With the news that Newtown High School Assistant Principal Paul Jones has been hired to be the next principal at Watertown High School, Superintendent of Schools Joseph V. Erardi, Jr, reflected on all the recent changes to the district’s leadership.
Mr Jones was voted by the Watertown Board of Education to start as Watertown High School’s principal on July 1 during a special meeting held on Monday, June 9.
Mr Jones was appointed to be assistant principal at NHS by the Newtown Board of Education last July, and he came to the district from High Point Central High School in North Carolina, where he served as assistant principal since November 2010.
On Thursday, Mr Jones said he is excited for his new position, but also said the move is bittersweet.
“I’ve absolutely loved being part of Newtown,” said Mr Jones.
The staff and students in Newtown have been some of the best he has worked with, but, he said, he is excited for the opportunity in Watertown.
In the past two months, Dr Erardi said, the district has hired a high school principal, an elementary school principal, an assistant principal for Reed Intermediate School, and is set to bring a contender before the Board of Education during its scheduled June 30 meeting to serve as assistant principal at Newtown Middle School.
And now, Dr Erardi said, “the celebration of Paul Jones being named the Watertown High School principal creates another vacancy at the [assistant principal] level at the high school. So nearly 25 percent of the leadership team is turning over in a real quick period of time.”
The changes represent work by committees and members of the district’s central office, the superintendent said.
Dr Erardi said all the people already hired to fill positions will be in place on or around July 1, “and it gives me the opportunity to blend what I think is going to be a very high yielding team as one group.”
A presentation on a plan to reconstitute the district’s kindergarten through eighth grade Gifted And Talented Education Students (GATES) program is expected to occur during the school board’s scheduled June 30 meeting and to be acted upon by the school board in July, according to Dr Erardi, “Giving us ample time to move forward for programming and staffing,” the superintendent said.
“There is no new money involved with this,” he added. “It is all coming from reallocating resources that are in the existing budget.”
The district has also launched an enrollment study, Dr Erardi said, which will be completed by the consulting firm Milone & MacBroom. “That study will be completed on or around October 1,” he said.
Throughout the summer, Dr Erardi said the district will be working on planning a series of parent workshops that will run from September to December. The workshops, he said, will focus on Common Core State Standards, personalized and blended learning, and on school safety and security.
Eye on the Future
Another thing Dr Erardi said the district and Board of Education will be working on throughout the summer is what he is calling “Vision 2025.”
“We want to be able to lay out for the school board in the spring of 2015 what should be a ten-year plan of long-term planning for teaching and learning,” said Dr Erardi.
According to Dr Erardi, many districts tend to hire a consultant for such long-term planning, but he said he would like to lead the effort.
“I think that if the superintendent stays in front of it, there is a greater ownership to the final product… and a great understanding,” said Dr Erardi.
During July and August, Dr Erardi said, he will be speaking with the school board about the timeline and process for implementing the long-term plan.
“We’ll look to launch our planning with all committee stakeholders in September,” he said.