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Dachowitz: City doesn’t get enough return on investment from Norwalk Public Schools

Rilling: ‘Disappointed’ in Dachowitz

Norwalk Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz, upper right, answers a question from Common Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner (D-At Large), lower right, during Thursday’s Council Finance Committee meeting on Zoom.

Updated, 2:37 p.m.: Comment from Mayor Harry Rilling.

NORWALK, Conn. – Questions flowed Thursday in a feisty Common Council Committee meeting, where Norwalk Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz once again explained the operating budget proposal that he and Mayor Harry Rilling developed.

Some samples:

  • Do you have any data to support your estimate of a tax increase Norwalk property owners can afford?
  • Was the Rainy Day Fund tapped to deal with Superstorm Sandy expenses?
  • How much ARPA money was used to offset taxes this year?
  • If the efficiency study says the City and/or the Board of Education is underfunded, what will you do?

While much of the focus was on education expenses, one Council member took another tack.

“I would really, strongly recommend, if you could please reconsider adding some more funding to recreation, and parks, to help with the maintenance and upkeep of our parks,” Council member Nicol Ayers (D-District A) said

 

Laws of economics

It’s the third time in a week that Dachowitz has explained the recommended $412.5 million in spending, a 3.7% increase over 2021-22’s operating budget. It includes $216.3 million for Norwalk Public Schools, short of the $227.5 million the Norwalk Board of Education has requested. Dachowitz said NPS would get a 3.75% increase over this fiscal year; BoE members say contractual obligations to employees are going up 4.5%, and the recommendation does not cover the district’s basic expenses, let alone help the children deal with the effects of remote learning, social distancing and mask wearing.

Rilling told the Council Finance Committee that formulating a budget is “very challenging, especially this year.”

“I think everybody understands that, you know, we have an obligation to keep our taxes as low as possible, but still understand that we have students in our school system that we need to fund and educate,” Rilling said.

“Economics is about making choices and tradeoffs,” Dachowitz said. “It’s about setting priorities and making decisions knowing there are just not enough resources to obtain everything you wish and all of the requests. The Law of Diminishing Returns says, if we keep increasing our spending on an item, the amount of benefit we get for each additional expenditure becomes smaller and smaller. And that’s something to take into account as we allocate and prioritize these expenditures.”

 

‘That’s why we’re doing an efficiency study’

Dachowitz spoke of “reasonable tax increases;” Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner (D-At Large) said the fundamental question is, “what is the fair tax rate?”

In terms of a monthly increase, the recommended budget represents a $13 a month increase for the median value homeowner, she said. If the Board of Education got the 4.5% increase it needs to meet the expenses it cannot control, then it would cost that homeowner an extra dollar a month. If NPS got the 9.1% the Board requested, it would be $31 a month.

“My question really is then, what evidence do we have? What studies have we’ve done? What information do we have on what in fact is a bearable increase for homeowners at that $275,000 median home value?” she asked. “…I’m trying to understand that question of whether $31 a month is also too much to ask or not.”

“I think the real question is, we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year in an operating budget. We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade all their schools. But more than half of the children are not doing work at grade level,” Dachowitz replied. “So when you talk about what homeowners and taxpayers are willing to pay, I say, the relationship of what the results are in the school should be related to the investment. In finance, we look at return on investment.”

He said, “I don’t care whether it’s $100,000 or 10 million. If I’m going to spend any amount of money and I don’t get a return that’s valuable to the city, I say no.”

“With all due respect, that is not your job,” she replied, explaining that decisions on policy are made by elected leaders and members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET), who are appointed by the Mayor.

She said, “I personally, based on my policy expertise and my role as a citizen in the city, think that our students are underperforming – from your perspective – because we have not invested enough. We need reading intervention specialists, for instance, which is a proven intervention strategy. That is expensive, but it works.”

Dachowitz said he’s been here three years and the Council and BET don’t know where NPS spends its money.

“That is why Evergreen Solutions was hired to analyze the efficiency of the public schools, especially in comparison to other schools,” he said. “…I’m not advocating any policy.”

Council member Jenn McMurrer (D-District C) asked Dachowitz what the plan is if the efficiency study “does happen to come back and say that we have potentially underfunded the BoE, or the City-side for that matter.”

Dachowitz said that when he first took his role, a joint cybersecurity review “adding staff in certain very select areas.” So he recommended adding four employees over four years.

“When they say you need to invest more, I say fine, over a three-to-five-year period. Let’s figure out how we can afford it,” Dachowitz said.

