Serving on the school board of my hometown and for one of the top districts in Tennessee is an honor. During my time on the board, I have supported increased opportunities for all students, championed the expansion of parental engagement, and approved responsible budgets that support our valued teachers and staff. I pushed to keep schools open during the pandemic. I will remain a principled policy maker and a positive promoter of our district and city. As a unifying leader in our community, I will continue to develop partnerships and plans to secure support and funding for the future of GMSD.
When I ran for school board four years ago, the board was splintered. The relationship between the school board and our city’s board of mayor and aldermen was more codependent than cooperative. GMSD was performing at a high level of excellence, especially for a young district, but the overwhelming feedback from stakeholders was the need for increased communication and transparency. In 2018 my platform was that we must work together to build bridges that all community members could cross.
Today, our school board is working more harmoniously than ever before which is evident in our proactive planning and effective policy making focusing on successful student outcomes. While each board member brings a different perspective and voice, we are always working towards a common goal which is to continue improving our top ranked, locally run school district for the benefit of our students. Our current board has strengthened its relationship with our city leadership, establishing a better understanding the district’s needs through open communication with our local funding body. District communication including school level initiatives is being disseminated more clearly and consistently than ever before.
I don’t serve to be in the spotlight. I serve because I believe in giving back to my hometown community and supporting our local schools. Service not only requires a commitment but also a concentrated effort to work with others to build consensus. I am always working with the best interest of students in mind and never stand on the sidelines. I am actively engaged in our community, regularly meeting with parents and neighbors, and volunteering in our schools. The role of the school board is made up of three parts. First, the board develops and reviews policy to be implemented for the basic operations of the the district. Second, the board oversees the educational, long range vision and fiscal planning for the district. Finally, the board is tasked with keeping the community informed about the district, involving the public in the planning process while promoting its accomplishments.
Germantown is fortunate to have some of the most engaged parents in the area. Our parents not only support our schools but also actively contribute in the district’s decision making processes. Reciprocal communication with families is vital.
In January 2021, our board decided to go back to separate work sessions and business meetings for our monthly meeting schedule. This purposeful decision expanded the time for the board to receive input from parents and other community stakeholders between presentations, public discussions, and votes. During that same time, the board decided to further invest in our local partnerships by designating a board member as local government and PTO liaisons. It has been an honor to serve as the board’s PTO liaison since that time. The purpose of this role is to be accessible to answer questions, address concerns, and establish information sharing about upcoming board and district matters with our outstanding PTOs.
The state of Tennessee has just revamped its public education funding formula after thirty years. Tennessee Investment in Student Acheivement (TISA) is a student based funding approach which will begin with the 2023-24 school year. The primary benefit I see with this new formula is that once it gets going, school boards/districts will have a clearer understanding of the funds they will receive. This will be a game changer in the budget planning process. The goal is to have long range plans that are budgeted over time. By law, there must also be an amount set aside for basic daily operations of the district. GMSD’s current annual budget exceeds $70 million dollars. In order to continue to offer a premium educational product, we must responsibly invest in student outcomes, recruitment and retention of top staff and facility maintenance and necessary renovations.
Serving as the board’s Tennessee Legislative Network representative for two years, I worked to expand our legislative advocacy initiatives at the state level. Our local legislators take our calls, meet with us frequently and give us insight on bills and amendments that directly impact our district. I believe it is as important to contact legislators from all parts of the state. Being a champion for our school district requires collaborating with other school boards, superintendents, and law makers. Germantown Board of Education resolutions have been adopted by the Tennessee School Board Association’s annual legislative agenda and boards throughout Tennessee have joined in supporting them. I am proud of our legislative outreach and the respect our board has earned at the capitol. My hope is that our board’s legislative advocacy efforts will inspire greater stakeholder participation at the state and federal levels. The power of numbers is how legislative change is made and I will ensure that we always have a seat at the table.