Letter: Why I am running for school board

This letter is by Katie Parent of Springfield, who is running for Springfield School Board.

I would love to tell you about myself and why I am running for school board. I am a mother to two incredible girls and wife to an Army veteran.

We purchased our home here in Springfield, Vermont, in 2020 and soon after I became a substitute teacher for our district. Through that experience I’ve made many new friends and learned a lot about our students. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a substitute and have met some amazing children, parents and teachers. I believe there is much more that can be done to better support our students. I will fight to make that happen as I support transparency, resepectful communication and parental voices in the process. After joining the budget committee I can say that it has been an incredible opportunity; I have had the opportunity to engage and ask questions about things that aren’t clear or don’t add up. As a board member I will continue to always ask hard questions that have the best interests of the parents and students at heart. The issues I would like to address and help resolve are as follows:

  • Allow parents to be a bigger part of the team and have a stronger voice in their child’s education.
  • Implement transparency as the administration having full engagement with the community about what takes place in our schools.
  • Removing personal politics completely out of our childrens classes. Students should not know their teachers’ political leanings. One idea is to offer elective after-school debate teams or groups to navigate these waters for parents and students that are in agreement with such teachings. All viewpoints should be heard and respected.
  • Not allowing teachers to openly ask a student in a classroom their personal health choices.
  • Teachers should not be instructing students on personal gender identification, racial bias or offering targeted therapy for students who don’t fit the bill or follow an agenda.
  • Involve parents in decisions about in-class gender conversations, and allow parents to have a seat at the table regarding these topics and whether or not they feel their students should in fact participate.
  • Teaching a pro-human approach that all of us are created equal and it is not acceptable for teachers or school administrators to tell any child that they are a product of racism.
  • When a parent or taxpayer asks questions, rather than ignore them or not answer their questions, or even belittle them for having a difference of opinion, answer their questions and address their concerns with a plan of action of how we can remediate the problem.
  • Working for our tax dollars to be spent on teaching actual academics versus culture, climate and equity.
  • When considering “Social Emotional Learning,” I would like to emphasize emotionally supporting students as they pursue their academics in a culture of respecting themselves and others, and learning to socially interact without labels or division. A school’s main role is to support them and guide them to academic success with the tools and skills necessary to navigate a rewarding career path; interacting with each other respectfully and with integrity is part of that process. Questioning and reflection are vital tools for developing the critical thinking skills that will help students succeed. These can only be exercised fully in a culture of mutual respect and integrity, not segregation and division.

Katie Parent
Springfield, Vermont

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5 thoughts on “Letter: Why I am running for school board

  1. Neil: To ask anyone to reveal the ‘truth about state expenses’, is yet another false dichotomy. The State spends $6 Billion a year, not to mention the additional $5 Billion it receives and manages each year for Covid expenses. Which ‘truth’, what ‘waste’, what ‘expensive things’, specifically, interest you?

    After all, you already have access to the salaries of any public-school staff you want to see. For example, according to the latest data from the VT AOE, in Mrs. Parent’s district, the Springfield High School Principal earns $106,432 per year plus benefits. The Assistant Principal earns $89,175. The School Nurse earns $53,845. And fulltime Springfield high school teachers earn anywhere from $71,674 to $62,767 per year plus benefits.

    If, on the other hand, your intention is to play the ‘gotcha card’, be my guest. That’s been the standard fair between parents, taxpayers, board members and school staff for years – and we’ve seen where that gets us.

    If you really want to play the ‘gotcha card’, look no further than the enrollment data for these schools. In my Westminster VT school district, for example, the proposed annual budget of $4,618,770 ostensibly serves a 241 ‘equalized student enrollment’. Yes, that’s $19,165 per student. But here’s the kicker. According to the VT AOE data, Westminster has approximately 200 actual breathing students. That’s per pupil spending of $23,093 per year.

    Why the discrepancy? Because the VT AOE artificially inflates student enrollments for all public schools in its ‘equalized student enrollment’ formula. I’ll bet THAT opens a few eyeballs.

    By the way, if Mrs. Parent is sympathetic to the provisions in 16 V.S.A. § 822, parents choosing to send their children to alternative schools at public cost receive the VT AOE announced tuition of $16,842 per student per year. That means for every student in my district choosing to attend an independent school, the school district saves $6,251. That’s a savings of $6,251 per student.

    Why is this the dirty little secret the VT AOE and the school boards never tell us? Because most of them either don’t know or pretend not to know. Even Education Secretary Dan French didn’t know this when I interviewed him a year and a half ago.

    At least, now, Mrs. Parent is getting a taste of what she’s in for.

  2. Thank you for your announcement and platform, Katie. I hope everyone running for office has the courage to follow your leadership. Now comes the heart of the matter.

    Re: “When a parent or taxpayer asks questions, rather than ignore them or not answer their questions, or even belittle them for having a difference of opinion, answer their questions and address their concerns with a plan of action of how we can remediate the problem.”

    As a board member, will you respect the wishes of parents who believe their children will be better served by a school other than the Springfield High School or the Riverside Middle School you manage?

    I’m specifically referring to the provisions in 16 V.S.A. § 822.

    (c)(1) A school district may both maintain a high school and furnish high school education by paying tuition:
    (A) to a public school as in the judgment of the school board may best serve the interests of the students; or
    (B) to an approved independent school or an independent school meeting education quality standards if the school board judges that a student has unique educational needs that cannot be served within the district or at a nearby public school.
    (2) The judgment of the board shall be final in regard to the institution the students may attend at public cost.

    I look forward to seeing your response.

  3. What is your take on masks and medical treatment for those who’ve gotten cOvid?

    Educational programs? history requirements?

    How do you feel about revealing the truth about state expenses? How the state is wasting money on expensive things. HOW ABOUT MAKING SURE, PROVING THAT WE TAKE GREAT CARE OF OUR TEACHERS, BY POSTING ALL COMPENSATION OF EVERY TEACHER INCLUDING ALL BENEFITS AND RETIREMENT IN A YEARLY COMPENSATION PACKAGE?

    Then the teachers will find out how much in taxes they are truly paying, both sides of FICA and how much the state is charging for their health care!

    Bet that opens a few eye balls!

  4. Take a look at the Vt. Education Dashboard Assessment page and see where the Springfield schools stand. Use the data! The last testing was 2019, before C-19.

    I looked up Mount Anthony Union and to my dismay found too many are testing out below grade level according to the state website. For example; in English Arts, 41% are proficient. 59% are below. The State wide average is 43% below. In science, 28% are proficient. 72% are below. State average is 58% below. I’m on the MAU board, running for election, and wondering why most on the board want to spent millions on a super football field when the kids aren’t learning…

    I also think the the hippy-types that took over schools after the Vietnam war and brought lower standards have come home to roost.

  5. Katie Parent you sound like a very level headed parent, and have seen what goes on in
    our schools and what needs to be changed, good luck on getting on the school board, the
    trouble is liberals don’t want you changing their agenda !!

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