If it’s a capital budget issue, “my feeling is we may want to work backwards,” determine how much taxes can increase and adjust the spending accordingly, he said.

 

‘Disappointed’ in Dachowitz

On Friday, Rilling released a statement:

“At last night’s Common Council Finance and Claims Committee meeting, Norwalk’s Chief Financial Officer Henry Dachowitz made a comment in reference to the return on investment in Norwalk Public schools. I want to be clear that I do not agree with Mr. Dachowitz and am disappointed in his remarks. One of my greatest accomplishments as Mayor is the investments we have made in Norwalk Public schools. I have always been an advocate for education and remain committed to providing a top-notch learning experience for our students. The dedicated teachers and faculty of Norwalk Public Schools are the backbone of our city and provide a world-class education to Norwalk students. Investing in our schools remains a top priority for my administration, and I look forward to working with the Board of Education and Common Council to develop the budget for the 2022-23 school year.”

 

Rainy Day

The recommended budget includes a planned $4 million drawdown from the “Rainy Day Fund,” or general fund balance.

Council Finance Committee Chairman Greg Burnett (D-At Large) asked Dachowitz what the impact would be of drawing down more.

“I’m very concerned that in addition to whatever gets approved for this year, we have $220 million of approved capital budget projects that have not been borrowed yet,” Dachowitz said.

He said “Remember, this is a joint Mayor- and CFO-recommended operating budget. So, the $4 million drawdown was a joint recommendation of the mayor and me. I would, if anything, go the other way and say we should draw down less.”

It’s said that the Rainy Day Fund is there to cover emergencies; Dachowitz credits it for getting Norwalk through COVID-19 without layoffs and other problems.

Council member Heidi Alterman (D-District D) how much money came out of the Rainy Day Fund when Superstorm Sandy came in, an example of such a catastrophe.

“I don’t have that information,” Dachowitz said. “I know that we’ve got quite a bit of reimbursement from FEMA. But I don’t know exactly how much we took out based on what the requirements were.”

 

‘Parents expected otherwise’

Dachowitz also discussed federal COVID-19 relief funds, from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and the ESSER grant, a.k.a. the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

Last year, $13 million in ARPA funds offset tax increases and this year, it’s planned to use $7 million in ARPA in addition to the $4 million from the Rainy Day Fund.

While the City is planning to use ARPA to make important investments, such as flood mitigation, the schools weren’t allowed to use ESSER to its intended effect, McMurrer said.

Parents and taxpayers expected them to fund “one time expenses, like extra social workers, extra counselors, extra psychologist, and instead it was used to pay for their contractual increases,” she said. “…I feel like we’re maybe putting a little bit of a Band-Aid on this. And those funds are going to run out.”

Rilling said his administration had given historically high increases to the school system. The problem with ESSER is if they’re used for recurring expenses, the schools budget will remain at that higher amount because of the State’s minimum budget requirement.

“It’s a challenge,” he said. “We understand the need to fund the Board of Education, we understand that. We understand that young students now have kind of even regressed in their learning because of the online and the distance learning that we’ve seen. So it’s not an easy calculation. It’s not an easy formula. And as I mentioned earlier on, it’s also critical that we don’t force people out of the city of Norwalk because they can’t afford to live here because of taxes.”

 

Return on investment?

Council member John Kydes (D-District C), who has announced that he is running for Mayor in 2023, said he’s “seen a lot of initiatives” over the years, from “the half dozen superintendents I’ve seen come and go,” and “a lot of strategic operating plans.”

He asked Dachowitz if he had any information or data “that shows what initiatives are still active.”

Dachowitz said he’d have to ask the Board of Education.

Kydes said he’s been saying this “a lot” and “it seems to fall on deaf ears,” but he would ask the Board.

Council member David Heuvelman (D-District A) said he too remembers programs that cost millions of dollars, and didn’t know what happened with them.

“Those are questions that I have asked and not gotten,” he said.

 

Recreation and Parks

The Recreation and Parks Department asked for more employees, Ayers said.

“It’s a request that I support,” she said. “…I did some very surface research, and found out that our Recreation and Parks Department is quite small compared to the number of people in our city, and actually the number of people who use our facilities and our parks and all of these things.”

Rilling said his administration is looking at ways to increase the department’s staffing in less expensive ways, like hiring part time staffers seasonally or bringing on “overtime hires,” to avoid the cost of benefits.

He said, “We’re well aware of the problem and we’re trying to do, we’re trying to work out so we can help them out.”

27 comments

John O'Neill February 11, 2022 at 5:51 am

For those that remember last year’s discussion about increases for Board of Ed some quoted above used the same economic rationale. Increases of x dollars per month on a below average property doesn’t sound like much, right? Why not give us the increases per day? Wouldn’t that sound even lower?
The reality is revaluation is right around the corner and residential home owners will get hammered. Some on the council don’t seem to either understand that or care.
Certain teaching policies Supt. is putting into place right now border on the bizarre. Maybe some pro spending people should spend more time focusing on that. It’s not the money, it’s the execution.
Hank knows that.
THANKS HANK !!

Sue Haynie February 11, 2022 at 6:33 am

Dachowitz is an honest broker.

Nora Niedzielski-Eichne thinks throwing money at NPS makes it better, it doesn’t work that way. Norwalk public schools does better than Hartford, New Haven and the likes but in general, and in spite of infusions of years-long, huge, mostly local taxpayer funding increases, NPS has been failing the majority of their kids for decades. NPS per student funding surpasses that of most other districts in Connecticut and the United States.

Public schools in Connecticut are designed and contractually supportive of the adults in the system, not the children and their parents. Fix that paradigm and then you’ll see progress. Until then, you’re just throwing good money after bad. Go Dachowit!

David McCarthy February 11, 2022 at 7:34 am

Seems like the foxes running the henhouse are slowly realizing they’re out of hens.

I love the ignorance displayed in the “we’re not investing enough” comment. I do believe the amount per pupil is on par w neighboring towns, if not greater

DryAsABone February 11, 2022 at 7:36 am

When you have no clue about what to do, you “study it”.
When the jobs is to big and you can’t afford to dig, you “study it”.
What is better than working for a living? Doing a city sponsored “study”. Easy money.
My favorite “study” was Mayor Dan Malloy, next door, hiring a Hawaiian firm for a million+ dollars
to do a “traffic calming” study.
Fifty+ years of studying the damage we have done to our environment and what do we get? More studies. Same can be said about pretty much everything these days…

Christina Rothstein February 11, 2022 at 8:34 am

Since when is the goal of a child’s education to have a return on investment? Any parent or logical person knows this is absurd and dangerous thinking.

Does Dachowitz truly see our children as commodities for financial gain or burden?

Nora King February 11, 2022 at 8:49 am

This should be the headline.
Dachowitz, speak the truth! “I think the real question is, we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars every year in an operating budget. We’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade all their schools. But more than half of the children are not doing work at grade level,” Dachowitz replied. “So when you talk about what homeowners and taxpayers are willing to pay, I say, the relationship of what the results are in the school should be related to the investment. In finance, we look at return on investment.”

I have never been that big of a fan of Henry, but he is spot on. Until they remove Colin Hosten as chair the BOE should not get one more dollar. This has been one of the most poorly run BOEs in years. They should fire the superintendent and her three vice superintendents and add the 1 million back to the budget. How many senior-level people do we need? In the past two years are academics have pummeled. Look at next year’s calendar! Thanks to Erica DePalma and her crusade to eliminate the March break we now have way too many 1/2 days. Days where our kids learn nothing. Who is managing this operation? The job of the chairman of the BOE is to hold the central office accountable. That is our form of Government. Colin has failed us over and over and over again. He has failed our kids and the parents and the teachers. Our kids are not being educated. The NWEA scores are dismal. The administration has lost touch with what matters. Welcome Centers are meaningless when our kids can not do their multiplication tables. So many of them do not know how to read. Why would the central office tell teachers that novels cannot be read in middle school? It is the dumbing down of our kids. It is criminal. This focus on SEL when our kids can’t do math, reading, etc. and the majority of kids think it is a waste of time. They are destroying the advanced classes, making GT an elective. Kids are still eating in their classrooms. The kids don’t go out to recess often. And how about all those soft classes in Elem they are teaching so the teachers are not fullly in the classroom teaching kids math, science, reading and writing. Who is steering this ship? No one from my perspective. Don’t fund them until they have a plan with the resources they have to educate our kids.

Old Well, CT February 11, 2022 at 9:41 am

As a life-long Norwalk resident, I would simply like to say
“thanks Mr. Dachowitz”.

Thank you for standing up for the taxpayers of this City and for refusing to blindly feed the raging beast that is the Education Industrial Complex of the City of Norwalk – AKA the Black Hole.

