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Special master agrees: Minority staff recruiting effort needed

New London — Recruitment of minority staff into the district dominated much of the conversation at Thursday’s Board of Education meeting, but it was just one of several themes the seven board members mentioned as their own visions for the district.

As part of the school board’s Strategic Operating Plan, required by the state as a condition of state intervention into the district, the board must begin by outlining a vision for the district. Members were asked last month by the district’s special master Steven Adamowski to submit their own versions of what they would like to see as a vision for the school district.

Adamowski, who was appointed by the state in June to oversee the school district’s operations, said that more minority and district support staff was one of the most frequently mentioned visions.

“It’s a need that is widely recognized,” Adamowski said. “This also requires a structural change. You will have to be able to create a stable financial situation so that minority staff can be maintained here. …We have to have a plan for doing this.”

At its last meeting on Sept. 28, the board appointed Cherese Chery as the district’s chief talent/human resources officer. Among other duties, she will be responsible for increased efforts in minority recruitment.

“We’ve been asking for years for this, asking why there hasn’t been enough minority teachers here. We’re requesting more of a representation of our student population,” board member Liz Garcia Gonzalez said.

Adamowski said that the district’s financial problems have prevented a thorough recruiting effort and that offering incentives such as moving reimbursements and first month’s rent are “very meaningful” for new staff looking to move to the area.

“Less than 10 percent of the graduates in our university system are minorities,” Adamowski said. “In order to increase the percentage of minority teachers or support staff, one has to recruit outside of the district and outside of Connecticut.”

Other visions submitted by the board included increasing parental involvement, early literacy, reading and math skills, and test scores, as well as creating an exciting, innovative curriculum.

“These really represent a number of important elements that lend themselves to developing themes and then also lending themselves to developing a vision statement,” Adamowski said.

At the school board’s next workshop meeting on Nov. 8, the board will review two or three vision statements and then work to craft the Strategic Operating Plan.


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