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BOE Update 1/26/24

BOE Update 1/26/24
NPS Communications

From the desk of Dr. Alexandra Estrella, Superintendent
January 26, 2024


Excellence, Equity & Inclusion

Testing & Accountability

On Jan. 25, the winter DIBELS8 and NWEA benchmark testing window will close. Throughout the window, the Testing Office supports schools with testing issues and works closely with Norwalk’s Information Technology Department. Updates are provided to the Assistant Superintendent of Schools on participation rates. School leaders are being supported as they review the new growth reports on the NWEA portal. NWEA achievement and growth from fall to winter will be reported by district, grade, and major subgroups. A set of local reports will be distributed to district leaders by Jan. 31.  

The State of Connecticut had a series of mandatory training for District Test Administrators in preparation for 2024 Smarter Balanced and Next Generation Science testing. The information will be turnkeyed to the School Test Coordinators, who are responsible for the administration.

Planning for the 2024 Panorama Survey is underway. The survey window is March 11 to March 28. Content has been finalized and work is being done to prepare the Panorama platform. Students in grades 3-12 take an SEL survey and a school survey. Staff and families are also surveyed. 

School Quality Review (SQR)

The School Quality Review is a tool for school improvement. Most schools will have a two-day visit; comprehensive high schools will have three-day visits. Ten schools will be receiving their School Quality Review during the 2023-24 school year. The ten schools receiving an SQR this year received training this spring or fall for principals plus four of their staff members. Each school receives a written report, which is currently in process for a few schools with one that has completed the quality assurance process and shared with the school principal and community. 

At this point in the 2023-24 school year, four of ten schools have had their School Quality Review. Silvermine Dual Language Magnet School will have its School Quality Review on Wednesday, Jan. 31 to Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. 

Research & Analytics

The Student Voice and Belonging survey being administered to our middle and high school students will close this week. Results from this survey, launched with Hanover Research, will be available in February and will provide valuable feedback on the Portrait of a Graduate and students’ perceptions of their sense of belonging at school. The K-8 Data lead session previously scheduled for last week was rescheduled to February. 

Student Information System

The Online Intra-District form has been completed. We are Finalizing deployment to the district and working with Communications for access via the district website. Families will be notified of our new digital Intra-District Form and the request process. 


Quick Links 


Administrative Change

Principal Zakiyyah Baker of Kendall College and Career Academy recently announced her departure from the district for a new job in her community. Until a new principal is hired, Jennifer Sweeters will transition over from Nathan Hale Middle School and serve as the interim principal for Kendall.


New School-Based Health Centers 

Norwalk Public Schools and the Norwalk Community Health Center (NCHC) celebrated the opening of their newest school-based health and wellness centers alongside federal, state and local officials as well as school leaders, healthcare workers and students on Monday. 

Catch the latest segment of "Inside NPS” for more on Monday’s ceremony. 

Mira "Dentro de NPS" en Español 


Tough for a Girl 

Congratulations to NPS Communications for winning the CT Documentary Short Audience Award at the 2024 Norwalk Film Festival! The film was directed by our very own J.D. Freda and features three Norwalk female athletes who are demonstrating exceptional skill, dedication, and resilience in a traditionally male-dominated sport 

Click here to watch the film, “Tough for a Girl.” 


FY 2024-25 Budget 

The next budget meeting to pay attention to is the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing regarding the Capital Budget on Wednesday, Feb. 7 at 6 p.m. 

Communications and Finance have created a primer to familiarize the public with the Norwalk BOE’s capital budget requests. Find all that information and more on the NPS 2024-25 Budget website. 


In Case You Missed It 

My Sister’s Keeper "My Country 'Tis of Thee” 

NPS Event Ads on IG/Facebook Stories 

One more tool to advertise our district and Family Center events! Check out the Highlights on our Instagram. @norwalkschoolsct 


More NPS Shorts! 

