Special master shows New London Board of Education who's boss

New London - The consolidation of the school district and city's finance departments has been placed on hold, pending the creation of a planning committee to identify clear cost savings, the district's newly appointed special master said Monday night.

"You've had little to no confirmation on cost savings, which amazes me," Steven Adamowski told the Board of Education, which approved the consolidation in May. "Which is why you will not be proceeding with this because we need a plan that will justify cost savings and legally protect your obligations."

The consolidation, which has been said by city officials to save the district $500,000, will be subject to further study with the goal of being able to do it over three years, Adamowski said.

As Adamowski outlined his abilities and what the upcoming school year would look like for the school board, its members sat mostly in silence. Adamowski was appointed by the state to oversee the school district's operations last week.

"I will use this authority judiciously. I would prefer in all cases that you be the ones to do the things to raise student achievement in the New London," he told the board. "I have the greatest respect for your volunteer role and civic commitment. I know no one runs for a school board in order to make money or enhance power. You have a vision of something that you were going to do that would make this a better school district for its students. If you keep that in mind, we'll be able to keep our focus on raising student achievement."

At the beginning of this school year Adamowski will assist the board in the creation of a Strategic Operating Plan.

The operating plan, which is due to the state Department of Education in June 2013, is a "living breathing document that will be very sensitive to the gains that occur in the district," Adamowski said.

Contained in the plan will be a vision, a theory of action and major strategies the district plans to employ over the next three years to raise student achievement.

"Think about your own personal vision for the district. When you ran for the board what did you want to accomplish? What kind of legacy did you want to leave?" Adamowski asked the board.

In January, the school board must also submit an effectiveness plan to the state. That plan is based on the results of the state's Governance and Management audit of the board and will consist of a summary of the board's visions and goals. The school district already has a District Improvement Plan.

Adamowski also said that the school board must revisit its $39.8 million budget for 2012-13. From now until July 15, every school administrator will look for reductions to achieve 8 percent in savings.

The revised budget would then go back to the school board for approval in August.

"A great concern of mine and the state board (of education) is that this is your fifth year without an increase. I don't know how long a district can last without resources … There's a limit to how many years one can do that and you're getting very close to that limit," Adamowski said.

He said he doesn't anticipate anything more than a "few refinements" to the budget.

j.hanckel@theday.com

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