The effort to maintain a demographic balance in our schools has resulted in ineffective and inefficient distribution of resources. This flawed policy has families sending their children to schools that are far away — many students travel more than 45 minutes on a bus.
Despite this practice, our schools continue to be demographically imbalanced. We have to re-examine this practice and consider bringing our schools back to their communities.
Another important issue is that the allocation of resources and supports is inefficient and ineffective. There is no coherent process for deploying staffing resources to schools that need it.
We operate in a reactionary way, in constant crisis mode. We need to develop a vision and strategy for addressing the needs of our diverse student body and provide operating practices to ensure that we monitor progress and evaluate all programs and services we bring into our schools. We need more accountability.
The greatest strength of our schools is our community. Our families and community are engaged in the educational process. Our families, community and partners are committed to supporting our work as a school system. We need to do a better job of leveraging this strength by having honest conversations about what’s working and what isn’t.
The first issue that I would like to address is the physical condition of many of our Public School facilities. While the mold problem has received much recent attention, the district has many buildings in need. For example, the auditorium in Rippowam Middle School has been inadequately lighted for years, and the modular classrooms in use are temporary solutions long past their use-by date and many are now falling apart. This list is a long one. Transparency is the key. The Board needs accurate and timely updates as to the condition of our school buildings and the community needs honest and timely access to Board intelligence and priorities to be confident that issues of vital importance are being addressed promptly.
We can't build new schools until the mayor and Board of Representatives lobby the State of Connecticut to build new schools. We can engage with other elected boards on what is needed to maintain our facilities while developing a long-term plan for what our schools will need to look like to transform our educational system.
The focus has to be to repair what we have.
There's so much emphasis on building new, but we are struggling to maintain existing buildings. It will require that the district’s Stamford Asset Management Group and the city provide separate engineering staff and project managers to work only on school buildings.