My reason for running in this election is my passion to give back to the community where I live and I am raising a family. I have dedicated my life to public service and am excited at the opportunity to expand on my service and commitment to our community by serving on the board. One thing I have learned in life is that hard work and dedication, whether it be professionally or through volunteer work, pays off with positive impacts to the community. I know that serving as a board member is a huge commitment. I don’t take this lightly and I am ready to serve the residents of Collingswood and devote my time, energy and expertise into improving the educational experience for our children.
My top budget priority is to take a critical look at all finances to try and understand to full impact COVID has had. This evaluation would highlight critical items such staffing, professional development and facilities. Also of great importance is the ability for our district to maintain the high level of services to those in need during this pandemic, namely the ability to continue providing nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to our children. Lastly curriculum funding should be looked at to ensure we are address both achievment and opportunity gaps.
Education is not something that should be gauged by test scores. Although this is one tool to assess how well a district is doing academically, it also creates an environment counterintuitive for learning and growth by placing stress on students and staff. These numbers play a role in the overall success of a district, but the numbers alone should not tell the story and as a board member I would hope to peel back the layers of the scores to find ways to improve our educational experience.
One of the hardest things to determine when formulating a budget is the amount of state aid which will supplements each district . As a board members, I would make it a priority to advocate for a new formula that has parity among school districts. Collingswood has seen recent cuts in state aid, which has created budgetary issues. The current team has come up with ways to mitigate these shortcomings, but in order to maintain our current level of programing and staff, we must advocate for legislative changes that make aid more equitable and supportive of all districts, while not placing the more burden on Collingswood taxpayers.
School safety speaks to the perceived and real feeling of safety in our buildings felt by our students, staff and families. Our district does a great job focusing on the social emotional learning, by fostering a close-knit community of respect and understanding. Our counseling program reinforces SEL by its anti-bullying curriculum that positively impacts the school environment. The other piece of school safety is physical and cyber security. Our district has been proactive in regards to Alyssa's Law compliance, but needs improvement with building and campus security. Outdoor classrooms and increased reliance on technology leaves our students and staff vulnerable and these areas should be evaluated to ensure best practices are followed.
I am running for board of education because I believe that a town as vibrant and diverse as Collingswood deserves a school system that gives each child the opportunity to achieve their own dreams, regardless of their race, their family’s means, or where they live in Collingswood.
As a school board member, I will fight for equity within our community because I believe that equity benefits everyone. As a former NJ middle school and high school math teacher turned education researcher, I have the experience necessary to be an effective advocate for our children. But, as seasoned researcher, I also recognize that I cannot possibly know all the answers, so I am committed to working together with the community to create a stronger Collingswood.
My top budget priority is to ensure that our district remains fiscally sound as we emerge from the pandemic. In addition, as we begin to understand the fiscal impact of the pandemic on our district, I believe that some key budget priorities are hiring a full-time communications expert, equitably addressing our growing capacity needs at the elementary level, and updating the district’s outdoor athletics spaces to provide our students with the facilities needed to have a well-rounded, comprehensive educational experience.
The differences in test scores among the five elementary schools in Collingswood and by race, special education status, and English learner status show that there is still much work to be done to achieve equity. As a board member, I will advocate for targeting resources where they are needed the most, providing continued training and support for our teachers and school leadership, and recruiting and retaining teachers of color so that our students of all colors have diverse role models.
To be clear, I am not advocating for “teaching to the test.” Instead, I want to ensure that all students receive a high-quality, challenging education while being provided the supports they need. If we meet this goal, then test scores will follow.
Full and fair funding of schools is a must for our community and the state to achieve equity within our schools. Unfortunately, it is difficult to discern exactly how fair the latest state funding formula is because of the state’s refusal to release the figures and calculations used to determine state funding. The lack of transparency is troubling, especially considering how transparent our neighbors in Pennsylvania have been in releasing all the data and calculations behind their Fair Funding Formula. Ensuring equity requires transparency, and the state should be transparent in their calculations.
School safety involves not just physical safety but also social-emotional safety. Our approach to school safety should not rely on the policing of our children. Rather, our approach should focus on their social and emotional needs and should teach them how to value each other as individuals and how to make their own just decisions.
Issues of school safety and equity also go hand in hand. Before the pandemic, Collingswood had consistently suspended 5% of its student body each school year, resulting in 1,090 days of school missed by students during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years. As a school board member, I will push for fewer out-of-school suspensions through a focus on meeting the social-emotional needs of our students.
