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School Board: Significant Challenges Face Windsor Public Schools

Following the approval of a $300,000 assessment of system inequality, the board of education provides a snapshot of the state of local public schools in an effort to clarify actions taken and funding that will be spent on closing the achievement gap.

The Windsor Public Schools system has had a couple of rocky years. Windsor's designation as one of the state's lowest performing districts, the reorganization of elementary schools, the implementation of full-day kindergarten and three (including an interim) superintendents over the past 24 months have contributed to a tumultuous period during which parents, students, faculty, residents and administrators work toward a point when things begin to move in the right direction.

Despite the many changes that have occurred, the school system, according to the board of education, is still faced with significant challenges — chief among those is "a large and persistent achievement gap."

An effort to close the gap — locally defined as the separation of academic performance between students of color and white students — led the board of education to take its most drastic change yet: .

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The board of education recently released a statement addressing the controversial decision, laying bare the state of the local education system and attempting to answer questions that have come up regarding the planned shift toward a multicultural overhaul of educating the town's youth.

One of the issues that led the district to consider the implementation of such a program, a program called an equity and excellence review that will be conducted by Loyola University — Chicago, is Windsor's unique makeup.

While experts have found achievement gaps to be the byproduct of local crime, poverty, language and cultural differences, a lack of quality schools and low expectations placed upon black and poor students, Windsor simply doesn't fit the profile, the board's recent statement details.

Windsor, according to the school board says, is in the top half of Connecticut towns in terms of their ability to financially support a successful school system; at nearly $15,000, the town's spending per pupil exceeds state averages; and the town has its lowest rate of serious crime in 35 years.

Because Windsor is an outlier among district's with significant achievement gaps, the district finds it necessary to go beyond traditional means of addressing academic performance by engaging in the equity and excellence review.

What the equity and excellence review will do, according to the local school board, is go "beyond the traditional assessment data such as the CAPT results" and "answer why and how can we refine our efforts and maximize our resources and assets... to close the gap."

Prior to the board's vote of approval in September, Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Villar told board members that some Windsor students will continue to struggle to perform at or above grade level despite current efforts to address their needs.

Loyola's study, which is to be conducted by Dr. Marlon James, will allow administrators and teachers to learn why students continue to struggle and how their needs can be addressed.

The review is scheduled to be conducted over the next three years, with each year costing the district roughly $100,000.

Henry G October 16, 2012 at 11:54 PM
tchjjal - you're absolutely right! Enrollment is down....costs continue to go up and the teachers are complaining they never have enough supplies....and they have no control over the students. The unions are in charge and their best interests are not the students! It's ridiculous how much money is being spent these days on public education yet we are getting further behind. Don't worry about L - he's probably some high paid lawyer with his hand in the "cookie jar"!
Catherine & Dennis October 17, 2012 at 02:31 AM
When the school board gets it -then it will trickle down to the kids. Throwing more money on the fire has not worked yet and it will never work. In 2012 we need to stop incinuating race is the problem. Continue to tell these kids they dont measure up and what happens? People accept that as truth. There are many, many children of color that are gifted, good students just as there are many,many, white kids that are not getting good grades or causing disruption in the schools. The people above are correct in saying it is the parents lack of involvement. Accountability on the part of the teachers, schools and the parents is the recipe that works, not more money. It is simple common sense, we do not need to pay someone over 300K to tell us that
Catherine & Dennis October 17, 2012 at 02:42 AM
Another idea-community involvement. Get the local businesses involved. Employees of those companies can volunteer to assist in helping kids with reading, math etc. Involve local seniors as volunteers. Get local employers to get involved in the high schools to have students work toward internships with these companies. There are many other ways to invest in our students in real ways vs throwing more money at the issue. Also, as Gov. Malloy did, you dont lower the bar then expect greatness -you empower the students through encouragement.
Catherine & Dennis October 18, 2012 at 01:27 AM
The fact that so few people are watching this huge expenditure without commenting is amazing to me. This is how Windsor gets away with what they do...no one is paying attention!
Michaela I. Fissel November 30, 2012 at 09:05 PM
I agree with your observation that there are very few people watching/commenting on this huge expenditure. Thank you for making that note Dennis & Catherine Cicero

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