From the superintendent

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Dear Colleagues:

As the school year comes to a close, I know the stress can start to pile up -- I feel it too. Some of you manage that stress through exercise, others find solace in your places of worship or by sharing a meal with friends. Your coworkers can also be a helpful source of community for you. In busy times like this, it is important that we continue to work together to end the school year on a positive note.

We -- each one of us -- are the faces and voices of Saint Paul Public Schools. Our words and actions shape public perception of every student, every school in our district, and ultimately, even of us ourselves. By working together and staying positive, we can improve the spirit at work and in the community.

I acknowledge the struggles we have faced during this school year. But I also acknowledge what we have accomplished. Here are some examples:

  • Graduation rates at most SPPS schools are higher than the state average.
  • We wrapped up the first phase of Strong Schools, Strong Communities (SSSC), and are beginning work on SSSC 2.0.
  • We maintained student enrollment while moving 14,000 students to different school sites.
  • All elementary students who are eligible for transportation have bus stops within 1/2 mile of their homes.
  • We welcomed many students who receive specialized services into mainstream classrooms.
  • Truancy rates are down.
  • The board passed a ground-breaking racial equity policy.

As we embark on the path towards equity, we have run into bumps along the way and through those experiences we have learned good lessons that will help us continue our journey into next year. While working hard to address our challenges, I choose to focus on how we are making changes on behalf of students in our district. Even though change is often messy, we are learning from our mistakes.

What we all know is that many of our students are not reaching their full potential, and that is why we can’t keep doing the same thing and then expect different results. We owe it to our students and our community to address the root causes of the unintentional inequities in our system. All students have the right to a premier public education -- a right that many students have not had the opportunity to enjoy.

We can’t talk any more about what’s right for adults. Our focus must be on what’s right for kids, no matter how messy, how difficult, or how unpopular.

I have been at meetings with school staff and have listened to your feedback, so I see how SPPS staff are making many sacrifices on behalf of our students and enduring change. You are also the ones who are interacting with students, families and communities daily. I am so impressed by the passion, dedication, skills and the value that you bring to your work.

As the faces and voices of SPPS, we are united by our shared belief that our work is about the kids. We are trying new things on behalf of kids. And when you work with kids, you know things don’t always go as you thought they would. But with patience, love and flexibility, students will take you to amazing places. We are in this together!

The feedback that I have received from recent meetings with staff and the community is that we need to create more opportunities to listen to your ideas on how we can improve communication and serve all kids better. You'll notice many more opportunities in the coming months. I invite you to be part of the solution.

Your very proud superintendent,

Silva Signature


 

Valeria S. Silva