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Superintendent's Updates

New School Year 2017-18

This year is now 2 months in and all has been going smoothly throughout the district. We have Readers' Workshop being implemented in the elementary schools and the students are eager learners who are enjoying the fun of learning in this workshop model. Teachers are beginning to use a workshop model in their math classes as well. Literacy and math coaches demonstrate lessons for teachers and offer suggestions for engaging activities that keep students excited about discovering how to solve real life problems.

At the secondary level, some teachers are planning Project based learning which provides students the opportunity to apply what they learn to authentic problems. We have a large number of students opting to take AP or ECE classes which can provide them with college credits before they even leave high school. That is something that many parents appreciate, especially if their child has a semester's worth of credits before college.

We have been planning the implementation of our Strategic Plan which includes moving toward Mastery-based Learning. Some of the precursors to doing that are critically examining our middle and high school schedules to include block scheduling which will provide teachers with longer periods. This is particularly advantageous for science classes with labs, art classes, and any classes using project based learning. Our teachers have been researching this for a couple of years now and are ready for the change for next year.

All in all, we are integrating more rigor and engagement in the learning. We encourage students to learn through problem solving and being verbally engaged. We know this learning is more powerful than the older model of the teacher lecturing at the front of the room, which we refer to as "stand and deliver". We are all in classrooms as we conduct Instructional Rounds so we can assess our progress in instruction and can continue the work of improving our students' learning.

Parents are an important part of their children's success and we invite you to ask questions of us about their learning as educators and your children, and we do want to hear from you.

Janet Robinson Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools

Welcome Back!

Welcome Back


This is the start of our second week of school and the flow of the school year with its routines and relationships is well underway. Students know their way around their schools and those fears of freshmen that they will get lost or won't be able to open their lockers are beginning to dissipate. We know that the routines and structure of school help students feel safe and comfortable in school. We all want your children to feel comfortable in their classrooms and schools. For that reason, we have initiated BE KIND schools that use the Responsive Classroom and Restorative Practices models to teach children to be respectful, empathetic, and problem-solve their differences, rather than exhibiting mean behaviors.

We work with children because of our commitment to their future success. You, as parents, want that same success for your children. So, we are on the same team, and what a strong team we can be when parents and educators surround children with loving respect, accepting them for who they are!

Our Stratford teachers are wonderful at educating our youngsters for their academic success, but they know that relationships within the classroom are the first key ingredient for learning. So you can expect to see the signs of our kindness climate throughout the schools, and reflected in the learning of your children.

We look forward to working with all of you as partners in education. Our children are our greatest asset and the future of our community.

Janet Robinson, Ph.D.

Superintendent of Schools

Stratford Public Schools - 2017-2018 Budget Interview

Posted on

To see the interview featuring Dr. Robinson, Superintendent of Schools and Clarence Zachery, Chief Operating Officer, click on the link below.

- Stratford Budget Interview

Dual Language Program

Posted on by Dr. Janet Robinson

There's been a lot of talk and discussion lately focusing on the newly proposed Dual Language Program. I've put together a few things I'd like to share with the community to keep everyone informed. The program was introduced at the January Curriculum Committee meeting as an Item for Information. From there, it went before the Finance Committee at not one, but two budget workshops. From there it went before the Curriculum Committee as an Item for Action on March 21st. From there, it was forwarded (with a favorable recommendation) to the full Board for final approval at the March 27th regular monthly Board meeting. The District's World Language Coordinator, Denise Massari, did an outstanding job of presenting this program at the Finance and Curriculum Committee meetings. For a better understanding and more information:

The links to see the video for the presentation given to the Finance Committee are:

February 8th - Finance Budget Workshop

February 13th - Finance Budget Workshop

The link to see the video for the presentation given to the Curriculum Committee is:

March 21st - Curriculum Committee Meeting

The program was voted on by the Board at the March 27th meeting and passed 5 to 1.

The Finance Committee consists of Board members and the following people from the community - David Kennedy, Arlene Perricone, Eileen Santos, Ben Proto, Jennifer Falotico, and Bob David.

The Curriculum Committee also consists of members of the Board and the following people from the community - David Kennedy, Helen Craye, Monica Lazaro, Jim Vigliotti, Bernie Bova, Tania Livingston and Robyn Proto.

The materials distributed by Denise Massari were:

Dual Language, The Basics

ESOL in Pictures

Dual Language Background

It is budget time again

Posted on by Dr. Janet Robinson

Yesterday, I received an email regarding one of our graduating students who had just learned that he had been accepted at Harvard. He is our second Harvard acceptance this year that I know of. This is such an exciting time for seniors as they learn of their choices now for college next year. The Stratford community should be proud that we have such hard working and studious students. Some of these students will graduate with 15 college credits, saving their parents a semester of college tuition. I wish that the cynics in the community could see how education in the Stratford Schools has evolved into more rigorous 21 century learning. Our students are expected to know more, research more, write more, challenge thinking and sources more, and become responsible global citizens who treat one another with respect.

Over the last three years, we have strategically planned our professional development and resources to build the capacity of all our educators to strengthen their ability to deal with the new expectations for teaching and learning. We have written new curriculum and instituted new teaching strategies that research shows are more powerful for learning. We spend a great deal of professional time on improving instruction for better student achievement.

We are doing this at the same time that our population has been changing. We have new students register throughout the year – 57 more at the elementary level today than were with us on our official October 1 enrollment report. Those students come from so many different places and backgrounds that we are constantly working to “catch them up” to our expectations. We have 49 different languages in our Stratford Schools.

