Villanova, B.S. Biology; Carnegie Mellon University (Heinz School), M.S. Public Policy; University of Pittsburgh Law School, J.D.
Qualifications for office
Any of father, taxpayer, or concerned citizen minimally qualify me. My law and public policy graduate degrees, my 19 years of legal practice, and my track record of successfully working on complex problems in large organizations are evidence of my substantive strengths, noting the Board currently lacks a legal background in its ranks. My service in the Peace Corps, my 6 years as a “Big” brother, my current board service with ACTION-Housing and with First Food & Friends, and my pro bono work with transgender and expungement clients establishes my on-going commitment to the community.
Kirk Rys for PPS District 2
My top three priorities are:
(i) ensuring that every child, regardless of their place of residence, has access to a high-quality school.
(ii) responsible and effective use of tax dollars.
(iii) preparing all students to succeed in a 21st Century economy.
For decades, we’ve failed to give entire neighborhoods any meaningful options for education. We’ve instead created a system that has allowed those with means to cherry pick. Instead of talking about discrete policies, the board needs to focus its limited resources on holding the administration accountable to implement the strategic plan. If the board focuses on doing this job well, it will either drive broad success that impacts the entirety of the district or it will lead to needed change.
Within the City, the District is the appropriate party to coordinate and provide universal pre-k. The District has done a good job identifying the barriers to increase early learning; insufficient seats, subsidies and certified personnel. While the District looks to eliminate barriers, much of the work is outside of its control. Board members can help by leveraging our relationships with governmental officials, foundations, private citizens and corporations, all to help attain our goals.
Addressing student disciplinary actions and supporting Restorative Justice Practices throughout the district to ensure we are keeping our students in the classroom. Creating an equitable and inclusive educational environment for ALL students, by addressing the lack of diversity in building administration and teachers and seeking to address cultural and implicit biases. Building a strong culture of community by unifying key stakeholders (community, parents, teachers), working together in order to make sure every student has the tools they need to succeed throughout their academic career.
Our schools have to be welcoming for all students, this is not optional and we all have to be willing to do whatever it takes to ensure this. An area I think could be most beneficial is making sure students, staff and parents have the opportunities to be educated and trained on cultural competency and biases. Understanding first our own biases allow us to be able to reflect on what we can do differently to make our schools a welcoming place.
Investing in early childhood education and making it attainable for families will bring much value to the district and the child as they continue through their educational journey. The district can lead the way by investing in early childhood learning programs within the district and building sustainable partnerships that will help eliminate the barriers of early childhood education for parents by providing flexible, free or affordable programming for our youngest learners.