Community Input is Key to Brighter Future for Public Education in New Britain
I was thrilled to see that my 2021 State of the City Address spurred an active community conversation on how to improve public education in our City. During my speech I made it clear to our residents that the School District currently receives 53% of tax dollars each year, has access to the Educational Savings Account that I created last year as an alternative option for increased education funding, and will receive nearly $78 million in CARES Act and American Rescue Act funding. I also stated that I will not to increase taxes in order to increase the Board of Education’s budget this year, especially as many of our residents continue struggle to make ends meet due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As I just mentioned, the School District will be provided with ample funding and I am looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish with the additional $78 million, as I am sure all of you are as well.
Unfortunately my words were twisted by some individuals to make it seem like the statements in my speech were an attack on teachers, which is simply not true. Our teachers are wonderful and have had to adjust their profession in ways no one could have imagined during a pandemic that impacted the emotional, physical, and financial health of so many. It may have been easier for District administration to distort my message instead of taking a hard look in the mirror and reflecting on their own culpability, but I wanted to take this opportunity to clarify my stance and continue to show my support for our teachers.
I have been collecting feedback from the students, teachers, and parents who reached out to me following my speech with appreciation for my willingness to address a hush-hush topic and their suggestions on how to improve public education in New Britain. I reached out to Superintendent Sara and met with her in an effort to find a way forward together for the betterment of the young people in this City. I have also reached out to Board of Education President Merrill Gay to set up a meeting, but he has yet to respond. I invite everyone to tune in to my Facebook @ErinStewartCT for a special edition of 40 Live on April 8th where I will discuss education further and collect feedback from those who join me. After vetting all the community input, I will present the School District with an outline for how to create a brighter future for public education.
I will always do what I can within the confines of my role as Mayor to ensure our students have the resources they need to succeed. I continue to offer my support as a successful public administrator to either the Board of Education or the Superintendent, to help develop a strategy that results in more resources getting where they need to be in order to increase student achievement.
Public Affairs Specialist, Office of Mayor Erin E. Stewart
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