Be sure to watch more of our NPS Shorts (VIDEOS)

Superintendent's Book Club - "ish" (VIDEO) 

Watch the latest video. 


Important Dates 

Monday, Jan. 29 - Staff Professional Development (2-Hour Early Release) 

Feb. 19 to Feb. 23 - President's Day/February Recess (No School; Central Office Closed Feb. 19 and Feb. 20) 


Upcoming Events 

Elementary School Showcase 

Tuesday, Jan. 30 from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Cranbury Elementary School, 1 Knowalot Lane in Norwalk 

Interested in a magnet/choice program for your child’s elementary school experience? We invite families to learn more about our 13 elementary schools and speak directly with students, teachers and administrators. 

To learn more about our magnet and neighborhood options and how the lottery works, please visit the Elementary School Choice page on the NPS website. 


NPS All-City Strings Festival 

Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. 

Norwalk Concert Hall, 125 East Ave. in Norwalk 

NPS orchestra students in grades 5-12 will perform for the community at the All-City Strings Festival. Come enjoy the music! It is free! 


Universal Design Literacy Tools - Parent Workshop 

Thursday, Feb. 8 from 6 to 7 p.m. 

NPS Family Center, 1 Park St. in Norwalk 

The NPS Family Center will host the parent workshop, "Universal Design Literacy Tools," with Angela Rinaldi on Thursday, Feb. 8. 

This session is designed to teach parents and families about the wonderful technology programs they can use to improve their child's abilities in Reading, Writing, Math and Study Skills. 

Registration is required. Click here to register


NPS Workforce Development Workshop for NPS Families 18+ 

Wednesday, Feb. 14 from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m. 

NPS Family Center, 1 Park St. in Norwalk 

NPS Workforce Development will host a workshop for NPS family members who are 18+ years old on Wednesday, Feb. 14. 

Come and learn about Apprenticeship and Training Opportunities, Job Postings, and Year-Round Enrichment. The workshop will also teach participants how to navigate the NPS Workforce Development website to seek out opportunities they may be interested in. Current available programing will be highlighted as well. 

Registration is required. Click here to sign up


BMHS Presents “Footloose: The Musical” 

Friday, March 22 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, March 23 at 2 p.m. & 7 p.m. 

Brien McMahon High School, 300 Highland Ave. in Norwalk 

Let’s hear it for Brien McMahon High School, which will present their spring musical production of “Footloose: The Musical” in March. They’re holding out for an audience jam-packed with their friends, family and community. It’s sure to be a night that’s almost paradise. 

Ticket information is coming soon. 


Curriculum, Instruction & Specialized Learning


Enclosed is the latest edition of the Curricula Corner.  


The STEM department has been working on preparing for different professional learning to benefit our teachers in science, math, PE, and Health. The department is readying for the district-led March professional learning release time at the secondary level. Additionally, the team has been creating some optional learning for secondary science teachers that include learning more about navigating our science assessment platform, using Gizmos to further enhance science learning and deepening science practices, and opportunities to learn more about the Open Sci Ed resources. Throughout this month and next, the department will work with interested educators to lead professional learning for their staff. At this time of year, the team is also busy with budgeting and projections for next year to ensure we can support schools with materials, professional learning and programming.  

Multilingual Learners 

The Multilingual Learner Department is preparing for the Class of 2025 Multilingual Learner scholar credit review scheduled for the end of this week. The data gathered from the credit review will help us support our scholars with scheduling for credits required for graduation. The department is busy supporting schools with the annual LAS Links assessment required by the Connecticut State Department of Education. The LAS Links is an assessment that Multilingual Learner scholars participate in annually that allows us to monitor our scholars’ progress towards attaining English language proficiency. 

