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Nashua Board of Education {_getChooseLabel(this.selections.length)}

The Board of Education's role is to oversee and guide the Nashua School District by setting policy, approving curriculum and assessment materials and strategies, setting and approving human resource decisions, negotiating union contracts, overseeing operations and finance decisions, and establishing the annual operating budget. The Board consists of nine members who are each elected to four-year terms. Five members will be elected in 2019.

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    Jennifer Bishop

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    Jessica Brown

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    Howard Coffman

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    Sharon Giglio

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    Doris Hohensee

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    Burt Janz

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    Paula Johnson

  • Renata Olszewski

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    Jamila Scales

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    Greg Surbey

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    Sandra Ziehm

Biographical Information

How would you describe the purpose of public education?

How would you describe the role of the Board of Education in fulfilling that purpose?

What qualities and/or experience make you a good candidate for the Board of Education?

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Nashua's schools right now?

Is there anything else you'd like to share with the voters?

Campaign Phone (603) 204-8685
Email Address
Education is the building block for successful adults. Academics, social systems, exposure to experiences and family of origin, create a persons sense of self. When done well, children become the best versions of themselves. In public education an added layer of community enrichment is present. Public education, when done well, assists in growing a purposeful adult but also assists in building a successful community. Our children become the adults who define the city. By providing quality public education we are creating a pattern of positive growth for both the student and the City.
The BOE, sees the big picture and guides the schools into a direction that they see their communities heading in. In social work terms, the BOE sees the schools from a balcony perspective and is able to guide the schools mission into one that coincides with the direction and needs of the community.
As a Nashua native and current parent of two public school kids, I am dedicated to the outcomes of our educational system. My near decade of time As a Child protection worker and case worker in Nashua showed me how important safety and belonging within a school Are for youths. When I obtained my masters in social work at UNH, I had an opportunity to have a fellowship with the LEND Program (Leadership Education In Neurodevelopmental and related Disabilities). Along with exposure to the diagnostic process of cognitive disorders I experienced how to advocate for the needs of our most vulnerable at both the state and the federal level. I feel impassioned to provide children of all abilities and demographics an opportunity to feel Empowered through their education. My children, my dedication to the City of Nashua and my understanding of the critical challenges our youth are living in, gives me a realistic multifaceted understanding of the needs and concerns our schools are facing.
I don’t think we can focus on a challenge without also seeing the school’s strengths. Nashua’s desire to focus on the whole child and taking a holistic approach to education weaves together the needs and strengths of the Nashua School District. As a social worker, I have seen first-hand the struggles families, agencies and the community are experiencing. Our opioid epidemic, caregiver stress, poverty and homelessness are carried into the classroom by our children. When we address the whole child, we are empowering the student to enter into a mental space where they are more able to retain information. An ongoing strength that Nashua and the district has is the ability to be flexible and grow to accommodate the shifting needs of our kids.
It is important to know that people disagree and that often times coming to a resolution involves negotiating and compromising. We have governing boards to ensure that a wide base of voices are heard and represented. I value understanding why one person has a differing view than I may have. Creating resolutions and forward trajectories sometimes means taking an extra minute to understand the passion behind someone’s beliefs. In these moments of compassion and empathy we can still hold differing beliefs and respect, allowing for less discord and animosity. In a board that practices active listening we can practice productivity.
Campaign Phone (978) 424-1515
Email Address
The purpose of public education is to prepare our future adults with a strong foundation in reading, math, and civics so they can enter the workforce prepared for tomorrow’s challenges. Our education system should also provide students with the opportunities to experience sports, arts, and club activities. Having this balance sparks joy, fosters a culture of participation, and stimulates a community of healthy, life-long learners. The goal is to prepare our children to be active members of society who contribute positively not only here in Nashua, but the world.
The Board of Education should oversee the budgetary needs of the district and vote on major policy changes. They should do their due diligence when approving new district administrators to make sure those individuals are capable of upholding the mission of the Nashua School District. Board Members are ethically bound to represents their constituents with best practices and high standards when voting on any issue without political persuasion. Board Members should be aware of the general working of the district schools and administration, but should not be addressing the day-to-day operation of any individual school- except to enforce or change an in-place district policy.
In the last decade, I have worked with multiple area non-profits and executive boards including: The Greater Nashua YMCA, Symphony NH, and the Federal Employees Child Care of Nashua Board (serving as president). These experiences have given me perspective into the importance of working together with different personalities to stay on mission to complete a common goal.

