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Superintendent Reviews Mid-Year Goals With BOE



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Superintendent of Schools Chris Melillo delivered mid-year updates on his goals for the 2022-2023 school year to the Board of Education at its February 7 meeting. There were four goals Melillo briefly discussed.

The first was the “Superintendent’s Entry Plan,” which Melillo established after his arrival to lead the district last July. A foundational aim for this project, he said, was centered around developing positive working relationships with Newtown school board members, administrators, faculty, staff, and students. This included creating structures to “solicit diverse and comprehensive feedback.”

Melillo also aimed to understand Newtown schools in different capacities and “assess operational and financial efficiencies and alignment,” according to the report. He also detailed local organizations and town offices he touched base with, school events he attended, and initial work he was involved with on behalf of Newtown schools.

During the meeting, Melillo deemed the Entry Plan goal “thoroughly completed.”

Melillo referred to the second of the four goals as the “Strategic Plan.”

He talked about the committee dedicated to the plan, involving professionals in the school district, as well as Newtown parents. The committee the superintendent was referring to has been meeting around once or twice a month since October, and more meetings are planned through May to discuss goals, including “instructional improvements and enhancements” of education founded on the belief that every student “can and should reach” their highest potential at Newtown.

“If the board had questions about creating an inclusive plan for all stakeholders, I think we are developing that,” Melillo said about progress toward this goal. According to the report, Melillo is focusing on stakeholder perspectives to identify district needs, and on the creation of an effective plan through goals the district can achieve.

The third goal is titled “Instructional Rounds,” which the report details as “a practice adapted to education from the field of medicine” that can be used as a foundation for collaboration.

The report details that in educators’ rounds, those observing lessons of peers take constructive notes about that teacher’s strategy and student response, while avoiding more negative commentary. The sub-goals of implementing this structure are to uphold elements that create a higher quality teaching and learning culture overall, by aiming to enrich the environment for both staff and students.

In the meeting, Melillo said, “Not only are we providing fidelity to that with over 100 walk-throughs, we are also collecting data and making decisions on how to move this forward and expand this work to include teachers and other administration.”

Melillo feels that this work will help to allow students to reach their highest potential.

The final goal Melillo reviewed was budgetary. Melillo said he is confident that the board was provided with “a fair budget” with “a strong rationale.”

He also reflected on the challenges of developing a budget this year. “We had to address interrupted learning,” he said in reference to the recent pandemic’s consequences for schools.

Melillo acknowledged that many community members are “strapped” in these economic times, and said the budget approved by the board is “fiscally sound and meets the needs of our students.”

“It wasn’t something [where] we could just pass the buck to taxpayers knowing families are struggling,” Mellilo said of the spending plan.

After his summary, Mellillo stated, “If I have not finished my four goals, we are in a good place in process,” and continued, “I also look forward to working through the town committee and referendum to ensure we provide a budget that meets students’ needs.”

When it came time for feedback during the meeting, the board members had only positive comments.

Member Alison Plante was complimentary of Melillo who had “done a good job” giving the board “transparency.” Board member Donald Ramsey attested he felt he could “sell this to the public” with confidence. Jennifer Larkin noted that Melillo was “visible” in the community, and was frequently “showing up” for Newtown.

“People are really glad you’re here. I have not heard a negative word about you,” Larkin said to Superintendent Melillo, which was seconded by Board Chair Deborra Zukowski.

Reporter Noelle Veillette can be reached at noelle@thebee.com.

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