Berlin school board OKs union deal, policy changes

Published on Sunday, 1 October 2017 22:30
Written by Charles Paullin

Staff Writer

BERLIN - A new union contract and two new policies on student discipline and attendance, truancy and chronic absenteeism were passed by the Board of Education at its regular meeting on Monday.

The contract’s tentative agreement with the Connecticut Association of Labor Unions Inc. - Custodians includes a 2 percent salary increase for custodians within the district, among other changes, School Superintendent David Erwin said Tuesday as the board discussed the agreement in executive session.

Ratified by the union and the board, the contract now awaits the signature of Board of Education President Mathew Tencza, Erwin said.

Policy 5114, regarding student discipline, now includes provision of a 900-hour alternative education program to expelled students, as opposed to the 10-hour-a-week program that was provided before, in compliance with State Board of Education recommended changes to the policy.

The 900-hour alternative program equals a full-school-year program, whereas the 10-hour a week program came out to 360 hours a year, said Erwin.

The new policy also clarifies due process procedures for expulsion hearings.

While the state hasn’t provided exact guidelines on the policy change, Erwin said, the action puts Berlin in compliance with the state’s initially discussed recommendations for its policy change.

Attorneys from Shipman & Goodwin LLP, who revised the policy, will update it as needed if the state makes any further changes, he added.

Erwin said he and Director of Pupil Personnel Services Linda Holian have been in contact with colleagues in other districts to establish cost-effective sharing measures if the state’s policy is fully adopted, as the change would have implications on the district’s budget process.

Policy 5113, regarding attendance, truancy and chronic absenteeism, removed the Family with Service Needs process as a response to truancy and put more of the responsibility on the school district.

For example, a team made up of a school administrator, counselor, nurse, teacher and social worker could be a team to create an intervention model for students who skip school, Erwin said in response to Board Secretary Kari Sassu’s question.

The policy also removed in-school suspensions greater than or equal to half a school day from the definition of “absence” for purposes of calculating chronic absenteeism.

Holian said she feels the district has addressed truancy issues at the secondary level, but her main focus is on the elementary level and addressing an issue, particularly among families with similar absence issues, before the challenge continues.

The board also announced that the district has reserved Welte Auditorium at Central Central Connecticut State University for the Berlin High School Class of 2018 graduation for Sunday, June 17, and Sunday, June 24. June 24 would be the date of the ceremony should snow days extend the school year.

The next Board of Education meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. at the Board of Education, 238 Kensington Road.

Charles Paullin can be reached at 860-801-5074 or

Posted in New Britain Herald, Berlin, General News on Sunday, 1 October 2017 22:30. Updated: Sunday, 1 October 2017 22:32.