guards, who stepped in to serve lunches and offered support to outnumbered food service staff.
“I don’t think it’s ending anytime soon, but we’re doing our best,” she said.
The board thanked the staff for their efforts.
Mr Strumello acknowledged the new iteration of the Board of Education after the municipal elections on Tuesday, November 2.
Mr. Strumello congratulated Ms. Bruno and member Christopher Champagne on their re-election.
He also welcomed new board members, Shannon Levey and Stephan Behuniak, who will be sworn in, along with those who will be re-elected, in December.
In addition, the board has issued various recognitions and proclamations to students and board members.
The board recognized Katherine Bruno and Mikayla Zedek as Commendation Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program.
The board also recognized students who participated in the Naugatuck Valley Health Department’s National Readiness Month Art Contest.
Bungay Primary School students Simao Parada, Eli Stein and Ariyanna Johnson received first, second and third prizes respectively.
Seymour High School senior Emily Zhu won the high school division.
The board issued proclamations recognizing outstanding service to board members Peter Kubik and Mr. Stanek.
First female pick Annmarie Drugonis and Bungay Elementary School Principal Mary Sue Feige spoke during public comments to honor Mr. Kubik and Mr. Stanek.
“Thank you for your many years of service to Seymour and education,” Ms. Feige said, specifically thanking Mr. Kubik for his service on each building committee.
“[Mr. Kubik] was an important part of Bungay’s latest renovation,” Ms. Feige said.
She thanked Mr. Stanek for his 32 years of service to the school board.
“You may be the longest-serving board member,” she said. “But you are by far one of the best members of the Board of Education.”