Board Gets Look At Proposed Calendar Changes To Better Scores
February 7, 2007
By RACHEL GOTTLIEB, Courant Staff Writer
Hartford's new superintendent of schools, Steven J. Adamowski, won approval from the school board Tuesday for the first of three phases to reorganize and slim down the district's central office.
The board also got its first look at proposed changes for the school calendar for the next two years. If the board approves the revised calendar next month, then students in grades 1, 2 and 3 who are reading below grade level will find themselves in mandatory summer school. Adamowski said he plans to enforce attendance by employing the school truancy law.
At previous board meetings, Adamowski has expressed outrage over the fact that a mere 15 percentof all third-graders in the city's schools can read at their grade level. Beyond third grade, he said, it's difficult to teach students to read.
The new calendar would begin school five days before Labor Day rather than after Labor Day; cut back the number of half days the students are in school from nine to five and move the winter vacation from February - just before students take the Connecticut Mastery Tests - to after the testing is done in March.
"We currently find ourselves as the lowest-performing district in the state with the fewest days of instruction" before the all-important CMT, Adamowski said. The proposed calendar would add a total of 10 days of instruction before the tests and increase the total days of instruction from 176.5 to 179 days.
In the past, Adamowski said, the district counted as full days the half days when students were sent home in the morning so teachers could have afternoon training. "We should be counting half days as half days," he said.
Full days of teacher training would be scheduled before and after the school year to cut down on the amount of teacher training when school is in session.
To make the central office more efficient and sharply focused, Adamowski changed job descriptions in his cabinet, reduced the number of cabinet officers from 12 to nine and set salary ranges for each job that he said are competitive regionally, though not necessarily nationally.
Two new assistant superintendent positions - one for elementary schools and the other for secondary schools - are designed to help administrators focus on low-performing schools that need greater oversight. A third new assistant superintendent for learning support services absorbs the old assistant superintendent position for special education and adds oversight of all other support services such as social work, nursing, therapists and dental clinics.
There will no longer be an assistant superintendent for magnet schools. All schools in the city will become schools of choice - some as interdistrict magnet schools and some as in-city magnet schools. Adamowski said he is hoping that the Capital Region Education Council, which oversees some of its own magnet schools, will merge with the city's magnet school office so that parents can go to one office to learn about and apply for all interdistrict magnet schools.
The reorganization also eliminates the deputy superintendent for curriculum and instruction and creates a chief academic officer with a salary range of $139,000 to $169,000. The salary range for the two new assistant superintendents for elementary and secondary education is the same as the chief academic officer.
The chief operating officer, the senior director for human resources, the chief communications officer, the special assistant to the superintendent, and the director of strategic partnerships will continue as members of the cabinet. Most salary ranges will increase, except for the director of strategic partnerships, which decreases. For example, the chief communications officer currently earns $88,000, but the new salary range will be $119,000 to $149,000.
Adamowski said he isn't sure yet whether people who hold cabinet positions will remain in their jobs or whether he will find other jobs for some or all of them.
The director of finance, the director of parent and community engagement and the director of leadership, professional development and technology were all removed from the cabinet.
Sam Saylor, president of the PTO Presidents Council, objected to the elimination of the director of parent and community engagement from the cabinet, saying a representative of the parents should be included in the body that sets direction for the district and makes decisions that have far-reaching effects.
Adamowski said he's not done making changes. In March he will present the next phase of his reorganization of the central office when he redefines department head positions. At that time, he said, he will probably create a department of family services that will train family resource aides posted in each of the schools and will establish a parent ombudsman, who will report to him.
The last two phases of the reorganization will be far bigger than remaking the cabinet. Currently, he said, there is confusion among the vast number of central office employees beyond the cabinet concerning "roles and relationships and who reports to whom," Adamowski said.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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