By Chris Paul
On Tuesday, March 14, Londonderry voters will be asked to choose two School Board members from the three candidates running.
Incumbents Amy Finamore and Bob Slater hope to retain their seats while Tim Porter is hoping to be voted in to one of those seats.
Each candidate was asked two questions by the Londonderry Times to give the community a better understanding of their views.
We asked each person: What would be your top priority if elected and what is one goal you would like to achieve? Their responses are printed below:
Amy Finamore – Incumbent
My top priority would be to continue supporting our students and our schools. Our teachers, staff, and students do amazing work everyday, and great things happen when people feel trusted and empowered. I would use my voice as an advocate, helping to share and highlight academic and co-curricular wins. During my time on the board, we’ve often created space for students to come at the beginning of meetings to share their leadership skills as well as their work on projects, such as the Matthew Thornton Make A Wish fundraiser, which raised $550, and the North School Student Council, who printed coloring pages for students to use during indoor recess due to inclement weather. Providing these opportunities- especially for students- gives them a sense of ownership towards their school and community, allowing them to share their ideas on how to make our schools even better!
I love competency-based education. This education model- known as CBE in shorthand- focuses on demonstrations of learning rather than seat time. It means that if you already know something and can demonstrate mastery, you move on the next topic, and if you need extra time, not only can you have that, but you can demonstrate your knowledge in other formats-CBE enables differentiation and personalization in a student-centric model, helping all of our students reach their full potential. However, it only works with genuine buy in from all stakeholders- it’s not effective implemented in a top-down approach (which is not my style anyway), but it is something I truly believe would benefit our students.
My top priority as a School Board member would focus on reversing the negative trend of academic proficiency rates in our district while controlling the spending of our budget. Having attended the school board meetings over the last few years, I have made it a point to stand up and scrutinize spending decisions as well as various other policy decisions when I felt that they were unnecessary, inappropriate, or counterproductive. Having a voice as a board member, I would focus on the academic rates for our district each year in comparison with other districts across NH, along with our annual budget figures. Evaluating if these trends are moving in the right direction each year would be of utmost importance.
The primary goal I would like to achieve in becoming a member of our School Board is to provide a specific voice that has been atypical but vital for the business that this Board conducts. The standard candidate for the Board has been someone with a background in education or another affiliated field. Those members are then tasked with appropriately allocating and managing tens of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds without having had any similar previous responsibilities. While I believe having School Board members with educational backgrounds and credentials is important, having a member with a strong business acumen and experience managing money for others would provide a differential viewpoint valuable to our district. My career centers on planning for the long term with regard to finances and providing this resource to our district is my primary focus in running.
My top priority would be to continue to improve upon the work we have started over the last few years and continue to push the district forward by supporting our students, teachers, administrators, and community with thoughtful and prudent planning. We have made strides over the last several years in curriculum, policy, communication and transparency with the community, and long and short time fiscally responsible planning for the district. While we have seen significant improvement, we still have a ways to go and the job is not nearly done. The school board is the main oversight this town has on an 80+ million-dollar organization. It is important to have board members who are willing to listen to taxpayers, ask the tough questions of leadership, and make hard decisions. I made it a priority to be sure to do just that over the last 3 years, and will continue to do so. You will always be able to reach me. As one of our policies states, “The public schools belong to the people” and accountability of the district is a shared responsibility between students, teachers and other employees, the Superintendent, and the people. The district is so much better when we all work together.
I would like to continue to help in stabilizing the district to help pave the way for the next wave of leadership for the school district. Over the last three years I have met so many impressive community members and our community will be in good hands moving forward if they continue to stay involved. We need to continue building a strong foundation with short and long-term planning for all aspects of the district so that future boards and board members are able to step in and continue the success that we build without taking a step back.