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A Message from Dr. Craig Cooke- Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools

THE TRUE FACTS REGARDING Windsor Public Schools 2015/2016 Budget

Thank you for the opportunity and your time for allowing me to explain why the current proposed Windsor Public School Budget of 2% is critical for the future of Windsor students, families and our entire community. Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation spread about the budget and our schools. I appreciate the opportunity to set the record straight.

Spending per Pupil
False: Signs and flyersposted across town have claimed that Windsor Public Schools spends $22,000 per pupil.
Truth: This number has been inflated by utilizing a low student estimate for next year, not including students attending magnet schools or special education outplaced students, and including all costs (including even the magnet and special ed costs for the students that have been removed from the count). The most recent official state calculation from 2011/12places spending per pupil at $16,456. Our unofficial calculationplaces per pupil spending at $18,200 for 2014/15.

Student Enrollment
False: Inaccurate information has been shared with the public about the number of Windsor students. Currently 3,196 students attend Windsor Public Schools. An additional 677 Windsor students attend magnet schools, tech schools or outplacement schools who remain the responsibility of Windsor schools.
Truth: The total number of students is 3,873. Windsor has an educational and financial responsibility for, and shares in the cost for each of these students. (Whether that be for tuition reimbursement, special education costs, and/or transportations costs)

Vacant Classrooms within Elementary Schools
False:Inaccurate statements have been made that there are numerous vacant classrooms in Windsor Elementary Schools.
Truth: Space is very limited within the district’s elementary schools. In fact, there are currently only two (2) classrooms that would be available for the 2015/16 school year. Therefore, this is NOT an option, as some have proposed as the solution to the expansion of the pre-school program.

Size of this Budget
False: This budget has been characterized as a “huge” budget. But, again, not accurate.
Truth: The current proposed Board of Education budget is 2.0%. Last year’s state average for approved budgets was 2.18% and so far this year the state average is 2.01%.

Performance of the District
In 2011/12, the performance of our students, based solely on the March state tests, resulted in the district being placed as an Alliance District for 5 years. While Alliance status has brought needed funding and programs into the district, it has brought some negative connotations.
Truth:The truth is that no matter what our improvement since 2011/12 has been, we remain part of the Alliance program through the 2016/17 school year. Without a state measure to judge our performance, the following information is utilized to show district gains,initiatives and our school community’s accomplishments:
• The 4-year graduation rate is over 91%, a jump of 7%. 5-year graduation rate is estimated at 96%
• Advanced Placement scores are continuing to rise while more and more students take additional tests. Spring scores are at an all-time high for Windsor High School. 70% of our students passed these rigorous tests.
• Over 90% of WHS students are off to 4- or 2-year colleges and 4-5% will join the military forces. The list of college acceptances is impressive and scholarships awarded to our students are plentiful.
• Students and programs receive national and state awards. We provide the community with high quality performances at no cost such as:
National award winning music programs
Consistent State Championship caliber sports programs
• Full day Kindergarten initiativehas resulted in doubling the number of students reading at our benchmark (higher than the state’s benchmark) at the end of Kindergarten.
• Award winning middle school, 2013-2014 Middle School of the Year
• We have programs and staff that are the envy of other towns:
New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC) accredited middle and high schools
Only high school in Connecticut that has an ongoing relationship with the NASA Space Program
Air Force ROTC begins at WHS in the Fall – no other high school within 50 miles has this program
Award winning Technology Education programs – Electrathon Car, student home design
Gifted and Talented program in Grades 3-12
Teachers recognized as leaders within their field on the state and national level

We should all be proud of our students and staff, for all of these amazing accomplishments. All due in large part to hard work, dedication and a commitment to public education. My hope, as Superintendent of the Windsor Public School system, is that you will take the time to come out and vote on Tuesday, June 2nd and support the continued success of Windsor Public Schools.

Sincerely,

Craig A. Cooke, Ph.D., Superintendent of Schools

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