2022 Chester School Board Meetings

Social and Emotional Learning Program Reviewed by Chester School Board
By Penny Williams    1-9-22

On Wednesday, January 5, the School Board met and learned about the Social and Emotional Learning Program that has been implemented at Chester Academy.

Director of Student Services, Zachary Champion went over the Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) program, reviewing curriculum and practices being conducted. The school uses the 'Choose Love' program and the school is looking for ways to move beyond or augment this program.

Champion also went over the SEL Assessment Tool that will be implemented in the next school year. This program, Devereux Student Strengths Assessment (DESSA), is an empirical, standardized and strength-based assessment that will provide the school with reliable data on the strengths of students' social and emotional skills as well as identifying where students may need additional instruction.

Grant Funding covered the cost of the program and Superintendent Sharon Locke said there would be funding options for the continuation of the program going forward.

Given the coming retirement of Principal Karen Lacroix at the end of this school year, Locke updated the board on the search process. The opening will be posted January 10, and it was noted that the Hampstead Middle School has announced the retirement of its Principal, Maria DiNola, so they will be also looking at the pool of candidates.

A search committee will be created that will include two board members ( Jonathan Eckerman and Brennan Holmes both volunteered for this); two teachers, one from the Middle and one from the Elementary level; two parents (one from the PTA); one Para-educator and one Support Staff member. Interested individuals need to submit their request by January 28.

Candidate applications for the principal position will close February 4, and screening will take place in February with interviews the week of February 21. Locke hopes to have a recommendation for the board at their March 4, meeting but it may be necessary to hold a special meeting if everything doesn't go quite as planned. The new principal will be announced no later than March 25.

The board voted to approve the timeframe for the principal search, the committee composition and the proposed job description developed by Locke and Lacroix.

Locke reviewed the COVID-19 issues at the school. She indicated that cases in Chester continue to climb and the vaccination rate remains at about 52 percent for the town. Cases in the school were up dramatically during December and there was one cluster thought to have been school spread. Regardless, she indicated that attendance has remained above 90 percent. She also noted that student trips to the nurses' office have declined as parents are keeping sick kids home. In school testing is done with parental approval and test kits are being given out.

The school district will follow the latest CDC guidelines with respect to isolation and quarantining, she told the board. The Reopening Plan will be reviewed in January with any revisions provided to the board at the February 2, meeting.

Lacroix thanked parents for continuing to assist with athletic meet transportation. She indicated upcoming assessments include iReady Math, DIBELS, and eighth grade National Association Educational Preparedness assessment.

She said Student Council has been providing the Morning pledge, held a Toys for Tots drive that was very successful, and helped students with Reflections program as well as the PTA Make N' Take program and the popular Ugly Sweater Day.

Students stepped up to assist a family in need with  medical issues and raised $1,675. She expressed great pride and admiration for this student effort. She also said the Spring Musical is in process but is scaled down due to COVID. If necessary it can be live streamed.

Business Administrator Sheryl Rich said the only update from the December 15 Board Workshop report was the Special Education Aide was received and the academy received $117,000 where she had projected just $100,000.

The Draft Warrant Articles were reviewed but it was noted the figures might change after the Budget Committee meeting. At present the Operating budget is $13,858,164, an increase of 2.4 percent.

Special Education Director Jana Ruiz reported that Child Find had been cancelled but will be rescheduled. She said the Report on Risk Ratio for Chester Academy indicated the school is doing well in terms of  discipline relating to grade and ethnicity.

IT Director Ben Kilar reported that the Social Media is up on Face Book and there is a quick link to it on the Web page. Pictures with students involved in learning are being sought for this.

The board reminded members and listeners that the Town Election which includes School District officers will be Tuesday, March 8. There two, three year school board sets up for election.

The board approved the new Educational Association agreement with an increase of 3.91 percent in each of the three years of the contract. Voters are asked to support an appropriation of $157,094 for year one. The contract agreement and amounts are Warrant Article 4.

The board accepted with regret the resignation of 8th grade math teacher Ron Lubatti who has taught at the school for 20 years.









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