Talk of the Town: Dr. Harrison Reviews New Hires and Plans for District Schools

Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rydell Harrison took a moment on Talk of the Town to discuss the coming school year and the school district’s plan for the future. (Pietrorazio photo)

WATERTOWN — Superintendent of Schools Dr. Rydell Harrison was the guest for this week’s Talk of the Town podcast. He discussed the future of the school district and preparations for the coming school year. With less than a month until school begins again, Dr. Harrison said that the district is ready to go.

He is thrilled with updates to the administrative staff, including the hiring of Lisa Fekete as the district’s new director of curriculum and instruction and Janet Parlato as the new principal of Watertown High School.

“I think we are going to have a really strong opening,” he said. 

He discussed the future of the school district and mentioned several plans for improvement.

One such plan is the Vision of a Graduate. The plan was created with input from parents, teachers and administrators coming together to outline skills and qualities every student should have when they graduate.

Dr. Harrison talked about the district’s new belief statement, adding that the statement reflects the district’s goals and captures the district’s identity.

“We believe that every student deserves innovative and engaging instruction, in every class, every day,” reads the  statement.

For Strategic Plan 2022, Dr. Harrison wants to create curriculum and policies that not only teach, but support and develop students’ emotional and mental health.

“I think for me as an educator with over 20 plus years in the business, the biggest shift that we’ve seen in education is the need to focus on social and emotional learning,” he said.

Dr. Harrison talked about physical updates for the schools’ facilities. 

Over the summer, solar panels have been installed at Swift Middle School, Judson Elementary School and Watertown High School. The installations will provide savings on energy and opportunities to use those savings to further upgrade school facilities.

He spoke about the creation of a capital improvement fund for the district.

He said that the improvement fund will put money aside each fiscal year for large projects or for savings, including roof repair or track and field repair.

A final subject that Dr. Harrison spoke of was creating a consistent future budget for the school district. He wants to create a multi-year budget plan that the district can follow, instead of focusing on a budget one year at a time.

Dr. Harrison and the school district are looking towards the future as they come up with ways to enrich learning and nurture students’ abilities and desire to learn.

The full Talk of the Town video-podcast segment can be viewed on the Town Times website, their Facebook page, or the Prime Publishers, Inc. Vimeo account.

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