Counseling/Support Services 

Building Leadership K to 5 attended a DESSA Program training and planning is underway for a Class of 2025 MLL scholar credit review. School Counselors are preparing transferring scholars to attend the Twilight or Virtual Academy at our Future Ready Program. The work continues with the SHAPE Assessment in partnership with the Child Health and Development Institute, and the counseling and social work department continues to team weekly on behalf of scholars, families, and staff. NPS continues to engage in the RISE partnership work to ensure scholars are on track and that their post-secondary planning needs are being met. Juniors are finishing their Junior Survey in January to formally share their post-secondary plan. NPS joined the Norwalk Mentor Program mentor and mentee celebration at the Maritime Aquarium. This week, the team is turning its attention to summer school preliminary planning, and school counselors are preparing to assist 9th-grade scholars in selecting their career pathways. 

Workforce Development 

School Counselors have been sharing a Pre-Apprenticeship virtual series with seniors who may be interested in a trade or unsure of their post-secondary plan. Workforce Development visited the Red Fashion school to learn more about their programming. The Career Z Challenge Grant continues as we attend their monthly community of practices and topic-related discussions. The Perkins Grant committee continues to meet to address the state-requested revisions. NPS continues to partner with CT State Norwalk in our Workforce Development Certification course offerings for Junior and Senior scholars. This week, a Workforce Development Workshop will be hosted at BMHS & CGS for Freshmen and Sophomores. The Dual Credit Expansion Committee is launching its college tutoring centers this week at each high school campus. The Workforce Development Website series was demonstrated for our RISE representative, our out-of-district coordinators, and the Social Workers. The NPS Interns are working on their paperwork, training, and are beginning to get their start dates. 

Specialized Instruction  

The Specialized Learning Department will have a table at the Elementary Choice Fair next Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Cranbury School. Parents are invited to ask questions they may have about the specialized learning process, programs, and services at our elementary schools. 

Project Search is hosting an information session on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024. The flyer shared with families and community members is below along with a photo of a current Project Search student engaged in his second internship in the West Campus Cafeteria at CT State College - Norwalk. The Department looks forward to sharing the benefits of this experience with interested students.  

Assistive Technology Specialist Angela Rinaldi will be offering a workshop at the Family Center on Feb. 8, 2024, from 6 to 7 p.m. on Universal Design Literacy Tools. Parents can learn about different technology programs to help their child improve in all academic areas.  


The middle of the year benchmark testing is ending, and we are preparing to analyze the results.  

We were able to attend the Hands-on institute through the National Math conference focused on intervention. Another teacher and I were able to attend and get some great ideas to work with kids and understand more foundational backgrounds to support students. It is necessary that the work students complete is with all models being represented, so kids can understand the process of getting to the proper solution. 

Leadership Development

Leading for Equity 

This week, Dr. Edward Fergus and his Rutgers team met with each school’s equity team. During these visits, equity teams shared their progress towards meeting their equity goals, their reflections on the implementation of the action plans, and their next steps. Dr. Fergus and team, along with Alison Breedy-Johnson and Mary-Anne Sheppard, provide feedback to promote reflection and learning. It is exciting to hear about the progress that schools are making with achieving their equity goals. 

Leadership Development Cohort 

Last week, the team held its fourth session with the Leadership Development Cohort, which is a professional learning series for aspiring administrators. At this point, participants are finalizing their Action Research Project, which is an opportunity for them to apply their learning and lead a project in their school community, with support from their principals and the Leadership Development team. NPS looks forward to sharing the impact of their projects in May! 

Business & Operations

Food Services 

This week, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program will feature sweet potatoes and honey bell oranges. As always, Mrs. Kelly has shared a learning and tasting video for sweet potatoes and honey bell oranges for our students. 

Next week, the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program will have students enjoy swiss chard and pomelo fruits. These are the Learning & Tasting: Swiss Chard and the Learning & Tasting: Pomelos videos for students to enjoy. 

There was a fun pop-up citrus fruit tasting at Wolfpit this Tuesday. Students tasted various citrus fruits like clementine, ruby red grapefruit, and oranges. They also about the seasonality and nutritional benefits of citrus fruits. 

The color of the month is RED, what else would it be in February? 

