Early-Education Success is Foundation of Proposed District Budget

Windsor Locks Superintendent Wayne Sweeney proposed increased student achievement through a collaboration between the board of education and board of finance.

When Windsor Locks Superintendent of Schools Wayne Sweeney recently proposed a 3.5 percent education funding boost, he didn’t beat around the bush.

On the strength of recent elementary education success, Sweeney painted a picture of a transforming school district — one that could only continue to improve through, what he called, “purposeful change through collaboration between the board of education and board of finance.”

To drive his point home, Sweeney highlighted the performance of district elementary school students on the Connecticut Mastery and Connecticut Academic Performance Tests, the CMT and CAPT.

According to statistics Sweeney provided the board of finance last week, just 38 percent of district third graders exceeded proficient levels, that is, they performed at the highest level on, on the reading portion of the CMT in 2011.

When the same group of students took the test again in fourth grade, however, that number ballooned to just over 61 percent.

Additionally, just 47 percent of district third grade students performed at the highest level on the writing portion of the test in 2011, but the same group of students improved greatly over the next year. In 2012, 69 percent of the students exceeded proficient levels.

Increased funding over the next year, Sweeney said, will aid the district in expanding student achievement initiatives.

Not only will successes at the elementary school be celebrated and continued, but the district, through a partnership with the board of finance, will bring such success to schools throughout town, Sweeney said.

Part of that initiative would include the introduction of Saturday school at the high school — something that would be optional for students and parents seeking additional instruction time. Sweeney also mentioned the ability to fund the Saturday program with state funds.

The district is currently operating on a year-over-year budget increase of 4.7 percent.

Sweeney initially proposed a 6.03 percent increase for the next fiscal year, but that number was whittled down through several revisions conducted with the board of education.

The budget proposal represents a dollar change of just over $1 million.



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