Woodbridge

Local Coverage about events in the Town of Woodbridge, CT

Woodbridge Board of Education Shows Leadership in Technology and World Languages

Shortly after Apple released its new iPad, Woodbridge Board of Education member Steven Fleischman attended the National School Boards Association annual conference in Chicago. The new iPad that he carried with him attracted attention from many other school board members in attendance.

At the April meeting of the Woodbridge Board of Education he hooked up his iPad to a projector to give a report about the annual conference, perhaps making the Woodbridge Board of Education the first board of education to use an iPad for a presentation to the board.

Dr. Fleischman’s presentation covered many important topics, including how technology can be better integrated into the curriculum, and the importance of school boards, administrations and teachers working together on a shared vision. He spoke about how all of this needed to focus on twenty-first century skills.

Yet many of these ideas are not new to members of the Woodbridge Board of Education. Before Dr. Fleischman spoke, two Woodbridge students used some of the schools technology, including a smartboard and iPhoto to present to the board information about what they were learning from the school’s world languages program. The board also approved Woodbridge’s participation in the Cooperative Educational Services’ Title II grant ‘to create a 21st century learning environment for World Language students’.

This grant will use technology including ‘interactive whiteboards, Flip video cameras, iPods, multi-user virtual learning environments, Google Earth, Skype, and others’ to provide a rich opportunity for students to learn Spanish and Chinese. The program will include Beecher Road School, the Six to Six Interdistrict Magnet School and Southern Connecticut State University. Besides the technology, an important focus will be placed on professional development.

The Woodbridge Board of Education, together with the teachers and administration of Beecher Road School continue to work together to find ways to use technology to make learning world languages and other twenty first century skills more exciting.

(Cross posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)

MAG Special Committee on Invasive Species

Students from the Multi Age Group program at Beecher Road in Woodbridge, CT received a special look at how legislation is made at the State Capital on Monday in Hartford. Second Year and Fourth Year MAG students visited the capital to hold an informatory hearing on invasive species in Connecticut and what the State Government is doing about it.

Unlike many trips to the capital which focus on historical aspects of our state government and rudimentary descriptions of the legislative process by state legislators, the students, led by Beecher Road parents, Aldon and Kim Hynes, experienced what it is like to work on a committee gathering information about proposed legislation. The program was carefully crafted in collaboration with the MAG teachers to integrate with the students’ current studies in invasive species.

First to testify before the MAG Special Committee on Invasive Species was State Representative Bryan Hurlburt. Representative Hurlburt, besides being one of the younger members of the General Assembly and a member of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee is a Vice Chair of the Environment Committee. The Environment Committee recently approved Raised House Bill No. 5320, An Act Concerning the Enforcement of Prohibited Actions Concerning Certain Invasive Plants. This bill would authorize conservation officers to enforce certain prohibitions concerning invasive plants. Rep. Hurlburt started off by explaining how people testify before a legislative committee and provided a good example. This was followed by questions from the students related to invasive species and what the legislature is considering. Much of Rep. Hurlburt’s testimony focused on the problems of aquatic invasive species, such as the Zebra Mussel, as well as actions that can be taken to try and prevent the spread of invasive species.

The second witness to testify before the MAG Special Committee on Invasive Species was State Representative Matt Lesser. Representative Lesser is a friend of one of the MAG students, serves on the Education Committee and is currently the youngest member of the General Assembly. Recently, Rep. Lesser voted against Raised House Bill No. 5491, An Act Concerning Certain School District Reforms to Reduce the Achievement Gap in Connecticut. He has expressed concern about how best to encourage parental involvement in Connecticut’s educational system. While he may have concerns about how Raised Bill No. 5491 addresses parental involvement, he provided a good example of how educators, parents and legislators can all work together to provide a richer learning environment than our current status quo.

Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, Amey Marrella, was also invited to come speak to the MAG Special Committee on Invasive Species. Unfortunately, a last minute conflict prevented Commissioner Marrella from addressing the committee and instead she sent two DEP staff members to provide information to the students. As with the initial two speakers, the staffers from the Department of Environmental Protection were peppered with questions related to invasive and native species in Connecticut and some of the programs of the DEP.

