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Superintendents' Annual Report--June 2017

Each year, Region One has the opportunity to share the achievements of our schools with the communities through our Annual Town Report. The schools of Canaan, Cornwall, Kent, North Canaan, Salisbury, Sharon and Housatonic Valley Regional High School are the seven districts that comprise Region One. 

The work of the Region One Board, through the Lighthouse Project, shaped the district’s conversations and foci. The mission that the Board developed states: “In order for us to prepare each child for what comes next, we must align vision, expectation, and practice among all stakeholders.”

With 275 square miles that comprise Region One, as well as the different communities, each supporting a separate school, aligning the vision and practices is ongoing. We understand that each community wants their school to be both unique and exceptional. We all strive for this. At the same time, equity in opportunities for all students is essential, so we must attend to the fact that every child at every level receives instruction according to a common curriculum, so that we can help them to reach their maximum potential. Teachers and administrators meet regularly to discuss how we achieve this and further how students learn best. We continually ask ourselves if we are providing this opportunity to all of our students. If we determine that we need to make adjustments, so that the expected academic growth continues for each student, we address this and make the changes that are needed.

Leadership Teams, assembled by the principal in each school, help with the planning of professional learning, the study of student achievement data, and lead discussion of student programs. Additionally, Regional Professional Learning Communities have been formed with representation from each school, so that teams can discuss the plans and progress of programs across the region and determine if we can accomplish excellence through collaboration. A number of teachers from each school have attended state and national conferences over the past year, in order to be more informed and then to communicate their learning with colleagues. Research based instruction is what we will continue to strive for. Mrs. Lisa Carter, as Assistant Superintendent, is the leader to schools in all of areas of Teaching and Learning, which are vast and vitally important to the success of our students. 

Our special education programs are comprehensive and serve children with a wide range of abilities. Every school provides special education programming; some schools have programs that are specific to students with particular disabilities, such as autism, behavioral challenges, or more significant cognitive impairment. Mrs. Martha Schwaikert, Special Education Supervisor, and Mr. Carl Gross, Pupil Services Director, supervise these areas.

This past year, we increased professional learning time for curriculum development, discussion of instruction and quality assessments, equitable grading practices, and personalized learning. These areas continue to be our focus. 

Our four major goals continue to be the following: 

Goal 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 (student, teacher, content). In this goal, all of the schools are working together to formulate curriculum (what we teach) that shows an alignment between what we teach, how we assess, and the Core Standards. There is to be agreement among all teachers at each grade level that this should be uniform. The teaching strategies (how we teach) are the teacher’s decision, as long as the methods we use are effective for student learning. We have also devoted time for teachers to agree upon how and what we grade. We spent an increased amount of time this past year on grading practices, so that every student in Region One knows that they are being assessed fairly and that their performance is meeting proficiency. 
“To improve achievement, as evidenced by multiple data sources such as local, regional, state, and national assessments” is Goal #2. This requires us to study and understand what data tell us about student growth. It is not enough to look only at a student’s grades and standardized tests. We need to look at all types of data to understand if students are making the progress, such as student learning practices, which are the attitudes and behaviors that students demonstrate as they engage in day-to-day activities in the classroom. We want high academic achievement, but we also want students who show they are responsible, who work well with others, who strive to get work done on time, and who respect one another as well as the teachers and staff in their respective schools. All of the schools have reached consensus on the qualities a student should strive to exhibit.

Goal # 3 is “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.” We continue to refine how we evaluate teachers and leaders and have spent time this past year working with teachers to discuss what types of goals will be most effective to demonstrate improved teaching and student learning. To accomplish the precision and fidelity with which we must incorporate in the evaluation process, we have dedicated a number of days to training staff members in this area.
Promoting positive social and emotional health and well-being for all students is Goal #4. All of our K-8 schools use the Botvin curriculum to help students understand what it is to be socially and emotionally healthy. Several of our schools engage in Red Ribbon Week and the Start with Hello programs designed to support well-being and a sense of inclusion for all students. Still, we believe that we need to do more to ensure that all students place as much importance on being emotionally healthy as they do on being strong academic learners. Going into the new 2018-2019 year, we are putting more emphasis on social and emotional health through community and school discussions and implementing programs to achieve this.
In the past year, these are some of the programs that have been enacted and actions that have taken place:

Teacher professional development in the areas of Personalized Learning, Grading Practices, Student Led Conferences, and Assessment, as well as building specific programs
Increased professional development for support staff 
Implemented the High School Career Experience Program started 
Began the High School Bridges Program for alternative education students 
Hired four new principals in the region
Negotiated six certified (teachers) and three non-certified (support staff) contracts 
Conducted an audit of our regional technology systems 
Instituted a program that recognizes “those who contribute” at all board meetings  
Published quarterly newsletters with news from the region and each school 
Organized School-Community Partnership meetings in each school
Began the discussion of the “Vision of a Graduate” with all administrators
Held two board retreats
Worked with the officers in Troop B to identify school safety/security concerns 
Developed a Region One data calendar for communication at Board meetings 
Gained approval for a Region One Special Olympics program through CT Special Olympics

We will continue to refine all of the aforementioned curricular programs as it takes time to achieve full, high quality implementation. 

