Full Day Kindergarten: A plan should be developed to move from a fee-based full day kindergarten program to a free full day kindergarten program for all students.
- The plan should include a clear timeline and a way to address spacing constraints at Blueberry Hill School.
- A move to a free full day kindergarten program will strengthen the Longmeadow Public Schools and improve student outcomes in the early grades.
- It will make a desirable community even more desirable. Many families with young children move to Longmeadow expressly for the schools; families with two working parents often look for a community with full day kindergarten.
- Every line item of the budget must be scrutinized and grants must be pursued to offset the increased costs of expanding full day kindergarten.
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math): In order to develop innovative problem-solvers, we must prioritize education in science, technology, and engineering, beginning in elementary school.
- Longmeadow High School should begin offering introductory engineering courses; other competitive high schools already offer these courses, and Longmeadow is behind in this area.
- In the elementary schools, time must be devoted to conducting real experiments, building creative solutions to engaging problems, and utilizing new technologies as tools.
- Too often, girls lose interest in science, as numerous studies show. Longmeadow Public Schools should take a lead in actively working to change this unfortunate trend by creating a highly engaging K-12 science and engineering curriculum.
- At the high school level, we must continue to expand course offerings in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, including more Advanced Placement offerings.
After School Programming: We should continue to expand after-school learning opportunities at the elementary and middle schools.
- We are fortunate to live in a community with an excellent Parks and Recreation Department and a community with plentiful high-quality after school programs.
- An expanded selection of after-school enrichment classes offered at each elementary and middle school would only enhance the experiences of our students. Often, children and parents are interested in a course, but it is offered at a different school, and transportation barriers prevent enrollment. Expanding opportunities and ensuring each school offers similar educational enrichment courses would benefit all of our students.
Fiscal Best Practices: We must make judicious decisions in order to control spending and prevent an increase in taxes.
- For some, Longmeadow’s high property tax rate is a deterrent to moving into the community. Many homes have been sitting on the market for too long. Some elderly residents are struggling to stay in their homes. Longmeadow is an economically diverse community. In short, Longmeadow cannot afford another override.
- So many grants exist for education, and we must hold our educational leaders accountable for pursuing these grants. Longmeadow Public Schools will not qualify for some grants based on per capita income, but that is only a portion of the grants out there!
- We all want the best for our children, but that does not necessarily equate to spending the most. We must scrutinize each area of the budget and make difficult decisions to provide the best possible educational program and at the same time not overburden the community as a whole through property taxes that repeatedly climb.
Communication: A key aspect of serving the community is clear and consistent communication.
- The forums held to seek community input into the all day kindergarten program were a great example of open communication. If elected to the school community, I would see to it that we hold more of these forums on various educational topics.
- Many of the parents who for various reasons have selected the half day kindergarten program are now anxious about supplementing their children’s educational experience at home. We must keep the lines of communication open and see that supports are provided if supplementation is needed. We must be open to hearing the concerns of all parents and consciously work to address issues as they arise.
- In the end, a member of the School Committee is responsible for listening to the residents and addressing their concerns and for communicating the vision, goals, and strategic plans of the Longmeadow Public Schools.
I hope that you will put your faith in me and elect me to the School Committee in June.