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Mandatory training ahead for New London school board

New London - Steven Adamowski, the district's state-appointed special master, told Board of Education members during a workshop meeting on Thursday that a mandatory comprehensive training program will help solidify the board's responsibilities.

This will be the second time in two years that members on the district's school board have undergone training. But for four of the seven current board members, who were newly elected in 2010, this will be their first training program.

Voluntary training for the previous board was recommended in 2010 by the State Department of Education in collaboration with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. That training was never completed.

The Reform Governance training program that will be used in New London - derived from the Center for Reform of School Systems - is the only program in the country that trains school leaders on how to improve student learning through better governance, according to the CRSS website.

According to CRSS, Reform Governance is a comprehensive theory of governance for urban school boards committed to effective and efficient district operations, high achievement for all children, and the elimination of the achievement gap.

Adamowski expressed some concern that it will be time for municipal elections by the time the training is completed early next fall.

"You are one of the few boards, you may be the only one in the state, where every board member is up for election at the same time," he said. "This is not a good situation. We're going to have to live with it and work with it and do the best we can, but structurally, this is not a recommended practice."

He proposed a rotating board, where three or four if its members have four-year terms, in order to provide some continuity.

Board members are also continuing to work on adopting goals and strategies for improvement over the next three years for the Strategic Operating Plan. They hope to approve the plan in February.

Three draft vision statements for the school district are now in a "wordsmithing" stage, Adamowski said.

Draft statements focus on the city's schools becoming a "center of a regional system of high performing, integrated magnet schools," "… offering families a system of high performing, adequately funded, diverse schools of choice," and enabling "all New London students to read on level by grade 3 and graduate from high school college and career ready."

School board members will bring the revised statements to the board's next workshop in December.


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