ANDREW V. KELLY
Address: 33 Pine St.
Political party: Democrat
Previous terms: School Committee, 2012-present.
Profession: Dietary aide at Grand Islander Center.
Education: Enrolled at Bridgewater State University in the Masters of Public Administration program; bachelor's degree in administration of Justice, with a double-minor in business administration and religion/theological studies from Salve Regina University (2015); associate's degree from Bristol Community College in Criminal Justice (2012); Portsmouth High School Class of 2010.
Family: I am a lifelong Portsmouth resident. Three generations on both sides of my family live in Portsmouth: My parents are Paul and Bev Kelly; brother Brad and sister Veronica, both Portsmouth High School graduates; uncle Ted and aunt Maryellen Fischer; cousin Jon and his wife, Megan, and their daughter Lilly; and my grandparents, Dale and Paula Bradley and Ann Calcutt.
Reason for running: I am seeking reelection because I want to continue the good work that the School Committee has done over the past four years, including realignment of the health curriculum, creating and implementing a strategic plan, instituting a capital improvement plan and many other worthwhile initiatives. I have deep roots in and a strong commitment to our community, and I have a broad perspective on Portsmouth issues from the time I've spent serving on numerous council-appointed boards and committees, such as the Glen Manor House Authority, the Elmhurst Planning Committee, the Portsmouth Charter Review Committee and the Portsmouth Economic Development Committee.
Most important issues: Maintaining educational quality in the face of ongoing reductions in funding. Every year, Portsmouth receives less in state aid, which we are unable to make up locally. We need to address this by working with our legislators and advocating at the Statehouse. Having the Town Council appoint a liaison to attend School Committee meetings would help them better understand the School Department's needs.
As I have over the past four years, I will always balance the needs of the school district with the taxpayers' ability to pay by aiming to run as an efficient of a School Department as possible and always looking at the big picture. While some argue that we spend too much money on our schools, having worked through several budgets, I can attest that this is false. We are operating a lean, effective system, and in fact are cutting programs when we should be enhancing options for Portsmouth's students.
Top priorities: School Funding. We must advocate at the state level to increase or slow the decrease of state aid for education coming to Portsmouth. Also, we must explore alternative revenue options such as partnerships with local collages and universities, and further exploration of agreements, such as the one we have with Little Compton.
Test scores. Portsmouth's test scores are a matter of concern and we need to understand and address the root causes.
While high-stakes tests are not the sole - nor most reliable metric - of future performance, our PARCC scores were clearly not what we hoped for. The School Committee should work with administration and staff to explore what other school districts comparable to ours are doing successfully to address this issue.
Health and Wellness curriculum. For the better part of the past four years, I have served as chairman of the Health and Wellness Subcommittee (a role required by state law). I came into the role at a difficult time, with the reduction of guidance counselors at the elementary schools and the shift of fourth and fifth grades to the middle school, as well as the lack of drug prevention education at the high school. With the administration and staff, we have realigned the health curriculum, expanded drug prevention education and built awareness of healthier food options district-wide. My goal is to continue as chairman to monitor and expand on our success, and to begin revamping all our health and wellness policies to reflect changes in federal law.