Winchester Public Schools seal
Winchester Public Schools seal

WINSTED — Beginning on Thursday, Feb. 11, the state opened up Covid vaccinations for residents 65 years old and up.
However, at the Board of Education’s meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9, Superintendent Melony Brady-Shanley said that several members of the school district’s staff eligible for Covid vaccinations would not sign up to receive vaccines via the Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS) system.
Bardy-Shanley told the board that she contacted the eligible staff members, but “some of them selected yes, and some of them selected no.”
She did not specify how many members of the staff would not sign up via VAMS or whether or not they would sign up at a later point in time.
Brady-Shanley told the board that it would take about a month for the eligible staff members who signed up via VAMS to be vaccinated.
She added that she did not expect to see all of the school district’s teachers be eligible for Covid vaccinations until mid-March, possibly later.
In other business: state School Turnaround Office Director Lisa Lamenzo, along with state Education Consult Iris White, both gave a presentation at the meeting about the progress the school district has made since it entered the Commissioner’s Network in 2016.
The Commissioner’s Network was established by the state that year as a program to improve student achievement in what the state determines as 25 low performing school districts.
Lamenzo told the board that, for the past five years, the Winchester School District received $6 million in additional state Commissioner’s Network funding, with $2.8 million going to Batcheller Elementary School and $3.2 million going to Pearson School.
“Not only did Commissioner’s Network funding support development capacity in the school district, but also the hiring of key positions to enact the work that was needed,” White told the board. “The funding supported interventionists, instructional coaches, and an inclusion coach.”
Lamenzo said that areas that were focused on for improvement included the implementation of a new English Language Arts (ELA) and math curriculum aligned to the state’s Core Standards, the development and implementation of a plan to transition to Next Generation Science Standards, the implementation of a systematic instructional coaching model to build teacher capacity in ELA and math instruction, and a community partnership facilitator, along with the development of a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) block and the after school CHAMPS program.
Both Lamenzo and White said that, thanks to the implementation of various programs and the hiring of staff for the district, the accountability index for both schools has grown substantially ever since it entered the Commissioner’s Network, and that educational improvements in the school district have been substantial.

From the state’s Powerpoint presentation on Winchester School District progress, showcasing how the school’s Accountability Index has grown since it became a Commissioner’s Network school district.

“School improvement is challenging work, it never ends,” Lamenzo told the board. “But conclusions do matter and dramatic improvements are possible. Pearson, Batcheller, and the school district as a whole are proof of that. We look forward to seeing great things to continue from Winchester.”
Both Lamenzo and White added that a Commissioner’s Network exit audit is currently being developed by the state.