NEWTOWN — The school board, meeting on Tuesday, August 23, named Brian Walsh vice-principal of Newtown Middle School, effective September 27.
They also received a presentation of the proposed strategic plan from Richard Lemons, EdD, of Partners for Educational Leadership.
He described his nonprofit organization as providing a range of services to school districts, including professional development and systems review as well as strategic planning.
Given observations of strategic planning after providing services to school districts across the country, Dr. Lemons said typical flaws include a focus on completing the planning process, which hampers creative thinking. .
Some planning documents are comprehensive in scope with no focus, some are owned by a small number of leaders and therefore not supported by the school community, or focus on many issues beyond the classroom.
He cautioned against spending time on the plan and not on how it should be used, drawing an analogy to planning a wedding but not the wedding, noting that many school districts pay attention to capacities that need to be strengthened to support the strategies.
The guiding beliefs of Partners for Educational Leadership are that a strategic plan is not just a document, and that the concept should be a system of behaviors, processes and discipline, as the district designs systems and routines to link vision improvement efforts, build capacity, and provide feedback to improve the work.
Dr. Lemons presented a proposal for a planning process that begins with taking stock to identify areas that are working well and need improvement. “It will help create a playing field.”
Then he said the identification of artifacts and a portrait of the graduate would move into an articulation of where the district is headed and what it will take to get there.
Creating vital signs will help the community and educators know if strategies are working and if adjustments need to be made.
The phases would run throughout the academic year.
Dr Lemons described the board of education as the ultimate decision-maker, able to contribute ideas and advised by a working group.
Superintendent Christopher Melillo said he was asked to improve student achievement when he took the job. “We won’t be able to do this unless we have a clear path, unless we get feedback from our stakeholders, unless the community comes together and puts a plan in place.”
He has worked with Dr. Lemons in the past and will share a work proposal with the board.
The board will take action at a future meeting.
During the meeting, the board approved a one-year foodservice contract, awarded to Chartwells Schools Dining Services.
The free or reduced meals for all program is extended for several months.
Chair Deborra Zukowski noted that families should apply for the free or reduced meal program before the Oct. 12 deadline to avoid a possible service disruption as the for-all program ends.
Superintendent Christopher Melillo said the free-for-all program has been in place for more than two years and an effort will be made to reach out to families to ensure eligible families receive this benefit.
In other business, the board unanimously approved a request to transfer unspent funds from the 2021-22 budget for the deposit of $239,879 into the permanent account.
Chief Business Officer Tanja Vadas described the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year, noting an increase in employee participation in the district’s defined contribution pension plan.
New employees are not eligible to participate in the defined pension plan.
The school district realized savings in special education testing services as well as savings in staff training.
There are transport credits due to the shortage of drivers and the subsequent reduction in bus routes.
There was an unexpected oil bill at Head O’Meadow School and furniture was needed for staff and students at Hawley Elementary School when they moved for the upcoming school year to leave the building available for contractors working on ventilation and HVAC systems.
The year-end balance of $237,879 represents three-tenths of a percent of the total budget.
The legislation defines the use of the permanent account, which can be used by a school district to bank unused funds at the end of a fiscal year so that the money can be used for educational purposes in the future rather than to be returned to the city. .
The Rectorate makes the deposit request; the city can approve the request and the total maximum allowed for the deposit in the permanent account is 2%.