Having just completed my first term on the Haddon Township BOE, I still have more to give and do as Board member. I’ve worked hard to have a positive impact on the BOE, including becoming a Certified New Board Member through the NJ School Board Association (NJSBA) and serving on the following committees: HTBOE Personnel & Policy Committee (Chair), HTSD Equity Committee, HTBOE Negotiations Committee, and NJSBA state-wide Equity Council.
As a leader in an education nonprofit, working with school districts across the US, I bring broad perspective and best practices from across the country to the HTBOE. I also bring a commitment to increasing equity in all its forms and have experience convening and leading anti-racism efforts in my org.
Balancing efficiency and effectiveness. It's important for us to figure out how to both increase our services - such as adding all day Kindergarten - while also ensuring that we are maximizing every dollar and being fiscally responsible as a district.
While standardized test scores are an accountability measure for school and district performance in NJ, they only tell a small part of the story about whether or not students are learning and thriving in school, so should be viewed as part of a more holistic data set that, in addition to academic performance (state test scores, course grades, formative and summative assessment outcomes), also includes students engagement and school connection/belonging, social-emotional and workforce readiness skills, and college/career preparedness. Additionally, equity concerns exist in all standardized tests, so that should be factored into how much value is placed on standardized test performance for our students and schools.
Our current funding formula is outdated and needs some updating to better reflect district realities and associated needs. The first area that I believe should be focused on is the way special education funding is calculated so that it's based on per pupil special education classification. Currently, districts are not funded based on the actual number of students classified as special education and are instead funded based ton the statewide average classification rate. In HT, where our special education classification rate is higher than the state average, this means that we are receiving less funding that we need, and less funding than we spend, on special education. This is an area that can and should be addressed by the State of NJ.
In HT, our schools are relatively safe and secure, and we've taken considerable efforts to minimize potential safety concerns with security cameras, updated school security protocols, an updated school visitors policy, and a focus on building community and belonging among students and staff. We need to continue to put student safety, both physical and psychological, at the forefront of our decisions. Some ways we're currently doing this and can, of course, continue to improve upon are: social-emotional focus in schools; harassment, intimidation, and bullying (HIB) prevention training for staff; character building assemblies, events, and initiatives for students such as Character Counts!, Week of Respect, and Senior Ambassadors for freshmen.
I’m running for re-election to the Haddon Township Board of Education because I strongly believe that I can continue to make a positive difference to educate the students of Haddon Township. Our schools are excellent and our students have succeeded very well over the twenty-eight years that I’ve served on the Board. I have a near perfect attendance record at meetings and I always speak up for what is right for our student’s education. I have fulfilled all of the requirements from New Jersey School Boards Association to be a Master Board Member.
My top budget priority is safety for all students during this challenging time of COVID-19 and also continuing to keep current teacher staffing levels.
Testing is important but not indicative of the entire student. Data drives the direction of teaching emphasis.
The latest funding formula is unfair to Haddon Township. It assumes that our taxpayers can handle the burden on their own. It has created an unfair and arbitrary assessment for our district and a hardship for students and taxpayers alike. We need more state aid and must lobby for it.
Our district has been safe and I want to keep all current safety provisions in place in Haddon Township.
I believe that as a resident and a parent, I have a responsibility to do my best to contribute to the betterment of the Township, and feel that education is the area I'm best suited to do so in. I have served on a variety of local and national Boards over the course of the last fourteen + years, and feel that my experience as an auditor of state and local governments, nonprofits and wealth of general board governance and oversight I've obtained, will make me an ideal candidate for this position. I am also a special needs parent, and hold a special place for ensuring that all children are receiving a quality education in the district.
My top budget priority is to ensure that the allocation of resources is appropriate for the initiatives we have committed to during the year. Given the unique position the district is in with restructuring for COVID-19, I believe that the priority and focus areas should include professional development for the teachers and administrators, ensuring that the resources used in a remote environment allow for children to learn effectively, and assistance with adherence to/and additional support of, children that have specialized services (formally or informally), that cannot receive them as they are accustomed to, receiving the care and quality of education that they are entitled to.
As a survivor of test anxiety through my graduate school years, while I feel test scores are necessary as a metric for gauging progress, I feel that effective learning requires a comprehensive approach of standardized testing and individual interactive participation. I do not believe that test scores are a sole indicator of comprehension. believe that scores can be improved when education is approached from a wholistic approach and there is flexibility in how information is presented. I strongly believe that not all children learn the same and sometimes a minor tweak can have a major impact on how information is received.
I believe that the reduction in state aid will be detrimental to education throughout the state, especially given the fact that districts prepared their budgets based on prior year results (and a proposed increase), and now will need to cut. As a result, unfortunately schools that are located in districts which are already struggling, will see the largest impact and the children, who are already disproportionately disadvantage, will feel the affects of needing to catch up, for years to come. I believe state aid plans need to be revisited, to ensure that the allocation, at minimum, allows for districts to meet their core curriculum objectives
When it comes to safety and security, I believe that our district has taken great measures to ensure that our children our protected; especially when it comes to monitoring of the doors and access points. In my opinion, potential areas for improvement include better communication with the parents as to what the active shooter plan will be (where will students go, what's the best way to check on their safety, transport etc) and ensuring that discussions are held with children so that any concerns they have (panic, fear, assumptions) are addressed collectively.