The comments are my own and do not represent the Westbury School Board.
As a board of education trustee, my primary responsibility is accounting for student performance outcomes. It means we have to align the district resources to ensure that district goals are met, while promoting a culture accepting no less than high achievement and high performance. To that end, every school board member and employee of the Westbury School District must take responsibility and be held accountable.
On May 17, 2016 the Westbury community spoke very loud and clear, voting for change by electing three new board members who articulated that high performance, transparency and accountability must return to our school district. The current student performance outcomes are not acceptable and we must realize a better return on the investment made to our schools that for many is a financial hardship and can bear no more.
So what does performance mean and how does transparency and accountability play a role. We can disagree all day on what performance means, but we can all agree and cannot deny that our collective efforts are reflected in the graduating classes every single year. So how are we doing in this area when compared to other schools in Long Island?
While we have increased the high school graduation rate in the last three years, our 2015 SAT scores average of 1208 (out of 2400) puts us fifth from the bottom out of 95 school districts and only 106 points from last place. Even worse is the low graduation rate of those students that go on to college. The graduation rate four years after leaving High School averages less than two out of 10. Historically more than 80% of our high school students never graduate from college. Clearly we have work to do and who should be accountable?
The community elects school boards and provides the financial resources. The board governs via the superintendent, policy and personnel decisions. The superintendent and her staff manage the school district. There is a clear and direct line of accountability for performance and transparency. For our district very good is not good enough if we are going to move up from fifth from the bottom and increase significantly both the high school and college graduation rates. It is the job of the board to establish the district goals, hold the district accountable and demand performance. The community should be laser-focused on holding the school board accountable for the outcomes.
At a recent school board action meeting the Westbury Teachers Association President publicly accused the board of not being honest, fair and respectful. I am speaking to our teachers directly and asking you if your WTA President has yet to meet with the entire board to have an honest fair and respectful conversation, so that we can work in partnership to overcome obstacles, collaborate and together forge an attainable path forward. What I know is that without all of us working together; board, administration, teachers, parents and community, we will not succeed and collectively will suffer the consequences. But it has to start with those of us that are directly accountable for outcomes, only then can we expect parents and the rest of the community to follow.
—Pedro A. Quintanilla,
Westbury School District Board of Education trustee