(The following letter to departing Superintendent of Schools Janet Robinson has been received for publication.)
Dear Janet Robinson,
I just wanted to thank you for your time and work here in Newtown. Even though our budget hasn’t kept up with inflation and our student spending has decreased, you, your staff, and our teachers have managed to maintain or increase test scores. During your tenure in Newtown, we went from 128th in student spending to 150th out of 165 townships. Obviously, the politics of this town is against those who support our schools.
Even though you weren’t here to plan the High School expansion, you completed it and brought the project in under budget. You saved this town hundreds of thousands of dollars by competitively bidding out the bus contract. I’m still waiting for an explanation by our local politicians as to why it’s okay to be 12th out of 165 townships in the state in student transportation spending, while student spending hasn’t kept up with inflation. On March 9, the University of Connecticut educational alumni association honored you with the Outstanding School Superintendent Award for 2012.
You continually reminded our town that it was the education of our children which was important. Though you knew the Facebook vigilantes would go after you and the Legislative Council would cut your budget, you were never afraid to present and fight for the student budget needed to educate our students. While outlandish stories were spread about teacher salaries, superintendent salaries and benefits, hidden money in the school budget, amongst others, you never took your eye off the ball which was to educate our kids.
You continually reminded us that we needed to prepare for the new Connecticut state standards of NEASC and Common Core. Unfortunately, our political leaders have continuously cut our budget. The constant cutting of the budget will hurt our students and hurt our town. Unfortunately for us, you won’t be around to help us fix it.
The fight over the bus contract was probably the last straw. Since then, the Facebook vigilantes have never left you alone, though competitively bidding that contract has saved this town and school budget hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.
Once the Independent Party lost the majority on the Board of Education, it was obvious it was time for you to leave. The hostility and micro-management shown by the new Board of Education made it impossible for you to do your job. To quote the CT Post newspaper, your leaving is due to the fact that you “clashed repeatedly with the leadership of the (Newtown) school board.” Unfortunately, it speaks volumes about Newtown politics that you were awarded the Outstanding School Superintendent Award for 2012, while in the same year the Newtown Board of Education did not renew your contract.
Best of luck as the new school superintendent of Stratford; they’re lucky to have you.
4 Winter Ridge Road, Sandy Hook June 18, 2013