In the red … or in the black, the Fiscal 2018 District budget puts Hartford at a crucial crossroads. Jobs certainly will be lost as positions get cut, but many always are preserved because (through natural moves) attrition opens up staff opportunities for those who otherwise might be cut loose. The numbers will constantly adjust. But what are the most urgent issues?
Because our newsletter is not a book, we only can offer a partial list of what most warrants attention, drawn from the April 18th Hartford Board of Education meeting on video here and also from this past Monday’s Board Finance Committee discussion. Please look at the video and consider our synopsis of the foremost issues, here:
- Collaboration with the State legislative delegation will be key. HPS is tracking proposed bills and meeting with the delegation, which now includes Hartford Federation of Teachers’ VP Josh Hall, who succeeds new State Senator Doug McCrory in that General Assembly position.
- Consolidation conversation must begin. Board Member Juan Hernandez questioned when the agonizing efficiency effort will start, to reduce the numbers of facilities so as to raise school quality. If unattended, he advised, this unavoidable conversation will be back on the same table next year.
- Public involvement and lack thereof, is not trivial. As District Chief Financial Officer Paula Altieri pointed out at the Finance Committee meeting Monday, no community members were on hand to provide feedback (except Vanessa de la Torre of the Hartford Courant and us. Our view is that the media and us, the quasi-media, don’t really count!). Will there be any further, well-publicized public hearings and meetings?
- Big Question. Board Chair Craig Stallings spoke of having “hamburger money while looking at filet mignon needs,” and asked whether necessary services are getting lost. Others at the table echoed that thought: Where are essential school services for students going?
- The Detail. Here is the handout on the proposed HPS budget.
These considerations – and more – warrant attention at all policy making levels, especially within our State legislative delegation, which could and should be more involved in tackling education funding disparities as they affect small town and big city children – and their teachers. The inability to derive reliable and equitable State funding for college and career readiness might be our state’s most distressing achievement gap.