Mrs. Kelly also prepared a fun Color of the Month: Red video for students to enjoy. 

This month Chartwells Global Eats Menu will feature Caribbean Meals. Featuring recipes from Travel Bristol-Joseph. 


The reusable trays have arrived at Cranbury Elementary, and the team plans to have students begin to use them this week. 


At Cranbury Elementary School, the parking lot's final phase has been turned over, and work on the new softball field and tennis courts has been suspended due to cold temperatures. These projects will restart in the spring.  

 The Norwalk High School/P-TECH Norwalk and the South Norwalk School bids were received and the Construction Manager is in the process of reviewing each submittal in order to prepare a final Guaranteed Maximum Price agreement for approval next month. 

School Safety 

The School Safety and Security Supervisor attend the viewing event of “Screenagers Under the Influence,” a film on how social media companies target minors with ads of alcohol, drugs and tobacco in attempt to get them using these substances at an early age. After the viewing of the film, the Safety and Security Supervisor sat on a panel along with representatives from The Norwalk Project and the NPD, to answer questions from students and their families about the dangers of social media and available resources provided by NPS. After the event, The School Safety and Security Supervisor met with several families individually to answer questions and have meaningful discussions of support. 



The Transportation Office negotiated additional transportation services at a reduced cost for Spring Athletics using outside sources with a local vendor. Tentative Spring Sports schedules have been forwarded to the vendor and buses have been secured. 

The Transportation Office attended the 3rd First Book Event meeting to discuss needs for the upcoming May date. The new location, parking and shuttling was confirmed. Transportation vendors have secured buses and volunteers to provide services gratis to honor their continued partnership with NPS. 

Durham School Services is securing billboard advertising (drivers for hire) along I95 in Bridgeport (southbound near Fairfield) and Norwalk (Connecticut Ave. near the Fire House) and Southbound (near exit 14) area.  

Here are the most recent updates on our driver shortage: 

Updated Driver Shortage Summary 

Health Services 

On Jan. 22, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held at the Ponus/CMS campus to celebrate the opening of the Norwalk Community Health Center’s School-Based Health Centers located at the Ponus/CMS campus as well as at BMHS. This partnership will ensure access to medical and behavioral health services for students during the school day. Please see the link for information and how to sign your student up for services at these schools. SHS continues to work closely with NCHC to meet the medical and behavioral health needs of students. 

In an effort to continue to grow a highly skilled pool of substitute nurses, a substitute registered nurse has been hired and began orientation to the district. 

Mandatory scoliosis screening is underway at all elementary schools. 

The district continues to work within as well as outside of the district to meet the needs of the most medically fragile students, with the goal of ensuring safe plans for all students while accessing the curriculum. 


The grants team submitted a competitive state grant to support the CyBears robotics club at P-Tech/Norwalk High School to compete in competitions. The Tutoring Centers for Advance Placement, International Baccalaureate, and Dual Enrollment students opened this week at both Norwalk High School/P-Tech and Brien McMahon/CGS. Both Tutoring Centers are operated by The Carver and funded through the Dual Credit Expansion Grant.


Digital Learning & Technology

Enterprise Software/Data Application  

The team is working in partnership with the Testing and Accountability department to revise and enhance end of MOY assessment processes. 


The team is happy to report the new HCI system has been deployed and is moving over existing infrastructure. The HCI, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, system houses a virtual server and our storage arrays. The next phase will be to start setting up the VDI system. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure allows us to let certain students access a secure environment to work on higher level programs without impacting the standard NPS infrastructure.  

Digital Learning   

Digital Learning would like to congratulate Amy Fusarrelli, Digital Learning Coach at Ponus Ridge STEAM academy, for her acceptance to present at the League of Innovative school's National Conference taking place in New York City in March. Her focus will be on Ponus' professional learning journey as a part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program.  

Digital Learning & Technology

Enterprise Software/Data Application  

The team is working in partnership with the Testing and Accountability department to revise and enhance end of MOY assessment processes. 