Even with the challenges of an influx of students, we are now seeing the results of our efforts over the last 3 years. For the first time, we are seeing the improvement in our STAR scores at the midyear assessment. We assess with STAR three times a year to monitor progress. We are also seeing a move to close the achievement gap. Four of our elementary schools were acclaimed as “Schools of Distinction”. Wooster Middle School was acknowledged with the State School Climate award. We have both the CT Elementary and Secondary Assistant Principals of the year awards this year, and the CT Science Teacher of the Year award. Our efforts at improving math instruction at the elementary level are showing results after only 5 months of math coaches working with teachers in their classrooms. Our reading scores are climbing with the implementation of Columbia University’s Readers’ Workshop.

There are so many positive things happening now in our schools that I am deeply concerned that just when we are turning the corner for 21st century learning, the rug might be pulled out from under our progress by those who want a flat budget. Contracted salaries, insurance and set cost increases alone require a 2.65% increase over this year’s budget. I see comments that have no basis in fact being used as justification for demanding a 0% increase this year in the school budget. Misinformation is being disseminated to justify no increase in the education budget. This district has NOT had $2 million surpluses. If there were ever a surplus, it would go back to the town, but you can check the past budgets and clearly see that 99.9% of the budget is consistently spent. The school district is audited twice a year, once by the town auditors and again with the filing of the yearly ED001 with the state. The accusations are being answered by the Board of Education completing another audit.

What we all have to do together is focus on what is in the best interests of our children. They are our future.

2017-18 budget process

by Dr. Janet Robinson

After the Stratford Board of Education finance committee spent 7 budget workshop meetings delving into the projected education budget for next year, they approved moving that forward to the Board of Education. There the "itemized estimate of expenditures" must be approved to send to the town for the Mayor and Town Council to approve as is, or to make whatever changes they deem appropriate. A vote on the proposed budget was tabled last Monday night and will be reconsidered during a BOE Finance committee meeting Monday night, and possibly approved at a special BOE meeting next Tuesday night, March 7.

Over the course of the last 3 1/2 years, we have strategically worked to improve our curriculum and instruction. We have the advantage of having truly caring and committed teachers and administrators, but we have needed to bring up to date training to the district and build the capacity of all our educators to deal with the current best practices. We have begun and continue to work on rigorous curriculum and to change our instruction to actively engage our students in learning that is meaningful and challenges their thinking.

What is gratifying is that we are now seeing the results of our work. The STAR assessments from this midyear show growth and in some cases, tremendous growth. Our expectations are high and we intend to continue on this growth path as we stay focused on this mission.

Also gratifying is the recognition that is coming to some of our schools and educators. This year alone, we have the Connecticut Elementary and Secondary Assistant Principals of the Year, the Middle School Science Teacher of the Year, the Connecticut School Climate Award at Wooster, and a finalist for Principal of the Year. We also have 4 schools that just received the Schools of Distinction Award. So, we know we have not reached the level of student achievement that is our goal, but the recognition that the Stratford Schools is receiving reaffirms that our work is beginning to pay off.

District Strategic Planning Process

by Dr. Janet Robinson

Greetings Families and Community Members - The second stage of the Strategic Planning (Five Year District Plan) process is beginning, and Stakeholders are needed join one of the four Action Teams necessary to carry the process forward.

The Action Teams are as follows:

  • Family and Community Partnerships
  • Mastery Based Learning in a Diverse District
  • 21st Century Skills and Assessments
  • Rigorous social curriculum that promotes character development, social emotional wellness, and positive behaviors.

We'd love to have your expertise and voice participating in this important work. We reached out via School Messenger last week seeking your interest in becoming a member of one of these teams. We've heard from several of you expressing your desire to participate and we thank you and appreciate your willingness to commit to this process. If there's anyone else interested in being a part of this project, please submit your name to Teresa Lycoudes at 203-385-4209 or via Email at lycoudest@stratfordk12.org. We hope you will join one of our teams, and we look forward to moving the Strategic Plan forward.

Stratford Public Schools Strategic Planning

by Dr. Janet Robinson

This is always a super busy time of the year in schools, and probably for all of you at home also. We have had a smooth start to the year with a number of new families moving in and all of us adjusting to new friends and new learning. We welcome all of our new families and hope that you are experiencing our Stratford hospitality. It is not easy to adjust anytime you make a move, but many of our new families are coming from out of state and out of country. So we recognize how difficult this move might be. Since all of us in this district want your children to be successful, please let us know how to assist with your transitions.

As we are dedicated to doing the best for our students, we have embarked upon our Strategic Planning process for a new 5 year plan. This plan should be the guide for important decisions the district must make for the next 5 years, while still allowing flexibility for unexpected events. After all, no one can really predict the impact the emerging technologies might have.

Stakeholders,including students, representing our community volunteered their time this past weekend to meet Friday night and all day Saturday to begin the work of the Strategic Plan. We will meet again in January, after which several action teams will work on building out the actions to meet our goals. A meeting at the end of May, or the beginning of June, is when we will finalize our plans and take them to the Board of Education for approval. We expect to be accountable for the goals that are set and will report our status to the Board of Education on a regular basis. You will be able to see our Strategic Plan after it is finalized on our website. We welcome your comments.

Nut Free Schools

by Superintendent's Office

On June 30th, the following message was sent to Stratford Parents via School Messenger:

Dear Parents of our Stratford Elementary Students, In an effort to keep you informed as early as possible, I want to let you know that the Stratford Board of Education voted (June 29, 2015) to have all elementary schools (Grades PK - 6) be "nut free" effective school year 2015-2016. This was requested by our school nurses as the number of students allergic to nuts has risen dramatically. So, this is a sincere effort to keep our students as safe as possible. I am aware that some of you have children who eat peanut butter daily, so I hope that this early notification helps you with planning alternatives for your child. Sincerely, Janet Robinson (Superintendent of Schools) To see the "Nut Free Schools" Policy - click here