The first priority is to fulfill the commitment to providing every student with a device and internet access. We are close to achieving this. Secondly, proper training and professional development is of vast importance to the success of distance learning. Educators need to understand how deliver great content and conduct interactive courses on a variety of platforms. Students also need to be taught how to use devices and acclimate to an online environment. Third, we should make greater use of supplemental instruction, an example being Khan Academy. These online resources round out student instruction, especially for students seeking enrichment.
We have started down the correct path to addressing infrastructure challenges. A collaboration of city-side and school-side administrators focus on the construction and long-term maintenance of the buildings. We continue to make attempts at long-term planning, which is a necessary component of keeping our physical plant up-to-date. Long-range thinking is difficult in municipal settings because election cycles are short and it is hard to muster the political resolve to provide project planning and funding that arches over many years.
Priorities naturally change over time. Health and safety, while always an important concern, have taken on high prominence during this pandemic. Today the focus may be on reducing/preventing infection, but that concern may give way to the social/emotional effects of the pandemic. Accordingly, resources may need to be diverted from other areas. It is a delicate balance since the needs and desires always outweigh the available resources. Much of the school budget is fixed in relation to the student population. The key is to be flexible and address current problems as best possible. At the core, student learning and success must be the prime goal.
As an individual member, I believe I may make the most impact by looking beyond the borders of Stamford. I believe involvement in regional and state-wide decision making has the potential to bring added resources to Stamford. The areas of transportation and special education are ripe for regional solutions. Funding decisions and mandates coming from the state government are ever-changing and it is important for Stamford (through legislators and local officials and citizen action) to have an impact.