The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

‘Represents the voices of the community’

Schools chief outlines 3-year strategic plan focused on equity, accessibil­ity

- By Adam Hushin

MIDDLETOWN — Improvemen­ts to equity, communicat­ion, school meals, and special education are just some of the focuses outlined in the strategic operating plan for Middletown schools presented to Board of Education members on Tuesday.

Superinten­dent Michael Conner and his staff shared their strategy for the district through 2024, a continuati­on of what was set forth in the 2018-21 strategic plan that wrapped up in June, according to the meeting video. Conner said the aim is to

improve on the structures already set in place.

“Now is the time to be very, very bold in how we can be intentiona­lly transforma­tive,” Conner said at the meeting. With the help of his staff, the superinten­dent outlined specific measures he hopes to accomplish through this plan.

The overall goal, he said, is to establish instructio­n and other related support structures that are accessible, transforma­tive, personaliz­ed, and evidence-based to ensure no learner is marginaliz­ed.

One step toward achieving this mission, Conner said, is to make sure curricula is conscious of all cultures. As a part of this effort, and to comply with state initiative­s, the district will be introducin­g a new course in Black, Latinx and Puerto Rican studies at the high school.

The district also plans to continue to expand and strengthen early childhood learning programs, as well as its aerospace and technology offerings.

Another step Conner identified is to improve operations to create an efficient and equitable learning environmen­t. This means improving communicat­ion within the district, upgrading special education resources, and improving meal service, he said.

These improvemen­ts are all based on input from Middletown residents, something Conner said was an important part of the process. “This strategic plan represents the voices of the community.”

Nurturing the individual­ized growth of students is another step laid out in the plan. The belief is that more personaliz­ed and extended learning will help shrink the achievemen­t gap, the superinten­dent said. This includes the creation of more summer and after-school programs.

The final step Conner outlined is creating a safe working environmen­t. Additional security personnel are set to be hired, as well as more socialemot­ional learning staff to provide mental health services. A new position, the director of equity and inclusion, is also in the process of being filled.

“[We’re] looking at equity to ensure we are deconstruc­ting systems that have historical­ly left students behind, and reconstruc­ting the systems so that all students are celebratin­g achievemen­t at high levels,” Conner said.

After the presentati­on concluded, board members expressed their support for the plan. “It’s invigorati­ng, it’s exciting,” DeLita Rose-Daniels said. “I love what we’re trying to do.”

Chairwoman Deborah Cain agreed. “I really think this is good guideline to help us reach our goals.”

The presentati­on was the most recent step in a process that began last September, and has involved crowd sourcing for community input, informatio­nal workshops and more. “This has been a long time coming,” Conner said.

Students, parents, staff and others now have an opportunit­y to present their comments or questions to the board and/or superinten­dent. At the Sept. 15 meeting, they will discuss the plan further and could potentiall­y adopt and implement it.

 ?? Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticu­t Media ?? The Middletown Board of Education central office is located at 311 Hunting Hill Road.
Cassandra Day / Hearst Connecticu­t Media The Middletown Board of Education central office is located at 311 Hunting Hill Road.

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