Belleville School Board Candidate - Monroe
March 25, 2021
Occupation: Registered Piano Technician/Piano Restoration Expert
Years lived in district: 16
Have you been on the school board or held any other public office before? If so please describe: No.
Why are you running for school board? I am seeking a seat on the Belleville School Board because I believe in our students. It is important to me that students continue to have a school district they are proud of, a district in which they feel that their concerns will be heard, and their needs will be met, so that they may continue to flourish and develop into the best versions of themselves. As a school board member, it would be a priority to see our students graduate not only with accumulated knowledge, but also with the ability to think and reason, to understand how to gather information from various sources, weigh that information, and choose the direction their life will take.
I am seeking a seat on the Belleville School Board because I believe in our teachers, support staff, and our administration team. I think we have great people in place to keep the Belleville schools strong for a long time to come, and I think it is important that we continue to create an environment that will attract, and keep, the best educators, and the best administrators. Future board members must embrace the idea that the team they are joining is much larger than the other six members of the Board of Education. The team that a Board of Education member joins also includes our students, of course, but administrators, staff, and our educators are also members of that team. The Board of Education must respect the fact that all these team members perspectives need to be considered as decisions are made. A failure to respect and consider the importance of inclusivity will ultimately undermine our efforts to do right by our students.
I am seeking a seat on the Belleville School Board team because I have a desire to provide a public service to my community. And because I have a profound belief that public schools are vital when it comes to creating a vibrant, healthy, high-functioning community. I am also deeply committed to the idea of public schools and the idea that a strong public school system makes for a strong community – a community that people want to move to, a community with schools that people want their children to attend.
What issues do you find most important to the school board? How would you handle these issues? First, the District’s response to the COVID pandemic has been highlighted thus far in this election, and that is perhaps unfortunate. I think we need to be focused on looking ahead. Some community members express concern over our students “catching up” after the pandemic, and that the struggle to do so will create mental health concerns for our students. I would respond by asking the question, “catch up with whom?”
School districts around the country are all facing the same situation: we are not where we expected to be a year ago. Everyone is “behind” where our plans had us. But our imperfect world had other plans. Our school board members and our parents need to model the behavior that will lead our students and our community to successful outcomes. We must stop throwing our arms up in despair, as if our situation in Belleville is so very unique, and we must stop promoting a fatalistic perspective that has our students failing to ever learn or develop enough. It is simply not true, and it is this type of negative reinforcement that could lead to mental health challenges for our students.
Instead, we must adapt. We must stop telling our students they need to worry about “catching up,” and thereby exacerbate feelings of worry they already have. Rather, we need to be showing our students a way forward. Some material they will catch up on, some they will not, and this will be a similar scenario in school districts all over the country. And it will not break them. Instead, we will learn resilience and we will grow from this as a community.
Second, attention must be given to maintaining and expanding the educational experience for our students, to ensure that they are prepared for their next steps in life, whether they immediately enter the community work force, pursue further training in technology or skilled trades, become apprenticed, or attend a college or university. We must ensure equity in our educational system for all our students, not just those opting for college. We must pay close attention to student achievement, and to appropriate resource allocation for our students.
Third, as board members we will have to make important financial decisions very shortly, so budget is an issue that concerns me. We also need to put some effort into ensuring that after we hire high-quality educators, staff, and administration, that we retain them. To this end, it is imperative that the board begin working to repair and strengthen the shared relationship of trust and respect that must exist between the board, administration, educators, staff, students, and community.
Handling these issues will, by requirement, be a team effort. We must make efforts to engage the community we serve, utilize data in our decision making, and recognize that no one individual will make policy. Therefore, it will be incumbent upon any elected board member to be willing to work as part of a team, to be willing to make compromises, and to keep the focus on ensuring the best interests of all our students are kept at the forefront.
Any additional comments? I acknowledge that I do not have the answer to everything, and I am not afraid to say, “I don’t know.” I am not the expert in medicine, education, administration, transportation, athletics, or in child development. But I am well-organized, learn quickly, I synthesize many types of information well, and I am skilled at thinking critically. I would be there to listen to people who are experts in their respective fields. And I would be there to listen to the residents of Belleville: those with and those without children in the schools. I will commit to making decisions that are not based upon my emotions or my self-interests but are reflective of the best information and facts available – and I will utterly refuse to allow pressure from individuals or special interest groups to influence my decisions.
As a school board member, I understand that I would be a representative of the community and a leader of the district. I recognize that I would be acting as a steward of my district’s children and its tax dollars. I am an advocate of public education and of an educated public. It is a tremendous responsibility to be part of the team that will help define school district policy in this way. I am up to that task, and I am asking for your vote. Thank you for your vote, William R. Monroe.