Stamford Board of Education member, Professional educator and trained clinical pastoral education chaplain. Has been a teacher, administrator and college/career coordinator in Connecticut and New York for over 27 years.
First issue—there is a lack of alignment with learning outcomes and the district budget. Principals and their leadership teams, who write, implement and monitor school improvement plans, as well as work directly with students and families, are not invited to be part of district budget conversations. Unfortunately, every decision about teaching and learning comes from central office. The solution is to start first with a fiscal audit and evaluate ALL areas under operations and grants. The BOE needs to focus on creating a 3 to 5-year budget—show 1-2 years in retrospect, the current year, and the next 1 to 2-years’ forecast. The BOE also needs to be accountable for all funding streams…delegated (grants), devolved (target programs), capital (long-term assets—buildings, technology, etc.), and revenue (salaries, utilities, repairs, etc.). We can do better!
Second issue—academic excellence is no longer the mantra, but instead, equity. The solution is to refocus our lens on equality and include parent/stakeholder voice…they are our BEST advocates! -Toquam, Cloonan, Roxbury, Hart & WHHS renovations need to be on the forefront—healthy, mold-free, up-to-date schools are essential. -Schools need to be reconfigured— create two alternative schools (gr. 6-8 & 9-12)—ALL students have the right to be safe and learn! Also consider creating more inter-district magnet schools (e.g. classical, special education, etc.) to address the learning needs and gifts of EVERY child/teen. -Once the curriculum audit is complete, department/grade level teams need training and support to put teaching and learning first, rather than central office-dictated programs.
The greatest strength of SPS is student/family diversity. Our district’s greatest strength SHOULD BE high quality education, not federal-level overreach into our schools—rigorous curriculums nationwide have been dumbed-down and our children are being indoctrinated by special interest group dogma and supported by teacher unions.
Talking from experience as a 27-year Connecticut, certified educator, we need to re-focus on cradle-to-career, 21st Century Standards—3R key subjects & 4C’s-Critical Thinking, Communication, Collaboration and Creativity. Also, from a macro-perspective, we need to consider HOW we are preparing our students for the career world…college at $27,000-55,000-a-year, is not the best option for all students (nationally, only 51% of college attendees graduate and 49% drop out). We need to be creative and address the needs/gifts of each and every student through a variety of learning programs.
In order to write policies that are built on these standards, our Board of Education needs to be called out, starting with having face-to-face meetings! Our superintendent, with 8-years of service in the district, can be reactionary when dealing with issues. The School Climate Survey also reveals important concerns.
I’m positive that listening, civility and bi-partisan collaboration are key to the superintendent’s and BOE’s success—I have a proven track record. As Stamford taxpayers, we need to get involved with like-minded coalition groups, become aware of what the policies are, share our input, and make sure the budget aligns with learning outcomes, not political narratives. It will benefit all of us, most importantly, our children…they are OUR future!
First and foremost, it is imperative that members on each City Board—Education (BOE), Representative (BOR), Finance (BOF), School Building, or Planning, strategically discuss how to move forward. It will take bi-partisan teamwork. Already I have established relationships with several members across these Boards. Having Town Hall Meetings with parents and stakeholders will also be essential—their ideas and input will help build trust amongst the city leaders, Board volunteers, families and community members.
Secondly, now that the City School Building Committee, in conjunction with the BOE, has hired a un-biased group to analyze each school building’s existing conditions and anticipated needs, a comprehensive plan will be created to help determine next steps (timeline, renovate or rebuild, financial package options, etc.). We need this blueprint so everyone is on the same trajectory button.
Lastly, we need to have courageous conversations about HOW to accomplish this huge task at the state level—we cannot accomplish this undertaking without legislative support. We need to focus on HOW Stamford, like other urban cities in Connecticut, can be treated fairly and hopefully, receive substantial monetary support.
My vision is to create the best education for ALL students! I’m tried-and-true as a leader and listener. My motivation is not political. I’m here to be a servant leader and to keep all BOE members and superintendent honest, transparent and accountable. Thank you for your vote on November 2nd!