Education 2025: It’s not exclusively about bricks and mortar, says Herbst

First Selectman Tim Herbst says that the projected increases in the state plan are more stable than the current plan.
First Selectman Tim Herbst says that the projected increases in the state plan are more stable than the current plan.

First Selectman Tim Herbst unveiled his Education 2025 plan in a release Monday.
Talking about his administration’s investment and commitment to public education in Trumbull, Herbst said that the quality of a public school system directly impacts a community’s quality of life.
“Here in Trumbull, we are fortunate to have a public school system that has earned state and national recognition these last six years,” said Herbst. “In ranking Trumbull the 7th Best Town in the nation to raise a family in 2011, Family Circle Magazine cited our educational system as earning a 9 out of 10 for educational excellence. In 2013, when Coldwell Banker ranked Trumbull ‘The No. 1 Booming Community in Connecticut’ they cited the strength and quality of our school system as a major driver in their decision.”
The first selectman highlighted that earlier this year all six of Trumbull’s elementary schools were ranked in the top 125 in  Connecticut, and that the town’s two middle schools have been ranked in the top 30 in the state.
Looking over some more accomplishments of his administration, Herbst pointed at the implementation of full-day kindergarten.
“As a result of these efforts, student performance and test scores continue to improve in the formative years of education,” he said.
In addition, over the last six year’s the first selectman has overseen the implementation of a comprehensive technology improvement plan in each of Trumbull’s nine schools.
Some other notable highlights include:
•Worked with the Board of Education to reduce and eliminate portable classrooms at schools while maintaining low class size;
•Worked with the Board of Education to reduce pay to participate fees, with a plan to fully eliminate these fees within the next two years;
•Made districtwide security enhancements to each and every one of the schools in the wake of the Sandy Hook tragedy. Today, there exists better planning and collaboration between the town’s educational leaders and local law enforcement;
•Established in 2012 the Trumbull First Selectman’s Golf Classic, which has raised over $165,000 for student programs at Trumbull High School;
•Established the First Selectman’s Summer Reading Challenge, which promotes literacy and reading among elementary students;
•Reformed the Board of Education Facilities Department to eliminate conflicts of interest and guarantee that Trumbull’s staff and personnel are dedicated to making all buildings safe, energy efficient and clean.   
“It is critical to provide our students and teachers with a quality learning environment while also reducing the operational costs to the Trumbull taxpayers,” Herbst said. “The reforms in the BOE Facilities Department have saved over $850,000 in the first year alone.”
Path forward
Continuing from that point of saving money from the facilities budget, Herbst said that part of his plan is to make every Trumbull Public School building energy efficient by 2025 with specific emphasis on renewable energy sources, like solar.   
He added that the energy savings realized would pay for capital upgrades, with a specific focus on the elementary and middle schools.
Specifically, the first selectman said he wants to reduce inefficiency and redundancy between the town and Board of Education systems to increase operational savings in those areas that are not directly related to education — facilities units, finance departments, and information technology units.
In the release, Herbst said one of the major goals of his plan is implementing a universal pre-kindergarten by 2025.
“With declining school enrollment, Trumbull is poised for a new era of educational excellence,” he said. “A reduction in our existing student population will mean real and actual savings in our operating budget. That savings should be redirected towards an investment in universal pre-K at no additional cost to the taxpayer.”
Some additional components of the 10-year plan include:
•Work to replace all textbooks with computerized curriculum systems that are accessible on an iPad, making students technologically proficient while at the same time reducing costs;
•Increase advance placement course offerings at Trumbull High School;
•Introduce foreign languages into fourth and fifth grade curriculum, including Spanish and Chinese so Trumbull kids can compete in a global economy.
“We have so much to be proud of but there is still more we can do,” Herbst said.  “We can find efficiencies and continue to reduce costs while still making meaningful investments in the things that matter.”
“I think we have demonstrated these last six years that supporting public education is not exclusively about bricks and mortar,” he added. “It is about investing in the things that matter most — teaching and learning.”