Superintendent's Annual Report--June 2016

Regional School District #1

Annual Report

July 30, 2016

The annual town report affords us an opportunity to reflect upon and share our many achievements throughout the Region (Canaan, Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury and Sharon). There are many excellent programs taking place throughout the region; therefore, it is challenging to identify only a few. Nevertheless, I will attempt to highlight our major accomplishments.

Students, staff and faculty returned with great enthusiasm to well­organized openings throughout the district. Dr. Pamela Vogel was hired to commence on July 1, 2015 as the new Assistant Superintendent and she has demonstrated both her talents and skills as a district leader that is committed to continuous improvement and learning for all students and staff. In addition, Dr. Vogel has been approved as the next Superintendent for Regional School District #1, as well as the six local school districts, commencing on July 1, 2017.

Our principals in the schools have accomplished an extraordinary amount of work over the course of the school year and continue to demonstrate their willingness to take on multiple roles across the region. Each school has developed a Strategic Plan for School Improvement and each school’s plan aligns with the Regional Plan for School Improvement, which was designed to be the umbrella for all of the districts. Each district Strategic Plan focuses on these areas:

  1. To implement a guaranteed and viable curriculum tied to comprehensive formative and summative assessments utilizing the Connecticut Core Standards, National Content Standards, and the Instructional Core.

  2. To improve student achievement as evidence by multiple data sources such as local, regional, state, and national assessments.

  3. To continue to implement the regional teacher and school leader evaluation plans, with precision, fidelity, and purpose, and aligned to the district’s school improvement goals.

  4. To promote positive social and emotional health and well-being for all students.

Along with building plans that align with the Regional Plan, each faculty member has developed his/her professional goals to accomplish the both regional initiative and building goals. These are goals that are considered in the teacher evaluation process. We successfully, for a second year, implemented the new evaluation plans for teachers and administrators and subsequently sent updated plans to the State Department of Education. We will continue to refine and implement this plan with assistance and input from our staff throughout the year ahead. This strategic planning and alignment is critical in providing all students equitable and cohesive educational opportunities across the Region.

It has been an ambitious year for our Leadership Team as we tackle with great passion the many challenges in education today.

 

Under the direction of our new Assistant Superintendent, Dr. Pamela Vogel, our teachers and administrators worked during the school year and throughout the summer in all content areas, to develop and revise curriculum, as well as assessments, so that we can ensure students in all of our schools are receiving high quality instruction. We are indeed fortunate to have incredibly talented and dedicated teachers and administrators willing to give up time in the summer to work for the greater good of our students and schools.

While CMT and CAPT state testing were still utilized this past year in the area of science, a recently developed test (SBAC) was implemented in the areas of English, language arts, and mathematics. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), a state­led consortium, implements field tested assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards in both of these areas to more accurately measure student progress toward college­ and career­readiness. Region One participated in a field test in 2014-2015 as an opportunity to ensure that the assessments were valid, reliable and fair for all students. A second implementation of the (SBAC) test went smoothly this year, although clearly it is a challenging assessment, designed to inform us of student performance and areas that are strong and those we need to continue to address.

The building needs of each elementary school were addressed through various summer projects.  At Lee H. Kellogg, the entire school was power washed, exterior and interior paining was done, window glazing, and exterior siding in the rear building was replaced.  At Cornwall Consolidated School, projects included asbestos abatement, new carpeting in three classrooms, attic insulation, interior painting, installation of a new gaga pit, and landscaping was completed on the front outside playground area.  Projects at Kent Center School included the fire alarm system being replaced, landscaping for a new outdoor classroom area, courtyard, and playground, the installation of air conditioning in three classrooms, upgrading back flow presenters, and the installation of five new smart boards.  North Canaan completed some interior painting, the installation of new sump pumps, exterior security camera installation, re-wiring of smart boards, asphalt patching on walkways, and the resurfacing of their gym floor was performed by in-house maintenance.  Salisbury Central installed a back-up generator for the lower building, installed new roofs over the maintenance and storage, did LED lighting upgrade, installed air conditioning in four rooms, replaced carpeting in the middle school, and created two maker spaces, one in each building.  Sharon Center School installed new windows, installed new carpeting in the library, computer room, and office, installed a new telephone system, intercom system and clocks, and created a maker space in a downstairs classroom. 

At the high school, many summer projects were also completed.  Tennis courts were resealed and painted, the driveway was resealed and concrete sidewalks were repaired, new carpeting was installed in the library media center and room 133, the art room was renovated, and a new kitchen was installed in a classroom.  In June, the voters of Region One passed a referendum to approve a building project at the high school that will include renovations to the locker room, science classroom, and fitness center, replacement of underground storage tanks, and a partial roof replacement. 

Sound fiscal planning and monitoring by our business manager, Mr. Sam Herrick, the seven principals, and boards of education members continue to serve us well. All budgets throughout the region passed in May in preparation for the fiscal year 2016­2017, in spite of the loss of funding from the State. The Central Office team successfully negotiated two certified teacher contracts (Salisbury and Falls Village (Canaan) this past school year. In addition, three noncertified contracts were negotiated (Cornwall, Falls Village (Canaan), Salisbury). Finally, we concluded with an administrators’ contract negotiation. August 2016 begins a new season of negotiations for a certified contract for Kent and a non-certified contract for North Canaan in the winter of 2017. The Business Office and Central Office staff continue to support the needs of our regional schools when necessary or requested throughout the school year and summer months.  Furthermore, as our Region One Board continues to look for economic efficiencies, we continue to foster a unique partnership of public schools and not-for-profit organizations, such as the Mahoney-Hewat Science and Technology Center and the Art Garage.  The Regional Board has also partnered with the “Lighthouse Project” to focus on the school board’s role in the continuous improvement of Housatonic Valley Regional High School.  This program provides educational and planning opportunities for the Board members sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education at no cost to the Board. While the Board has not yet completed the series of workshops, their work will shape the district’s conversations throughout the school years ahead.

Additionally, it is more important than ever to remain focused on the needs of our students throughout the region as our student enrollments decline. We will continue to monitor and report enrollment projections that will gradually decline, if predictions remain accurate. Several of our Boards have shown interest in exploring other regional efficiencies and have begun to develop board goals around this issue. The All Boards Chair Committee has had some preliminary discussions regarding our declining enrollment with possible strategies and structures. Our smallest schools are exploring opportunities to expand their enrollments and configure multi­grade classrooms, where appropriate.

The 2015-16 school year has been a challenging yet educationally productive year for our students, faculties, staff, and administrators. Our dedicated and talented employees continue to work hard each and every day toward the success of all children. We appreciate the many contributions made by our community volunteers and the efforts of our seven Boards of Education in the improvement, maintenance and success of our outstanding schools. We are indeed fortunate to live and work in very special communities and schools throughout our region.

Patricia Chamberlain

Superintendent of Schools