Notes From the Board Table: Issue of weighted grades elicits big response

We seem to be on to something.
My last “Notes” update mentioned that the board would be reviewing the district’s policy on “weighted grades.” Since that article was published, dozens of parents, teachers and students have shared their views with us. It seems we’ve touched on an issue of great interest to the community, and I am thrilled to see the public discourse.
According to existing policy, Wilton High School does not weight grades. This means students are not given extra credit for taking advanced placement or honors courses, and every Wilton student is graded uniformly on a 4.0 scale. Other schools that do weight grades, including several neighboring districts, have devised formulas to give extra credit for more strenuous courses.
As we weigh the merits of revising this policy, we’ve sought the expertise of individuals with firsthand knowledge of the subject and we’ve asked several of them to address the board at our next regular meeting.
As always, community members are welcome to attend. Because we anticipate a large turnout, we are moving the meeting to the Little Theatre. The April BOE meeting will take place on Thursday, April 23, in the WHS Little Theatre, at 7 p.m.
Consistent with board policy, members of the community will have an opportunity to offer their comments during the public comment periods that take place at the beginning and again at the end of each board meeting. The comment period is your opportunity to share your thoughts on the topic, but it is not an opportunity to engage in Q&A.
If you do have a question, we would love to hear it but we ask that you submit it prior to the meeting. Our purpose in asking for questions ahead of time is to make sure our experts have time to gather the data necessary to respond.
Please submit questions directly to the Board of Education:
I’m looking forward to this discussion. Our goal is to ensure that our district’s policy puts our students at the best possible advantage in the college admissions process. I’m interested to hear what our experts have to say, and I hope as many members of the community as possible will attend.
Another policy currently under review is Policy 5142, “Search and Seizure.” The policy was last updated in 2000, so you can imagine, some updating may be in order.
Specifically, we hope to align the policy and its accompanying regulations with current tools available to ensure a contraband-free environment in all of our schools.  As such, under the changes we are considering, we would be authorizing periodic searches of school facilities, including canine searches. In alerting the community in advance about the prospect of searches of this nature, our hope would be to deter individuals from bringing drugs, explosives, alcohol, or any other dangerous materials to school. It is my personal hope that if/when we do conduct canine searches the dogs would be seen as “helpers,” much like our school resource officers are, and they find nothing. I would also like to believe that the prospect of searches will provide parents with another opportunity to discuss the topics of school safety and drugs with their children.
Finally, I’ve saved the best for last. During our March 27 Board meeting, we had two members of the Wilton High School community, Endy Perry and Geoff Keating, offer comments about an issue that has generated a great deal of concern among Wilton High School students. Specifically, a component of the district’s new security plan was implemented last week at WHS that restricts students’ ability to leave the school building during the day, including the ability to move between classrooms by going outside.  According to the security plan, students now must use “the bridge” that spans Kristine Lilly Way.
Endy and Geoff addressed the board in a highly respectful way. They gave a concise overview of the situation, and explained why their peers were so upset. And they asked if there was a way to arrive at a compromise, or at a minimum, that the WHS administration provide an explanation for why the changes were necessary.
I was struck by the maturity with which these young men carried themselves, by the clarity of their argument, and their willingness to roll up their sleeves and try and find a solution. This is exactly the type of public discourse we need to see more frequently.
Dr. Smith and Principal Bob O’Donnell promised to address the students’ concerns, so a resolution will be forthcoming. I know I speak for the entire board in saying these two young men are a source of pride for our entire community.