BoE appoints new member

Last Thursday Naugatuck’s Board of Education held its meeting for the month of October.

At the beginning of the meeting Board members voted to appoint Kimberly Gallo to their vacant position and she will serve this position until November 2023. After her appointment, she was given time to speak discussing her background letting townspeople gain some knowledge about their new board member. Gallo is a long-time resident of Naugatuck and a graduate of NHS along with her parents and children. She was a former administrator with 40 years of experience in public education retiring with the class of 2021.

Gallo ended her speech with this strong message: “I have a passion for education that doesn’t wanna leave me so this is an awesome opportunity I’m completely aware of the fact that there were many other good people that wanted to do this work and I will do my work in a way that honors that and that honors the school system that raised me.”

After the appointment of Gallo Principal of City Hill Middle School, Eileen Mezzo presented the goals and plans of the school year. Mezzo discussed specific goals for higher scores in Reading, ELA, and Science. Along with their academic achievement plan, the two other main highlights of the plan were improving the climate and culture of the school and increasing student engagement through a revised curriculum and new courses.

One of the first actions to carry out this plan was increasing the number of teams per grade level from three to four. The goal of this change was to create smaller learning communities allowing teachers to be able to address the needs of more students individually. This can also increase student engagement and allow students to be more accurately represented.

In terms of education, Mezzo introduced new literacy instruction courses as well as new stem courses. On top of these new courses, CHMS has implemented 18 additional hours of math instruction. Mezzo discussed her goals to integrate interactive notebooks as a school-wide norm so teachers can see if students understand the concepts they are learning.

The school is also spending a great deal of time working on responsive classrooms and restorative practices to build community within students. Mezzo also discussed a partnership with the Naugatuck Youth Services to create a better disciplinary system where students who may land themselves in trouble can get an opportunity to do some restorative work through the Youth Services.

“We want them (students) to understand the impact of their choices and help them to make better choices,” said Mezzo.

CHMS is focused on turning students into leaders. Mezzo brought three students to discuss the Dare Yourself to Lead program which the Naugatuck YMCA as well as the Naugatuck Youth Services partnered to train students to be leaders of their communities. The three young men Donald Brown, Josiah Lloyd, and Eric Harriet enthusiastically talked about their experiences at the program telling the crowd everything they learned.

After this Board of Ed. Student Representatives Ruby Munro and Josephine Burke gave their Student Rep. Report. The representatives announced that they are finalizing Spirit Week activities and that Homecoming will be held on November 18th with a theme of either Masquerade or Mardi Gras. They followed with data from a student survey that asked students how their back-to-school experience went. According to the survey, 77% of students gave a positive or neutral response on their back-to-school experience. Munro and Burke also discussed the student’s concerns about college planning and the struggle with academic stress.

Following the student Rep Report Board members approved and introduced a policy to improve the completion rates of FAFSA. Last year 56% of students completed FAFSA members intend to increase this percentage. Superintendent Christopher Montini explained that the board received a small grant of 9,000 dollars which gave them eligibility to join the FAFSA challenge. This will help them support students and families and make sure FAFSA is completed for the majority of students.

There will also be a team committed to this goal. The team currently includes Dr. Felder McEntyre, Assistant Principal, Denise Tafuto, Lead Counselor, and Matt LaPlaca, Social Studies Teacher. They are actively recruiting new staff to be a part of this FAFSA team.

The Board Members then approved an Alliance grant which will require a bilingual support system in five Naugatuck schools. This makes sure our bilingual students will be provided for accordingly in all levels of schooling.

Members also discussed the pilot of two behavioral support specialists at City Hill Middle School. This is due to a recent increase in behavioral issues. Many other districts have already implemented this and it is seen as effective. The Assistant Principal of City Hill who worked as a behavioral specialist in the past will create the training plan for this new system and the candidates for the position will be determined locally. This policy was approved.

The meeting closed with the tuition rates for this school year. The 2022-2023 tuition amount is 17,275 which is an increase of 3% compared to last year’s 16,283. This tuition rate was approved by all board members which was the final act of the meeting.