Property Owners and Schools

The below is a copy of a column that originally appeared in the New Britain City Journal on August 3, 2012.

Recently released test scores for the New Britain School District have shown that our school is still well behind State averages and no where near the goals set by the Federal No Child Left Behind Act. These numbers are even more dismal when we look at how underserved our hispanic population is by our schools. With dropout rates that are one of the highest in the State, it is no wonder we have been the target of much criticism.

Our new superintendent, Kelt Cooper, has stated that raising these scores is job number one and I certainly hope he can succeed where his predecessor failed. He certainly has a record of success that bodes well for our school systems future. Furthermore, Superintendent Cooper doesn’t seem to be of the mindset that the key to greater student achievement is to simply request more money year after year. This should help put the tax paying property owners of New Britain at ease. Cooper’s history of fiscal prudence is a breath of fresh air after years of Dr. Kurtz’s budgets with requests for multi-million dollar increases which were rubber stamped many years by the Board of Education.

However, property owners should be concerned with more than just the price tag attached to education. The long term viability of a community can be closely tied to the quality of the education system. When middle class property owners are looking to put down roots one of the many things they look at is the public school system. By having a high quality school system we are not only making a better future for the next generation, we are also helping to build the middle class and keep our tax burden lower.

Already Superintendent Cooper has signaled that he wants to make some dramatic and much needed changes. One of these changes includes ending the practice of Kaizen Thursdays, regaining much needed hours to the school day. Another such change is his stated desire to return to the model of solid local neighborhood schools, rather than a patchwork of programs and special schools that can only cater to a few select students. These changes show a return to a common sense approach to education.

In the coming months Superintendent Cooper may need to make further difficult decisions regarding the future of our school system. These changes are necessary for our schools to recover and to thrive once again. All property owners should help support him and his plan to revitalize our school system before another 10 years is lost on ineffective programs.

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