There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

Mark Twain

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To Block Or Not To Block

Finally, after much unnecessary rumble, the schedule for classes at Housatonic Valley Regional High School has been decided by Principal Jose Martinez. He acted in concert with a parent committee who were adamant about improving the education for their children. The new schedule, a compromise, will be a six day rotation schedule over five weeks. The first two days will have four 75 minute blocks so that experience with personalized learning can get started. The next four days will have six 50 minute blocks with less variability for each subject leading to less confusion for the students. The parents were informed of the decision yesterday by Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel; the teachers were informed by Martinez.

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A Fond Farewell

Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain

In honor of Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain’s many years of dedicated service to Regional School District #1, a reception will be held on Monday, June 5, 2017, at 6:00 pm in room 133 at Housatonic Valley Regional High School. All are invited to attend.

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All Show, No Tell

Recently, a union grievance was filed against Assistant Superintendent Pam Vogel. The complainant, a teacher, anonymously alleged that Vogel openly discussed the teacher’s medical history in public. The Region 1 Board of Education heard the grievance this week. The representative for the teacher’s union, Bob Namnoum, refused to allow the grievance to be held in executive session to maintain privacy of the teacher. No evidence whatsoever was presented to support the claim. No one testified to the alleged action. The board found that the grievance was without merit and denied the grievance. In summary, an unknown employee, using the union as cover, has made a serious claim against Vogel, but has not stepped forward with evidence. As it currently stands, this is pure, unadulterated union harassment.

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The Students Win

Today, the budget for Region 1 was approved by a vote of 488-450.  While Kent voted against the budget by 106-50, Salisbury countered with a positive vote, 196-60.  A vote against this budget would have meant cuts to staff, so the students are better off.

Town Yes No Total
Canaan 33 51 84
Cornwall 81 47 128
Kent 50 106 156
North Canaan 60 94 154
Salisbury 196 60 256
Sharon 68 92 160
Total 488 450 938
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Parent Committee

Dear Parents, Students, and Community Members in the Region One:

On March 22nd, at a meeting with parents regarding the 2017-18 HVRHS schedule, Dr. Vogel proposed a process that would include teachers, parents, and students to develop a new schedule for the High School.

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Gaming and Measurement

One aspect of viewing the education of students is the measurement of educational results. Frequently, the results are measured by standardized tests. Yet, if those results used to measure teachers, then the teachers are likely to “teach to the test”. In other words, the teachers game the system by limiting their teaching to the expected test questions, or at least the expected areas of relevance to the test standards.

This type of action can be described as Goodhardt’s Law, to wit, “Any observed statistical regularity will tend to collapse once pressure is placed upon it for control purposes.” The expected measure of performance ceases to function once it is used to evaluate the social actions of real people. So why, at Housatonic Valley Regional High School, are the administrators measuring the failure of students?

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Schedule and Accreditation

Housatonic Principal Jose Martinez

By Principal Jose Martinez

I want to give you a brief update about the progress with developing a new schedule for Housatonic next year. Also a quick overview of the NEASC (New England Association of Schools and Colleges) process.

Last Tuesday (April 4th) a parent group meeting was held. This was the second such meeting. The group has 10 members. Much of the meeting was about different ways schools can organize the teaching day to maximize instructional time for students. The group discussed the four stated goals to consider when thinking about a new schedule. These goals were shared parents, faculty, and many students. These goals are:

  1. Intervention time for all students,
  2. Time in the school day for teachers from community and area colleges to teach dual credit classes,
  3. Allow students to be released at the same time every day for internships/work experiences, and
  4. Allow common planning time for teachers.

The parents also spent some time discussing grading practices at the high school. The group has one more meeting planned for April 17th.

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State Revenue Loses Hit Budget

The 2017-2018 budget for Region 1 was put to bed last night following a quiet public hearing. The net overall budget was up by 1.83% including Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Special Education in all seven school districts, and the central office. Of particular note was the decline in state revenue by approximately $294,000, some from Ag-Ed but most from the expected changes to Special Education. The towns may, or may not, receive some of these Special Education funds directly. The towns may, or may not, have to pay a third of the teacher retirement assessment. However, town revenues and costs are not and cannot be reflected in this budget.

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Whither The Children

Sometimes, we all lose sight of the most important part of public education: the children. Housatonic Valley Regional High School is not there to provide jobs to the community. The school’s only function is the public education of children. If it was closed at the end of the year, the children could be bussed to other nearby schools, and get a better education. The towns in Region 1 would reap a financial benefit of over $1,000,000 even with the increased bussing costs. And the administrators could concentrate on improving the education in the elementary schools. Of course, many children would spend longer on a bus, except for Kent where the ride would be shorter. And some alumni would mourn its loss. But Housatonic is our school, even with all the failure.

Yet seemingly every proposed change to improve the education is met with resistance. With that in mind, please listen to the following conversation with a concerned parent on the problem of scheduling of classes. And thanks to the parent, Dennis Fallon, for reaching out with his student centered concerns.

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The Round Robin

Spring is here and so are the harbingers of fall, the new schedules for the next school year. And this year, Housatonic Valley Regional High School is changing its schedule to accommodate the implementation of personalized learning. However, it is always good practice to look at what exists now. The current schedule at Housatonic is a four day cyclical schedule with special periods specially inserted on Monday and Wednesday. The extra periods are used for activities or monthly for the meeting of learning teams, or socialization. The subjects in each class move about during the week. Good learning is habit forming and nothing could be so far from good habits than this schedule.

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