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Superintendentís Future in Hartford

By Kerri Provost

June 18, 2013

Last week, Dr. Kishimoto sent a letter to Mayor Pedro Segarra and to Matt Poland, Chair of the Board of Education, requesting her contract with the Hartford Public Schools be extended through the end of school year 2015-2016.

 

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto
Superintendent
June 11, 2013

Dear Mayor Segarra and Chairman Poland,

With the June 30th deadline quickly approaching for renewal of my contract as Superintendent, I am writing to urge you to take affirmative action to embrace school reform in the city of Hartford and guarantee its continued success by sending a strong message around the importance of leadership stability. As you know, in the past two years, the Hartford Public Schools have made dramatic gains in student achievement, parents have been empowered, high school graduation and college attendance rates have increased, and HPS has received considerable national recognition and private sector investments as a leading school system committed to education reform. In my role as Superintendent of Schools, I have shared and delivered on a critical vision to create a portfolio district of excellence that takes advantage of our proximity to the state Capitol and to state government. Due to this vision, we have a voice that is bringing attention to and support for our reform work at a broader state, regional and national level as evidenced by our competiveness as a Gates grant award winner, a Nellie Mae Education Foundation grant award winner, and as a Race to the Top finalistthis year alone. Our work is even captured in a 2013 book by Dr. Paul Hill, national reformist, called Strife and Progress. Our strategic operating plan over the past two years has kept us focused on high leverage deliverables through focused strategies including:

Significant increases in Reading in grades 4, 5, 7 and 8 in 2012

Significant increases in CMT performance in all four tested content areas in grade 8; our strongest entering 9th grade class in 2012

18 schools with significant performance gains and the largest number of schools at the goal level in 2012 since the start of our reform

Highest graduation rate since the start of our reform; highest number of students (89%) taking theSAT in 2012 since the start of our reform

Creating a framework for college access and degree attainment program by engaging partners in delivering on the Hartford Promise, with $4.1 million committed to date.

Increasing parental engagement through a 25-parent taskforce and a Family and Community strategic plan.

Increasing student empowerment through a district-wide student senate and the selection of two students to serve on the Board of Education.

Expansion of our Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) agenda including the replication of Annie Fisher STEM School at Betances; winning the state and national Green School Award at Mary Hooker; transitioning from a traditional Science Fair to a district STEM Expo; hosting our first regional STEM Conference, and receiving best high school in America status from U.S. News and World Reports for our Sport & Medical Sciences Academy.

Delivering on a one-of-a-kind high school design partnership with CPBN where our Journalism & Media students will spend their entire senior year in a Capstone Learning Lab.

Initiating a HPS research agenda with the release of two independent research reports by two major Universities that were shared at my State of the Schools. This event was attended by 300 partners, the Governor, the Commissioner of Education, and the author of the Common Core, all interested in the work occurring in the Hartford Public Schools.

Implementing the NWEA MAP assessments in grade K-12 in preparation for the Common Core SBAC Assessments, and the full implementation of the Framework for Teaching standards. Because of quality of our design, I was invited to present at a State conference on the new state teacher evaluation standards.

Delivering on three new building construction projects designed based on the schoolís college readiness theme design.

Rolling out of a new website, designing an intranet site, and creating a multi-year district communications plan.All of this was accomplished on a flat-funded City budget by making tough decisions together. For two consecutive years, I have delivered on a balanced well-managed district budget, despite the difficult fiscal situation. To ensure the vitality of our reform, under my leadership, we supplemented district funds with up to $25 million this year of private and competitive grant fund raising. I also worked closely with the Commissioner of Education to mutually inform and to align our work to the Governorís education reform agenda. Because of our district model we have had the benefit of visits from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Governor Malloy, U.S. Representative John Larson, and Senators Blumenthal and Murphy during this year alone. Our families are counting on us to provide stability, sustainability and quality education for their children. With sustainability we raise hope in our families, and build upon the trust that has been cautiously entrusted in us by our partners and families. Though no one person is indispensible, at this critical juncture, it is of utmost importance not to create uncertainty around the continuity of leadership of the school system. This will impact the pace of our reform, potentially reduce the commitment of outside investors and disrupt a well established relationship with state, regional, and national reform leaders. I am fully committed to the school reform work in Hartford. Now is not the time to cast a cloud of uncertainty over the future of Hartford Public Schools. I remain committed to working with you, the Board and the community to continue the gains we have made and deepen the commitment to the reforms that are showing success for our students.

Respectfully,

Dr. Christina M. Kishimoto

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
     
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