Digital learning director moves to full-time

The Wilton Public School District’s digital learning director, Fran Kompar, will be moving from a part-time to full-time employee, per the recommendation of Superintendent Kevin Smith.

Smith — who initially proposed the idea at the board’s Nov. 8 meeting — laid out several reasons for increasing the full-time equivalency (FTE) of the digital learning director position from 0.7 FTE to 1.0 FTE during the Board of Education’s Dec. 6 meeting.

When the district began shifting its digital learning approach, Smith said, it “split” its full-time technology director position and “outsourced 0.5 [FTE] to manage the backend tech infrastructure.”

As for the other 0.5 FTE, Kompar was hired as the district’s director of digital learning and tasked with “planning the ready access implementation,” said Smith.

Kompar’s position grew and “assumed a great deal more responsibility,” said Smith, so the district bumped her position up to 0.7 FTE last year.

However, Smith said, 0.7 FTE is still “not enough time to do all of the things that we need to do,” which is why he’s recommended moving the position to 1.0 FTE.

Smith said although the Board of Education’s approval isn’t needed to make the change, he wanted to run the idea by the board members because, he said, it’s important that “we’re comfortable with the choice that we’re making.”

Changing Kompar’s position would also increase her salary by about $20,000 this year, which the district has room in its salary account to do, said Smith.

In next year’s budget, it will be “an add of about $54,000,” said Smith — “not an overwhelming amount of money, but in terms of the return on investment, around the time, it’ll be time very well spent.”

At her current FTE level, Smith said, Kompar hasn’t had enough time to “really accelerate the work” being done in the Library Learning Commons program, such as developing “the curriculum for the makerspaces to really deepen the curriculum around a global literacy instruction.”

The director of digital learning also “spends quite a bit of time providing differentiated professional learning to staff,” said Smith, “so doing that more and more deeply would be an add with the time.”

One of the director’s the new responsibilities focuses on data privacy, said Smith, which involves managing statutory requirements in law to vet all digital apps, ensuring that the apps used comply with the law, and developing and implementing “a plan across the district to ensure … data privacy and data integrity.”

In her role, Smith said, Kompar is addressing “a host of responsibilities,” but they “really need to be addressed more fully.” The additional 0.3 FTE, he said, would enable her to do that.

Although she doesn’t think increasing FTE in the middle of the year is something the board wants to make common practice, board member Deborah Low said, “this particular situation sounds like it warrants it.”

The district’s Library Learning Commons program and use of technology “stands out” from other school districts, said Low, and although she doesn’t “love this move of increasing FTE in the middle of the year,” she “certainly understand[s]” the reason for doing so.

“An important thing to consider,” said Board of Education chair Christine Finkelstein, “is that this individual who is being paid for 0.7 is performing 1.0 worth of work and is only paid for 0.7.”

Smith agreed, adding that the change is “not about merit [or a] promotion” — it’s about “providing the right FTE” for the job responsibilities of the position.