Address: 46 Mary Lane Age: 54
Political party: Democrat Previous terms: School Committee, 2004-08 and 2012-present. Currently serving as chairwoman.
Profession: Small business owner (Ocean Link Inc.).
Education: Business/ accounting.
Family: I was widowed in 2006, I have one daughter, Savanna Cortvriend, who is a Portsmouth High School graduate and is currently enrolled in graduate school at Rhode Island College. I have lived in town for 21 years.
Reason for running: It is important to me to give back to the community I live in. I believe that public education is the cornerstone of our democracy. I further believe that providing for the education of our children is the most important service that a town provides its residents.
Our future depends on the kids that we are educating today. On a personal level serving on the committee provides me the opportunity to be continuously learning which is very gratifying.
Most important issues: The school committee's primary constituents are the students. This group of constituents is dependent on us to provide them with a quality education. It is the committee's responsibility to see that we are providing students with the opportunity to succeed.
Student success requires having competent teachers in every classroom. Competent teachers require strong administrative leaders and continuous professional development. It is the School Committee's responsibility to make sure these key ingredients are in place along with the required funding stream to ensure that we meet our strategic goal that students are prepared to enter college, a technical program or to join the workforce when they graduate.
The second group of constituents that we serve are the taxpayers, the funds they provide by way of taxes are a precious resource that we must use wisely. We need to ensure that we are always looking to maximize efficiencies, in that vein both the school committee and school administration have been working with our counterparts on the town side at looking for ways that we can share services where appropriate to benefit taxpayers. As a School Committee member I am acutely aware that having a high performing school system is an important factor in maintaining property values for the benefit of taxpayers. Balancing the needs of students within the means of our taxpayers is always the most important issue of the School Committee.
Top priorities: Expand our one to one initiative in technology; this year all sixthgraders were issued Chrome books, it is our plan to continue this for all sixthgraders in the years to come. The initiative includes critical professional development for teachers. I believe that effective use of technology can help teachers differentiate instruction and further personalize lessons for their students. I would support accelerating the role out to more students.
In recent years, we have increased the number of social workers and school physiologists to support the social and emotional wellness of students after hearing from teachers and administrators that they were seeing an increased need among students and that guidance counselors were overwhelmed. It is critical that the School Committee monitor that we have sufficient social emotional support and that we further monitor that our guidance counselors have time to meet with their students focusing on their long term education goals assisting them with course selections and strategies to meet those goals.
I would also like the committee to study the options of how we can update and modernize the most aged and tired parts of our school buildings. While I feel Portsmouth does a good job of keeping out buildings safe and clean there are many areas of our buildings that are showing their age and I would like us to develop a capital improvement strategy that goes beyond meeting the minimal health and safety needs. Such an initiative will require a lot of public discussion with stakeholders to put together a plan that will be supported by our taxpayers.