The team is happy to report the new HCI system has been deployed and is moving over existing infrastructure. The HCI, Hyperconverged Infrastructure, system houses a virtual server and our storage arrays. The next phase will be to start setting up the VDI system. Virtual Desktop Infrastructure allows us to let certain students access a secure environment to work on higher level programs without impacting the standard NPS infrastructure.  

Digital Learning   

Digital Learning would like to congratulate Amy Fusarrelli, Digital Learning Coach at Ponus Ridge STEAM academy, for her acceptance to present at the League of Innovative school's National Conference taking place in New York City in March. Her focus will be on Ponus' professional learning journey as a part of the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools program.  



The Payroll Department is currently working on the reconciliation and filing of the Quater 4 Unemployment report. We also continue to work on the UKG Discovery workbooks in preparation for the time & attendance transition. The team is also working with the Benefits/HRIS team to create deductions to create a database in efforts to facilitate tracking retiree benefits via Munis. 

Biweekly Payroll was also processed and completed. 


The budget team and members of the cabinet attended the capital budget review with the Planning and Zoning commission on Jan. 19. The budget team is currently working on budget scenarios based on the latest information received in the budget process. The team is also reviewing the budget for new assumptions and data accuracy. 

The team continues to revise the budget calendar used as an internal guide for the budget process and for work done with the communications team. The budget website and public dates are highlighted through notifications from the Communications team. The team has recently prepared a guide for the public to reference for the next meeting that they can advocate on. The Planning & Zoning Commission Public Hearing on the FY 2025 Capital Budget will take place on Wednesday Feb. 7. The public can reference this POCD guide to properly advocate and comment at this meeting. The document contains a grid that shows capital topic to advocate for, corresponding POOCD code, POCD description and a related example. 

The budget team is also developing a revised enrollment holdback formula that considers the mix of different demographics and enrollment types within the schools. This formula considers enrollment spikes related to the multilingual learner population (MLLs) and factors in the increased costs associated with these populations. Previous methodologies only considered the total enrollment increases vs. the budgeted enrollment. 

There will be increased focus on the special education budgets due to the increasing deficit. The budget team will be meeting with the special education team to review areas for transfers and other adjustments. The team will also review the EEI budget and strategize on a plan to manage this budget given the new organizational structure. 


Reviewed and checked all grant timesheets for payroll and submitted them for processing. Audited & reviewed all grants with the Grants Manager to see where the district stands currently with grant budgets & allocations. The team also revised multiple budgets in Munis and emailed the updated budgets to the grants team. Preparing and reviewing to close out the Behavior Health Grant 2023 & ESSER II. These grants need to be spent and reconciled by Jan. 30. Lastly completed the following Fund Requests (FRC Program, School Readiness Priority, School Readiness COLA, School Readiness Quality Enhancement, IDEA 611, IDEA 619, ARP IDEA 611, Alliance, PSD, PSD summer, PSD ESH, Title III, PSD Faith Acts, Behavioral Health Grant 2023 etc.) 

Purchasing/Accounts Payable 

Met with NPS IT vendor Tyler Technologies, for Phase 3 implementation of the Student Activity Fund. Setup is nearly complete in the module with workflow and forms to be determined. The team is close to being able to test with BMHS to work out the bugs, with a districtwide rollout and training to ensue. 

Analyzing the pCard spend and transactions specific to Amazon. All schools have funds and purchase orders encumbered for purchases made on the NPS business account but approximately 10% of the Amazon transactions are made via pCard. These purchases may not be utilizing the NPS business account and counting towards our overall spend and rebate incentive, have sales tax being charged unnecessarily and may be tying up funds allocated to these purchases in the budget. deeper dive into the data and a review of the pCard policy with updated recommendations to come.  


Business as usual processing Capital bills/invoices. The team is prepping for a Meeting next week with the capital team regarding Construction Solutions Group on their current purchase orders and to discuss the process for Norwalk High School’s progress payment.