A Statement about the Budget from Acting Superintendent Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodríguez
Dear Hartford Public Schools Families, Colleagues, Partners, and Friends,
Faced with a potential budget shortfall of $20 million in fiscal year 2017-18, the Hartford Public School district is staring at some very difficult fiscal challenges and some very hard choices.
When confronted with limited resources, institutions are often required to re-intensify their focus on core missions and core values, and that is our situation today. While our mission is always centered on students and student achievement, during times of fiscal trouble it is more important than ever to reaffirm our pledge to our students.
I am a product of the Hartford Public Schools system. I graduated from Hartford Public High School and I believe that our school system best succeeds when resources are on the ground, when funds are directed into the classroom and when our focus is on student achievement.
That is why regardless of any potential budget scenario, making sure that more funds are directed into our classrooms will be my top priority. Our school budgets must align available resources with student and community needs — because community needs must be met if we are to achieve equitable access to high quality teaching and learning for all of our children and young adults.
Two things are essential if we are to achieve success during this year’s budget development process: we must work together with the full engagement of all community stakeholders, and we must let our highest values guide our investment strategies in education.
Providing the best possible educational experience for all of our children and young adults is one of the highest values of any successful community: our safety, our social and economic health and our future workforce are all compromised when our values for education are compromised.
Our education values and our focus on putting students first will guide us as we contend with some very serious financial issues. In addition to the fiscal crisis at the state and the city levels, we are affected by increasing costs, more programs to support, stagnant funding, and decreasing enrollments.
Our challenge is to craft a budget that does not allow those negative impacts to be transformed into negative consequences for our students.
The new education budget will be informed through extensive input from multiple stakeholders before final decisions are made and before any staff members are affected. The Superintendent’s Recommended Budget is scheduled to be presented to the Board of Education on April 18.
The process of proposing and adopting a budget will require the robust participation of the whole school community; from our Central Office personnel to our students, principals, teachers, support staff, parents, guardians, partners and school neighbors.
This year we are significantly enhancing the engagement process, including special sessions for School Governance Councils, families, staff and community partners. Further discussions are planned for the months of February and March.
If you are the parent or guardian of one or multiple students, I strongly encourage you to please approach your principals, your SGCs and other school leaders to request information and participate in the budget development process. You may also visit www.hartfordschools.org/BudgetNews2017-2018 as the process moves along for more information.
Parents and stakeholders are the keys to making our schools better and our communities stronger. You are the essential ingredients to help education thrive and to support the overall well-being of the children in our neighborhoods.
Let’s keep raising the bar and demand more from ourselves and those around us to achieve successful outcomes for our kids and our community. Let’s leverage all of our resources and all of our love on behalf of the children and young adults who are depending upon us for their future success.
Dr. Leslie Torres-Rodriguez