Just as I realize that winning a single seat on the five-seat Worthington Board of Education does not mean I will alone determine all decisions for the district, I also understand that developing a platform without the input of the community is no way to run a campaign. People are yearning for elected officials who are capable of listening and working together for the betterment of the community. For this reason, I have spent the last few months embarking on a “listening and learning” tour.
My strategic pathways and priorities are the result of hundreds of conversations over the last year with teachers, parents, students, Worthington School administrators, local elected officials, business owners, community leaders, seniors, neighbors and friends. (I certainly haven't had a chance to talk to everyone yet and will continue to make the way down my very long list of people and organizations I still want/need to talk to.) What I have learned is that we all have different opinions on what is going well and what needs fixed with the district, but one thing we can all agree on - we take great pride in the quality and the reputation of our schools. Our schools are a reflection of who we are as a community.
Our schools. Our legacy.
As a mother of three school-aged girls, my expectations are similar to most other parents in the district. We want our children to have the best quality education possible. We want them to be safe when they leave our homes and go to school. All this starts with a school district and community we are all proud to call home. Simple and straightforward, but requires work from the district to ensure those things happen. The path forward can be broken down into three parts: PREPARE. PROTECT. PROMOTE.
This is a transformation time for Central Ohio and Worthington needs school board members who can meet this moment and navigate the generational changes that lie ahead.. The region is going to see unprecedented growth, opportunity and change brought on by Intel, Amazon and others. Worthington Schools must be ready for it. We need to retain and train the staff we have and hire more to decrease current student-to-teacher ratios. Our facilities need to be expanded and updated to prepare for an influx of students and for our community to remain a district of choice in Central Ohio. Work on the middle schools is complete and the high school construction is underway, but we can’t put off the next phase for the elementary schools. As a Board member, I will work with our municipal partners to seek opportunities for economic development to diversify our tax base from the overreliance on personal property tax that is putting a strain on local homeowners. With an eye on funding the next phase of the Facilities Plan for the elementary schools, we need to be more innovative with our funding sources in order to once again gain the public’s support at the ballot for the next phase of the project.
Safety is paramount, always. When students feel safe, they can focus on learning. When teachers feel safe, they can focus on teaching. We must protect our district from threats, both external and internal As a Board member, I will encourage efforts to improve mental health and special education support services, empower our teachers in the classroom, protect our marginalized communities and stop bullying in our schools by encouraging inclusion and acceptance. The world is still reeling from the effects of the global pandemic and Worthington is no exception. The world changed after COVID and we need a more holistic approach to ensure the individual student can be successful. Additionally, the district is faced with the existential threat to public education and the targeted efforts in Ohio to dismantle it like the recent voucher expansion passed in the biennium state budget. We must stand strong to protect an institution that accepts all students without discrimination and endeavors to provide equal educational opportunities to all. We must encourage diversity of thought and the free exchange of ideas and resist Orwellian efforts of censorship and re-writing of history. We also have a moral responsibility to protect our planet for future students. To ensure the new Worthington Schools facilities are utilizing cost-effective methods to reduce our carbon footprint, I propose the creation of a Climate Action Task Force that can examine the district's sustainability efforts and identify areas of improvement and cost-saving enhancements.
As we prepare for an evolving Central Ohio region that we are already seeing take shape, we must remain a destination school district by preserving and improving our reputation. We need school board members who can position Worthington Schools as a regional, state and national leader in public education by promoting the great things that are happening here. This allows us to attract and retain the most qualified staff, improve the opportunities for our students and encourage economic development for the area, As a former journalist who values transparency and accountability, I worry about the state of local media in this country and the lack of awareness from the public of what is happening in local government. There is a great loss when there are no longer local reporters in the room to cover School Board meetings. To remedy this, the district needs to improve news and information efforts through a variety of methods, meeting citizens where they are. As a Board member with more than two decades of communications experience, I will work to develop an educational ecosystem where information is shared freely and consistently. Good communication is central to building trust and trust in one’s local elected officials is critical to good governance.