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Enhancing Redding's Future Newsletter Issue 3 July 23, 2020

Citizen Organizers To Sustain Redding

Enhancing Redding's Future

A Perspective on the Redding School System
Written by Roger Van Ausdal

Our guest presenter at the July 9th Zoom meeting was Mike Hoffman, an elected member of the Redding Board of Education and former Vice Chairman of the Board. As a private citizen and experienced board member, Mike provided a valuable perspective on the state of education in Redding. He presented cost and student performance data for our district relative to other districts in the state and in our DRG (District Reference Group). 

The data presented showed that while median income levels are lower compared to the other districts in our DRG, we do hold our own in relative student performance. Our cost per student metrics places Redding among the highest in the state and the highest in our DRG.  Easton is the second-lowest in our DRG.  Mike believes that the majority of the difference in the cost per pupil between Redding and Easton is due to teacher experience. On average Redding’s teachers have been employed by the district for a lot longer than the group in Easton.  So, while Easton has more teachers still climbing the pay scale ladder, Redding has more teachers that are at the top of the pay scale.  

In one respect, this could be considered mission accomplished.  Redding has attracted and retained a talented cadre of teachers.  In another respect, one could say that it would be nice to balance the mixture between newer teachers and more experienced teachers.  The more experienced teachers are well positioned to mentor the new teachers, and the new teachers could help the administration leverage technology in our approach to education.

Mike stated that the budgets for general education have been relatively flat for the past several years, and the overall increases are due to increased costs for special education. He emphasized the need for special education services and the effectiveness of many of the special education programs in Redding. Redding had been operating with interim special education directors for three years, but last year the Board hired a permanent director, who just completed her first year.  The benefit for the students and the district of having continuity in this position really starts now, as she gets to work with the same students a second year in a row.  She will be able to use the knowledge gained over the last year to plan the optimal path forward for each special education student.  

Mike concluded by stating that there are always opportunities to achieve better value for our spending, whether in the public or private sector. He indicated that budget planning is happening this summer for next year, and he recommended that interested citizens begin now to become engaged in understanding the budget details.

A Note on Redding's History

Joel Barlow, poet, patriot, political writer, and statesman, was born in Redding in 1754. He studied law and later became a political writer in the U.S. and England. In 1787, he wrote his epic poem, 'The Vision of Columbus, " which made him famous. In 1811, Barlow served as Minister to France and was invited by Napoleon, then absent on his Russian campaign, to meet him in Wilna, Poland, where a treaty, whose terms had been agreed upon, would be signed. Barlow set out, but on reaching Wilna, found Napoleon in retreat. Becoming involved in the retreat, Barlow was overcome by cold and privation and died in Yarmisica, Poland in 1812. Barlow counted Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Robert Fulton among his friends. Joel Barlow High School in Redding is named in his honor.

From “They All Lived in Redding” by Dennis Paget.

INTRODUCING Enhancing Redding's Future's Website

We are excited to announce that you can now visit us online at http://www.enhancingreddingct.orgYou can read about our mission, view past newsletters, current issues, and access important links to the town of Redding.

As you view and navigate our website, we encourage any website enhancements or suggestions to be submitted to
info@enhancingreddingct.org. You can also use the "Contact Us" form on the website.

Help Expand Participants

In order to have a serious impact, we need to build out the size of this group of residents Interested in Enhancing Redding’s Future. Hope you will think about who you can send the newsletter to encourage others to become informed and if they wish to be more actively engaged.

ORGANIZERS
 
Nancy PelzPaget has agreed to serve as Director of our Enhancing Redding’s Future effort.  As former Director of the Aspen Institute Program on Education and Society, Nancy spent over 20 years organizing learning networks and public policy workshops.  Nancy's husband, Dennis Paget, is the author of They All Lived in Redding, a tribute to the town that inspired Mark Twain, upon surveying the countryside from his new home here, to declare: "How beautiful it all is! I did not think it could be as beautiful as this."
 
Nancy Pelz-Paget - Director
Peter Bonfanti 
Annet Bonfanti
Jim Lang
Gus Olsen
Daniel Souza
Roger Van Ausdal
 
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Enhancing Redding's Future
100 Redding Road
Redding, CT 06896

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