The State Board of Education has approved a state intervention to assist in improving the academic performance and governance of the .
The Hartford Courant reports that the board unanimously voted to approve a special master for the district and require the seven members of the New London Board of Education to undergo training. Dr. Nicholas Fischer, superintendent of the New London Public Schools, .
According to the Connecticut Mirror, the resolution adopted by the Connecticut Board of Education will appoint a special master from the Department of Education for the school year beginning on July 1. The term may be extended by the state board.
The vote also requires the New London Board of Education to “undergo training to improve its operational efficiency and effectiveness as leaders of the district’s improvements plan.” The board must submit an annual action plan to Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor no later than January 1 detailing the ways in which this effectiveness will be monitored.
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“The board was presented with compelling evidence that intervention, given our responsibility and statutory authority, was required,” said State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor in a statement. “As the result of these steps to improve board and district effectiveness, we expect the most important outcome - student achievement – to improve measurably.”
Pryor was also hopeful that the action will assist the district.
“New London is in need of intensified involvement and enhanced oversight given the challenges facing the district,” said Pryor. “The State Department of Education and New London Schools will now collaborate on developing management practices and executing policy decisions leading to improved student achievement. We know that New London can position itself for success.”
Mayor Daryl Finizio said in a statement, "We respect the decision of the state and look forward to a cooperative partnership to move New London forward."
Fischer made the request for a state intervention following a by the Department of Education. The audit concluded that the Board of Education has not placed adequate focus on student achievement, that political disagreements have hindered its proceedings, and that board members have at times been hostile to Fischer and other school administrators.
Board members disagreed with the assessment and Fischer’s request, saying they felt the board has been cooperative and that they feel an intervention is unfair since four of the members are newly elected. When Pryor visited a recent meeting, several members , saying they think information needs to be more readily available to board members.
The New London Public Schools have faced a number of issues in recent years, including and a need to upgrade to .
State interventions occurred in Bridgeport and Windham in 2011. Dr. James Mitchell has also been attending New London’s Board of Education meetings as a Department of Education observer since last year.