To keep our schools safe places for learning, budget and infrastructure needs have been attended to, through the oversight of each Board of Education, Building and Grounds Committees in the schools, and Mr. Sam Herrick, Regional Shared Services Business Manager. Sam assists and provides some oversight with projects throughout the region. These projects have taken place over the past year: 

Lee H. Kellogg School:

Bill Beebe, long-time Head Custodian at LHK, retired in the fall of 2018.  This was Bill’s last summer at the helm at Kellogg School.  
Summer projects completed included:

New propane tanks for the new heating system, including buried lines to the school building
Parking lot lines were repainted
Playgrounds were mulched
Exterior painting

Cornwall Consolidated Elementary School:

Summer projects completed included:

New asphalt shingles were installed as part of a roof project over the back “U” section of the school 
New carpeting was installed in the library computer lab
Exterior painting

Kent Center School:

Summer projects completed included:

Interior painting in the fourth grade classrooms, main office, Principal’s office conference room, lobby, mail room, and upstairs classroom doors
Two basement locker rooms fixed up, cleaned, and painted
Large section of tile floor replaced in cafeteria and throughout hallways
All classroom carpets shampooed
Furniture assembly for classroom
Smart Board installed in fourth grade classroom and library
Asphalt holes in parking lot and sidewalks were patched
Repaired and replaced many fixtures, toilet flush valve, and assorted plumbing issues
Classroom doors re-keyed
Two keyless entry areas for teachers installed

North Canaan Elementary School: 

Summer projects completed included:

Interior painting included hallways, bathrooms, and some classrooms
Principal’s office re-configured to include space for a conference area
Gym floor stripped and re-finished by maintenance staff
Playgrounds were mulched

Salisbury Central School:

Summer projects completed included:

Major renovation of the upper building including CAT 6 cabling, air conditioning installed in classrooms, new casework, ceilings, lighting, tiling, and paint
Major site renovation at the lower building including masonry work, drainage, and parking lot and walkway paving

Sharon Center School:

Summer projects completed included:

Exterior painting on the front of the building
Security screens installed in various areas of the building
New faucets installed in classrooms and cafeteria
Exterior doors on the gym and stage were installed
Lighting in the closets was upgraded to LED
Magnetic doors were installed throughout the building (Fire code update)


Summer projects completed included:

Major science wing renovation completed
Major locker room (ADA Project) completed
Boiler replacement project completed
Upgrade of 1953 HVAC units that service the kitchen, the fitness center, and the gymnasium wing
Exterior lighting upgraded to LED
10,000 Gallon underground fuel tank changed to 8,000 gallon above ground tank (per state code)
Gymnasium painted, new floor logo, and wall mats installed
Tennis court, backstop, and track gate fence repaired
Field goal post painted
Maintenance garage exterior painting and wood rot repair
New athletic storage shed
Central office carpeting
Duct cleaning throughout various parts of the building
Occupancy sensors installed
Upgrades to the heating controls
New walkway installed from the gym to the parking
Crack repair on tennis courts
Asbestos abatement and painting in teachers’ lounge
Epoxy floor inside loading dock area

The total number of students who attend Region One schools remains fairly steady. Several schools saw a small increase in enrollment and several others saw a decrease. We recognize that we need to watch the trends in enrollment in our schools and be ready to make adjustments when and if a marked change in enrollment occurs. While small class sizes may provide a wonderful opportunity to deliver very personalized, individualized instruction, small class sizes can also limit the social learning that some students require. Two of our schools have instituted multi-age classrooms in order to offer more social interaction, at the same time being able to provide individualization in academic areas.

In the 2017-2018 school year, much has been accomplished and yet we still have far to go. Our continual challenge in Region One, with distance between schools and some differences in existing practices, is to make time to communicate among our staff and work together. Our highest priority is to provide the best education possible, one that ensures our youth receive their education in a safe environment and that we prepare them for a successful life in career pathways of their choosing. 

In the years ahead, we understand the challenges and necessity of two-way communication with our stakeholders, sharing the good work that has been done and that which still needs to be done. 

We believe that our staff holds consistent and high expectations for the success of our students. It is our goal to develop each student through promoting rich opportunities for learning, both within and out of the classroom. We will continue to ensure that our staff is supported with the knowledge and skills they need to support excellence for our students.

We thank our parents, community members, staff, and everyone who supports our students and the programs that enhance their educational experience in Region One Schools. Our schools and our Shared Services Center will continue to build more partnerships between students, parents, and staff. 

Dr. Pam Vogel