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Wilton BOE Seeks Feedback from the Public

The first installment of the Wilton Board of Education's new bi-monthly column, Notes from the Board Table.

 

Budget season has officially begun! Last Thursday’s Board of Education meeting included the board’s review of a list of “budget assumptions” that will guide development of the 2013-14 operating budget for the schools.

The assumptions are based on several factors including (a) elements within the budget that are contractually binding; (b) external cost factors over which we have little control, including health care and heating oil costs; and (c) priorities that have been identified in the district’s “strategic plan.” A complete list of the budget assumptions can be found on the district website. I do want to point out that a key driver of the discussion will be to ensure that the 2013-14 operating budget “represents value in the eyes of the community.”

Our board is very mindful of the need for our community to understand and support our schools’ priorities. We intend to provide open and honest communication with residents as the budget process unfolds, and I sincerely hope that people will become engaged in the process, and take the time to find out about some of the great things that are happening in the Wilton schools.

The budget was not the only focus of our October 11 meeting, student assessment also took center stage. We hear a lot about standardized testing, and it is important to realize that standardized tests are one of many ways our students are evaluated. In Wilton, student assessments are taken very seriously, and each student is evaluated in several ways to measure performance. Based on this information,interventions are developed and implemented to support students who may be struggling.

Assistant Superintendent Tim Canty briefed the board on the processes in place to assess our students. Currently Wilton uses multiple forms of assessment to ensure that we have a broad and accurate picture of student learning. Those assessments include standardized testing, along with performance-based indicators including essays, portfolios, debates, science experiments, projects, videos, and the list goes on.

Tim spoke about the need for both “formative,” and “summative” assessments. “Formative,” as explained by Dr. Richards, could be likened to tasting a pot of soup to see if it needs more salt, and then adding the salt. “Summative,” on the other hand, refers to an evaluation of the entire meal. Both assessments are important, since each measures performance at different stages.

We also heard about the State of Connecticut’s new process for measuring student performance. You may be aware that earlier this year, the state applied for a waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation. As a result of the federal waiver, the state will pursue what it believes is a more realistic and useful approach. Under the new system, student growth will be assessed in a number of different categories. Each year students in grades 3-8 and grade 10 will be scored on key areas including reading, writing, science, and math. Based on the student’s score in each of these areas, the student will be categorized as advanced, goal, proficient, basic, or below basic. The student’s progress will be monitored in each of these areas, and scores will be modified upward or downward, based on progress. The district and each school will be assigned a performance index based on the average of students’ scores.

This individualized approach, which is very different from the No Child Left Behind mandates, will allow educators to pinpoint exactly which students are struggling,and to identify areas in which additional support is needed.

Mr. Canty pointed out that Wilton, a high performing district, will likely be placed very high on the state’s performance index spectrum. The challenge for us, will be to maintain those high standards, and to ensure that all of our students are achieving at least at the state target.

In the coming weeks, the Board will review the District testing report, which will provide an overview of 2011-12 data. That report, which will focus solely on standardized testing metrics, combined with our district assessment strategy, will ensure that student progress is regularly and appropriately measured at all steps of the learning process.

We also discussed several policies, most of which have been in place for several years but needed updating. I urge you to visit our website and read the “Board Briefs” section to learn about everything that was on our agenda.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, October 25 at 7pm in the Wilton High School Professional Library. Among the many items on that meeting’s agenda, will be a presentation by our external enrollment expert, Ms. Ellen Essman. Ellen will present her enrollment projections for the next several years, which will play a critical role in our ongoing budget discussions.

As always, our meeting will include a public comment period, at which time members of the public are welcome to share their thoughts. I hope to see you there.

Alethiologist October 19, 2012 at 11:10 AM
Is Mr. Canty the right person for the job?
Too much wasted overhead October 19, 2012 at 02:49 PM
The BOE and schools are far too heavy in administrators. Why do we need 3 assistant principals in the high school? The school has about 1200 students. In 1975 it had over 1600 students but only one assistant principal. Why do we need 6 guidance counselors? In 1975 it had only 4, and the percentage of students going to college hasn't changed.
Geoffrey Day October 19, 2012 at 06:43 PM
And why do we need so many classrooms? Between the Clune Center and the field house, there's more than enough room for everyone. I know, I know - it's in the teachers contract...
cut admin October 19, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Reducing classrooms will not save any money. After all, there is no way to remove them. Reducing administrators will save money and not affect the student/teacher ratio. How many heads of special ed services in each school and the BOE office do we need?
Alethiologist October 20, 2012 at 09:46 AM
Huh?
Another Wilton Mom October 20, 2012 at 03:34 PM
The BOE is made up of volunteers. Maybe you should thank them for giving their time back to the town instead of trying to 'cut them'?!? Or run for office (again, a volunteer position) in the next election if you think you have better ideas. I'm betting that "cut admin" has no idea how many 'heads of special ed services in each school' we have. If you do know, name their names, positions, and their job descriptions and why their job is no longer needed. I cringe every time I see the posts that compare Wilton to a place 20+ years ago. It was a different world. Do you really think it was as easy to get into college in 1975 v. 2012? Geez...never mind the social changes and new support for kids of all types. Try an apples v. apples comparison next time, v. apples to out-of-date oranges.
wake up sheep! October 21, 2012 at 02:09 PM
Actually it was harder to get into college 20 years ago not to mention it was much harder to select a college. There was no internet, no common applications, no college fairs. All the research and applications had to be done manually. You needed the advice and expertise of the counselors to help you select and apply for the right school. Today most kids research on the internet. Wilton was a different place 20 years ago, I lived here then, did you? Much fewer administration in the schools with a larger school population. Granted there is probably more paperwork that the State mandates, but explain to me why you need to double the administrators while the students decrease by 25%? Maybe a few extra people are required, but DOUBLE? How many of you work for companies that as they reduce line staff, increase administration? Wilton has a transportation coordinator position which pays a lot. The main job is to make the bus schedules. Why do we need this? Why not tell the bus company as part of their contract they are responsible for coordinating traqnsportaion and cresting schedules. Sure, they might charge for this, but a lot less than Wilton currently pays for the position. It is time the BOE stopped rubber stamping the superintendent and started thinking outside the box.
Another Wilton Mom October 21, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I haven't done an in-depth analysis, but from what I understand from our almae matres the acceptance rate has changed dramatically in recent decades. I believe in questioning the paradigm. Perhaps you should take Mr. Likly up on his offer to speak during the public session of the Board of Education meeting and pose your questions. You might get a good explanation for why there has been an increase in administrators...and maybe you'll provide a new perspective and a fresh way to look at things. The Board of Ed is a group of volunteers. I think they work very hard and do their best to kick the tires on the budget items. In the past, I heard very detailed, persistent questions asked to Dr. Richards about the budget in the Board of Ed sessions, I believe including Mr. Likly questioning the staffing line items. And if you are unhappy, there is always the opportunity to run for the Board of Ed yourself. I know I don't have time to, and am grateful to the volunteers who do find the time. As far as the bus question - I like that you are thinking outside of the box. But, I don't think making the schedules is Mary Channing's primary job. She has to coordinate getting 4,000+ students to and from school safely every day. Given she has to deal with bullying, safety issues, buses breaking down, weather, managing dozens of bus drivers and again those 4,000+ students...that seems like a reasonable full time position to me. But, I hope you ask the question on 10/25!
feel free to pay my share of higher taxes October 21, 2012 at 11:36 PM
HUH? Mary deals with buses breaking down, weather, managing bus drivers, etc? Then what are we paying the bus company for? I was under the mistaken impression that the bus company repaired their own buses, they trained the drivers, etc.

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