THOMASTON — The Thomaston Board of Education, meeting Monday, May 13, recognized students and faculty with awards, presented the school district findings from the CT Next Generation Accountability Data and voted on next year’s BOE student representatives.

The board recognized the district’s students and faculty for a series of recent accomplishments and accolades.

Thomaston Rotary Student of the Month for April, Madison McCarthy, and May Student of the Month Jacob Hubbard were recognized, showcasing the award speeches they gave to the Rotary Club of Thomaston.

The board presented awards for the Thomaston Public Schools’ April Students of the Month, including Danielle Bottass, grade 11; Anna Colavecchio, grade 10; Zachary Stevenson, grade 9; Stevilynn Fox, grade 8; Anis Sadriu, grade 7; Brooke Beaudoin, grade 6; Madison Nevers, grade 5; Annalise Ciminera, grade 4; Kelvin Diaz, grade 3; Benjamin Bellemare, grade 2; Olivia Moher, grade 1 as well as kindergartener Felix Noski.

Awards given to the Thomaston Public Schools’ May Students of the Month included Briana Grecco, grade 11; Mackenzie McCarthy, grade 10; Ariana Komonaj, grade 9; Evelyn Lavertue, grade 8; Daniel Stancavage, grade 7; Mason Allen, grade 6; Samantha Dorlini, grade 5; Spencer Hults, grade 4; Dustin Galpin, grade 3; Spencer Dobos, grade 2; Georgia Coer, grade 1 and kindergartener Jack Gaudino.

The Connecticut High School Coaches Association conferred the 2018-2019 Outstanding Coach of the Year in Girls’ Cross Country award to Mark Olsen.

Technical Education Teacher Douglas Craig was acknowledged for creating and conducting a wood shop assessment for his students at Black Rock School by creating a wooden wagon and filling it with students’ wooden block projects which evaluated their ability to cut and create angles with shop tools.

Mr. Craig accepted the award on behalf of his students after they cumulatively crafted “26,000 operations” in the workshop to complete their assessment.

The board acknowledged Susan A. Santovasi, Esq. for her status of attaining the Google Certified Educator distinction.

After the awards, Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Eric Martin presented the 2017-2018 academic school year’s CT Next Generation Accountability Data.

Explaining how he reviews the Accountability System Report, Mr. Martin said that the purpose of the report is to account and calculate for the progression of initiatives, address improvements, strategize targeted support for specific areas of interest and measure successes across the school district and for each school. 

These are based on 12 indicators which include academic achievement, academic growth, assessement participation, chronic absenteeism, preparation for post-secondary and career readiness, physical fitness and arts access, and others.

Aside from the specific rises and falls in average scores from year to year, the schools are ranked on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 the highest distinction and 5 the lowest. Schools that are evaluated at ranks 4 or 5 are also known as “at-risk” or “turnaround” schools by the state.

None of Thomaston’s schools were designated in this category, which often requires state funding to remedy their structural or curricular issues, Mr. Martin said.

Black Rock School was categorized as Rank 2, only one-tenth of a point shy from qualifying as a top, highest level institution. Thomaston Center School was classified as Rank 3 and Thomaston High School was acknowledged as Rank 2.

Out of a total percentage of 100 points, Thomaston averaged 74.3 percent overall at the cumulative school district level.

Although Mr. Martin is content with the overall results of the report, improvements are still to be made. 

Based on their findings, Mr. Martin has already spoken with Thomaston High School Principal John Perrucci regarding the results to bring new ideas and proposals to address improvements for the next calendar year; these proposals would be presented towards the beginning of the next school year.

Mr. Martin outlined the key needs-assessments from the report, suggesting an important need to increase math performance and growth competencies across all categories in accordance with reevaluating course curriculums for the subject area that students are struggling in.

Another area of focus is reducing chronic absenteeism across the district. 

Finally, Mr. Martin addressed the arts access and post-secondary preparation issues, specifically with the coding of courses that count for the state’s sequestering of data to produce this report.

Some of the courses offered by the district were not factored into the state statistics while compiling the report, a reocurring problem that has been publicly shared by Principal Perrucci years ago when a previous incident transpired; this has been an ongoing challenge for administrators.

Following Mr. Martin’s presentation, two separate motions were considered to address the current status of selecting the Thomaston High School student representatives who would join the Board of Education for the upcoming school year.

The first motion was to simply accept two nominated candidates to serve next year, a rising junior and rising senior; and the second motion sought to “accept and approve the suspension of all language referencing two student representatives” to permit three representatives exclusively for the 2019-2020 school year. 

Chairperson Rebecca Guay urged her fellow board members to vote in favor of suspending the maximum cap for the two student representative rule for this upcoming academic year.

She believes that three student representatives would be a better option, especially after considering that some of the previous representatives have dropped out of their representative responsibilities in the past.

All three candidates were deemed extremely qualified, as Principal Perrucci articulated.

Due to an unclear application process, there was some confusion when assembling the full list of applicants, even though all applications were submitted on time.

In the discussion that followed, Treasurer David Colavecchio provided remarks about civic duty, how students should be able to participate more and the real challenges in finding qualified citizen volunteers to get involved in community service and local government.

Further commending the efforts of the three candidates, he justified their full inclusion into the Board of Education, aside from exercising voting rights and privileges to executive meetings.

“It’s hard enough to find nine people to run for the Board of Education,” he added.

As a result, the board unanimously voted in favor of suspending all language referencing the two student representatives requirement, allowing for all three of Thomaston High School Principal John Perrucci’s nominees, including rising juniors Isabella Guerrera and McKenna O’Sullivan and rising senior Jacob Field, to become the BOE student representatives for the 2019-2020 school year.

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