Westport school column: Tropical storms, budget storms

Westport High School students work with laptops. Westport High School students work with laptops.

Westport High School students work with laptops.

By Dr. Carlos M. Colley

Superintendent, Westport Community Schools

Westport was bruised by another storm taking a bite out of our coastline, taking down power and damaging property. At times, it seems that our budget concerns are like a storm and, as with Sandy, we have managed to move beyond the storm effects.

For the schools, another year has successfully been launched. We are moving beyond the constant concern of finances and focusing on how are we can make things better for our schools. The new Educator Evaluation process and regulations enacted into law has teachers and administrators collaborating to develop goals that will push the students to grow. We have thrown a lot of demands to our staff and they are rising to the challenge:

* The curriculum standards are changing again. They are based on ongoing research as to what students need to know and performance data that shows us where we still need to improve. Our teachers are working hard to create or adapt their Units of Study to match the 21st Century demands of work and entrance to higher education.

* Our old outdated materials (books and programs) are being replaced with new materials that research shows is aligned to the changes in the curriculum and has the potential to enhance strong teaching practice to push student’s academic growth. Teachers are being provided the opportunity to learn to use these new materials to the best of their potential.

* We have worked extensively to bring technology to the classroom level with mobile technology and presentation hardware available to teachers from kindergarten to high school.

Just as we clean up after a storm, we intend to maintain this trajectory of growth and improvement with the support of the town. We need the allocation of additional state funds that were sent to the town for education (the so called Chapter 70 funds) to help our district continue to update our teaching, our resources, and to bolster the support net for struggling students by getting additional help at the middle school. The Westport Special Town Meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. will ask for this additional support ($70,000), so I encourage town residents to come and participate in that decision.

It is an exciting time for our schools. I would like to invite you to join me in an informal discussion at a Superintendent’s coffee sponsored by the Music Boosters organization on Thursday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. at the middle school. This is an opportunity to talk about these initiatives, ask questions about any concerns you may have or to bring ideas for further improvement. I hope to see you there and at town meeting.

 

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