‘The Board of Education (BOE) honored the late board member Judith Hotz at its recent meeting and recognized the wrestling and dance teams from Walsh Intermediate School and Branford High School. The meeting took place at the high school’s Cathyann Roding Auditorium.
The “lunch ladies,” employees of outgoing Chartwell Food Service, also returned to restate their demand that they be rehired as part of any new food service contract.
Cafeteria workers from Union Local 127 continued their fight to be rehired as part of any new food service contract. They are considered employees of Chartwell, the current supplier whose contract is ending at the end of the school year.
Donna Rispoli, who worked at Walsh for 26 years, said she’s “appalled and angry. We want to know why we are being fired and have to reapply.” Krause said that the board’s bylaws do not allow them to reply, but that they will be addressing the issue.
Rispoli said the 22 Branford workers haven’t heard anything to date, adding that the teachers have been supportive.
Judith Hotz’s Legacy
Judith Hotz had served on the BOE from 2007 until her death on Jan. 2, 2018. Board chair Michael Krause read a proclamation in her honor, stating that she “worked diligently, and devoted time and attention to education.” He said that she looked at the “whole child” and “the health, safety, and security of all children.” A personalized chair in her honor was also created.
In acknowledging his mother and thanking the board and the community, Geoff Hotz said that she really enjoyed participating with the board and learning about the children. He said he wanted to make it clear that the board “puts a lot of hours into this.” He added, “I want to thank you all for being so great to her.”
The auditorium was full of students from the Walsh and BHS wrestling and dance teams. Their coaches were acknowledged and in turn awarded certificates to all the participants. Superintendent of Schools Hamlet Hernandez said that the teams had a wonderful season. “It’s not an easy thing to dedicate yourself to a sport and to studies.”
The WIS Wrestling Coach is Tom Ermini, assisted by Tony Le & Max Warner. The team has 45 wrestlers.
The WIS Dance Head Coach is Jaime Sebring, assisted by Julia Goodwin and Junior Assistant Jenna Juliano. The team has 30 dancers.
The BHS Wrestling Head Coach is Jesse Hurlburt and Dan Dibisceglie is the assistant coach; the team has 20 wrestlers.
Jacqui Montano is the BHS Dance Head Coach, assisted by Megan Palluzzi. There are 12 dancers on the team.
The students were acknowledged individually and shook the hands of the board members as they came forward. They were cheered on by the audience.
At the BOE’s Communications Committee meeting in early April, the board and Hernandez were criticized for not holding fire/crisis drills monthly as per district and state policy. Krause said there will be more careful monitoring and documentation of the policy in the future. Security concerns (stemming from recent school shootings) have been discussed in detail at the Communication Committee meetings rather than regular board meetings.
As a result of committee discussions, Hernandez said that fire drills were held in all school during April, except for the high school, which was slated for later in the week.
Hernandez announced that Assistant Superintendent Anthony Buono (pictured) will leave the district at the end of the school year after 14 years. He will serve as assistant superintendent in Westport starting in July. Hernandez described him as “a person of true character.” He said that he will be missed as an educator and thanked him for his work with the children and the district.
Hernandez said that the public outreach presentations on the Walsh Intermediate School renovation have been completed except for one that will held at Murphy. He said that once the driveways are completed, school buses will test the circulation pattern to orient drivers and parents.
“It’s still a little bit difficult for people to visualize,” he said. He added that a groundbreaking for the project will be held the week of June 4.
The board voted to donate $2,300 ($10 per student) toward Project Graduation. New board member Dawn Perrotti said that the donation is important since Branford is one of the few school that doesn’t require students to pay for graduation expenses… everything is done by fundraising. It’s a 20-year tradition for the board.