Budget Oversight and Transparency...For starters, facility issues, out-of- district tuitions, non-resident students, and two principals in one building are areas to ask deeper questions about. Also, it is key to put accountability systems in place when financial decisions are made—what are the intended outcomes and time frame for budget allowances? Who is responsible for follow through and reporting? The BOE budget reveals priorities and I am ready to tackle the details.
Strength... The kids drive the greatness of the district! Stamford Public School’s strength is its student diversity and talented teaching/learning staff & programs.
Challenge... The greatest challenge for SPS is dealing with its changing demographics (20%-60% increase in the free and reduced lunch population) and the impact it will have on all schools as well as teaching and learning. The cost to support this population’s specific needs is expensive.
From a social-emotional standpoint, these disadvantaged students (60% of the student population) and their families need additional supports— preschool, primary, content, and English Language teachers; guidance counselors; social workers and a myriad of community partnerships to help them become more resilient and confident in their day-to-day learning skills and future careers.
There is a fine line between the tax payers, Board of Education and city boards/governance group responsibilities:
The Board of Education IS the vital link between the community and its public schools. Given that the vast majority of funding for schools comes from local taxes and the state, it’s also important to have consistent citizen and taxpayer oversight. Unlike city governance systems, the Board of Education works under one value system that governs every decision—to have effective educational outcomes for ALL students.
Whereas from a governance perspective, city board members and government employees ensure that assets are used properly, laws and regulations are followed, and public interest is being best served. Elected city officials are watchdogs for taxpayer concerns. They are there to make sure that the many conflicting values of a large, urban citizenry are represented.
Bottom line...if the city leaders want to have effective educational outcomes for ALL of their students (current and future), they must step up and support the kids, their families and educators. An educated, informed citizenry makes for a healthy, growing and vibrant community. Stamford IS part of the Metro New York City area—the hub to the world. It is far better to be proactive, rather than reactive with our future. We need to be forward thinkers!