As a mother of two public school children, I have a vested interest in the quality the of Nashua school system. I attended public school and taught in a low-income public school where 65% of the students were English Language Learners. These experiences have given me valuable insight into current successes and challenges facing the Nashua School System and the changing student population.

I am an active volunteer in the public schools and in the community- serving on the PTO and Coaching the Battle of the Books, PAL Cross Country and Biddy Basketball. I am not afraid to dig in and work hard on behalf of Nashua families.
Nashua is at a turning point right now in both workforce population and in city demographics. The added ethnic and economic diversity is a benefit to the overall structure of the community. However, it places a bigger economic strain on our education budget to provide students with specialized services to meet the needs of the changing community without overlooking the needs of typical learners.

Another pressing issue is the safety and size of so many buildings in the district. The strategic plan for upgrades must find affordable and efficient means of addressing these issues in the short term while simultaneous addressing facility structure and site plans to accommodate modern student needs and population growth.
My decision to run for the Board of Education is not reactionary. I am driven by a passion to work and improve Nashua for the benefit of all families. We do this by making sure teachers are supported in the classroom; by putting the right people in leadership; and, through evaluating and enforcing district policy. I am an independent thinker- bound to represent my constituents honestly, fairly and ethically. A successful school system benefits the entire city both socially and economically.

Nashua is ready for a fresh perspective for a strong future.

Campaign Phone (603) 264-1484
Email Address
Prepare and educate children so that they are prepared for college and/or vocational training. I believe we are responsible to prepare these young people for their responsibilities as citizens.
The Board of Education is the legal authority of the school district. It is our responsibility to ensure that all legal requirements are fulfilled. This includes federal law, state law (RSA's), NH Department of Education rules and US Department of Education regulations especially as it applies to grants.

The BoE hires and supervises the superintendent. The board is responsible for strategic planning, creating and approving an operating budget. The Board is also responsibility for negotiating and approving all contracts. This includes severn different collective bargaining contracts.

The BoE is responsible for reviewing and approving all curriculum, books, and programs. The Board also interviews all director and above positions as well as Principals, Assistant Principals, and Assistant Superintendents.

The board makes policy and ensures board policy is fulfilled. The board has oversight for all school district activities.
I have served on the Nasha Board of Education for the past four years. My professional background in project management prepared me for the budgeting and policy making activities of the board. As someone who has substitute taught in the Nashua School District I am familar with classroom protocol. I also have adult level teaching experience having taught the WorkReadyNH program at Laconia Community College.
Special Education Out of District Tuition Costs are the biggest challenge. These mandatory costs have increased in each of my four years on the Board. They are now $6 million. The strategic plan passed by the current board majority fails to address this issue in any meaningful way. The superintendent's plan has deferred activity until year 5! This is unconscionable and needs to immediately addressed! Student academic performance is mediocre at best. More than a third of our students are 1, 2 or 3 grades behind in academic proficiency. This same strategic plan does not address this is any meaningful way. The hidden jewel in the district are the 19 Careeer and Technical programs we have. Sadly, less than 5% of our students graduate and head for career related activities. Only 44% of our students go to a four year college. We don't know how many complete the program. Another 20 to 25% go to a community college. We are not fulfilling our job of preparing all students.
Over the past two years, the current board majority has enacted policies that reduce and minimize the authority of the board. If elected, I will work to reverse this errors in judgement. Parents need to know that they have a voice. Policy changes have made parental voice more difficult to express. I don't believe the current administration is fully representing the academic and vocational needs of our students. The strategic plan lacks depth, has no financial assessment of the the 57 additional staff members, largely mental health professionals, that are proposed. The strategic plan calls for and increase of $3 million is salary plus another $1.5 million in benefits. Given the budget realities of the district and the spending cap, these costs cannot be absorbed. This is especially the case when you consider that seven union contracts will be negotiated. The strategic plan did not discuss these realities.
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Simply stated, every citizen has the right to receive a free and equal education provided by the school district in which they reside. No exceptions…
While the Superintendent and school-administrators deal with the moment-to-moment events of each day on an interpersonal level with students and staff, the Board of Education’s responsibilities are broader in scope. The BOE sets district-wide policies, approves curriculum changes, sets policies for and oversees Human Resources decisions, negotiates union contracts and presents, creates and supports the annual operating budget for the NSD.
I began my career in education as a paraprofessional in the Nashua Schools in 1992. In 1997 I was awarded a Master’s Degree of Library and Information Studies and spent the next 19 years as a middle school librarian in Chelmsford. Since my retirement in 2016, I have been fortunate enough to be employed as a long-term library substitute in three of Nashua’s elementary schools. Those experiences inspired me to run for the BOE. On a daily basis I see how more supports for our students and staff will allow all our students to receive the best education possible. Since 2017, when I have not been employed by the District, I have volunteered weekly in the library at Ledge Street School.

