, Kingston, NH

March 1, 2012

School Board Candidate

My name is Kate Delfino and I am a candidate for the Timberlane Regional School Board for the town of Atkinson. I ask for your support on Election Day, March 13.

Fifteen years ago when my oldest son started first grade at Atkinson Academy, I started school with him. From that first year on, I have been an active parent volunteer in our district schools. I served as a board member of the PTA at Atkinson Academy, including two years as president. I was a PTSA board member at our middle school. And I have continued to serve on the PTSA board at our high school, including two years as president.

My fervent and long-time advocacy for parent and community involvement in our schools comes down to a belief we all share: When schools, parents and community members work together our students succeed and our schools improve. Over the last fifteen years, I have experienced this first-hand as a PTA/PTSA volunteer but it's not just my opinion. Numerous research studies have proven that parent and community engagement are critical components of student success.

It is time for our district to engage in a better conversation about the future of our schools - an open conversation that welcomes and values the input of parents, teachers, students and all members of our community.

Improved communication must be a priority for our district. Several years ago, I was a parent representative on our district's Strategic Planning Committee. The five year Strategic Plan was adopted in 2009 and states that a "deeply held conviction" of the Timberlane Regional School District is that, "Effective Communication connects parents, teachers, students and the community fostering trust and interdependence."

In spite of this lofty sentiment, I believe that there is a trust deficit in Timberlane between our district and the communities it serves. This deficit can only be overcome through meaningful dialogue and an increased willingness on the part of our district to be more open and transparent about major policy decisions, especially those related to academic performance.

We want to have confidence that all children in our schools are receiving the best education possible. However, several important academic issues are creating distance between the administration and the community.

Many parents continue to be uncertain about the effects of the decision to eliminate midterms and finals weeks at the high school. There is confusion revolving around changes to the middle school grading system. And there is concern about our students' performance on the NECAP tests. While these standardized tests are just one measure of student success, many in our community wonder if poor NECAP results are a symptom of weaknesses in our district's academic program.

Surely, better outcomes can be achieved if parents and community members are welcomed as partners in the educational process and are included as part of the discussion before decisions are made.

As a school board member, I intend to hold our district accountable to its own policy on School, Community and Home Relations (Policy Code: KA) which recognizes the importance of having a strong partnership between the school system, parents and the community at large. We cannot let the trust deficit continue to grow. We must rebuild a foundation of trust and strive for consensus through a new dialogue that begins now.

Kate Delfino

Candidate for School Board