School board frustrated with demands; New teacher evaluation requirement approved

By Rob Glidden
Staff Writer

The Board of Education recently approved a new plan for evaluating teachers as required by recent state legislation, although many members expressed frustration with the increasing demand placed on local districts by state and federal decisions.
To meet these new requirements, a new plan for teacher evaluations was developed by a committee chaired by Southington High School teacher Bob Brown, who is also president of the teacher’s union. He said the group was pleased with the outcome.
“This has been a very cooperative effort,” Brown said. “Not all communities have seen this sort of cooperation with this issue, so we’re lucky. Still, we have concerns. There is going to be a large amount of paperwork for teachers and administrators.”
Committee members said the plan met the requirements of the state but there was also room for them to add some of their own tweaks. The board frequently praised the work of the committee but several members discussed their aggravation with the state imposing new programs on school districts.
“These mandates upset me with the amount of work they put on teachers and administrators,” said Vice-Chair Terri Carmody. “I’d like to know to what degree the state evaluates themselves.”
Fellow school board member Zaya Oshana was troubled by the growing amount of work teachers had that could impose on their classroom time.
“I’m stunned at how often the teachers are pulled out of the classrooms for other meetings,” he said. “I wonder if the students will even have teachers eventually.”
Board member David Derynoski said he felt the town didn’t always understand how much work and expenses the state and the federal government creates for the school district.
“I’ve had this pet peeve since No Child Left Behind was forced on us,” he said. “It took them 12 years to figure out it wouldn’t work and now we have Common Core State Standards, which will cost us more money.”
The district’s administrators agreed with the sentiment of the board’s comments, but said they hoped to make the best of the situation.
“It’s not about creating work for teachers,” said Assistant Superintendent Karen Smith. “It’s about using these tools to improve student learning.”
The board approved the plan unanimously as Smith noted that the district would also need to work out a process of evaluating administrators.
“I would not support this if it wasn’t for the work of the committee,” said Chairman Brian Goralski. “Teamwork is what makes these things succeed and I don’t see teamwork at the state or the national level.”

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