New Haven Mayor John DeStefano delivered his 20th and final State of the City Address at City Hall on Monday night and talked about schools, the economy, public safety and the budget.
He also stressed that a lot of progress has been made, but he has a lot of work left in his final 330 days in office.
The mayor touted the success of the public school system — emphasizing that different agencies must work together to eliminate the achievement gap, cut the drop-out rate and prepare students for college.
“Kids who can set goals and work hard, kids who can grow up in safe neighborhoods and kids who attend a school district that prepares them for work, happiness and life-long success,” DeStefano said.
At Wilbur Cross High School in the East Rock section of the city, drop-out rates decreased more than at any other school in the city.
“It makes me feel phenomenally good because I know my teachers have been there and given their best and they are a dynamic group of people and my parents are number one,” Peggy Moore, principal at Wilbur Cross, said.
In addition to education, DeStefano spoke about the importance of public safety, the need to continue to grow the economy and budget challenges.
The mayor said the crime rate has gone down, but the big concern is “more community policing.” That goes hand in hand with education.
“You know the difference in all our neighborhoods if kids are in school learning, achieving, positively doing. They aren’t then harming themselves or one another,” DeStefano said.
He even highlighted three students who have earned scholarships through New Haven Promise.
One of them is Jordy Padilla, who is now a sophomore at University of New Haven.
“I’ve worked hard all my life,” Padilla said. “I definitely had help from others and you can’t succeed without that.”
DeStefano said schools and teachers will continue to be ranked, but getting students into college is the biggest thing he’s going to focus on.