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?
3 Year Seat
It is my privilege to be running for my fifth term as a member of the South Burlington School Board. I believe that my primary role on the board should be to engage the community in supporting the education of K-12 students by creating a vision for public education in South Burlington that reflects what we want students to know, what experiences we want them to have, and what longer-term outcomes we desire. The board is responsible for establishing policies to carry out that vision, monitoring progress toward those ends and providing guidance and oversight on the community’s ability, and willingness to fund these aspirational goals for all of our children. It is a good reminder to myself, as I write these words, that part of a board member’s job is to “stay out of the weeds” and allow administrators and staff to do their jobs.
Some of my priorities as I enter my tenth year of service are to continue to engage at a level where I believe the leadership and innovation demonstrated in South Burlington schools can help to frame the future of how educational access, quality, and funding reforms may evolve at the state level. Getting back to basics and re-defining what a “quality education” should look like and how that service can be delivered today and in the future may be part of the funding solution. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with the city council on such initiatives as Master Planning and Visioning, which, with community input, should result in recommendations on school configuration options for the next half-century that improve student learning opportunities and provide predictable tax implications. The complexity of implementing mandated programs such as Personal Learning Plans, Proficiency-Based Graduation Requirements, Common Core standards, and Education Quality Standards needs to be balanced with empowering administrators and staff with the ability to “do the right thing” for students and their families on a day to day basis.
Programs should continue to be offered that enrich all of our students and prepare each of them to survive and thrive in college, career, and life. The South Burlington School District should continue to be a desirable employer, offering highly competitive total compensation and benefits packages, ongoing professional development opportunities, and a supportive environment that values innovation and outcomes.
As a district and as a community, we will need to respond to changing demographics, appreciating the diversity that students and their families bring culturally, socio-economically, and experientially. An increasing number of our residents pay their property tax based on income sensitivity. Fewer than 20% of residents have children in the school system. Still, people I speak to who didn’t grow up in SB decided to move here because of what South Burlington offers to families, including the school system. They recognized the contribution of great schools to, not only their children’s future, but also to enhanced property values. It is a privilege to serve a community that “pays it forward” and demonstrates its value of education by example through their own interest in continuing education, civic engagement and by mentoring and volunteering in our schools.
I look forward to a future that honors South Burlington’s proud tradition of leadership in providing a quality education that is nimble and resilient to changes on the horizon in education funding, healthcare, and technology and that balances the needs of all stakeholders in preparing our students for their important next steps.
Your vote is your voice. I’d appreciate your continued endorsement and hope to see you at the polls on March 3rd.