By Nyesha McCauley, Op-Ed Contributor
The Hartford Public School District is on course for more changes and challenges in the coming months. Superintendent Dr. Christina Kishimoto’s current contract to run the school district will not be extended past next year, and she will be gone on or before June 30, 2014. She had requested a two-year extension, but that was rejected by a 7-0-1 vote at last Tuesday’s Board of Education meeting.
Mayor Pedro Segarra and Board Chair Matt Poland have released statements explaining how the Board has come to this decision. It is good to publicly hear the Board Members’ thoughts on this to better understand the values they hold as they shape the educational destiny for Hartford children. Forums and community meetings will present further opportunities to ask questions and explore this decision.
As a parent of a child in the school district – or as a resident – you have seen major changes in the school system in the last six years. These have included smaller learning academies and magnet, community and charter schools designed to turn around low performance. All of these changes are evidence that leadership at the top really, really matters.
The decisions made by the Board of Education to start a search for a new superintendent will most certainly impact parents, students and teachers where it matters most – in the classroom. Just think: a kindergartener starting in the 2006-2007 school year, at the beginning of the reform, will enter seventh grade this fall. Have her or his educational experiences been enhanced by the reform? What are the opportunities that exist for this student? Is s/he a high achieving student in a high performing school?
The city now faces a tall order: finding our next great superintendent. This process – which residents of Hartford must be a part of – will determine whether or not every student in Hartford graduates ready for the world, through college or career, because that is the job of any school superintendent. Holding the next superintendent accountable to this great task is on the parents and community, but first we have to hold the Board accountable for finding that person. Process matters, and the city of Hartford is ready to be involved and do its part to sustain this reform.
Nyesha McCauley is the communication director for Achieve Hartford. Featured Photo: WTNH.