‘State of Schools’ talk set tonight in Guilford

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 7:14 AM EST
By Rachael Scarborough King, Register Staff

GUILFORD — Superintendent of Schools Thomas Forcella is hoping that his second annual “State of the Schools” address tonight will build on a foundation laid last year.

Forcella gave the district’s first such presentation last year with the goal of communicating information like test scores, discipline statistics and objectives for the future to town residents.

The speech was always intended to be an annual event, Forcella said.

“Our hope was that last year would serve as a baseline, and then each year we would have some of the same data available in this way to measure growth,” he said.

Last year’s speech attracted more than 150 people and lasted about 90 minutes. Forcella said he expects tonight’s event to run roughly the same amount of time.

This year, Forcella said, the district asked some parents to complete a survey on their impressions of the Guilford schools. He plans to send the survey to one-third of the district’s parents each year, he said.

“We really want to know what the perceptions of the parents are, and without some sort of a survey, how do we know, it’s just hearsay?” he said. “We really wanted to get a clear sense of how parents felt about the schools.”

The survey included questions such as whether children feel safe at school, and how satisfied parents are with the school district.

The “State of the Schools” will also include information about current programs and future plans, Forcella said. He called the response to last year’s event “very positive,” and said that a publication handed out at the speech won an award from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education.

Guilford Board of Education Chairman William Bloss said that the reactions he got from attendees after last year’s talk were “uniformly positive.”

“Communication of this type and nature is extraordinarily helpful,” Bloss said. “I think what Dr. Forcella did last year was to both celebrate the improvements, but also to acknowledge what needed to be done and, you know, you can’t have an honest assessment about where you’re going unless you assess where you are.”

Bloss said that he is interested in hearing about possible collaboration with the Madison schools — which the two districts have been discussing — or other nearby towns, and about how Guilford will maintain high standards at a time when resources are stretched.

“I’m hopeful and optimistic, but want also to have an honest assessment about what we’re facing,” he said.

The address is scheduled for 7 p.m. in the Guilford High School auditorium, with a reception at 6:30 p.m.

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