Letter to the editor: Quality with Affordability; a school board candidate’s point of view

Derek Larsen is a candidate for the Brandon school board seat.

Having lived in the district over 10 years, in Pittsford, Chittenden and Brandon, and having recently visited each of the schools in our Supervisory Union and having spoken with the Superintendent and Principals, I am very impressed with the education provided to our students. I have attended recent forums, task force and board meetings.

  I have seen evidence of the effort to provide quality education and an awareness of the need to contain costs. By way of the resources invested by our communities, the leadership I met with show creativity and skill in guiding their schools towards our ultimate goal of preparing students for the next stage in their lives.

 Whether it is early intervention to teach children how to be available for learning, or creating learning communities for groups of students, to focused content and skill building for older students, the practices of the people the children of this district come into contact with on a daily basis empower all students with a quality education. This continuum of support needs to continue through the changes in student populations with an eye for a cost we can afford.

  Most recently, I attended the budget/bond discussion meeting. It was challenging effort on the part of the board. Truly, local democracy at work. Discussions, disagreements, motions failing, more discussions before ultimately coming to a position that all could live with. Insights about the need for more long range planning and input from the community occurred.

  I view the Board, under the Policy Governance model that we now use, as the navigators of the ships in our fleet; the administrators and teachers as captains and crew that make things happen on the way to our destination. The decision-making in this district happens at many levels and is an ongoing responsibility of all the parties involved. Interpretation of policies for their guidance needs to be discussed. Examination of procedures for their usefulness needs to occur. Supervision of practices is essential for continuous quality teaching/learning experiences.

Policies drive Procedures. Procedures drive Practices. Practice informs new Procedures. New Procedures inform new Policy.  Therefore communication between and among constituent groups is essential to the work of achieving our goals (parents, teachers, students, service providers, administrators, and boards). Not just surveys and reports, but real face-to-face interaction and collaborative work with each other. I want to participate in a leadership role with others who have an interest in education. It is my hope that all will be involved in constructive dialogue, deep listening, and supportive actions as opportunities for this important community work arise.

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