State mandates, enrollment decline, high school projects — these are some of the topics that arose in the 2012-13 school year and will continue to be on the table for administrators this school year.
Dr. Bernard Josefsberg, superintendent for Easton, Redding and Region 9 school districts, recently discussed the past year and the year ahead for Redding schools.
He came to the ER9 school district from New Jersey at the beginning of the 2011-12 school year.
“The first year I was establishing myself from a personal standpoint,” he said. He worked on forming relationships with staff members, board members and community members.
“This second year, up until Newtown [Sandy Hook shooting], we focused on state mandates, evaluation mandates and the common core state standards,” he said.
After the fatal shootings of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, Dr. Josefsberg and school administrators have been looking closely at their own school security policy and will be addressing the topic in coming weeks.
During the last school year, Stephanie Pierson Ugol, former Redding Elementary School principal, was promoted to assistant superintendent after Marie McPadden resigned from the post. Her focus is on meeting state mandates and the common core state standards-based curriculum that was implemented in the 2011-12 school year.
“Having Stephanie Pierson Ugol as assistant superintendent has been a tremendous asset,” said Dr. Josefsberg. She focuses on professional development of staff, implementing common core state standards and “streamlines prophecies for curriculum development,” he said.
Adhering to the common core state standards curriculum was a “big change and our schools have done well,” he said.
In 2015, students will no longer be taking the Connecticut Mastery Test and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test.
“We have to prepare for that. It’s different from the past,” Dr. Josefsberg said.
On Thursday, Jan. 10, the Redding Board of Education will have its first budget workshop meeting to discuss the 2013-14 fiscal year budget.
Dr. Josefsberg said it is the board’s responsibility to blend the “taxpayers’ interest in fiscal prudence with the parents’ expectations of education quality.”
“The educational landscape is changing dramatically (common core, teacher evaluation, etc.). Resources must be found to support teachers in adapting their instruction to more complex standards while at the same time tailoring that instruction to individual students. Not an easy task,” he said.
As part of the state education reform package that was passed this year, the Easton, Redding and Region 9 school boards have to create and submit teacher and administrator evaluation plans.
“Following state Board of Education approval and the building out of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) framework, districts will be allowed to develop local evaluation and support systems consistent with state guidelines, or adopt a state-developed model,” according to the state Department of Education.
“We decided to go with a hybrid of the state’s plan and our own plan, and we have to submit that by Jan. 15,” said Dr. Josefsberg. The districts must have an evaluation plan by April.
“I’m tremendously impressed by the quality of administrators and teachers, and the next few years will be challenging for all of us,” he said.
Enrollment in both John Read Middle School and Redding Elementary School is projected to decline, said Dr. Josefsberg.
The total enrollment for both Redding schools for 2012-13 is 1,132. That number is expected to decline to 1,070 for the 2013-14 school year.
“Whether it will [decline], it sets up expectations for the public. If it’s higher than predicted, less than predicted, no difference, we’re still responsible to maintain quality schools,” Dr. Josefsberg said. “What are schools charged with? It goes further than the core classroom.”
Redding schools focus on personalized learning, which is learning outside the core classroom in special areas and before- and after-school programs, as well as in-school programs covering all areas of study.
“The budget represents a proposed road map to achieve this purpose,” the superintendent said.
At Joel Barlow High School, the Region 9 Board of Education has been working on finding estimates and a possible plan for improvements at the stadium field complex. The board is also looking to replace or restore the roof, which has a 20-year warranty that is up in June.
“The stadium project will be significant, and I’m pleased to bring down the cost of the roof. It’s a tribute to Peggy Sullivan and her work,” said Dr. Josefsberg. Ms. Sullivan is director of financial operations for the three school districts.
The board decided to go with the company Tremco to restore most of the roof and replace only a portion, which will cost significantly less than replacing the entire roof.
“I think the board brought the stadium project to a good place,” Dr. Josefsberg said. Finalizing the work and numbers still needs to be done to bring it to voters.
Looking at the year ahead, “we’re in a period of great transition, and this is coming from someone who’s seen a lot of transitions,” said Dr. Josefsberg.