Thank you for bringing much needed oversight and common sense approaches used in the real world, like “ROI”, to actually measure the impact of tax dollars spent. Its amusing to hear all these Councilmen muse over what happended to past projects and expenditures and monies thrown at the NPS problem. Its pretty clear to me that those monies were hoovered-up by the insatiable Teacher’s Unions and Administrators with scant results for the Students they were intended to help.

Old Well, CT February 11, 2022 at 9:51 am

“Dachowitz spoke of “reasonable tax increases;” Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner (D-At Large) said the fundamental question is, “what is the fair tax rate?”

With all due respect to you Councilwoman Niedzielski-Eichner, it’s not your job nor is it your business to know what I can afford to throw into the money-pit, Black Hole of the NPS. Plesase assume that I have already spent too much for no benefit to myself.

You were also elected to represent the taxpayers of Norwalk; many of whom do not or would not use the NPS even if it is an relevant option. As such, your focus should be on providing Public Services at the most reasonable cost possible and at the highest return possible for the most people benefitted as possible.

Thank you

Piberman February 11, 2022 at 10:06 am

The BOE members comment that “our students are underperforming because we’re not investing enough” illustrates why Norwalk needs a new BOE with individuals having the experience to secure desired outcomes of our public school system.

Facts do matter. Our City matches surrounding wealthy towns in outlays per student.
Our City pays CT’s highest salary for a Supt even though our school system underperforms e.g. most grads fail to meet CT Edu Dept standards.

No amount of additional taxpayer funding will substantially improve City schools. Takes a BOE with the requisite skills. Has any Norwalk BOE member managed a large private firm ? No ? Our surrounding towns elect highly qualified BOE members with strong professional/.management backgrounds. Why not Norwalk ? Our City leaders not interested in securing our most capable residents from serving ?

Our failing public school system won’t be improved with large new sums of monies. Nor an even higher salaries for administrators and Supt. To get better results for our kids and community we need elect BOE members with the requisite professional management skills. Its just that simple. Would Norwalk BOE members qualify for any organization oversight with a budget of $200 million ? Sadly we know the answer.

As the sun rises in the east our City schools will not improve until and unless we elect BOE members with the skill sets and desire to secure that result. It’s just that simple.
A BOE that’s a “talking club” can’t possibly get the job done of giving our kids a good public school education.

So why are our City elected leaders so quiet ?

Bob Giolitto February 11, 2022 at 12:52 pm

Hire a consultant firm to investigate the efficiency of public schools. Hire a consultant firm to to create policies and procedures for “equity and justice for all” (ridiculous political jargon), and then fire them. Mountains of legal fees for the Tyvec building fiasco. What if all of these and countless other wasted taxpayer dollars were used to fund “reading intervention specialists, for instance, which is a proven intervention strategy” as Council member Nora Niedzielski-Eichner rightly pointed out?
And please stop blaming the school board, teachers (who spend their own money to provide basic supplies that surrounding school districts take for granted), and parents for what some are labeling as sub-standard education. If Norwalk had the demographics of towns like Darien, where family income is high and, therefore, the schools are well funded, we could achieve the same results. We praise Norwalk for our “diversity” but don’t want to help those who can’t afford BMW’s, nannies, and work long hours. Your “tradeoffs” Mr. Dachowitz (thanks for the economics lesson) are our children.

Erica Kipp February 11, 2022 at 1:17 pm

“If our students are underperforming it’s b/c we have not invested enough?” I am not sure I understand this statement. If you had unlimited resources, what exactly would you do differently? Where would you spend? how much is considered investing “enough?” What changes would you anticipate if you had unlimited resources? How would you measure or assess that change?

Admiral February 11, 2022 at 2:35 pm

Mr. Dash is the best thing to happen to Norwalk in a long time.
Rilling’s Democrats are used to being able to get whatever they want. They are not used to hearing “no.”

Admiral February 11, 2022 at 3:10 pm

An example of how our money is being wasted by the BOE:

A friend of mine teaches 2nd grade in Norwalk. She said she has had TWO faculty meetings this year already where NPS hires two people from Temple University to come in and lecture the staff about “white privilege.”
On our dime.
Welcome to Norwalk!

Piberman February 11, 2022 at 3:59 pm

No wonder well qualified City residents avoid serving on our highly politicized BOE overseeing a well known failing public school system. The most highly regarded City Finance Director in memory explains repeatedly to our City officials the well known financial failings of our public school system. In response Mayor Rilling who’s often highlighted Financial Director Dashowitz now bows to the Dem Party leaders and criticizes his Financial Director. That’s a sad day indeed. Further ruining our reputation.

