One of the goals moving forward is to achieve an organizational structure and programming model that is desirable, feasible, and sustainable.
Many students, including my own, have spent their entire educational careers in this District with nearly annual budget reductions, impacting programming and creating inconsistent and inequitable learning experiences based on where a child live.
Since 2001, Stillwater Area Public Schools has cut nearly 23 million dollars from our annual operating budget. There is little room in our referendum, or appetite for raising our residents’ taxes. We must first demonstrate being good stewards of their tax dollars by focusing on learning experiences and systems and supports.
I have committed to the Board goal of achieving a balanced budget in each of the last three planning cycles, and have experience on a variety of committees that have addressed that issue. The decision to approve the BOLD proposal was a significant step toward financial stability for the District, and will free up attention to focus on student learning and achievement measures.
Superintendent responsibilities have changed hands five times in the last ten years, and three of those five changes have occurred in the last four years. My tenure in a single term as a school board member has been spent working with three different superintendents. Those changes have had a direct impact on our ability to successfully implement the Bridge to Excellence. Those changes have had a direct impact on providing the much needed support for teachers, students, families, and the programming that will prepare our kids for a successful educational future. From year to year, the District has struggled to ensure that students, families, and communities can count on what lies ahead as the realities of an unstable system leaves us to make last minute changes to staffing and distribution of other resources as our demographics continue to shift. It is clear, and cannot be disputed, that instability in the Office of the Superintendent has likely been the greatest negative factor in the District’s ability to retain the standard of excellence this community has come to expect. The search and selection process was fully informed with wide participation and community voice. After a unanimous board vote, we have in Denise Pontrelli, a leader that has shown her commitment to addressing the long-term, systemic issues that are holding this District back.
Retention of our Superintendent, along with her leadership team, is the most critical element for this District to move forward. Just as stability of a highly-qualified classroom teacher determines the success of students, stability at the highest levels of leadership ensure that all teachers, staff, families, and students have what they need to achieve their greatest potential.
Supporting Teachers and Staff
The uncertainty of what support services individual school buildings will have what services when and how often puts a tremendous burden on our outstanding teaching and support staffs. Balancing class sizes and student needs across the District, rather than trying to solve staffing issues one building at a time, will create more space for the outstanding instruction of our highly qualified staff. Responsive student support teams and interventionists, when available on a reliable and consistent schedule will alleviate the frequent interruptions to learning our classroom teachers currently experience.