Diane Melchionne (R)

Stamford Board of Education

Executive & Advisor in the HR Tech space

Learning Loss & Improving Academic Performance:

BOE policies promise to provide a high-quality, rigorous education for our students, and yet we’ve eliminated AP classes, canceled midterms and finals, and allowed high school seniors to graduate regardless of their attendance records. The BOE is not upholding its commitments to our constituents by holding the Superintendent accountable to these policies. For example, some schools provide Saturday school for students that are struggling, and others don’t. We need consistency across the district. We need to challenge our academically inclined students and provide additional support to those that are struggling. I will hold the Superintendent accountable to these measures.

Fostering a collaborative environment for Parents & Teachers:

Today, there are policies on the books that instruct teachers to withhold certain information from parents, such as a student’s gender identity. It makes parents distrustful of the entire system and puts teachers in between parents and their children. It also implies to students that it’s OK to keep some things from their parents. I would amend these policies and ensure parents and teachers are working collaboratively for the best interests of students.
If we do not measure it, we cannot improve it. I cannot find a set of metrics that our school system and Superintendent are held accountable to so that we can all understand what “good” looks like and whether we’re achieving it.

For starters, performance dashboards should be built out and readily updated and available on the Stamford BOE website so all parents, teachers, administration and Stamford constituents can get a pulse on how our school system is doing. Breakdowns by school should be available as well.

Leading and lagging indicators of performance are important to review consistently and often. Leading indicators should include absenteeism and suspension rates, GPA throughout the year, and perhaps exploring a survey around student engagement/sentiment. Lagging indicators should include annual SBAC scores, graduation rates, and summer school enrollments, just to name a few. Overall, we should also publish and make readily available the number of students enrolled in SPS, what our financial investment per pupil is, etc. Much of which is available on EdSight but without knowledge that it exists, it’s shrouded in secrecy.
While the BOE is not responsible for building schools, it certainly has a responsibility to maintain them. Safety, with regards to our physical infrastructure, is a top priority for me. It is critical we have safe facilities for our students and staff to thrive in. As an example, some of our schools are equipped with fully functioning, automatic locking doors and key fob requirements to open. Others aren’t and have old doors that are easy to open/get into. All school facilities should have locked doors with one main entry point.

Beyond safety, we have a variety of conditions in our schools. Some schools have air conditioning and others do not. Some grounds are welcoming and beautified, and others aren’t. Our athletic fields need improving. Every student and teacher should be proud to walk in and spend their days in their schools. We owe it to them to deliver on this.
I support the parts of the policy that reflect our commitment to ensuring success for all students. Things like: “The Board of Education (Board) believes that the responsibility for student success is broadly shared by District staff, families, our community and our student's own efforts.” or “The Stamford Public School District is committed to the success of every student in each of our schools and to our mission and vision statements.” make sense to me. However, the places in which we compare students by the color of their skin like “Achievement and
opportunity gaps between white students and students of color are unacceptable…” seem contrary to the statements above in the same policy. In a time where we should be uniting students, ensuring academic growth & development for all, and creating thriving learning environments, the focus on skin color seems more to divide our student body than bring them together.

As a child of immigrant parents with little knowledge of the US education system, I was always taught if you work hard and apply yourself, you will succeed. It puts the opportunity, onus and choice within the hands of the student and I strive to ensure all students feel like they are capable and can execute on their biggest dreams and goals.