Over the past year, I have continued to emphasize critical focus areas through my voting record and guidance in board meetings, work sessions, and public forums.
Ensuring Student Success
Today our students are competing for workforce and higher education opportunities with students across the globe. We must ensure our students are performing at the top of the global class. To accomplish this, we need to ensure we are closing the achievement gap among students while also strengthening our offerings in technology, innovation, and languages.
Closing the achievement gap is a complex challenge that includes selecting interventions that are proven to yield to results, strengthening parent engagement, and building community partnerships to surround students with positive support structures. At this time, we do have schools that are seeing positive results in closing achievement gaps at the building level. We need to learn from and share these best practices while pivoting away from solutions that are failing to produce the intended results.
As we examine the current and future skill set requirements of the global workforce, we need to accelerate the range of curriculum offerings and enrichment programs to best equip our students to compete. In a world in which students will graduate to work on global teams and with technology that may not even yet exist today, they must be ready to speak more than one language and prepared for technology integration into their everyday activity.
Finally, as we consider the mission of equipping all students to succeed, we must continue to recognize that no two students are the same and that there are many paths to preparing students for success. Our students have a variety of skill sets and passions and expanding educational choices that nurture their capabilities will ensure each student graduates with the readiness to succeed in their next endeavor and to contribute to our community.
As a board member, I am working to incorporate these ideas and solutions into our strategic planning work. We are investing to understand our students’ needs and we will create new opportunities for them going forward.
I believe that a district’s ability to run efficiently and effectively is a critical foundation for success. When we demonstrate that we are good stewards of taxpayer and community resources, we can unlock private and public partnerships that benefit our students and our community. I believe each financial decision must be made with the goal of providing a superior educational return on our stakeholders’ investment.
As a community member with eighteen years of business and finance experience, I have made it a priority to continue our district’s record of recognized operational and financial excellence. I have critically analyzed budget and funding decisions through both a student outcome and financial efficiency lens. My goal is to ensure we continue to invest in programs and practices that are proven to deliver improved academic outcomes while quickly pivoting away from initiatives that fail to deliver as expected. Further, I believe that we should test and learn, or pilot, to effectively evaluate new initiatives before large investment decisions are considered. Last, our district has a fantastic array of partnerships across our communities. We have leveraged these relationships even further and expand our partnerships to strengthen our educational offerings and surrounding support structures.
Whether we are in strong or lean financial environments, I will always make choices that are fiscally responsible and maximize the benefit to our students.
Student Safety and Environment
A reoccurring concern I have heard from parents, students, staff, and community volunteers has been safety and environment. I have heard feedback such as “there are days my son doesn’t want to go to school because he has heard something is going to happen,” “My daughter has anxiety about going to school because she doesn’t know what might happen that day,” and “We are considering selling our home because we cannot send our son to our local school next year.” Community volunteers have spoken at school board meetings and emailed about the challenges they are observing in some of our buildings and some staff have indicated they are not receiving the support they need to run their classrooms effectively. I don’t believe any student, staff member, or volunteer should ever feel their school is an unsafe place to be. Our strategic work is centering on the classroom. We are working to understand this issue and I will support recommendations that maximize resourcing to ensure safety for our students and teachers.
National and local dialogue has identified a growing student need for mental health and behavioral support. A growing number of students are coming to school with severe trauma in their lives and it is impacting their ability to learn as well as their interactions with other students and adults. Our district has begun to devote resources to this need and continues to form private-public partnerships to support students and staff. I believe we need to continue to listen to and support teachers and administrators to ensure they have the necessary tools and support structures to ensure the classroom environment is a safe and constructive learning environment for all students. To this end, when we lost some external funding for co-located mental health services, I voted to allocate internal funding to ensure continuation of mental health services.
In addition to classroom support, safe buildings, and effective partnerships, strong security and emergency preparedness plans are foundational elements for school and classroom safety. I believe we have these critical components in place and observe the district continuing to make improvements as areas of risk are identified and priorities are established. As we prepare are long term integrated facilities planning, we utilizing a safety and security advisory committee (REMAC) that is helping to ensure long-term planning includes safe and security environments for our students.
We have many strengths as a district and we are working to recognize and build upon them. At the same time, in order to continue to serve our students and communities, we must recognize our areas of improvement. We can always strive to improve and we must do so through ensuring every voice is heard, creating a culture of candid conversation, and developing an openness to new solutions and innovation. Let’s come together to do this every single day for every single student.