Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Chairman Interview

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State of Stratford Schools

Chairman Michael Henrick Interview

STRATFORD CRIER: Thank you for volunteering to do a piece on the Board of Education.  As the newly elected Chairman your vision and thoughts are important to us

Q  What is your vision for the Board of Education?

BOE in the past was not always looking at new opportunities or vision, so we are looking at new ways to do things, a more efficient model, update our curriculum.

For example:  the state mandate to change reading. We looked at Teachers College reading program for elementary students, we compared it to a number of models they recommended. Turned out that Teachers College was at the bottom, teachers said it was failing, when we looked it became obvious how poorly it has been for our students.

We are looking to make changes from the top down, we are going to take a hard look, nothing is sacred, if not working it has to go.

Q.  As Chairman of the BOE what is your key goal? What are you looking to achieve during your tenure?

I have two years left. We did not have voice as we were in the minority before.

Q.  What role do you think it plays in the running and oversight of our schools? Please be specific.

Discipline:  about four months ago, you could not deny discipline was a disaster and we needed to change. We are being incremental and substantial to the way things were done.

Q.   If you had to pick one thing that needs to be fixed in our Public schools, what would it be and what strategy do you have to address this?

A lot of it comes down to leadership. We had about $25 million from the federal ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, a $190 billion program created by the U.S. federal government’s economic stimulus response bills, Coronavirus Aid). I don’t think the money was spent well; it should have been used for educational purposes, for kids, or the staff.

Q.  Where are the areas of the budget that are of the most concern to you?

Nobody looks at how to run our BOE as a business. Dr. Asunde said that if we cut 2.5 million from the budget, hundreds of positions would be cut. Turned out we had a budget surplus. For too many years no one has looked at efficiencies.

Q.  How do you define the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion?

I think everyone needs equal education. Our committees currently have 25 new people who never served on committees, and we now have about half of them people of color.  Our last committees that served were not that diverse. We wanted committees that reflect the make up or our community.

Q.  How important do you believe the involvement of the community is on decisions of the Board?

Decisions should reflect the pulse of the community. It needs to be intertwined, everyone needs a voice, but at the end of day the BOE makes the decision. It is vital to include committees and staff, and be knowledgeable about what is going on in the system.

Q.  How do you attend to the mandates of the Alliance District indicators of progress?

We are still an Alliance District; we have five years to get off. The Alliance District was never voted on by the BOE. The last line in the governing body two years ago called for a vote. We did not vote. We then signed off on how to approve the plan, a plan that we did not see. New board is going to review and make sure we are taken out of the designation.

Q.  What are the prime values that you will keep as part of any redistricting?

Right now we have some over-populated, some under-populated, some racially unbalanced schools. We want to make sure we meet state mandated rules while being the least disruptive as possible. No schools will be closed.

1 COMMENT

  1. Mr. Henrick, I appreciate your wanting to rethink all aspects of the system. You refer to discipline and efficiencies. Can you be more specific regarding specific interventions or areas in need of additional efficiencies? Are you refer to discipline in our schools or a disciplined approach to management. Thanks again.

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