I have also been a recording secretary for a Massachusetts School Committee for over three years. I have a clear vision of the role of such committees/boards and know how budgets are created, policies are made and the best interests of the students and staff are addressed.
Since I moved to Nashua in 1984, I have witnessed immense and amazing changes in our city, in our population and in society at large. A primary challenge for our District is to meet the current and future needs of our students and staff. Enough room to provide services for all these programs needs to be made available in our schools. Moving forward with future improvements to our middle schools is another challenge for us. I believe my experiences will make it possible for me to contribute to the future of our schools and Nashua!
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Campaign Phone (603) 305-9772
Email Address
The primary purpose of public education is to prepare students to be responsible citizens capable of participating in self-government. Academic and vocational instruction is integral to that purpose.
Board members oversee the entire school district, which in Nashua includes 12 elementary schools, 3 middle schools, 2 high schools and other academic programs. The Board must make certain that all federal and state laws and board policy are adhered to within the district. They must be fully accountable and transparent to the public.

The Board appoints a Superintendent to manage the district, as well as administrators and instructional staff. The Board approves all curriculum changes, negotiates union and non-union contracts, and approves expenditures within the district.

Keeping all that in mind, it’s important to understand that: (1) every student is unique; (2) teachers need flexibility to meet the needs of each student; and (3) parents are essential partners in the education of their children.

Schools are not factories. Education should not be automated or centrally planned. A good education empowers students without undermining their innate enthusiasm and love of learning.
My professional background in mathematics and computer programming helped me review proposed district budgets and expenditures over the last four years. I’m familiar with NH state laws and regulations as well as the federal initiatives that affect our schools. I've worked with state legislators since 1990 to pass bills that respect teachers and parents and protect local control.

Students are my primary concern. I will listen to parents and work to improve accountability and communication within the district, and to provide transparency in the decision-making process, including fiscal decisions.
Our district has no plan to reverse declining academic performance of our students in reading and math. The Board keeps adopting new experimental academic programs recommended by the administration without first reviewing the results of previous reforms. As result, students suffer.

Without addressing declining performance, the current Board majority simply added an another experimental reform, Social Emotional Learning. SEL is a costly mental health program that requires licensed professionals to implement properly, not over-burdened and under-trained teachers. SEL won't reverse declining academic performance and may place the district at risk for costly lawsuits.

Falling performance scores are not necessarily the fault of students or teachers. It could be an ineffective curriculum. The current Board majority is unwilling to challenge the status quo and ask questions. A review of existing and past programs is needed to find ones that work.
The district has not developed a plan to resolve escalating out-of-district special education costs. Other districts have successfully created in-district special education programs to control the runaway costs of out-of-district placements. Nashua needs to do this before escalating costs negatively impact all students. In-district programs eliminate transportation costs and can be a revenue source when students from nearby districts enroll. This could resolve our fiscal problem.

