Naugatuck school chief not seeking new contract 

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Sharon Locke

NAUGATUCK — Superintendent Sharon Locke’s time leading Naugatuck schools will come to an end in June.

The Board of Education announced at its meeting Thursday that Locke won’t seek to renew her contract with the district when it ends on June 30, 2020.

Locke thanked the board and community for allowing her to serve as superintendent.

“As I have said from my first days here, Naugatuck is a special place with the most caring and committed people,” Locke said in a statement. “While it is time for me to begin the next leg of my life’s journey, I feel so blessed to have had this time with you.”

Locke said the district has “the most amazing students” that are talented in many ways, including in the arts, academics and athletics.

“More importantly than all of that, they are good people who take care of one another,” she said. “They are learning to use their voice to make our world a better place.”

Locke said the administrators guide a culture of kindness, learning and equity in the district, and she’s confident they will continue to lead the way toward improved outcomes for all of Naugatuck’s children.

Locke described the teachers and staff as the real heroes in the district.

“They are the ones who shape the lives of our children through their everyday interactions,” she said.

Locke took over as superintendent in July 2014. Before being hired in Naugatuck, Locke was the assistant superintendent for the New Britain school system for two years. She started her education career as a guidance counselor, and worked in that role for several years before going into administration.

In 2016, the school board approved a second three-year contract for Locke. Her base salary this fiscal year, which is the final year of the deal, is $182,394, according to the contract.

“Superintendent Locke has been a fierce defender of Naugatuck Public Schools and the district has made many improvements since she arrived,” Board of Education Chairman Jeff Litke said in a statement.

Litke cited improvements in students’ scores over the past four years in math and English on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, a standardized test administered to students in grades three through eight, 95% satisfaction rate on a family survey, and what he described as a “slight” budget increase of nearly $1.29 million over the last four years among Locke’s accomplishments. He added Locke did this as the percentage of students in the district considered to be from low-income families increased from 46% to 55% since 2015.

“These are accomplishments that the superintendent and the board should be proud of,” he said. “She (Locke) has made it abundantly clear that she will continue to give 110% to Naugatuck during the remainder of her contract.”

Litke said the board will develop a plan to ensure that a new superintendent is selected who will focus on continuous improvement and take the district to the next level.

Below is Sharon Locke’s full statement:

My Dearest Colleagues,

At this evening’s BOE meeting, the board announced that I am not seeking to renew my contract when the term ends on June 30, 2020. I shared the following statement that comes from the bottom of my heart:

I want to thank the Board and the Naugatuck school community for allowing me to serve as your leader for the past 5.5 years. As I have said from my first days here, Naugatuck is a special place with the most caring and committed people. While it is time for me to begin the next leg of my life’s journey, I feel so blessed to have had this time with you. Too often, low-wealth districts are labeled “poor performing” even when the rate of student learning is greater than more wealthy districts. By nearly every measure we have to determine the quality of our schools and district, Naugatuck is a high performing district!

And that is because we have the most amazing students! They are talented in so many ways. They are musicians, artists, writers, readers, mathematicians, scientists, problem solvers, athletes, and technology wizards. More importantly than all of that, they are good people who take care of one another! They are learning to use their voice to make our world a better place. I want to thank their families for partnering with us and trusting us to help develop their children. Our children are our best hope for a brighter future!

The culture of kindness, learning, and equity in this district is guided by our administrators. They lead and cultivate relationships and expectations and are truly a gifted group of leaders. They learn from one another and lean on one another in the most authentic way. I am confident they will continue to lead this district toward improved outcomes for ALL of Naugatuck’s children.

The teachers and staff in our schools are the real heroes in this district. They are the ones who shape the lives of our children through their everyday interactions. They create safe havens in the midst of an unsafe world. They nurture curiosity and instill confidence. They tend to wounds they can see as well as the ones they cannot see. They teach our children to become citizens who can think critically and help make our world more humane and just.

My life’s journey has been blessed. Not always easy, but privileged just the same. And sometimes I have been downright lucky! When I came to Naugatuck as a new superintendent, I was lucky to have a Board who supported me and our improvement efforts. I was lucky there was some leverage in the budget to shift resources to reduce class sizes and update curriculum and technology. I was lucky to inherit and hire a team of educators who never tired of my enthusiasm for a focus on classroom learning and equity. I was most especially lucky for the support, integrity, partnership, and leadership from Chris Montini and our leadership team. And I am lucky to serve out the remainder of my contract with your continued love and support. I vow to continue to be my best self and your dedicated leader through our remaining months together.

Thank you again for this opportunity and our amazing time together!

Very Truly Yours,

Sharon