I am running to ensure that Collingswood Schools are providing an equitable education to all of our students. I will ensure students, families, teachers and staff have the resources and support they need for success. As a former teacher, I have seen the joys and struggles of motivating students every day. As a former NJDOE official, I have seen the impact of policy decisions on state and district levels. I have formed nonprofit and school boards and currently work with teachers and administrators across the state to ensure access to an equitable education for all students. As a leader in education, I look forward to continuing working with the board as our community navigates our present obstacles and head towards an even brighter future
My top budget priority is ensuring our district maintains the high level of fiscal responsibility that has allowed us to provide the technology, food and other critical resources our community has needed during the pandemic. With State budget uncertainty and the funding levels remaining flat this year, there is risk in assuming we will have always have the funds that allow us our current levels of flexibility. Since joining the board in March of 2020, I have worked with our Business Administrator to better understand our fiscal approach and polices. I look forward to continuing to be a responsible overseer of district spending and ensure we remain fiscally strong in the years to come.
Assessments are one of many tools to show the academic achievement of a district. They can also help to shine a light on disparities along lines of identity such as race, income or geography. They allow administrators and teachers to be better informed in their approach to students and help create a fuller picture when combined with observations and reflection. While I want to see every student in our schools succeed and achieve their goals on every assessment, leaning too heavily towards tests can be counterproductive to student progress. As a board member, I will hold the district accountable for success on indicators like the State Test and Graduation rates, while also seeking to understand the story behind the numbers.
The funding of schools across New Jersey continues to be an issue of equity. While I wish that the school funding formula was fully implemented every year, giving schools the resources and flexibility to feel safe and whole, I understand that the current fiscal crisis caused by the pandemic is being felt by all districts. As a board member, when making short or long term decisions for the district the uncertainty of appropriations must always be considered. If reelected, I will continue to hold our district to a high standard of fiscal responsibility while also advocating to policy makers at all levels to ensure funding is equitably distributed and fully funded.
When I think of safety and security in our schools I want to see our district remain committed to Social Emotional Learning (SEL) while also increasing our cyber security. Students have a right to feel safe and welcome whether they are in person or virtual. SEL helps to provide students with the knowledge, skills and mindsets to help collectively build a safe and welcoming environment. I also want our district to remain invested in protecting our students online as we have had to quickly move to a virtual learning environment. Teachers and administrators in partnership with parents and guardians can keep our students educated on how to be responsible and safe online.
I have served on the Collingswood Board of Education for ten years and am proud of the district's innovations and initiatives. We live in a vibrant community that wants to be involved and I have seen the board and the district evolve to be more responsive to the community. Collingswood is a district often in the forefront of instructional design and best practices, as well as elements that go beyond academics such as analyzing and addressing issues of equity and prioritizing the social-emotional well-being of our students. I am seeking re-election to continue the trajectory toward improvements in communication, community relations, and student voice. I am confident I can offer continuity as we shift to our next instructional leader.
There is always a list of "wants" that would certainly improve our schools, but the top budget priority must be invested in student achievement, namely curriculum development, staffing, and professional development. Inextricably tied to this is facilities to create equitable and efficient educational experiences for our students. As long-range facilities plans will need to be addressed, we still must focus our top priority on redesigning curriculum to reflect the needs of our learners, and supporting staff to providing high quality instruction through best practices. As education continually asks our teachers to do more in terms of assessment and accountability, investing in a talented and diverse staff and providing ongoing PD is essential
School is about much more than test scores. Educators are concerned with ensuring the general welfare of students while creating strong instructional goals that move their students to college and career readiness. Mandated assessments detract from these objectives by unfairly evaluating students, teachers, and districts merely on test scores. Accountability and analysis for purposes such as adjusting instruction and identifying achievement gaps can be accomplished through district and teacher designed benchmark tests that allow for customization of meaningful score data to be interpreted and used to improve curriculum. Mandated state testing takes valuable instructional time from our schools and has a negative impact on students and staff.
The school funding formula is flawed because the allotted per student costs and the state's determination of the taxpayer's local share does not accurately reflect district needs. The difference between these two amounts is the amount of state aid, but as new legislation indicates that state aid will be diminishing, schools are in the predicament of levying a tax beyond the allotted 2%, or cutting valuable programs and resources to students. Collingswood has worked hard to recover from state aid cuts by creating revenue through shared services with other districts and consistently presenting strong annual budgets that do not add additional burden to taxpayers. We must advocate for school funding reform that prioritizes education.
Schools need to be secure inside and out. Securing perimeters through safe entryways, cameras, intercoms, and strong protocols to screen who enters facilities is of utmost importance, but of equal importance are the human aspects of relationships, roles, and communication. Relationships are important so students and staff feel that they are in a safe place and know reporting procedures. Established roles are important so that crises can be avoided or dealt with in a safe and efficient manner when everyone knows their designated role in a given situation. Communication is essential to communicate within and among the facilities, as well as establishing clear communication lines with families, local authorities and first responders.