The Board’s recently approved Strategic Plan fails to address this critical issue. A new Board majority is needed to provide the leadership necessary to examine and resolve difficult issues.

Finally, I believe that every child is gifted and that it’s our job to work with parents and teachers to figure how best to enable those gifts. I’m a strong supporter of public education and will work to ensure every student receives the best possible education.
Campaign Phone (603) 943-0330
Email Address
The purpose of education, public or private, is to ensure that each student in the system is prepared in an unbiased and nonpolitical manner for advancement to the next step in their lives. This could be from first grade to second grade, from middle school to high school, or from high school to either college or a career in a technical field. Educators should be responsible for ensuring that the subject matter is the only agenda in the classroom, and that personal agendas play no part in the classroom: the goal is to teach students how to think, not what to think. Educators should not be tasked with the moral upbringing of children or with dealing with serious behavioral issues. Those should immediately be brought to the attention of the school administration and not dealt with in the classroom.
The Board of Education should coordinate with the district to review and approve all K-12 curricula as an equal participant in all decisions, and should work with the district to approve the methods used to present that curricula to students. It should also act as an unbiased and nonpartisan buffer and "problem resolution board" standing between teachers, administration, NTU, students, and parents. The BoE should provide a mechanism to fully investigate anonymous "whistle blower" complaints filed by students, parents, and teachers. It should be empowered to make decisions regarding those complaints, and its decisions should be binding on anyone and everyone involved - from teacher to administration to parent to student.
My children attended Nashua public schools from K-12: I've seen how the schools have changed over the years. I have no personal relationships with anyone in the school system or in the Nashua city government: no political or personal bias.. I have in-classroom experience as a past adjunct instructor with a local college: I can sympathize with both teachers and students. These facts mean that I bring both complete political and personal independence, as well as and knowledge of educational methods and classroom experience, to the board. My sole concern is to make sure Nashua's students are receiving the best education they can get, and that their parents know that their tax dollars are being properly spent.
Economic and social pressures are affecting teachers, the administration, parents, and students. The racial makeup of Nashua has also changed radically in the past few years, bringing new cultural and linguistic pressures to the school system. All of these pressures, taken together, are negatively affecting in-classroom performance: teachers and students often find themselves in unresolvable conflict. The District has pushed the BoE away and has declined its assistance in solving some of these problems. It has failed to invite the BoE to help "share the load" by making management, curriculum, and disciplinary decisions that it, the District, is incapable or unwilling to make on its own. The result is even more pressure on teachers, students, and parents.
The parents of Nashua's school children know that the schools want to do the right thing, but they also know that the District has been somewhat unwilling to take the hard decisions necessary to rework Nashua's school system for the 21st Century. In an effort to "get along" with the District management, the current BoE has voluntarily surrendered its authority to assist the District when asked and to administrate the District when necessary. This can only change when the residents of Nashua, and the parents of Nashua school children, decide that the education of their children is the first and foremost priority of the City of Nashua. And that can only happen when the Board of Education restores its power to ensure that the District acts only in the best interests of the children. Remember: the BoE, the District, teachers, the buildings - we are here for the children... not the other way around.
Campaign Phone (603) 966-6794
Email Address
The purpose of education: 1) According to history, the purpose is to make a good citizen. 2) Is to transmit knowledge & skills such as reading, writing, math, and any other core subjects.
The role of the board is to promote: 1) Best practices in education of students 2) Safety, appropriate facilities 3) Teachers, administrators, staff, transportation and various departments 4) Funding, contracts, compliance with regulations, etc 5) Special education & STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics 6) The BoE should more freely permit public input at meetings and make known more what programs, evaluations, issues are current. 7) Board should invite more vocational education guest speakers to high schools to help students prepare for work/secondary programs and work programs.

