The first item of business at our September 26 regular meeting was an update on the Board of Education’s Superintendent Search Committee. The search committee is charged with hiring a new superintendent to replace Dr. Gary Richards, who plans to retire at the end of this year.
A significant amount of the committee’s work so far has focused on identifying an executive search firm, and soliciting input from different stakeholders. After evaluating approximately ten search firms that have expertise in educational leadership recruitment, we have narrowed the list to two. Each firm is a nationally recognized leader in this specialized field, and each has an excellent track record of having successfully placed superintendents in high performing suburban school districts such as Wilton.
The committee has met with both firms, and will likely make a decision within the coming week.
At the same time, a number of focus groups have been conducted as a way to gather varying perspectives and insights to assist the committee in its work. I would like to recognize Mr. Paul Jacobson, Principal at RazorFocus, a Stamford, CT based market research firm, for donating his time and expertise to conduct these sessions. The focus groups RazorFocus has conducted have generated some thoughtful insights that will be used as we search for our new superintendent.
In addition to the focus groups and the work done by the executive search firm, we encourage members of the Wilton community to share their thoughts, perspectives, and insights. You can join the discussion via the Board of Education email address: BOE@Wilton.k12.ct.us.
Hiring a new superintendent is the most important job any board of education faces. This is especially true in Wilton, where our community places such a high priority on education, and where our superintendents tend to become an integral part of our town.
We will keep you updated as the search process continues, but please consider weighing in with your thoughts.
On the subject of our involved community, Dr. Richards spent time at our meeting sharing the most recent contributions to our schools made by the Wilton Education Foundation (”W.E.F”). Most of us are aware of W.E.F. only tangentially – maybe we see signs promoting W.E.F fundraisers including “Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?”, “Acoustic Wilton,” or the annual W.E.F. Memorial Day weekend 5K Run. In fact though, W.E.F. is a key supporter of our technology and arts programs, as well as an important source of professional development funding.
W.E.F. has approved more than $100,000 in grants and gifts that will benefit students and teachers in each of our schools. W.E.F.’s contributions will help fund initiates from professional development speakers to SMART Board and iPad purchases, to Fine and Performing Arts programs, to LEGO robotic kits for our new I-STEM course at Middlebrook.
We are so grateful to W.E.F., and to their legions of volunteers who work so hard to make these donations possible.
A final topic I’d like to touch on is an issue that has received a considerable amount of attention in recent years, standardized testing.
As I hope you are aware, the Wilton schools have implemented the Common Core of State Standards, which has a significant influence on curriculum requirements for our students. The Common Core was mandated by the State of Connecticut and so far directly impacts our Math and English/Language Arts curriculums. We anticipate that Science standards are in the offing.
A new assessment program is being designed by a group known as the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or “SBAC.” These assessments will measure our students’ ability to master the skills and content of the Common Core-based curriculum. As of now though, SBAC assessments are still in development…
I know there has been discussion around town about this year’s testing, so I want to share with you what we know at this point:
· CMT and CAPT tests have been discontinued, with the possible exception of CMT/CAPT testing for Science;
· Wilton students will participate in SBAC testing, which is currently still in development. You can review a "sample" SBAC test on the Common Core website: http://www.smarterbalanced.org/pilot-test/;
· Most of the SBAC testing will be administered via computer; and
· The proposed window for SBAC testing is February-May. Wilton has not been notified with any specifics about when our actual testing will occur.
We will certainly share more information about this critical topic as it becomes available.
The Board of Education’s next regular meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 10 at 7:30pm in the WHS Professional Library. Hope to see you there!