Many of my readers know that I recently started a new job. When I learned of this new opportunity, I had another possible position in the back of my mind. It was running for our school board. Last year, due to a sudden vacancy created on the board by a member who decided to resign in the middle of their term, I applied for the temporary, one year position. I wrote formal statements, answered a number of questions, and also took part in a candidate forum for the open position. The difference was that only the board would vote for the successful seat occupant, not the community. I lost by a vote of 3-2. The person voted in was a board member who has served our community for 20 years and recently had lost her seat in the April election (not the vacated seat by the person who resigned). No by-laws, or apparently, even advice, prevented this former board member from running for this one year appointment. I delayed making my decision to run for a usual seat with a 3 year commitment until the time drew closer this fall and early winter. I knew I would have to decide. I had plenty of support but did not feel sure the position would suit me well.
As the end of this past December drew near, the possible role of the school board member was debated with my husband. He told me it was up to me, but I knew he was concerned about the stressors such a position would have on my emotional, and even, mental health in terms of lost sleep.
So, just as I turned in my application for the position in which I am now employed, I decided not to run for school board. This was the first week of January 2019.
There are many reasons for my decision, but primarily, after doing much soul-searching and priority setting, it came down to the fact that it is finally time for me to think about me. I’ve spent many years of contemplative thinking about our educational systems and the need for educational reforms. I’ve tried to “fix” things, lead, or be part of local reform for not only my children but countless other children in our district. Some “things” got fixed but many haven’t. Personally, I do not feel I’ll be able to “fix” the things that most concern me. Many of my opinions are not shared by others. And, while that is okay, I see a lonely, uphill, stressful battle if I ran for the board and won a seat. We have a good school district. My youngest is a junior. He likes school and is doing well. For many reasons, including some unstated, I need to let go of my desire to “improve the system.”
Surprisingly, no one has asked me about my decision. I do understand. It is a personal one. Some – those closest to me – knew the cost of holding a seat. Many probably assume that I just don’t want to be bothered. But, for me – at least in my mind – it came down to the possibilities that were held within the two positions before me in December. Both roles would be new, but there was one in which one I truly wanted to perform and one in which I wasn’t sure about my involvement. These thoughts played a major role in my decision not to run. Needless to say, my family was relieved. And, I think I was too.
Yesterday, while on my weekly walk with a friend, I broached the subject. She realized I decided not to run because of my lack of discussion about the subject, as well as being aware of my new job. I told her yesterday that part of the reason I did not choose to run was that I felt I couldn’t do both. She said that was not true, it was just that I probably felt I could not do both to the best of my ability. My friend knows me well.
And, I know myself well, also. I carefully watch what goes on my plate. I do not commit to things, only to have to back out of them. So, I decided not to run.
Unfortunately, there is only one, new community person running with two incumbent candidates for the two vacant board seats this April. One of the incumbents is the person who lost her seat last spring, only to get it back when I, and two other people vied for it, with myself losing three to two votes to the former board member. I thank this person for the time she has spent on our school board. It must be now approaching 22 years of dedication. But, it is just much too long! It is time for new people, and new ideas. Essentially, I feel we need term limits, and would have had that as part of my platform, if I had run.
I told my friend that I will be going to the candidate forum next month to learn more about this new candidate for whom I want to give support. I would ask that others do the same. Don’t vote just because a name is familiar or because someone has served twenty years. But, continuing to serve and our BOE allowing her to continue to serve even after she lost her seat, makes no sense to me. It was a “business as usual” decision, in my humble, yet informed, opinion.
Consider our students. Consider how time has changed the face of public education. I know of the changes; I’ve had a child in our local system for the last 19 years! Surely, that would have made me a good candidate. I strongly feel that we need a new board member who currently has children in our school system. Someone in the trenches, so to speak.
The “business” of education needs to change. If you are local, I ask that you seriously consider going to the candidate forum in March. Listen and use the information to make an informed decision for whom you will cast your vote in April.
It has to be about more than “time spent.”