1) Parent of 3 adult children who graduated from this school district. 2) Former member of the Board of Education. 3 ) Was on the following committees: Budget, policy/procedures and curriculum. 4) Worked with administration and teachers regarding new programs. 5) Would often research and speak with other school districts check on policies, models programs to bring data to our district - this keeps us innovative and current for our students. 6) Oversaw the building of Stellos Stadium (it was a school project for funding). 7) Was on the BoE/BoA when the North School was built and the South School was renovated. 8) Worked with local officials and groups (taxpayers, other organizations) to benefit the schools. 9) Worked with educational advocates.
Some of the biggest challenges facing Nashua schools at this point is: 1) Finding bus drivers 2) ENHANCING TEST SCORES 3) Construction of new middle school, overseeing the design and concept and costs. 4) SAFETY - given incidents of BULLYING or ASSAULT.
* As a school board, there should be a thorough review of bullying rules and regulations. There should also be a section on ASSAULT to another student or teacher....greater education. * There should be education re: bullying/legal & school consequences - perhaps policies should be POSTED in literature sent home if not already done and in classrooms. * School officer or police should hold, along w/school, a parent/student night to explain the system and what is being done and what to do for REPORTING. * The BoE should write and review policies as necessary, regarding video taping, media, internet of bullying issues and events. * The BoE should have strict consequences for ASSAULT and injuries. * There should be a ZERO-TOLERANCE policy for any act of violence. * There should be significant consequences, reeducation of offenders and proper monitoring of incidents involving violence.
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Campaign Phone (603) 943-5721
Email Address
The purpose of public education, according to the Center for Education Policy of 1996, is to provide a public education to all children/students of all genders & social classes. It is intended to prepare students to become responsible, economically self-sufficient citizens with the ability “to improve social condition,” promote cultural unity, as well as, “to enhance individual happiness and enrich individual lives.” I believe that by preparing individuals (our students) to live as members of society, Nashua public schools will prepare our students to succeed in our community. In addition, preparing students to live life to its fullest while teaching/implementing social & emotional intelligence gives students the maturity for social success & the knowledge & skill to acquire academic success and economic stability. One tremendously effects the other. Lastly, it would be beneficial for our students to have a true comprehension of social justice & the great change it made in US history.
The Board's role is to oversee & guide the district by setting policy, approving curriculum & assessment materials & strategies, which enhance instruction to every level of learning within the district. Ensure all of our students have resources & support systems to succeed in class. Approve HR decisions that will hire teachers who are willing to teach the diverse student population without prejudice (color, disability, gender, race, religion, sexual orientation) & understand the need for diversity in our schools which also educates our children & provides cross cultural experience and opportunities to learn. Wisely negotiate union contracts, which will offer value to our teachers, administrators & support staff. Oversee finance & operations which impact the growth, knowledge, & academic success of our students. Establish the annual operating budget; to insure that all of our students & teachers have the necessary support, education & tools to effectively implement the curriculum.
As parent and a substitute teacher with an A.S. Business Science. I possess the ability to accept and state when I am mistaken and/or incorrect, the passion to strive for the success of our students, a hard worker and the commitment to participate in the required committees. In addition, I am willing to reflect on current and past decisions and discuss them calmly to reorganize, reset and make a sound decision to enhance the success of our students. In addition, through community activism and volunteerism, I work alongside others to make positive change for the youth of our city. Working hard in the best interest of our students is a great charge to have and one that I am ready take on. On November 5th, Vote: Jamila Scales for the Board of Education.
Currently, I see the biggest challenges facing Nashua’s schools right now are the decreased math and reading levels. These are areas that have been identified and in progress. Another area includes safety within the schools due to bullying. However, keep in mind that teaching today is different, as there are more languages within the classrooms, multi-funding for educational needs is challenging. Increasing parental involvement.
Ultimately, I would like to assist in the improvement of our academic scores in Nashua Public Schools by making decisions which will increase the quality of education for each student. In addition, effectively educate our students with a stable budget, insure students and teachers physical and emotional safety within school, increase parent/teacher collaboration to nurture and increase student success, implement an effective strategic plan and increase access to college and other extended learning opportunities for all students. Finally. Yes. Is what I would like you to think when you see Jamila Scales in the list of candidates. I am asking for your vote.