Our City’s Dem leaders refuse to face up to the reality that we’re overfunding a public school system that fails to educate the majority of our students so they meet CT Edu Dept standards. And look the other way while our “misdirected” (to be kind) BOE celebrates paying our Supt with the highest salary in CT. How humiliating !

What better way than to further demean the reputation of our Norwalk than to ignore the well known failings of our public school system overseen by our BOE, over tax our property owners who fund the schools and then publicly criticize a competent senior public official for stating the obvious – our public schools are mismanaged. And will continue to be as long as our City leaders ignore the obvious. And encourage election of BOE members lacking the requisite managerial capabilities/backgrounds.

Seriously? February 11, 2022 at 5:52 pm

Mayor Rilling disagrees with Mr. Dachowitz and is disappointed? Well, Mr. Mayor, I’m disappointed in you.

Mr. Dachowitz, I don’t use your approach to analyze the district, but I have been disheartened, at best, with what Dr. Estrella thinks is leadership. I’ve seen a few questionable superintendents in Norwalk, and I consider her among the worst.

It’s also the worst excuse for a board of education that I have ever seen, and so I don’t have much hope for the near future.

And by the way, the dumbest comment I have seen in quite a while is that of the Council member who said, “If our students are underperforming, it’s because we have not invested enough.” Seriously?

So there is a direct correlation between spending and achievement? There is no other possible reason? Poor leadership? Poor use of funds? Poor sense of priorities? Poor selection of administrators? Poor recruitment and retention practices for teachers and other staff? Poor support for administrators and teachers? Poor treatment of administrators and teachers? All of these are issues in the district, but underfunding is not.

Mind you, I’m not saying that severe underfunding wouldn’t have a detrimental effect, but this isn’t an underfunded district. It is a district that needs to respect the taxpayers by using tax dollars wisely.

Andrew Anello February 12, 2022 at 12:38 am

As frustrated as these comments may be directed at the elected officials, it’s the people of Norwalk who elected them.

When our mayor proudly claims “One-party rule is OK when it’s us,” well, here are your results.

If you want to talk seriously about progress, let the money follow the student instead of the school. Then watch the students and money walk away from perpetually failing schools, the teachers’ unions and then see the academics improve, the teachers’ unions end and failing schools converted to affordable housing.

Every other union in America has a large corporate employer as an adversary. The teachers’ unions are the only unions where the opponents they fight are our children.

Milly February 12, 2022 at 5:57 am

Tax $ does not just go to the schools.
What’s the return on investment for DPW that only does 4 yard waste pick ups a year?
What’s the return on investment that there are so many streets that need to be paved?
What’s the return on investment that the city use to do a home pick up and now tell you to bring old electronics (tvs) to the dump yourself?

Steve Mann February 12, 2022 at 11:58 am

And what exactly is a CFO supposed to do? I bet the same offended moms are the first ones to take the city up on free laptops and lunches.

John O'Neill February 13, 2022 at 11:12 am

Hey – We’ve been screwed by Hartford and our state Reps and Senator have failed. For those Dems involved in complaining about school funding my question is who have you voted for over the last 30 years? You keep voting the same slick salesmen into office and Norwalk keeps getting screwed in state funding. I would suggest you take your ire out on Duff and his compatriots you keep sending to Hartford. Dachowitz is giving a cold honest view of reality. If you don’t like it don’t shoot the messenger. Maybe it’s time to truly understand how lacking your representation in Hartford is.

Bob February 13, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Yes, Sarah, the amount per pupil has always been thousands of dollars less per student than neighboring towns, and Norwalk’s students have much higher needs. Very few students in Westport, Weston, Darien, or New Canaan live in a home where English isn’t the primary language spoken, or where both parents don’t have a college degree.

I’m surprised nobody here has mentioned that the problem is local funding of schools, which leads to economically “poor” and “wealthy” districts, which are racially segregated. Norwalk’s student body has the highest needs, but it receives less education funding than the rich, mostly white kids in neighboring districts. CT’s broken school funding system burdens Norwalk taxpayers with a perennial struggle to provide the basics.