With the committee work completed, the students broke for lunch and a brief opportunity to speak individually with members of the Woodbridge delegation to the General Assembly. This was followed by a brief tour of the State House and a trip back to Woodbridge. Some members of the special student committee on invasive species expressed interest in proposing legislation. Such ideas are bound to be explored with the students and teachers in the Multi Age Group program at Beecher Road School, in Woodbridge, CT as they work together in further explorations of their unique learning experience.

(Cross posted to the Woodbridge Citizen.)

The Debate about Municipal Elections

In a year of fiscal challenges, lawmakers in Hartford are again considering changing state statutes to require municipalities to hold their local elections in November, instead of May or November which current statutes allow. Woodbridge is one of five towns that still hold local elections in May. The Secretary of State’s office supports the proposed measure and has testified in previous years that such a change would produce savings for the cash strapped government in Hartford. In addition, many believe such a change would increase voter participation in municipal elections.

Residents of Woodbridge, concerned with finding ways to help the state government have contacted State Representative Themis Klarides requesting that municipal elections be held statewide in November. This was communicated to the Government Administration and Elections Committee and had been inserted as section 40 of Raised Bill No. 421. Unfortunately, the language was specific to Woodbridge, instead of to all five municipalities holding local elections in May, and without it being applied to all towns, the expected cost savings are less likely to be realized.

A local newspaper report stated

Local residents are wondering why Slossberg and her committee would attempt to interfere with local governance and practices that have prevailed for two hundred years...[and] why the state would have a vested interest in when Woodbridge conducts its municipal elections.

To the extent that the state has oversight over local and regional activities and must incur the cost of that oversight, it seems clear that it should have a vested interested in local activities. A recent related example is the consolidation of probate courts across the state.

Local residents and reporters who wonder why things happen the way they do in Hartford are encouraged to contact their state legislators. Our state legislators are responsive and eager to explain what is being considered in Hartford.

News 12 is now reporting that Sen. Slossberg has bowed to the complaints of a few vocal residents and removed these cost saving measures.

(Originally posted at the Woodbridge Citizen.)

Woodbridge Board of Finance Trims Another $107,000 From Proposed Town Budget

Tuesday evening, the Woodbridge Board of Finance gathered to review the proposed budget for the coming year. In these difficult times, revenues have fallen, as has the value of houses on the grand list. As a result, even a very lean budget would result in tax increases and an even greater increase in the mill rate when it is most challenging for residents to meet new expenses.

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This Week In Woodbridge

After a particularly quiet week last week, this week in Woodbridge starts off with a flurry of activity. On Monday, starting at 6 PM, there will be a special meeting of the Board of Selectmen to review department budget requests for FY2011 and to vote on the recommendations to the Board of Finance for the FY2011 budget. At the same time, the Board of Fire Commissions will hold a meeting at the new fire house. This meeting will also be discussing budgets, building use. The EMS Commission is scheduled to start at 7 PM at the Town Hall.

Over at Beecher Road, there are two meetings taking place, both starting at 7 PM. The regular meeting of the Woodbridge Board of Education is scheduled for the Media Center. At the meeting, there will be a report on the monthly enrollment as well as actions on the school district’s participation in the Open Choice Program and the Wintergreen Magnet School.

The board is also scheduled to act on a recommendation of the BRS Town Building Committee to retain Dimeo Construction as the construction manager for the BRS building project. Acting as a committee of the whole, the board will review curriculum issues as well as the strategic school profile.

The recreation commission will meet at the same time at the South Assembly Room. The agenda will cover mostly the same topics as the January agenda, but in a slightly different order.

At the Library on Wednesday evening, starting at 5:30, there will be a career networking meeting. The regular meeting of the Board of Selectmen is scheduled to take place at the Town Hall starting at 6 PM. The Woodbridge Park Association is also reportedly meeting on Wednesday and the Massaro Farm Board is reportedly meeting on Thursday. There will also be a screening of The Time Traveler’s Wife at the library starting at 7 PM on Thursday.

Ending off the week will be The Hoot at Beecher Road School from 11:30 to 3:30. Also, starting at 1 PM on Saturday will be storytelling about maple syrup starting at the public library, followed by a hike in the Alice Newton Street Park.

This will be followed by a Gala Purim Masquerade Ball at Congregation B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge starting at 6:15 PM. Sunday, starting at 3 PM there will be a Purim Carnival at the Jewish Community Center.

(Cross-posted at the Woodbridge Citizen).

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