Wednesday, July 20, 2011

An Opportunity At Danbury High School.

Danbury High School is an outstanding institution. It’s a wonderful blend of 3000 students who are taught by a caring, passionate staff.

It has become the flagship institution of the Danbury Public School system.
Sitting at the top of Clapboard Ridge Rd., it is a beacon of hope for thousands of our young people as they pass through its doorways. Danbury High graduates have attended some of the best universities in the world.
Alumni of DHS can be found in business, politics, science, theology, medicine, the military, the arts,  and the building trades.
Danbury High School represents the culmination of an investment made by this community in its children. Tuition  for out of town students is over $10,000 (yes students actually pay to go to DHS). For each 9th grader who walks into the building this fall, the taxpayers of the City of Danbury have invested close to $108,000 in their education.
That’s why Danbury High School is so important to our city.
While the sudden departure of Dr. Rossi this past weekend came as a surprise to our community, the reality is that the Board of Education should look at this as an opportunity to enhance an atmosphere of academic excellence directed by a new Principal.
So while everybody is gathering their collective breaths, a few thoughts for the Board of Education on a succesor:
1. Don’t rush. There is no hurry. Danbury High is blessed with a great senior administrative team – that know how to run the building.  Appoint an interim Principal from our pool of current administrators, and then promote a teacher into their place. This will give you time to do a search and hiring. You will have time to get community input, conduct your interviews, and determine the right choice without the pressure of a timeline.
2. Pick someone local. Please – no more flying all over the country for a “national” search when we have a ton of talent in Connecticut and in the Greater Danbury area. Having knowledge of Danbury and the State of Connecticut as well as having the correct certifications makes for an easier transition.
3. Promote from within. If at all possible, try to give priority to internal candidates that are committed to educational excellence.
4.  Change is important. But only if it is put into place to respond to changes to education law, and only if the change is well thought out and well executed.
5. Hire someone who is in it for the long haul. Having seen a revolving door of Principals for the last several years, pick someone that is committed to being here for a while. We invest a lot of time and energy on these hirings, we need a solid five years as a minimum.
6. Communication is key. Effective communication to the Board of Education, to the City of Danbury, to residents, to the media, to staff, to parents, to students is an absolute must.
7. Pick someone who understands the financial pressures that the Board of Education, and the City of Danbury are facing. “Doing more with less” is no longer just an empty phrase, it's real – an effective administrator has to get every ounce of efficiency out of their staff, the building, and its programs.
8. Students and their educational experience come first. Always.
Danbury High School presents an opportunity for the right person. As someone who worked there for many years, I know of the potential and possibility that exists at our flagship institution.
We just need the right leader to get us there..

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Close the Danbury DMV?

This morning the News-Times is reporting that Governor Malloy is planning to close the Danbury office of the Department of Motor Vehicles.

This closure is in conjunction with a host of DMV closings across the state. According to the paper, staff will be notified today or tomorrow of the impending closure.

Would the closing of our DMV office be a bad thing?  In the short term, absolutely. Danbury has become an economic engine of the state that dwarfs most communities. Driving to Waterbury to get your car registered might be a pain in the neck for our residents, but it will be an absolute economic drag on our local businesses and many of our auto related businesses.

Long-term there may be some positive outcomes of widespread DMV closures. Privatizing the front office operations through a vendor ( for example, AAA) and leaving the back office operations to state employees could save millions in labor costs- and still give us a local office.

Moving a lot of the basic functions to the cloud and allowing residents to access services through the web would lower labor costs as well.

But, all of these changes would have to be part of a much larger system wide reorganization. Not just in random closures in response to a failed negotiating strategy.

Do I really think that the Governor is going to shut down the Danbury DMV?

Probably not. The positioning of a possible closure is just a way for the Malloy administration to put more pressure on the state employee unions who have rejected the initial "concession" package.

Lots of unhappy taxpayers and unhappy residents who use the service mean more pressure on the union leadership and its members to figure out a way to unwind the recent rejection.

Don't worry yet people, this is just an opening gambit to turn up the heat on the unions.

To be continued..

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Congratulations To Thomas and Christine.

This was not an ordinary wedding performed at City Hall folks. PFC Thomas Sasko assigned to the 172nd Infantry Brigade will be shipping out tomorrow to Afghanistan. That's right, tomorrow.

The couple asked me to come and perform the wedding before he leaves.

Good Luck Thomas and Christine!

Thank you Thomas for reminding us what the 4th of July is really all about. May God Bless you and protect you while you are serving our country.

A proud city waits for your return.