Hartford, Connecticut (September 9, 2016) – Achieve Hartford! issued a statement today on the abrupt resignation of the Hartford Superintendent.
Yesterday’s announcement by Superintendent Narvaez of her resignation sent a shock wave throughout our school system and our community. While the tendency right now would be to let the resignation of our city’s education leader lead to a resignation in our own hearts, our children demand the exact opposite from us right now.
While Mayors, boards of education and superintendents change over time, it is the community’s consistent voice demanding excellence from our school system and from our leaders that matters most. We are faced with the challenge of finding opportunity amidst our challenges to ensure we deliver on the promise of a top notch public education for every student in Hartford.
In that spirit, Achieve Hartford! offers three recommendations for how city leaders can best handle the impending leadership transition:
- First, because there are more than 3,000 staff employed by HPS, all in need of stable and inspired leadership to provide 110% effort for our children, we recommend that the Mayor and Board of Education look for a permanent candidate among our local pool of talent and forego a national search process. The intent must be to stabilize the district as quickly as possible and ensure the District’s execution of the strategic operating plan continues uninterrupted. There are already serious financial barriers to the full implementation of much needed reforms, and we cannot let disruption in leadership throw things off course. We must identify new leadership within weeks, not months.
- Because the most negative consequence of the Superintendent’s announcement is the further erosion of trust in government felt by our community, we recommend the Mayor and Board of Education look for a candidate with a track record of inspiring partner engagement at all levels – school, neighborhood and city – and among all types of partners – family, nonprofit, corporate, philanthropic, etc. The next superintendent must be chosen based on his or her ability to lead a school system of our size and complexity, and also on the ability to close the perceived gap between what central office values and what partners on the ground value.
- Lastly, because the challenges this year (and those to come) are significantly impacted by the City’s inability to afford running so many schools, we recommend that the Mayor and Board of Education look for a candidate who supports the portfolio strategy for school governance and consolidation, and who is well suited to guide the Board and community through a process that fundamentally changes what the District looks like years from now. The direction to move in right now is consolidation with an eye to helping more students gain access to our region’s highest quality school options. We encourage the Board to look for a candidate who sees other education agencies as potential partners, not competition. It’s a challenging new world of fiscal constraint we live in, and our next Superintendent must be prepared to lead in that new world.
Achieve Hartford! will hold a series of meetings with key partners at the grasstops and grassroots levels to discuss this latest challenge, and how we can help our city turn it into a great opportunity. Please email us for more information.