Carol Gale spoke to the Board of Ed in their last public session, advocating for more opportunities for Hartford’s students. A disproportionate amount of the ESSER funds were allocated for Central Office personnel, rather than allocating that money to STUDENTS. Here is what she shared:
The Hartford Board of Education approves many outside contracts for consultation and services. Are these the best use of our tax dollars and do they promote increased student achievement? I argue they do not.
Over the four years from 2015-2019, 18 of our schools showed growth in math on the smarter balanced assessments. 14 schools declined. In reading, only 14 schools showed growth, while 19 schools declined. Our district averages of students meeting or exceeding goals were 27% in reading and 20% in math. These lag behind the state averages by 30-40 percentage points. This data has not varied significantly in the 30 years of my career. Why? Because our district listens to outside advice rather than its own employees.
Student achievement will only be impacted by changes at the school level. As a Hartford resident, a veteran educator, and current president of the HFT, I ask whether these outside contracts are efficient and effective uses of our tax dollars. For years HPS was criticized for having a central office that was overstaffed. Positions have been reduced, but are they simply being replaced with outside contracts? ESSER funds are disproportionately being used to add central office workers instead of school-based staff.
Ask any school-based employees what would have the greatest impact on student achievement. You will get answers like reduced class sizes, more behavior techs, and SSOs, art music and library classes in every school, more school counselors and social workers, etc. What do these all have in common? They are school-based!
The greatest impact on student learning is from teachers and principals. Until we shift our paradigm and focus our attention on our frontline educators, little will change. HPS dollars must focus on our schools first and foremost if we truly want to see students thrive.
-Carol Gale, HFT President