A New Beginning In September
By: Blake D. Strozier, Assistant Secretary/Treasurer – Flint Board of Education
I can remember back as a young man preparing for the beginning of school; the summer was almost over, the beginning of another school year was right around the corner. I used to dread this time of year; I wanted to be out with my friends or on vacation with my family. As I got older, I began to see it from the eyes of an adult; this time of the year becomes exciting. Parents prepare to send their children back to school; the house is finally empty for them to enjoy while their children are at school. And while we look at all of these as positives, this year in the Flint Community Schools also proves to be an exciting time for not just the students of the district, but to the entire city as we welcome a new superintendent into to our district. I stand with my fellow board members as we support and look forward to Mr. Bilal Tawwab bringing a new perspective and new vision for our school district. I am confident that his achievements and proven record of success in the Detroit Public School System can garner us with the results that we need here in the district. Also, his willingness to bring together people to discuss and provide input will be beneficial as we continue to provide the best education possible for the students in the city of Flint.
Not only do we have a new leader as our superintendent, but we also have the expansion of our Community Education programming to include Durant-Tuuri-Mott, Eisenhower and Potter Elementary School. The programming that was launched as a pilot program through the CRIM Fitness Foundation is now expanding to three additional sites. Many remember the concept that helped foster the basis of Community Education in our community; the prospect of the schools being open for the community and being utilized not just during school hours but during afterhours for recreation and programming. This concept was requested through the City of Flint Master Plan; and the district is working to provide those services in order to deliver those havens of learning that are open for all residents of the community.
Finally, I’m simply excited because our budget continues to look better and brighter. Many have spoken against our budget and been very critical about our budget shortfall, but when taken in context with our greater community issues, this challenge is more understandable. When people move out of the city either for better jobs or to relocate they often take their children with them. When their children are no longer attending the neighborhood schools the school district has to adapt. However, after all the closures, budget and staff reductions we are beginning to see the silver lining with the reduction of our deficit from $21.9 Million Dollars to $16 Million Dollars. This reduction in our budget deficit has been through the hard work and negotiations by all our unions and they deserve a great deal of credit and appreciation for their diligence to continue the educational advancement of our students here in Flint.
So yes, I’m excited. I’m excited about what the future holds. I’m excited to see youth heading back into schools on September 8th. I’m excited to witness what our new superintendent will bring to continue to develop a community of learners ready to take on the ever-changing society. The Flint Community Schools is still a great district; while some are critical about the issues that face our district, I encourage them to look at the big picture. Many school districts and chartering agencies in the area are facing many of the same challenges as the Flint Community Schools. However in spite of these circumstances here in Flint we still have had 2 Gates Millennium Scholars last school year, we recently received the Apple Grant for our Brownell/Holmes STEM Academy site for this school year that provides Apple iPad’s for our students and staff. While some seek to build a new school, we are building new ways of learning and innovative curriculums that will be beneficial to our students in the long-term. WE are the Flint Community Schools and we’re EXCITED about what the future holds.