On Participation

I am running for school committee because I believe that spaces of justice and belonging are crafted through policies.  The report of the equity task force this summer and the policies that have been and are being revised, indicate that this is the work ahead of us.  I offer my deep practical and academic knowledge of, and experience in, public education to our community. 

I have spent time looking at state statutes, and local policies.   Per the Yarmouth School Committee Policy Manual the purpose of the standing policy committee is to:

A. Meet monthly during the school year;

B. Research timely topics and propose new or amended policies for consideration by the whole School Committee; and

C. Ensure that the Yarmouth School Committee policy is consistent and current with all state and federal law.

My academic and practical work in education has prepared me well contribute to the work of the Yarmouth School Committee standing committee on policy.

Our schools are nested in our community.  Input from our community will add value, texture and richness to policy development by our school committee.  Care-takers of school-aged children, and those without children in our schools must be engaged.  Per statute, public participation at school committee meetings is to be "encouraged".

One way in which we can increase public participation would be to allow for remote viewing of all school committee meetings open to the public, including subcommittees,  and to actively encourage public comment throughout our school committee meetings as topics are discussed.  Only allowing public comment at the start of meetings may be one of the factors contributing to low community engagement at school committee meetings.

Development and oversight of school policies and the school budget must include voices from community stakeholders, which requires actively seeking out members of our community whose voices may not be currently heard.  Our policy on community involvement in decision making (NEPN/NSBA Code: KCB-R) states that: 

The School Committee encourages each school to convene public forums. The purpose of the forums will be to:

Final selection for membership on advisory committees will be made by the School Committee. As a matter of basic policy, such committees shall be representative of the community as a whole and should, whenever possible, have members who live in the community and represent various interests.

Convening public forums, both in-person and online, and providing multiple channels for community & educator feedback to be elicited is vital to the health of our community schools.  Student and educator voice - from all of our schools will benefit our school committee.  

Yarmouth schools have an excellent reputation, in order to maintain this reputation we must look to each other and learn from the experiences that our recent graduates have had in career and in college.  What can their stories tell us about the ways in which they have been empowered?  The knowledge held by our educators and school leadership is vast - and community input functions to grow their knowledge of our community and the needs our educational system might provide.

I am someone who works to say the quiet part out loud.  I did not feel always feel a sense of belonging in schools.  I have listened to the stories of those in our community who desire that our policies reflect their desire for a just education for our children. The stories that share experiences of othering are vital to hold when we engage with the running of our schools.  Maine is a local control state.  Local voices matter.