Goals & Accomplishments
Each School Committee member brings his or her own strengths and talents to the Committee. My own expertise is in finance, technology and building collaborative relationships. While on the Committee, I have taken a leadership role in finance, budgeting and negotiations.
- Worked with the Superintendent on the development of yearly budget requests that address the most important needs of the schools while recognizing the other demands on the community’s finite resources.
- Planning for long-term financial sustainability – championed the development of five-year financial forecasts that have helped reduce the wrangling over yearly budgets.
- With the Superintendent and the Director of Financial Operations, built a transparent and productive relationship with the Finance Committee and the Town Manager that has resulted in earlier agreement on budgets to be submitted to Town Meeting in May.
- Worked with the Director of Personnel and the leadership of the Needham Education Association to build a collaborative approach to negotiations that encourages open dialogue and a shared problem-solving approach.
- Negotiated fair and affordable contracts that recognize and reward our staff – teachers, administrators, special education aides, administrative staff and food service workers – for their commitment to the success of our students.
- Most recently, we built on this problem-solving relationship of trust to enable the administration and teachers to tackle a significant concern about “initiative overload” through a year-long collaborative process outside of the negotiation process.
- Work within the committee, and especially with new members, to build and maintain a collaborative and supportive School Committee working environment that enables district leadership to focus on the work of the schools, and not on managing the Committee.
- Built strong and productive working relationships with the Finance Committee, Selectmen and Town Manager, and with other Town boards and committees.
The School Committee works with the Superintendent to facilitate major projects that enable the work of the district.
When I was last Chair in 2014-15, I articulated the projects that would be the focus or our work for the schools and the community over the course of that year. We made substantial progress on all of those projects during that year:
- Establish a full-day Kindergarten Roadmap – to develop a timeline for full-day Kindergarten
- As a result of the Kindergarten Committee’s report, the School Committee voted to move forward with free full-day Kindergarten. The Superintendent has established a working committee to develop the detailed plans.
- Hillside Feasibility Study – to develop a design for the replacement of the Hillside School that is approved by the MSBA and supported by the community.
- The Hillside Feasibility Study was completed, a site was selected and the preferred was approved by the MSBA for funding. An override to fund the construction of the new school was approved by voters in November 2016.
- High School construction – for the construction of additional classrooms and an expanded cafeteria to support the rising High School population (growing to over 1,700 students).
- The expanded cafeteria opened in the fall of 2016. The classroom expansion required more time for planning and funding. That work continues (see below).
- iPad implementation – ensure a successful first year implementation of 1:1 iPad initiative at High Rock.
- The iPad implementation exceeded expectations. Working with the Finance Committee, the Selectmen and Town Meeting, we secured community support to provide the iPads to entering sixth-graders with school funds going forward. The outstanding work at High Rock set the stage for future expansion to the High School.
From my perspective, it is important – and gratifying – that we continue this yearly focus as other committee members have taken their turn as Chair and as these major projects advance. You can see our progress, and what I am looking forward to working on over the next three years, in our 2016-17 priorities:
- Identify the optimal approach for expanded High School classroom space by completing the feasibility study and agreeing on a financing plan with town leaders.
- Finalize an implementation plan for mandatory full-day kindergarten across the district, starting in fall 2019 or 2020.
- Pass the debt-exclusion override to build the new elementary school at the former Owen’s site and advance the process to insure a 2019 start of school opening.
- Prepare NHS to phase in its own 1:1 technology plan beginning next school year.
- Negotiate a sustainable, fair and competitive contract with teachers, administrators, clerical and technical workers, teacher assistants and paraprofessionals, and nutrition services employees.