CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

April 3, 2014

Public Schools Can Succeed

By Fremont School Board
Carriage Towne News

---- — FREMONT — What a difference five years can make when a group of determined and focused individuals from a tiny town in New Hampshire team together vowing to make their school district one of the best in the State…. no matter what.

This tenacious group of school board members recognized the full potential of the teachers, staff, students and community members of Fremont that was not being tapped and, well, focused on tapping it – no holds barred. Current School Board Chair Ida Keane recalls her first days joining the board in 2009; “I decided to serve on the school board because I recognized the potential that our team of teachers could offer our students that was not being tapped. Our school district had lost its’ focus – student achievement. We were spending more and more and getting nowhere fast academically.”

It’s five years later and the Fremont School Board received news from Principal John Safina of Ellis School that the re-focus on student achievement had paid off. In 2009, only 63% of the students were proficient or proficient with distinction in Reading and Math (NECAP). Today, after many tough decisions, level-funded budgets and relentless focus on academic excellence, the 2009 statistics have jumped to 82% in Reading and 73% in Math.

Nobody should fool himself or herself into thinking that these results are easy to achieve. Many political battles had to be resolved, difficult administrative decisions had to be made and a dedicated group of school board members that kept their eyes on the prize contributed to the bright future of the winners – The Ellis School students. Co-Chair Andy Kohlhofer took on these tough challenges and reflects back noting, “I’m glad I could support the changes.”

There’s more work to be done. The future is forever changing as school board members come and go. Retiring member Sharon Girardi joined the board in 2009 along with Ida Keane. In closing, she shares her thoughts, “When I joined the school board in 2009, I had three goals in mind:

• Make student achievement for every child, every day, the driver for every decision made by our administration and staff

• Ensure that the district was spending our tax dollars in the most responsible manner, within the school board’s control

• Hold every employee in our district accountable to doing their job in the most respectful, professional manner, while putting children first.

Believing that I have reached my personal goals, I’m proudly passing my duties as a school board member on. Our district has grown tremendously in the last five years and our test scores are just one distinct measure of proof that the systems that have been put in place, over these years, are working. We have a strong leader, and I have no doubt we are going to continue to succeed. “

The Fremont School District has proven that students can thrive in our public schools when the focus stays on educational excellence. There’s much more to share about this success story.