WPS Families and Staff,
Many of you have picked up the advocacy baton and have been reaching out to our CT elected officials. Thank you for doing so with urgency and respect.
Senator Duff has sent this polite response to several of you:
“Thank you for your email. My bill (457) does not impact Weston in any way, shape or form. It is designed for school districts with fewer than 2,000 students. Weston has over 2,000. As I’ve said publicly, I have no intention nor will I support raising that number. Fifty percent of our school districts have fewer than 2,000 students, which is why I am focused on this issue. I believe that size and smaller (some as low as 100) cost too much and don’t bring the desired results.“
Senator Duff's regionalization bill (#457) may be narrowly struck to the 2,000 enrollment figure, but that still is too close for comfort for Weston, especially given that the small district sizes he is worried about are well below the 2,000 student threshold. They should set the threshold closer to the small sizes that concern Senator Duff and other state leaders.
Governor's Bill No. 874, however, includes language that would penalize Weston for having its own superintendent, instead of having a superintendent from a neighboring district or a regional board also oversee Weston. The language says a significant financial penalty would apply to towns with fewer than 10,000 residents, district populations of fewer than 2,000, or districts with only 1-2 elementary schools if they do not seek to have their district overseen by a superintendent in another district. The last item is our situation--we have only two elementary schools. It would be highly problematic for effective leadership and management of Weston to have a superintendent with multiple district responsibilities, and would lead to the same problems we want to avoid with complete combining of districts as Senator Duff et al are proposing.
To be clear, I am not concerned about protecting my job or that of fellow superintendents. My concern is that the Governor’s bill runs counter to the deeply understood and well researched reality that effective schools and schooling (not to mention all types of organizations) depend significantly on executive leadership (ideally distributive in nature and practice) that is focused, strategic and relevant to the particular district or entity. There is no evidence that asking an executive to oversee multiple entities optimizes student and organizational impact and outcomes—instead, the evidence is that it would help drag down effectiveness and efficiency.
Thank you for your continued support and advocacy. Let us be heard, but with dignity.
William S. McKersie, Ph.D.