Kathleen Stowe (opinion): Much to be thankful for in Greenwich Public Schools

Kathleen Stowe (opinion): 'It is time to pass the baton'

We have much to be thankful for

We just finished the first quarter, report cards are out, leaves are down, turkeys are roasting and there is much to celebrate in Greenwich Public Schools. You have heard from me regularly in my leadership role on the Board of Education. This will be my last update as the chair and I write it with a sense of excitement for what we have done and where we are going, as well as deep gratitude to all of you who have supported us along the way.

Our students continue to amaze me. This fall we have seen many victories in academics, on the fields and in the arts. Two hundred and thirty-five of our students were inducted into the National Honor Society, the Greenwich High School boys’ soccer team won the state championship, the girls’ swim team came in second in their state final, the Cardinals debate team earned top place at a recent tournament and the Halloween concert was “spooktacular,” to name just a few.

This season the board tackled two topics that were high priorities for the community. We have made progress on the project to rebuild Central Middle School. After extensive review and discussion, the board reached unanimous agreement on an architect who will take our plan forward. Separately, we have adopted enhanced safety and security measures for all of our schools. The board is thankful to the Central Building Committee and the Greenwich Police Department for helping us reach these goals.   

Leveraging our COVID experience, our board has established a hybrid meeting structure with both in person and virtual attendance. This provides increased access for our community, parents, students and staff to participate in our meetings. Just this fall we have spent time on many topics including assessments, achievement, curriculum, Special Education and the Advanced Learning Program. I encourage the public to join us and learn more.  

We also kicked off our annual budget process. This year we are pursuing a more streamlined approach, separating the capital and operating budget work. Our board passed the capital plan, with a unanimous 8-0 vote, including critical funding for the rebuilding of Central Middle School and the Old Greenwich renovation. These now head to the town for final approvals. Separately, we are working diligently to manage the operating expenses in this inflationary environment. The administration was able to propose a budget that holds to just a 2.9 percent increase despite so many rising costs.  We will continue to work through this over the next month. As always, we would appreciate feedback from the community via email and public comment with our next meeting scheduled for Dec. 1. 

In closing, I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to my colleagues and everyone in the community for the support you’ve given me as chair.  We have accomplished a lot in the last year. I’ve heard many questions about my decision. After five years on the board and three in leadership, I think it is time to pass the baton. In my business career, I have seen the value of continuously building and developing leadership. We have a strong executive team. Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones and her team have done a great job managing through so many challenges. We have a dedicated board that will continue to work for the community. I am excited that two talented colleagues have stepped up to offer their service and I am confident that we will be in good hands going forward. Thank you again for all of your engagement and support. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve the community and optimistic for the future of our school system. 

Kathleen Stowe is chair of the Greenwich Board of Education.