My focus for the next three years centers on these four areas:
- Fiscal Responsibility.
- Significantly improved communications with the community, faculty, and sending districts.
- Implementation of the Revised Strategic Plan.
- Ensuring we maintain a well-rounded education based on student needs.
Fiscal Responsibility: I have been an outspoken advocate for exploring ways to save money, including pushing for a community-wide review with our sending districts to explore areas where we may share services. Recently, the Governor just announced a $12 million funding pool for use by school districts to pay for feasibility studies for school district regionalization. While I personally do not know if district regionalization would be appropriate for our community at this time… I do believe we should take advantage of the state funding to determine what, if any, fiscal and educational benefits may occur through a formal shared services agreement or outright regionalization. Many residents have commented to me about the number of school districts in such a small area. The state is now providing us with an opportunity to find out if there are any real fiscal and educational benefits to consolidation… or not. Getting the answer to this question costs us nothing and ensures we are doing our “due diligence” on behalf of the residents.
Improved Communications: One of the areas of greatest frustration for me has been in the area of communication. The Watchung Hills Regional School District has not been as effective in communicating with our community, parents or other stakeholders. There have been too many instances where varying groups have felt blindsided or ignored. This must change. I have fought for our meeting to be broadcast (they now are!). For the past five years, I have been pushing for the implementation of an annual “climate survey” of all stakeholders, including students, faculty, staff, parents, and community members so we have the input we need to ensure we are providing the best educational experience for our community and we are truly serving the needs of the community. This survey was finally implemented last year! Just as I have for the past nine years, I will continue to host community coffees for residents to share their thoughts and concern. I pride myself on being completely accessible to all residents hosting informal coffees, and welcoming all calls, emails, or meetings with any individual or group.
Implementation of the Revised Strategic Plan: During my first term in office, one of my major areas of emphasis was the development and approval of the district’s first-ever strategic plan. The Board approved the strategic plan and underlying objectives in June of 2016. In addition, I championed the development and adoption of a set of “Expected Schoolwide Learning Results” (ESLRs) to identify the characteristics needed for our students to be successful in life. In my second term, the focus was all on the plan’s implementation. During my third term, the focus was on revising the first plan, which was completed in 2020. My focus for a fourth term will be to oversee the implementation of the new plan and hold the administration accountable for progress in meeting the revised goals and objectives.
A Well-Rounded Education:
“Many of the students entering Watchung Hills over the next four years will end up in jobs that do not exist today, in industries that have yet to be invented.”
Scoring well on tests is one thing. Developing the skills to be successful in college and career is another. Success in language arts literacy and math is important. However, this should not be at the expense of providing a well-rounded education for all students. This is why I was such a firm believer in the development of our Expected Schoolwide Learning Results. We need to help our students develop skills needed so they may be applied to a wide variety of career paths… to be successful in these industries that have yet to be invented. Providing a robust curriculum with opportunities in the core content areas combined with rich extracurricular offerings is the pathway to educational success. I am proud of the work we have accomplished to increase course offerings driven by student interest. I have also been a watchdog to protect against the encroachment of a “testing mentality” into our schools. I will remain committed to both expanding offerings for our students and keeping the testing industrial complex from distorting our priorities, so we may protect the integrity of our educational environment for students.
I remain committed to continuing to work hard on behalf of the residents and our students to ensure our students are prepared for the future that awaits them.