Candidate: Dawn DuBois

Dawn DuBois is seeking a three-year term on the Board of Education

Candidate for Verona Board Of Education
Candidate’s Web site
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Candidate Statement

As a Verona parent, attorney and Assoc. Adj. Professor, I offer my candidacy for the open seat on the Verona BOE with the paramount interest of improving the Verona Public School System for all K-12 students. We already have in place many outstanding teachers, parents and administrators. What we need now is each other’s active attention, discussion and participation in the process to move forward our children’s academic opportunities, within the District’s fiscal responsibilities.

Personal & Professional Qualifications

Seven years ago, we moved our family from NY, finding the promise of a school system offering a private-quality education for our child an irresistible feature of home ownership in Verona, NJ. My studies and work in both private and the public sector have prepared me to understand the complex laws, regulations, and financial issues attendant to the operation of a School District by the Board of Education. I am committed because of my personal work experience and choice to invest in Verona as both a concerned parent, and homeowner.

A graduate of SUNY Stony Brook, in 1985 I earned dual bachelor degrees in both Political Science and Comparative French Literature. In 1988, earned my Juris Doctor from Brooklyn Law School, where I was published, and served as Comments Editor of the Law Review. Upon admission to the NY Bar Association, I entered corporate litigation practice for several years. I spent the bulk of my years as an attorney in public service. I served as a clerk for the Appellate Division, of the NYS Supreme Court, 2d Judicial Department. Upon the birth of my child, like many working mothers, I needed to stay employed but with a better work-life balance. For the past ten years, I retired as an attorney, and now am the NY NY Market Manager for Rodney Strong Wine Estates, California.

Now in the private sector, I am required to perform with specific deliverables, timetables, budgets and accountabilities. Since 2009, I have been appointed associate adjunct professor at St John’s University, NY, teaching part-time at the College of Professional Studies. Education is a family passion, with study and learning a focus in our home. My child, like many in Verona, has already identified a top ranked college as the school of his dreams. We work as a family to ensure that he is prepared for, and will be a highly qualified applicant in 2019!

Why run for the Board of Education?

When a school system is high-functioning as ours, it is even more important to continue to challenge our assumptions, and perhaps push ourselves to exceed our expectations and attain our greater potential. The question becomes “how do we raise the bar on ourselves”, when we have a successful and effective School District right now?

I have chosen to run because I believe that we should “be the change we hope to see.” The evolution of our school district needs is never ending. Verona families now have more at stake than ever in the School Budget process which impacts their finances, and their children’s future educational opportunities.

If there is a primary initiative that I will take ownership of it is bridging the gap between the technology that we enjoy at home and are required to master in our work, with what is presently employed in our District. In a global competitive economy, our kids need state of the art digital media access. Technology is no longer a luxury of private schools only, and I will work to communicate the opportunities that our children can enjoy with better tech integration. Verona parents want what is best for their children, and I believe that they will support initiatives only when they are convinced of the compelling need for such changes.

That is how I see the role of the BOE, to investigate and propose measures for our school’s improvement and allowed for informed decisions by the taxpayers. I vow to never propose spending without first identifying specific, measurable and time bound goals that can be attained as a result of the investments.

The major issues to me are, now that the BOE has successfully stabilized our fiscal budget, is to focus on Student Achievement, putting in place curricular accountabilities and setting ourselves ambitious, if not
highly audacious goals.

My goal is to engage and raise parents’ interest the budgetary and administrative dialogs that affect our children. Our children’s K-12 education is the foundation that will allow them to gain entrance into the universities, and now increasingly important, graduate schools of choice in the future. As an educator I am aware of challenges facing our excellent teachers and administrators and like them, I have been held accountable for student performance.

Spending against Deliverables: Our Children’s Classroom Instruction Comes First

In these tough financial times Verona students are at risk when concerned parents do not participate in the BOE, for they risk losing important Per Pupil classroom instruction expenditures needed to prepare them for competitive scholarships and college admissions in the new global economy.

In the past three years, the Verona District Schools spent less Per Pupil on Total Classroom Instruction than the NJ State average (see State of NJ Department of Education Report Card 2009-2010). At the same time, our District spent above State average Per Pupil on the following areas; Support Services, Administration, and Operations and Maintenance, and Extracurricular Activities. I believe that Verona families pay their fair share of property taxes, with the understanding that our children benefit from a Per Pupil Expenditures at par, or greater than state averages. We need to examine and review expenses that do not have defined and measureable impact upon our children’s learning and competitive preparedness for advanced education.

How we measure student performance in Verona is an important area for wider discussion in our community in the coming year. While we cannot fall prey to “teaching to a test”, test scores provide a measure of insight into the effectiveness of our programs. They can also provide early indicators of gaps in our curriculum, offering insight into where we need to focus our attention and improve. In recent years , some Verona schools have seen gains in areas of the NJ State assessments as measured by test scores, but improvement in the national Standard Admissions Test (“SAT”) should be a goal of our entire community.

Use of test scores can lead us to where our curriculum needs revising. There are already processes set in motion by the current BOE that work toward that end. I see solutions that have been identified and implantation is rolling out on a per school basis. I will work to progress on these initiatives that frankly came before my involvement and should be applauded and credited to the existing BOE.

I urge parents to take time to review the websites for private college preparatory institutions, and view their focus and offerings. There is extraordinary emphasis on a minimum of 30 hours of extracurricular SAT test preparation because performance is critical to college admissions. Where students gain college admissions is the yardstick by which many private schools justify their tremendous expense. Verona Senior High students sitting for the exam need to be collectively prepared, and the cost should not be seen as a “luxury”, or discretionary.

Verona Residents face decisions and rank priorities for their household budgets on a daily basis. In the same way, the BOE will continue to prioritize education as the ultimate objective of every dollar spent.

Their Future is Now: Fast-Track the Integration of Technology.

We are in the midst of an era where low-cost technologies which allow us to communicate, research and work at top speed from our homes and workplaces. For Verona, I would plan to integrate education enabling technology more widely, as other districts and top-ranked private schools have adopted. There are no-cost opportunities that require more commitment than capital to bring the digital media into the classrooms. There is a growing gap between the state- of-the -art technology we have for home and leisure, and what is being leveraged for learning in school. I applaud and want to see that the success of a pilot program at the Middle School , using Apple iPods, progresses and forms the basis for sustained growth in this direction. There are Federal funding dollars available for programs like these at the High School level, and Verona BOE can initiate the process to tap them. Our schools need to be as wired and tech-friendly as our homes have become. There are fantastic programs involving Apple, that bring training and integration of digital media into schools with proven results.

I wish only for increased greater voter turnout on April 27, as well as sustained resident involvement in the operation of our School District than ever before. Thank you for taking the time to learn about my ideas, and I look forward to getting your input and concerns.