Borough school chief gets good grade

Naugatuck Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke. –FILE PHOTO

NAUGATUCK — Superintendent of Schools Sharon Locke earned high marks on her evaluation for the 2016-17 school year.

The Board of Education gave Locke an overall score of 4.14 out of 5 on its evaluation, which is weighted based on board member feedback, student learning outcomes, school and administrator goals, attendance and discipline and feedback from administrators, teachers, students and families.

“The superintendent is doing an excellent job,” Board of Education Chairwoman Dorothy Neth-Kunin said.

She said Locke has excelled at community engagement, staff development, providing high quality education and a safe environment for students to learn.

Locke, who is in her fourth year as superintendent, has done well at self-assessing and adjusting her goals, Neth-Kunin said.

“She’s always one step ahead of everybody in making sure that takes place,” Neth-Kunin said. “Our district has far progressed more than anyone could’ve imagined since her arrival on scene.”

Neth-Kunin said Locke has led the district in an overhaul of its curriculum, upgrades to security, completion of the high school renovations, and reorganization of the pre-kindergarten program. Locke also oversaw major software systems changes, including new accounting structure, new online substitute teacher sign-up software and a new time check process for hourly employees.

Neth-Kunin credited Locke with hiring the right curriculum director to lead the district in competency-based learning.

Locke works well with the board and is open to discussions and feedback, Neth-Kunin said.

“She has a very good vision of seeing where we need to be down the road, which is very helpful,” Neth-Kunin said.

Locke said she spent her first three years focusing on improving math scores, especially at elementary level, and has seen nice returns on that investment with Smarter Balance test scores rising 9 percent last year.

She said she worked to make the budget process transparent and came in with zero spending increases two years in a row while increasing services and technology.

The district now has a Chromebook computer for each student, corner-to-corner wireless, and an interactive board and projector in every classroom.

Locke has introduced a new math program as well as robotics and coding for elementary students.

The district is rolling out new elementary report cards this year and implementing a new inquiry-based science program.

Locke said she plans to continue focusing on growth for every learner, including teachers and parents.

“I love working in Naugatuck. It’s a special place,” Locke said. “I feel like the teachers work tirelessly. The parents are really happy and are great partners with our schools. The Board of Education has been amazingly supportive.”