PORTSMOUTH SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Address: 25 Windstone Drive Age: 56
Political party: Democrat Previous terms:
2012-present. Currently serving as vice chairwoman.
Profession: Professor Education: BA, Lawrence University; MALD and Ph.D, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.
Family: Married to Richard Norton; sons, Nicholas and Christopher (both Portsmouth High School graduates). I have lived in town for 15 years.
Reason for running: I am seeking re-election in order to build on the progress we have made over the past four years in ensuring that: 1) all students are college or career ready upon graduation; 2) the district's strategic plan continues to guide and align our efforts; and 3) the district provides a high quality educational, social and emotional experience to all Portsmouth students while maintaining fiscal rigor, transparency and accountability. I pledge to continue to listen to all Portsmouth residents' ideas and concerns and bring those issues forward for discussion and consideration.
Over the past four years, the district has implemented full-day Kindergarten, expanded our STEAM initiatives, and brought special education back to the district to help improve student achievement, provide more professional development for educators and increase accountability for expenditures. Significant progress has been made in upgrading and maintaining our buildings, facilities, technology and physical plant. We have worked to strengthen relationships with the town administration through joint efforts in technology and buildings.
Successful contract negotiations have also been concluded. The most important task over the next four years will be to ensure continuous improvement. It is not enough to be among the top districts in Rhode Island; we should strive to be a top district in the United States.
Most important issues: The number one concern of Portsmouth parents with children in the school system has not changed over time. Parents want to feel certain that when their children graduate they are prepared to excel in either postsecondary education or the workforce. This means that we need to provide Portsmouth children with a well-rounded, high quality education, a safe environment, proper tools to aide in their social and emotional development and engaging extracurricular activities so that children can start to explore their passions and develop interests.
Top priorities: As a School Committee member, my top priority is to demand accountability of the school district for all stakeholders, including students, families, staff, teachers, administrators and residents. I work to ensure accountability by staying informed of the issues and developments within the system - I do my homework. I am not afraid to ask questions and bring issues forward for discussion and resolution.
While communication issues have not been ignored in the district, I believe there is much room for improvement. Good, effective communication among all stakeholders is critical for accountability. Thus my second priority over the next four years is to promote the implementation of a strong communication plan. This includes small steps such as requiring current messages on the schools' signs, timely information for students and parents about grades and programs, to broader issues such as long term planning. We need to ensure that there are viable channels within schools, among staff and between the district and the larger community. The district needs to not only listen to its stakeholders and be responsive but it also needs to be proactive in seeking that information.
Third, we need to continue to use efficiently the resources provided to the schools by the taxpayers of Portsmouth. My third priority will be to ensure good financial management and use of those resources by the district. We have a strong financial team in place that has worked to increase our revenues and uncover many cost savings. If reelected, I hope to continue my work as chair of the Finance Subcommittee to oversee these issues from the School Committee's side.