Joseph L. Gonzalez (R)

Stamford Board of Education

Resident of Stamford for over 49 years, retired Stamford Police Officer, parent to middle school child.

The two issues I believe need addressing is; the school curriculum and BOE transparency and communication with parents.
When it comes to curriculum more should be done to improve our children’s education and how they learn. I believe that a solid foundation in reading, math, science and social studies are the key foundation for a child’s education. Children who do not advance with learning as their peers should be noticed early in the child’s education, addressed and worked with. In order to make this happen the BOE would have to hire a more diverse teaching staff along with para educators. The goal is to see our children’s graduation rate increase from what is now about 86%.
In regards to BOE transparency, parents and tax payers alike should be aware of the decisions and policy changes that are made. An account of how the budget is spent and where revenues are allocated yearly. An audit should be done every five years to better see how the budgets are being used, where to cut and where more funds are needed. This will also will give a better projection of future budgets within the BOE. Along with transparency comes communication with parents. BOE has to improve communication with parents, every phone call and email should be addressed in a timely manner. More should also be done to communicate with those parents who lack the English language. It is estimated that about 71 different languages are spoken at students homes.
The greatest strength of the Stamford Public Schools is its growing diverse population. As I mentioned in the above answer, about 71 different languages are spoken in students home. I can remember being the only Hispanic kid in me kindergarten class at Stillmeadow and now about 45% of the students in SPS are Hispanic. As Stamford keeps growing so too will the diversity of the students. An example of this diversity is my daughter who along with the English language also speaks Spanish and Polish. I believe that in order for our schools to meet the challenges of a diverse student population, Stamford schools will need a more diverse teaching staff. This I believe is a weakness for Stamford Public Schools. An effort must be made to have a teaching staff that better reflects its student population.
This is a challenging task that will need all boards working together along with a collaborative effort of the state and federal government. Stamford is looking at a budget of about five hundred million dollars to renovate and replace four schools totaling one million square feet. Special legislation would have to be filed with the state to cover most of the cost. Other options would also be federal funding and municipal bonds. A closer evaluation of schools structures would have to be examined to determine which buildings can be remodeled and which buildings need to be knocked down and replaced. This has to be assessed in order to make the best of the founding that is collected keeping in mind that the total funding collected can fall short of what’s projected. Student population growth has to also be considered and projected when evaluating school structures and technology. This is a major project that will require an all hands on deck effort and bi partisan collaboration.