Since I started this journey in January, people; rightfully so, ask why I am running. “Do you know how much work it is?” “Are you ready for the headache?” “Do you have problems with our school board?” Honestly, when I first started this process I don’t know if I had the answer. I was running for school board because I was approached by someone about the position and they thought I would be good for it. It is something I considered a couple of years ago but my children were still relatively young at the time. I did not think I could make the time commitment but it was always in the back of my mind. When January came and I was approached about it, I thought why not? I am always interested in being more involved in the school. I did not have issues with the current school board but was just excited about the opportunity to serve the district.
Fast forward to April when I realized that this was going to be more than showing up and getting 40 some votes at the poll. I did not anticipate having to run against anyone so this was all new to me. I was overwhelmed and nervous. I spent weeks questioning why I was doing this. By May 7th on the primary election day, I had an answer… I had to. I was the candidate that was the most invested, involved, and informed. I have the experience, the flexibility and commitment, and the compassion to be a school board member.
I am a parent in the school district so I am seeing the impact that school board decisions make on a daily basis. I want what is best for my children and also my children’s classmates. I want my children and the children in the community to continue to have access to a variety of extracurricular activities. I want all of the children in the district to have access to a first rate education, regardless of their learning needs and learning styles. I want my children to graduate from a school that has prepared them for the ever changing world in terms of technology and culture, and I want the entire community to have the same feeling of pride that I do when I say I live in Mechanicsburg Area School District. As a homeowner in the district though I also realize the fiscal responsibility that is placed on the taxpayers. We have to find the best way to provide a top rate education while still doing so in a manner that is fiscally beneficial to the community as a whole. Fortunately, this is something that I have extensive experience with. Before becoming a stay at home mother in 2006, I worked as a contract negotiator for the United States Navy. My main responsibility was to negotiate contracts within set budgets that were developed by the Department of Defense. I had to develop acquisition plans, solicit proposals, analyze those proposals, negotiate the proposals to be both fiscally responsible and in the best interest of the taxpayer, and then finally write the legally binding contract. I negotiated contracts that were over $240 Million in value and I was involved in developing unique contracts depending on the military need. Beyond understanding the budget process, I have extensive negotiation training and experience that I can bring to the school board.
Besides being invested as a parent and homeowner, I am extensively involved in the school. I am in the schools on a regular basis so I not only have experience as a parent but also as someone seeing the day to day operations of the school. I have seen the educational opportunities currently available to our students on all levels. I understand how our current special education programs work and how they impact such a diverse aspect of our student body. I have also seen the budget impact on the school and teachers. I currently serve as the Shepherdstown/ Upper Allen Elementary PTO Treasurer. In this position, I help to develop the annual PTO budget that is used to not only fund PTO sponsored school activities but to also help pick up the financial burden that is placed on teachers and the school in general. We help to fund Field Trips, provide classroom supplies, provide innovative teachers with mini grants to help fund new teaching methods and tools in the classroom, help to fund assemblies, and also behavioral prizes. In addition, because of my involvement in the school, I have seen the impact of the huge population growth. I have seen how some schools are busting at the seams while others have room to spare. Three years ago, when the school was desperate for substitute teachers I attended training so that I could serve as a substitute in the school as needed. In this position, I have been able to see the classroom from the teachers perspective. I have a whole new appreciation for what teachers face everyday. Also because of this involvement, I realized how much I really do want to see our school and our students succeed. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the students on a one on one basis and I have also enjoyed getting to know the staff and teachers. In addition, I am Vice President of the Middle School PTO, Vice President of the Governing Board of the MASD PTO’s, Upper Allen Book Fair Chairperson, Parent Manager for Keystone Football Club, and a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.
Fortunately, because of my involvement and professional background I feel like I am an informed member of the school community. I continually attend PTO Meetings at the elementary schools and middle school, I attend community meetings that the district sponsors, and more importantly I talk to the parents, administrators and lets not forget the students. I want to be the students voice and I want them to understand that I am there to be their advocate on the school board. With that being said, I am anxious to learn more. I hope that over the next 5 months I can learn even more from community members to help prepare me for this position and I can guarantee you I have the time and commitment to be an informed advocate for the community on the school board.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to me to ask me questions and for my opinion over the next few months. I am hoping to be able to take questions I receive to do future blogs on my website as the election approaches.