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March 24, 2010 > New Haven education briefs

New Haven education briefs

Submitted By Rick La Plante

Due to the continued volatility of state funding for education, which has forced the district to issue layoff notices to teachers, classified and administrative employees for the 2010-11 school year, the Board of Education on Tuesday night voted to postpone the reopening of Barnard-White Middle School.

The Board approved a staff recommendation to postpone the reopening until such time that financial projections show that the district has the necessary resources to balance the budget without additional layoffs and cuts to programs such as co-curricular activities, site administrative ratios and class-size reduction. Postponement also reduces the possibility that the district would be reopening the middle school at the same time it may be forced to consider -- as outlined in the budget assumptions adopted March 2 -- the closing of an elementary school.

Consistent with the Board's desire to create a high-quality and sustainable program at Barnard-White, staff also recommended that the school reopen with sufficient lead time (a minimum of one year) to ensure both a smooth opening and a smooth transition for the district's two other middle schools. The recommendation also included a proposal to re-examine the issue in the fall of 2010.

Also, the Board received a report from the Division of Teaching and Learning on progress made toward the outcomes identified in the Strategic Plan, specifically in implementing the Seven Essentials for Continuous Growth and Improvement. Particular emphasis is being placed on three essentials: 1) providing District-wide instructional foci; 2) using data to inform instructional and professional development decisions; 3) learning and using research-based instructional practices.

Chief Academic Office Wendy Gudalewicz reviewed the work being done by Instructional Leadership Teams at each site and the success of walk-throughs at Kitayama, Hillview Crest, Emanuele and Searles elementary schools and Cesar Chavez Middle School. Ms. Gudalewicz and Director of Instructional Support Scott Pizani also noted that more than100 elementary teachers are attending Saturday academies focused on shared reading and guided reading, the last of which is scheduled March

Mr. Pizani and Director of Assessment Craig Boyan highlighted testing results showing that the percentage of elementary students predicted to meet growth targets in language arts has jumped by nearly 10 points from spring 2008-09 to winter 2009-10. In addition, a comparison of data from the first semester of 2008-09 to the first semester of 2009-10 shows that the percentage of middle-school students passing all courses has improved from 94 to 95 percent in sixth grade, from 88 to 90 percent in seventh grade and from 92 to 93 percent in eighth grade. Director of Secondary Education Joe Feldman noted that 54.7 percent of ninth-graders at James Logan High School have met or are on track to meet their spring growth targets and that average scores exceed the national average.

In addition, Ms. Gudalewicz and Director of Student Services Don Montoya told the Board that there has been a 25 percent decrease in suspensions and a 30 percent decrease in expulsions through the first four months of the 2009-10 school year, as compared to 2008-09.

Agendas of regular Board of Education meetings and minutes of past meetings are available on the District website:

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