Editor’s note: As part of our ongoing coverage of the Nov. 5 general election, we asked the candidates for School Committee to answer a questionnaire and provide a synopsis of his or her platform and reason for running.
Today, we share the responses of Steven P. Cole.
Five candidates are running for three open seats on the School Committee. School Committee members serve a four-year term, and there are seven members on the board. The mayor is the chairperson of the committee.
School Committee members receive an annual stipend of $2,500.
I am an alumnus of the Newburyport school district — the only one currently seated on the School Committee — and bring valuable historical, institutional and relational knowledge to your School Committee.
I am steadfastly committed to working in partnership, and within a true exchange of purpose that parents share with the schools. I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to serve our community as entrusted by your vote to ensure the objective that our children and students of Newburyport have the best education possible.
I have the knowledge, skills and experience gained from more than 25 years of working with and providing services to children and students in out-of-district placement providers, including being the program’s public school liaison. This experience, combined with learning and development I have gained as a certified state quality award examiner through the study of world-class school districts, has provided me with an understanding of what a district must reach to succeed.
In conjunction with school administration, there are five objectives that School Committees should focus on and endeavor to attain: safe schools, highest student achievement, recruiting and retaining the best staff, operational effectiveness of school buildings and ensuring that as much of each educational dollar makes it into the classroom to directly impact student learning.
My work on the School Committee and as chairman of the Newburyport Charter Commission demonstrates a strong record of leadership and collaboration in public service, as well as in private nonprofit and volunteer organizations. With individuals and groups, I seek to instill trust, confidence and respect that establishes a foundation, that is vital to unify shared endeavors, reaching consensus and solving difficult problems.
Years in Newburyport: native
Family: married to wife, Sylvia, since 1989; four children: Kristin, Alexis, Gabrielle and Carson, all attended the Newburyport public schools
Education: B.A., Boston University; Boston University Center for Management Development; certified as a Malcolm Baldrige Quality Award Examiner and former member of the Board of Examiners, Mass Council for Quality now known as Mass Excellence; Massachusetts Department of Public Health, certified in Batterers’ Intervention; certification in managing human services organizations from UMass Boston
Current employment: consultant
Past employment: Harbor Schools and Family Services, admissions/program adminstration
Elected/public service experience: named to All-State School Committee by the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, 2010; chairman, Newburyport Charter Commission, 2009; School Committee, 2004, 2005 to present; chairman, Finance subcommittee 2008 and 2009, 2011 to present; vice chairman of School Committee, 2006 and 2007; chairman of Superintendent Search Committee, 2006; chairman of Communications subcommittee, 2005; on Board of Directors of Newburyport Adult and Community Education, 2004 to present; Newburyport representative, Greater Lawrence Educational Collaborative, 2012 to present
Top three priorities:
1. Improve the school budget process so that it better aligns with the new city charter, centered on the determination of School Committee budget guidelines. As part of the budget process, include several School Committee members in the discussions with school administrators to ensure that the committee’s priorities receive full consideration.
2. Determine and define short- and long-term goals for the school district. School Committee budget guidelines and the strategic plan will drive these goals. Sequenced short- and long-term plans are a must to ensure that goals are approached and accomplished in a timely and predictable way, which will help to maintain the stability of the district.
3. Ensure improvement in executive functions: planning, organizing and prioritizing that are vital requisites to any educational program improvement that were either absent or not proficient last year.