“Notes from the Board Table” is the regular feature contributed by Bruce Likly, chairman of the Wilton Board of Education.

A successful school district must have a carefully thought-out vision for what it thinks its purpose should be, along with a set of goals to guide it in working toward that vision. Also important is to have a set of metrics in place, so success and progress can effectively be monitored along the way.

You may recall the Wilton Public Schools went through a very deliberative process about five years ago, in developing what came to be known as our “Theory of Action.” Through the Theory of Action, we prioritized our areas of focus:  community, faculty and staff, curriculum, instructional methods, safe and nurturing learning environment, technologically-based global community, and efficient budgeting. We said that if we were successful in addressing each of these critical areas, we would achieve our goal:  Students with the knowledge, skills, values and passion necessary for life-long learning, who will be responsible, successful and productive members of the workplace, family and society.

Five years later, student success remains our top priority, and the driving force behind every policy and budgetary decision made by the Board of Education and district administrators.

However, like any well-run organization, it is good practice to revisit those operating principles, and ensure they are still aligned with district and community priorities, and reflective of current trends and “best practices” in education and curriculum. For example, whereas the Theory of Action included a separate strategy for developing our technological capabilities, technology has become an integral part of everything we do, so it no longer makes sense to treat is as a separate entity.

Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Kevin Smith, recently completed such an analysis, and has shared with the Board a new vision for the Wilton Public Schools, along with a set of supporting goals. Once approved, a set of metrics will be established to support our goals.

Following is the proposed vision, which is in draft form and under consideration by the Board of Education:

Wilton graduates will be innovators, collaborators and creative and critical thinkers who are socially responsible, civic-minded and have internalized the virtues of compassion and empathy. Our instructional program will meet the demands of a globally interconnected society by providing a rigorous and comprehensive, holistic educational experience. As a result, Wilton Public Schools will be recognized as a premier, dynamic, learner-focused district that leads the nation in educational excellence.”

To achieve that vision, Dr. Smith has proposed the following goals, which are also in draft form:

  • Ensure that every student is personally connected to the school and provide a safe, nurturing environment.
  • Implement a rigorous, relevant curriculum using instructional approaches that ensure active engagement and depth of understanding.
  • Recruit, retain and develop the strongest and most innovative teaching force possible through a collaborative culture of rigorous and purposeful learning.
  • Sustain a mutually supportive and trusting relationship with our community.
  • Develop and implement operational protocols with a focus on continuous improvement, supported by a budget that represents value in the eyes of our community and gains the support of Wilton taxpayers.

The Board received these recommendations from Dr. Smith during an executive session held prior to our Oct. 23 regular Board meeting. After preliminary discussion, we agreed to share the draft vision and goals with the entire Wilton community, both in this format and by posting them to the district website: www.wilton.k12.ct.us. I hope that anyone with a comment or suggestion will not hesitate to contact the Board via email at boe@wilton.k12.ct.us. The Board will again consider these recommendations at our November 13 regular board meeting.

Also important to note is that a portion of Dr. Smith’s compensation will be tied directly to successful implementation of our district vision and goals. You may recall that the Board decided to categorize $20,000 of Dr. Smith’s pay package as “incentive-based,” and we have developed a set of benchmarks for him to attain, which align with district priorities. Those benchmarks are also posted on our website, and will be discussed at our next Board meeting.

I realize that many residents may find talk about visions/goals/metrics to be a bit abstract. But having broad agreement – and understanding and buy-in from the community – will ensure we have a solid foundation going forward, and that when it comes to making critical decisions about curriculum, budgetary matters and district priorities, we are all pulling in the same direction.