Departing school board member offers parting advice

FI-Letter-to-the-EditorTo the Editor

It’s been an honor and a pleasure to serve on the Board of Education. I care deeply about the effectiveness of the new board as it works to achieve board goals, improve student achievement and close the achievement gap.

This is a high-stakes election. Newly elected board members must hit the ground running and all members will need to:

• Support the superintendent. Dr. McKersie’s long-term leadership is critical. Board members need to know what effective oversight is and understand what’s appropriate to convey to our schools’ leadership both in public and private. Board members should always treat our superintendent, board colleagues and everyone else with dignity and respect.

• Stay focused and understand roles. Board members need to govern through enforcing policies and leave management responsibilities to the superintendent and staff. After information review, discussion and community input, board members need to take stands on tough issues. Rather than merely criticize, board members must proactively seek solutions.

• Work within the process. Board members advance ideas and positions by forging consensus. Members must embrace majority decisions whether or not they agree with them. When board members refuse to work with colleagues and the administration and, instead, pitch separate plans directly to the community they undermine the effectiveness of the board. Those who choose to run around the system damage it.

• Do the work. Good board members show up for meetings and come prepared. They ask relevant questions, stay on topic and are good at engaging in dialogue. They state the purpose of information requests and don’t overburden staff with non-essential data searches that take time and money and distract from priority work.

• Be in it for the students. Board members must always ask themselves, Is this in the best interests of the students?  It’s not about a board member’s political party or about themselves. It’s always about the students.

I believe the candidates who will make the most effective board members are Republicans Peter Bernstein and Brian Peldunas and Democrats Debbie Appelbaum and Laura Erickson. All four of them have my vote on Nov. 5.

 

Nancy Kail
Greenwich

 

The author is a Democratic member of the Board of Education who is not running for re-election.

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