Superintendent's Update

May 2017

You Do Make A Difference!

Happy Spring everyone! This is a busy time of year that reminds us of the dynamic and vibrant nature of our school district. It is hard to believe that the school year will come to a close in just one month. There is so much to celebrate! This year our focus has been in three broad areas: student achievement, well-being and engagement. Our focus on student achievement has been measured in many ways, one of which includes our progress towards district learning targets. At the end of June I will have an update of our progress for the year when all our student assessment data is compiled. Most recently we have celebrated the outstanding work of the high school leadership and faculty in supporting improved performance on the SATs. Our elementary and middle school faculty and principals have worked throughout the year on changes in curriculum and instruction in the areas of ELA (English Language Arts) and Math. Additional teachers have been learning about and preparing for the exciting changes in Science with the implementation of Next Generation Science Standards. In all areas, Pre-K through grade 12, we are supporting important and exciting changes that support greater innovation and problem-solving and integration of skills for students.

Individual students continue to grow and learn and their skills and confidence are expanding. I am certain that you see evidence of this in your children through their school work, in conversations with them and watching their performance in artistic, athletic and other events. At this time of year there are several public displays that highlight the culmination of individual and shared work and effort including art shows, musical performances, sporting events and award ceremonies. In addition to the many measures of academic achievement, these other areas demonstrate our commitment to the well-being and engagement of all of our students. Your on-going support and presence at these and other events throughout the year are appreciated.

I am consistently reminded by my experiences here in district and by the comments of staff members, students, Board of Education members and community members that our school district is a truly unique and remarkable place. We are consistently reminded of the pride and support that exists as we are supported by the two towns of Durham and Middlefield, and without question our core ethical values of respect, responsibility, kindness, honesty and courage are evident.

Our work to sustain and improve in all areas is made possible by a shared commitment to best practice. A carefully crafted and responsible budget supports our work over time; thank you to all who voted and contributed to a narrow victory. So many of you stopped me the day after the budget vote to tell me your story about getting to the polls and helping to get family members to the polls. You were certain that it was your vote that tipped us over to the win column. You were right. Your vote mattered! The budget that was approved is a 1.18% increase over this year’s operating budget. The total budget amount is $37,137,901.

Details of next year’s budget include:

  • Class sizes within BOE guidelines
  • Math Interventionists at Lyman and Brewster
  • Expanded pre-school programming for 3 and 4 year old students
  • Tuition for typical peers in the pre-school program
  • CRHS Career Center
  • Maintenance of Strong Middle School’s interscholastic sports program
  • Pay to Participate fee for middle and high school sports

Enrollment continues to decline in our district with a total enrollment this year of 1722 students with a projected decrease to 1477 students in 5 years and decreases in staffing of 22 FTEs over a three year period. As a school district we continue to focus on responding to accountability measures and the changing needs of students in order to sustain their high achievement, engagement in learning and well-being, and prepare them to be successful and college and career ready.

The vote on the field house was not successful and the Board has not yet discussed next steps.

Welcome New Board of Education Members: Thank You To Departing Members

Please welcome new Board of Education members Christine Geraci of Durham and Jamie Roraback of Middlefield. We would like to thank Jeremy Renninghoff of Middlefield who has served on the Board of Education since 2011 and Kerrie Flanagan of Durham who has served as a board member since 2005 and as chairman from 2012 to 2016.

Memorial Day Parade

Students from Memorial, Strong and CRHS will be marching in the Durham Memorial Day Parade. The Memorial Band is made up of 115 students and will perform "The Marine's Hymn". The Strong band has 120 members and will perform "My Country 'Tis of Thee". The CRHS band is comprised of 118 members and will perform "The Home Town Boy March".

Inclement weather cancellation will typically be made at the parade site while monitoring conditions and radar trends. Students should plan to report for a decision. If it is a clear cancellation and a call can be made early it will be posted on the CRHS Music website directly on the homepage in RED letters. The announcement will be posted by 7:30 a.m. Again, if a decision must be made after that time it will be made at the parade site and families should report for a decision.

CRHS Music website:

Before and After Care and Enrichment Proposal

The superintendent’s proposal for a before and after care and enrichment program was voted down at the Board of Education meeting held on April 19th. At the time Dr. Veronesi informed the Board of Education that the next step in the planning process for the proposed program would be to hold two parent information sessions about the programming in order to determine accurately the number of parents who wanted to make a commitment to sending their child(ren) to a school run program. At this meeting a majority of the Board of Education felt that this step should not be taken as there would not be Board support to begin the program at this time. The following reasons were stated for making this decision: negative impact to existing child care programs including home childcare centers in Durham and Middlefield, unknown costs for supporting children with special needs, uncertain economic climate in the district and state, and wanting the school to focus on educational goals and plans.

Dr. Veronesi is currently exploring a STEAM workshop model for the early dismissal days for professional development. More information will be shared in the June newsletter.

Go Faarrgh Go Fast

Staff, students and members of the community are invited to participate in a race to be held at the Durham Fairgrounds on Saturday June 3rd. “Go Far”, the organization that has supported students and running in our district for over 10 years, will sponsor the race with a pirate theme. Come out for some swashbuckling fun and run with the pack. For more information on the race go to

Festival of Music

Coginchaug Regional High School recently competed in the Festival of Music in Virginia Beach. Our very successful musicians under the adept guidance of Mr. Tim Fisher, Band Director and Ms. Erin Schilling, Choral Director received the following recognition:

Chamber singers:Rating: Excellent, Rank: 3rd Place

Daemon Irrepit Callidus by Gyorgy Orban

Jazz Band: Rating: Superior, Rank: 3rd Place

Moten Swing by Benny Moten (as recorded by Count Basie)

Concert Band: Rating: Superior, Rank: 1st Place

William D. Revelli Award (Best overall Concert Band of the entire festival)

Foundry by John Mackey

Each ensemble is adjudicated by three judges. The judges are professional musicians who have conducted esteemed collegiate, professional and military performing ensembles. The student groups receive valuable feedback and participate in an on-stage workshop with one of the judges immediately following their adjudication performance.

There are two scoring categories: Rating and Rank. Rating the ensemble feedback on how they did on a national level compared to other schools participating in various locations throughout the entire festival season. Rating levels are as follows: Superior, Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor. Rank is the order the ensembles placed among the other schools participating in this specific festival location and weekend.