Dennis A. Horvath February 13, 2022 at 2:11 pm

Mr. Dachowitz our CFO is correct. Test scores are not great and cannot be all blamed on Covid. The ever expanding NPS bureaucracy and budget doesn’t seem to be making a difference. It’s time to stop with the excuses. Why can’t we have an honest conversation about the low test scores? The Norwalk Board of Education’s perpetual shoot for the moon budget goes something like this: 1. The BOE and Norwalk Public Schools management submit a large increase for the upcoming year. 2. Next, they say they made a mistake and need even more money to hire more employees. 3. Norwalk’s CFO removes some fluff in the NPS budget. 4. NPS management and BOE are shocked, and assail Norwalk’s CFO. 5. NPS’s own CFO says that they can cut only a few million dollars, but no more. 6. When it looks like the BOE won’t get all that it wants from taxpayers, they use scare tactics to say that everything from staff layoffs, sports, music classes, etc. could be on the chopping block. 7. The BOE and NPS are now desperate and tell the city to pare its own budget even more to give the BOE the large increase that they originally wanted even though state and federal governments have already given them additional tens of millions of dollars of grant money for the 2023 school year. 8. Norwalk’s politicians tell NPS management and BOE not to worry, that more money will be given to them through general fund special appropriations during the year and that these appropriations will not be added to the school budget. Just how much money (through its budget, state and federal government grants and city special appropriations) has been given to Norwalk Public Schools this past budget year? Taxpayers have given their all for NPS budgets. Other department budgets and our bond ratings are suffering for it.

Piberman February 14, 2022 at 10:12 am

Reading through the comments leaves no doubt readers understand the origins of Norwalk’s failing public school system unable to meet CT Edu standards for most students. It’s certainly not under funding as we match both per student funding and teacher salaries with our surrounding wealthy towns. Our BOE is directly responsible for our failing schools and its up to our City leaders to encourage BOE members with far better backgrounds – the ones commonly seen in our surrounding towns – to secure BOE office. Reading how our BOE members demand more funding claiming we have to “invest in our children” to solve major school management problems is so demoralizing. We have a real competence problem in our BOE and public school senior management. It won’t be resolved until City leaders pay serious attention. And most certainly won’t be solved with just higher spending. The old saying holds: “those that get you in trouble aren’t the ones to get you out”.

The BOE criticism of Finance Director Dashowitz is completely unwarranted. Not a single senior finance professional in Norwalk has made such an unfounded claim.

Piberman February 16, 2022 at 10:29 pm

How can Mayor Rilling say “we’re providing a world class education for our students” when the CT Education Dept stats show most Norwalk grads fail to meet CT graduation standards ? Our surrounding towns do offer world class inasmuch almost all their students meet CT Edu graduation standards.

The readily available facts are that Norwalk is matching per pupil funding with surrounding wealthy towns but has a terribly underperforming public school system despite paying oodles of $200 to 300k salaries to our school administrators. Why don’t our City’s leaders have the “courage” to demand much better performance from our failing school administrators before asking for more monies.

Norwalk doesn’t have a budget problem for its schools. It has a simple “competence problem’ beginning with our BOE. And if our elected leaders don’t address our public school severe performance problems nothing will change. Norwalk will continue to be known as the “hole in the middle of the donut”.

Do our City leaders care more about public school administrators than educating our kids ? Sure looks that way. Our schools are a major embarrassment. Time for Norwalk Dems to “stand up” and demand our schools meet CT Edu Dept standards. Not just spend monies for high paid administrators.

Piberman February 22, 2022 at 7:11 pm

Curiously none of the BOE members or respondents above have shown any plans or suggested that more funding will actually increase the numbers of students in our acknowledged failing public school system who meet CT Edu Dept standards for graduation. That suggests our BOE and school administrators lack the competence to improve student performance. Where are the suggestions for BOE members to resign so they can be replaced by those with backgrounds managing large business/public entities ? Or is the story that everyone accepts Norwalk does and will always have a failing public school system.

I’m surprised Mayor Rilling has criticized Finance Director Dashowitz for saying what’s obvious to every finance professional. Namely we’re getting a poor return on our failing public school system w/o any visible plans for improvement. Director Dashowitz is widely viewed as the Mayor’s best appointment.

Criticizing Directors in public sends the wrong message to City employees. Especially when they’re speaking in their professional capacities. Does any BOE member, our Mayor or any Council member have professional credentials sufficient to criticize Director Dashowitz in pubic ? Have they served as expert financial witnesses in Court? is this how Norwalk plans to encourage well qualified candidates applying for vacancies in our City’s government ? Surely City Hall can do better.

s March 2, 2022 at 10:06 am

Piberman, you have the most accurate comments on all the education matters. Are you on the Norwalk parents for education group on facebook. Please do join.
I think voices like your needs to be heard.

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