Campaign Phone (603) 488-0105
Email Address
The purpose of public education is to prepare our children for college or vocational training, and for life in society in general. The purpose is to give our children the basic educational foundation and tools they need in order to be empowered to go forth and have the ability to be successful in their lives.
The Board of Education is both the Nashua community’s voice and legal authority on how our school system should be run. The Board’s job is to do its best to run a school system whereby an encouraging environment is created where great education for our students is allowed to take place and flourish. The Board should always be focused on helping our students achieve the best possible educational outcomes. The Board’s duties are to follow Federal and State law, follow regulations, set basic policy, set the budget, set contracts, and curate a well-run school administration.
I am an entrepreneur, a professional investor, and information technology professional. I’ve done well in life because I received a solid foundation in the basics of education, and also because of a few, specific, amazing teachers. I have found that experiences of exploration in and outside the classroom are what makes education fun, and motivates students to push their boundaries. I hope to constantly instill these insights on what positively works, into the Board’s thought process, and to streamline the way education is delivered around these insights. I want to open up the educational process to become more dynamic, where learning is interactive and engaging, and more in sync with the digital age. I will also be a strong advocate for, and listen to parents, students, and teachers at the individual level.
The way that the bullying at Fairgrounds Middle School was handled serves as an example to shed light on the many problems within our current system. A girl was beaten by a fellow student to the point of concussion and cracked ribs. The administration put the burden on the victim to leave her school for a new one. The administration moved to shove the matter under the rug with no transparency and inadequate communication. The administration and the Board majority regularly ignore their own policies. In some instances State law is not followed. Many times the Board majority can’t even properly follow Robert’s Rules of Order, and also decorum breaks down regularly. The Board majority hasn’t even touched on important educational subjects like how studies show that we desperately need to change our curriculum on subjects like reading in order to dramatically improve student’s literacy rates. The point is that we can do much better. We need a new Board majority.
I’m running with an alliance of five candidates for the Board of Education. If you agree with the issues I’d like to improve upon, then I encourage you to take a look at our group of five candidates, and to vote for all of us as a group. We will only be able to implement our platform of accountability and transparency and putting students first if we are able to have a majority on the Board. The other four candidates are Doris Hohensee, Howard Coffman, Paula Johnson, and Burt Janz. Together we will work to make Nashua’s education system great for our students. I ask for your vote on Tuesday November 5th, and I thank you.
Campaign Phone (603) 883-2882
Email Address
I believe education is the ladder to success! That being said, public education allows every child the opportunity to climb that ladder! In so doing it also promotes a stronger, healthier economy by providing citizens who are better prepared to support their families while building a work force that better contributes to making our nation a leader among nations. In my view, our country is only as strong and good as it's people. In promoting the good of the whole we create a team that promotes the welfare of us all!
It is primarily the boards responsibility to make policy. My understanding has always been that the Superintendent is the boards only employee while the district employees work under his direct supervision. By making policies that promote the well being of the whole we are part of creating the team I mentioned above.
I believe my 12 years on the board give me valuable experience that should make me a better board member. In the past I have always strived to verbalize my positions while civilly respecting the right of others to disagree. When we disagree respectfully we encourage each other while learning from each other as well. I think of it as building bridges of understanding one with another. I will strive to make civil and respectful communication my goal.
The budget is always the biggest hurdle. Special education requirements increased a million dollars or more almost every year of my tenure while our increased budget was usually close to the same amount. Thus other cost of living increases had to come from other places in the budget already being funded. it usually came from the middle students who somehow seem always to have fewer lobbying for them. Poverty is approximately 44% in our schools with English Language most classes Our homeless children was around 500 with around 2,000 special education students. Keeping our classrooms small enough to accommodate the needs of all these children in classrooms of 23, 24 or 25 is a constant challenge. Almost all of our para professionals are used for special education thus our classroom teachers seldom have paras even though the diversity of their needs call for more individual attention.
It was my honor to serve the children of Nashua in my previous tenure. Should I be elected I will strive to be worthy of that honor.