At Reginald Mayo’s last Board of Education meeting as New Haven Public Schools’ interim superintendent on Monday evening, the school board continued its efforts to increase transparency and stamp out malpractices in the district. Several administrators also presented annual reports showing an improvement in college-readiness among the district’s students.

Residents and school board members praised Mayo, who previously served as superintendent for 21 years before his retirement in 2013, and his decades of service to the city’s school system.

“I am so thrilled that we have someone who was a resident and a citizen who is committed to educating young people,” Mayor Toni Harp said of Mayo. “[He] spent 40 years of his life here in New Haven … then after he retired we asked him to come back.”

Mayo returned to the role for over a year when Garth Harries ’95 left the position in September 2016 via a mutual agreement with the school board. Superintendent-elect Carol Birks is scheduled to take the helm on March 19.

During the public comment section of Monday’s meeting, residents raised concerns over what they see as a continuing lack of transparency.

“Sometimes when I speak I will be wrong,” said Jessica Light, a New Haven resident. “But I implore the Board members today to start listening … please listen and answer our questions, and show us all respect.”

As part of on ongoing effort to improve the school board’s accountability to the public, members decided to enter into an agreement with the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education which assists local and regional boards of education across the state. Board of Education member Tamiko Jackson-McArthur said representatives from the association will review the school board’s bylaws and policies and create a new policy manual for the district. Jackson-McArthur asked that members submit any suggested changes and additions to the school board’s current procedures by March 26.

Professional assistance from Connecticut Association of Boards of Education will cost the district more than $20,600 over the next three years.

Two weeks ago, school board members voted to approve a $197 million budget for the upcoming fiscal year. But on March 2, Harp submitted a budget to the Board of Alders that allocated only $192 million to the schools. Although the Board of Alders will ultimately determine the budget, the school board approved a motion to renegotiate bids for contractors.

At the same meeting, school district administrators presented annual reports on the district’s performance.

Michele Sherban, supervisor of research assessment and analytics for the district, presented a report on Next Generation Accountability. The system — using metrics such as chronic absenteeism, academic performance and graduation rates — indicates how well a school prepares its students for college and the professional world. Although New Haven’s score fell below Connecticut’s average, the city outperformed other urban areas like Hartford and Bridgeport.

Over the last year, Sherban added, chronic absenteeism in New Haven schools decreased while enrollment in Advanced Placement and dual-credit courses increased.

The school board also received an update from Patricia Melton, the president of New Haven Promise, which provides scholarships to New Haven students at public two- or four-year colleges or universities in Connecticut.  

Melton said he program has seen a steady increase in applicants’ mean grade point average — from 2.85 in 2010 to 3.29 in 2017. One-hundred-thirty students participated in New Haven Promise’s  internship program last summer, which Melton said helps students avoid college debt.

Last year, New Haven Promise distributed $3.1 million to students, and that number is projected to increase to $3.7 million in 2018 and $4.2 million in 2019. The program currently supports between 700 and 750 New Haven students in college, Melton said, and hopes to expand to coverage to over 1,000 students in the coming years.

“The whole point of Promise is to stabilize the school system,” Melton said. “It goes directly in the students pocket, and that’s what I see is the main motivator.”

Career High School senior Dyshon Vaughn was recognized at the meeting for his state-record-setting 24-foot-5-inch leap in the long jump at the New Balance Nationals Indoor Track on March 10.