As part of GOOD Morning Wilton‘s coverage of the elections for the 2019 municipal elections, we have set out guidelines inviting each candidate to submit one 800-word op-ed piece before Election Day. Mandi Schmauch is a Republican candidate for the Board of Education.

My name is Mandi Schmauch and I am a candidate for the Wilton Board of Education in the November elections. As you all know, Wilton’s schools have an outsized effect not only on our children, but on our property values and remain the core of our community. It is my desire to ensure that the schools remain rated at the top in Connecticut and the nation.

I grew up in McLean, VA and went to the College of William and Mary. After meeting my husband in NYC, we moved to Greenwich, Darien and ultimately, in 2006, decided to settle in Wilton for many reasons–the people and the community at the top of the list. When we had our children, I realized what excellent schools were here and I was thrilled to get involved.

I believe my experiences and interests have prepared me to serve on the Wilton Board of Education. First, I am a mom of two students in Wilton schools. I have strong relationships with staff and administrators throughout the district. In 2015, I founded the Miller-Driscoll Carnival to fundraise for the school. In 2018, I founded the Cider Mill Talent Show, aimed at providing an outlet for all children at Cider Mill to celebrate their brilliance and each other. I am also an accomplished businesswoman managing a multimillion-dollar territory for a healthcare company and have earned numerous professional awards and accolades for my leadership.

For years, I have been successfully balancing the needs of my family, my career and my community to ensure what is best for all of us.

Serving on the Miller-Driscoll Building Committee was my impetus for becoming a candidate for the Wilton Board of Education. Although I did not fully agree with all the reasons for building, I was an active member who held contractors responsible for their work and mindfully adhered to the already set budget to ensure safety and quality for the students and town. A highlight of mine was requiring a contractor to reimburse the town for an aesthetic mistake. This experience served as a reminder of the commitment involved and the work needed from community members as well as the need to question budgets and operational costs, and take a common-sense approach to municipal spending.

As a parent and active volunteer, I understand both the day-to-day and long-term considerations impacting our schools. I have spoken with parents and teachers who have voiced concerns and accolades. I am also a Wilton homeowner, tax payer, and concerned advocate. Balancing these perspectives and ensuring the best for Wilton at large is my priority.

I believe we can continue to improve our school system.  While Wilton schools consistently strive to excel, I believe there is room for improvement. It is important to maintain a balanced focus on short-term and long-term goals for our schools and continue to provide updates on progress. I do not have all the answers, but I look forward to getting input from the town on Board of Ed decisions and increasing transparency and communication.

We need active board, faculty, parent and student communication. All the parents of students as well as the entire community need to know what decisions are being made for our schools before the decisions are finalized and the policies are complete. I believe that one way this can be achieved is by using our student resources and technological advances to increase communication. We could, for example, tap into our high school students to create town communication apps.

I also believe our school system needs to elevate all children of all abilities. I believe it is important to create an environment that is highly attuned to the changing dynamics of education. We need to ensure that all our children are getting the academic education they deserve with a strong focus on STEM learning and math. My goal is to ensure we find ways to serve as many of our children’s academic needs and interests as possible.

We also need to ensure we retain and recruit the best teachers. Wilton is a special place. We need to make sure to continue to have the most passionate, most dedicated and most adaptable teachers in the state who can effectively create and champion a positive learning environment for our students.

I thank you for taking the time to read this and more importantly for voting, as it is my hope that more of our community takes an active role and gets involved.

My commitment to all our children is evident in my 13 years of living in Wilton and the use of my time and energy on these boards and volunteer activities. I look forward to becoming a member of the Wilton Board of Education and I look forward to meeting and working with you all.