QUESTION 1: When you talk to prospective voters about what the Board of Education can–and cannot do–what do you tell them?
When I first decided to run for board of education I immediately set out to educate myself about the needs of the town and the ways that the board of education could address those needs. I did so by asking questions and meeting with various board members and the superintendent. It has been a priority of mine, well before running, to attend as many board of education meetings as possible. When I meet with the public I want to hear their concerns, but I also strive to clarify what is within the role and responsibilities of the board of education. With this said, I will always do the research needed to answer any question or concern regarding our school district even if the issue at hand is not something the board of education will be able to address directly. The following is what I have learned through my own education and want to communicate to the Verona residents with whom I meet.
First and foremost; every board member is part of a team working in the best interest of every student in Verona. That requires a level of respect, trust, patience and a value in diverse perspectives from all board members. My personal experiences as a teacher and civic volunteer in a variety of educational and civic situations such as Sustainable Verona, the Community Garden program, and co-leading the full day kindergarten vote, confirms my record of working as a team player.
Members of the board of education are responsible for four major tenets: (1) policy development, (2) hiring and supervision of the superintendent, (3) acting as a conduit between the public and the administration, and (4) managing a fiscally responsible budget without sacrificing the needs of the students. The policies developed by the board of education are the most critical aspect of the job. My background in education is essential for crafting policies that directly impact students. These policies assist the administration with their day to day operations, hiring staff, and provide guidance on instructional programs. However, it is important to mention that the board is not responsible for hiring or curriculum decisions. Another very important aspect of the board’s oversight is evaluating the effectiveness of the superintendent to help the district to reach its goals. This evaluation is done annually with regular updates provided during board of education meetings. It is truly the responsibility of the board to make sure the voice of the town is heard when the administration makes decisions. For example, when the board decides to put something to a vote, such as full day kindergarten or parts of this year’s referendum, these questions on ballots come directly out of community input. Finally, members of the board are responsible for managing a fiscally responsible budget by balancing the concerns of the taxpayer without sacrificing the needs of all students. This is the most challenging piece the board of education faces annually. Since budgets are no longer publicly voted upon, the board is tasked with public trust to ensure tax dollars are spent wisely without students losing vital services and programs. My experience in special education provides the board with a unique perspective on what students need, and the creativity to ensure their needs are funded. It is with a well-researched and clear understanding of the board of education roles and responsibilities that I will effectively advocate for the needs of our children and our town.