Thursday February 26, 2015
There are two open seats on the South Burlington School Board. Incumbent Elizabeth Fitzgerald, the current chair of the board, is running unopposed for the three year seat. Patrick Leduc is on the ballot for the uncontested two year seat. The candidates were invited to share their thoughts, in response to the following prompts: What are your top priorities as a school board member? What are the most urgent issues for the district, and what solutions or actions would you propose? What is your vision for the future of the community’s schools?
2 Year Seat
I’m excited to have the opportunity to serve my fellow community members during a time in which we will have much to take action on. In the coming years, we will have the opportunity to significantly impact what our local education system looks like, and how it delivers outcomes for our youth.
Some of the critical issues for our community in the immediate future relate to the physical school environment, the implications of City Center on our schools, how school funding and any potential consolidation plans issued from Montpelier will impact our local goals and decisions, and the effective implementation of Personalized Learning Plans, and Proficiency Based Learning. Dealing with all of these changes (some outside of our own control) will be challenging for all of us, change always is.
In addition, we must look hard at all options in a fiscally responsible manner. I believe the administration and the school board have a done a good job in looking at ways to reduce costs in the district, but I will, as a new member, ask many questions in this area. In many ways the changes I highlight above give us a great opportunity to look anew at our approaches and costs. While change can be difficult, I’ve found it’s also a healthy time to look under the covers and ask constructive questions about “why” we’re doing things the way we are.
All of these choices are critical not only because they directly impact the future lives of our youth, but also because the outcomes of a well-educated community provide a strong economic base for us all, and lessens the draw on social services as education and economic opportunities increase. Not to be too grandiose, but I believe a well-educated citizenry improves the entire community structure.
As it relates to my priorities, I am not driven by any one specific item. I am running because I think the challenges and opportunities that are in front of us are significant and my experiences, skills and passions could be of value as we navigate through them. In its simplest terms, I am running for the board because I believe that our communities function best when everyone participates and each of us, at the right time, takes our seat at the table.
With that being said, we will also have decisions to make that will directly impact how our local education outcomes will prepare our young people for the next education steps most will need. The McClure Foundation along with the Department of Labor have identified 67 high-pay, high-growth jobs in Vermont. Only 9 can be obtained with just a HS Diploma.
As background, I am a life-long Vermonter who grew up in Franklin County and following high school obtained a degree in Computer Science. My employment paths provided many opportunities for growth and led me eventually to work at Vermont Student Assistance Corporation, where I currently oversee Information Technology, Project Management, Career and Education Outreach, and Human Resources.
I have learned through mentoring young men, leading innovative transformations, and working with the Agency of Education and many schools in our state, that I am passionate about helping ALL of our young people successfully graduate from high school; which includes ensuring they find their own passion for life, which they can then use to pursue the education or training they need to be successful in the highly competitive environment we live in today. I very much look forward to helping South Burlington continue its excellence in education and I welcome and encourage all of us to be part of the conversation.