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New London board acted courageously

By MONGI DHAOUADI

Publication: The Day

Published May 29. 2013 4:00AM

If there was any doubt about the New London Board of Education's decision to not extend Superintendent Nicholas Fischer's contract, the May 23 meeting was clear evidence that change is not only needed, but necessary.

Consider the events of that night. The Board of Education was asked by the administration to approve three new high-salaried administrative positions to initiate the transition to an all magnet school district, which is a huge undertaking. They were also asked to give the green light to establish a separate charter school, the Renzulli Academy for gifted and talented students, which would be run and sustained largely from taxpayers' money.

For those monitoring the situation "from the bleachers" or relying on friends' talking points for their information, establishing the Renzulli Academy might seem like a no brainer, and thus they might fault the New London board for standing in the way of what might sound like progress. But from the front row seats, it was clear that there was no research, no documentation, no feasibility studies, not even a business plan provided for the Renzulli proposal.

Board members kept asking reasonable questions.

"Where is the money coming from to support these positions?"

"How will children be identified for Renzulli?"

"Do you have any documentation to give us?"

The answers? Nothing documented, just verbal assurances and promises about more state money for the district (some of which would go to the non-public Renzulli).

This is what we have seen and heard from the superintendent on virtually every issue of importance; from the budget to the magnet schools, from Expanded Learning Time to the creation of and funding for an entire charter school, there has been no documented research, no alternatives to consider, no written plans and/or process on how to get from point A to point B.

This administration's motto seems to be: "just give us the money and trust us."

The Board of Education did the right, courageous and hard thing by asking questions and demanding answers to make an informed decision. The board did not reject gifted and talented programs. It rejected a grossly deficient proposal that was put on the table by Superintendent Fischer. We need to build accurate institutional memory of decision-making so that we can draw upon it for future decisions.

New London's teachers and students deserve programs based on reason, sound logic, and current research and practice, not programs based on emotions that have been stirred by incendiary, uninformed, journalism.

New London needs a new superintendent who demonstrates competency in developing proposals, in providing alternatives, and in putting forth information in a timely manner.

New times demand new leadership.

Mongi Dhaouadi is a New London resident who has three school children, one senior at the New London Science and Technology Magnet School, a freshman at Ledyard High School, and a 6th grader at ISAAC Middle School.

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