5/21: Please Read Superintendent Dr. Lucero’s Latest Letter to the SPS Community

Please read Dr. Lucero’s weekly letter to our community:

May 21, 2020

Dear SPS Students and Families,

It is amazing what we are able to learn from feedback.  On May 12, 2020, I engaged the Board of Education in a conversation about Graduation plans for the Class of 2020.  We discussed the fact that after reviewing the suggestions we had received from our high schools, the conversations we had with our public health and safety departments, and the number of COVID-19 cases in Stamford, a virtual graduation would be our safest and most equitable option.  Almost immediately, I began to receive additional feedback from members of the Class of 2020.  As no official decision was made, I have since taken the opportunity to meet with student representatives, senior class advisors, and administrators to find a workable solution that is in line with the guidelines from the Governor’s Executive Orders, Connecticut State Department of Education and our own public health and safety officials.

If you are a student or a parent of a student of the Class of 2020, I encourage you to complete the graduation survey.  I know that given the many constraints with the health and safety risks associated with COVID-19, no graduation will match what we were able to provide to our graduates in past years and for that I, too, am disappointed.  Thank you for taking the time to provide feedback and for your understanding.

In addition, I have received much feedback about the 2020-2021 proposed budget.  This is not unexpected, given the fact that I released a $15 million budget potential cut list.  For those of you who do not follow the budget process regularly, the proposed cut is more than four times the amount of any cut that the Board of Education has had by the Board of Finance and Board of Representatives.  The feedback received from Board of Education employees, parents and community members is predominately that these budget reductions will destroy our school district.  In contrast, the feedback we have received from the Board of Finance, for the past month, as well as in a letter from the majority of the Board of Representatives, is that an increase in the Mill rate, given the anticipated economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, is not possible.  These opposing views leave us with a tough decision to make: Do we make decisions that will have a long-term effect on the quality of programming in SPS, or do we request more from our neighbors who are losing their jobs and closing their businesses?  I continue to read and listen to the feedback and continue to work toward options that address this unfortunate dilemma.

Finally, as we are thinking ahead to what the fall might look like during Phase IV of Distance Teaching and Learning, we need your feedback on an upcoming parent survey.  Eight weeks ago when we transitioned to remote teaching and learning, literally overnight, there was virtually (no pun intended) no time for planning.  However, given the fact that all health professionals predict a recurrence of a COVID-19 peak in the fall, we must begin planning for that likelihood.  The survey will help us better understand the challenges and needs of our students and families so that we can incorporate your feedback into the planning.  When you receive it, please take a moment to complete the parent survey and send us your thoughts.  The information we gather from the parent survey will assist us with planning an engaging academic program with social emotional support as we embark on the 2020-2021 school year.

We thank you for your input as we move forward during this difficult time.

Stay safe and be well!

Dr. Tamu Lucero