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School climate discussed at BOE

Published 11:17 am, Thursday, September 26, 2013
  • Superintendent Mary Kolek and Chairman of the Board of Education Alison Bedula. July 8, 2013. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods
    Superintendent Mary Kolek and Chairman of the Board of Education Alison Bedula. July 8, 2013. New Canaan, Conn. Photo: Tyler Woods

 

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Early results show that the school district has a positive climate for its students, according to a districtwide School Climate Survey, shared at Monday night's Board of Education meeting.

The strengths include a sense of safety and community, and good communication with parents. Areas for improvement include a climate of more respect in the elementary schools and more allegiance to the school by students at the middle and high school levels, Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services Darlene Pianka said at the meeting.

During the 2012-13 school year, the district in a survey asked students and parents at each of the schools about their opinion of the school's climate.

Nora Daly, a social worker for the district, said the survey results would help in developing school climate plans.

"The plan develops the skills you'll need outside of academic skills," Daly said. "Active listening. That's a skill you'll need out in the world. I think most parents would agree it wouldn't be bad to have their kids practice listening skills."

The survey and school climate plans came, in part, as a result of state mandates, which said schools must establish a school climate plan.

"What the law dictated to us was that we would provide support and development for social and emotional learning," Pianka said, of which school climate is a part. "There's a broad body of research around school climate that we've all studied very deeply. And the research basically says school climate matters; it leads to increased graduation rates and higher teacher retention."

The learning of life skills in school has drawn some criticism from parents who think their home is the place life skills ought to be taught.

"There is some sensitivity (to this) in our community," Board of Education Chairman Alison Bedula said. "I want to remind parents that it really is important to educate themselves ... so that they can make their own judgments based on facts."

twoods@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6582; @Woods_NCNews