State education officials want more information from the city school district on what it will do to fix problems that the state has been monitoring.
On Thursday, State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia sent a letter and a 32-page document to the district and its school board with more detail on what the state thinks of the district’s response to findings from a state consultant.
Elia says that while some elements of the district’s plan to improve operations were responsive to recommendations from the state’s Distinguished Educator (Jamie Aquino), the city school board response “fails to include an overarching, coherent vision for district improvement and is unrealistic in terms of timelines and capacity to implement meaningful actions effectively.”
Elia says the district will have six weeks to work with Distinguished Educator Jaime Aquino and resubmit its plan.
At a late afternoon news conference on Thursday, School Board President Van White says at first glance at the commissioner's letter, he doesn't feel it is calling for a wholesale revision of the district's earlier response.
“I didn’t read a lot that said you ought to be revamping it; I think she wants a little more meat, perhaps, on the bone and we can do that. I didn’t read her saying something is in there that should not be in there," White told reporters.
White does not view the commissioner’s critical letter as an indication there is a problem of communication between the district and the state education department.
"If I thought it was hostile or belligerent or an attack, no. I see it as a way in which we can improve and she can improve the way in which she manages the district. If she were to do otherwise, I would wonder what her committment is to the schools," White said.
An update on the district's progress is expected from the distinguished educator next week.
Here's Elia's full response: