I’m running for the Board of Education to protect Wilton’s most cherished asset.
Most will agree, Wilton’s schools are our most cherished asset and a significant draw for new home buyers. Unfortunately, onerous and uncertain state mandates are putting immense pressure on the school budget, making the delicate balance of providing our children with a quality education while being fiscally smart, increasingly difficult. To navigate these ongoing challenges, Wilton needs skilled, dedicated and experienced Board of Education members who have a clear understanding of how the town operates and will work with members of other town boards to ensure our schools continue an upward trajectory.
As the 2018-2019 budget process unfolds, we must recognize that there is no quick and painless way to address the challenges we face. Enrollment is a good example. Some are quick to cite declining enrollment as an opportunity to reduce the budget, but it’s important to keep in mind that we’ve seen expansion and contraction in enrollment in years past. Just this year, we had 70 more students enroll in our schools than had been forecast. We need to be careful that decisions aren’t based on knee-jerk reactions that could ultimately have a negative impact on our students. Instead, we need a more pragmatic and thoughtful approach that will preserve the excellence of our schools while putting the least amount of pressure on taxpayers. A good place to start will be to continue to identify opportunities to share costs between the Wilton schools and town government, and with other districts. Examples of this can already be found, including shared headcount between the Board of Education and town hall. We must continue to look for greater efficiencies, and leverage our buying power to potentially control utility, transportation and healthcare costs.
To ensure that Wilton taxpayers are getting a good return on their investment, I will look closely at our test scores to make sure we are seeing year over year improvement. Our students consistently score well on the SATs and ACTs but we must continuously strive for improvement district-wide.
It’s clear that the vision and hard work of the current administration–under the direction of the Board of Education–is paying off. In an effort to continue to move the ball forward, my approach as a Board of Education member will center around putting students and teachers first, making informed decisions with community input, managing resources responsibly and sharing decision-making rationales openly with the community. My priorities will be to improve strategic planning and communication. The Board of Education sets the strategic direction for our schools and in doing so, should serve as the conduit to convey community sentiment and desire to administrators, and information and progress, to parents. Effective communication and planning will enable us to bring the community into the fold and ensure that all students have the necessary resources to get the best education possible.
I strongly believe that the most successful boards are ones that comprise of diverse thinking. My wide-ranging town service and 20 years of public relations experience will help me bring a unique perspective to the Board of Education. Through my service to the town, I’ve acquired a clear understanding of how the town operates. Currently, I’m a Planning & Zoning commissioner and member of the Schenck’s Island/Merwin Meadows Study Committee. I’m a past member of the Zoning Board of Appeals and Water Pollution Control Authority. This experience has given me the opportunity to work with members of other town boards and be a decision maker on key planning and development issues. I know how the schools fit into overall planning. Whenever a school-related issue arose, I always understood the need to protect our town’s most valued asset, and acted accordingly during the decision-making process.
As a long-time resident of Wilton and parent of a daughter who is a sophomore at the high school, I will work tirelessly to protect our town’s greatest asset by making sure that we are the best possible school district and that the district is run effectively, efficiently and smoothly.