School Board Members See Challenges, Opportunities In New Terms
Teacher contracts and school construction projects will be top priorities next year.
Recently elected school board members Tony Falcone, Tom Mays and Carol Winter agree that the district construction projects and teacher contract negotiations will be at the top of their agendas in 2012.
“We need to see that come through on time and on budget,” Winter said. “I’m glad I get the chance to see those projects through the to end.”
Both teachers’ union contracts expire at the end of 2012, which means board members are already discussing negotiations.
“We’ve always been pushing the envelope with what our teachers have negotiated with us,” Winter said. “It’s been really nice that we were among the first communities to have teacher contribute 10 percent to their healthcare. We’ll keep moving in that direction because we want to make sure that we’re using resources efficiently and we want to be fair to our employees. We’re always working to achieve that balance with the taxpayers’ money.”
Mays, school board president, and Winter, school board vice president, were re-elected Nov. 8, while Falcone will start his first term next year.
“It feels great,” Falcone said. “I’m really excited to get started. I’ve already asked for lots of things to read from contracts to treasurer reports to minutes. I’m looking forward to jumping in with both feet.”
Members will also have the constant task of working together to follow and reviewing the district’s continuous improvement plan, and look for ways to increase revenue and decrease costs.
“I think that we’ll try to build consensus the same way we always have, depending on what the issue is, look at the issues, and discuss it,” Mays said. “As long as everyone can come to a meeting with an open mind and doesn’t have a ‘line drawn in the sand’ mentality,’ I think the opportunity for consensus is available and better. But consensus doesn’t mean unanimous.”
Falcone, Mays and Winter ran as independent candidates, but supported each other toward the end of the election season, using the slogan M-W-F.
“I started going to meetings a couple of years ago in earnest,” Falcone said. “I began to admire their work and how they conducted themselves. I thought, ‘There’s a couple of people you can really try to model yourself against— [school board member] Andrea Rocco as well. She’s the one who inspired me to run in the first place."
The three decided to pool resources and share volunteers as the election heated up.
“I got to know so many people by getting to know Tony better," Winter said. "The same is true with Tom Mays. We got our message out early as individuals and then looked at the fact that a lot of people supporting Winter were also supporting Mays, and after a forum, Falcone supporters decided to support Mays and Winter.”
As a first-time candidate, Falcone said he was humbled and awed by the dedication of the volunteers on his campaign.
“I can’t thank them enough, especially my wife who was my campaign manager and pulled it all together," he said.
Mays, who has been on the campaign trail before, said he always appreciates the volunteers and voters.
“What I’ve said all along, is it’s truly a humbling experience,” Mays said. “You step back for a moment and look at all the people out there pounding the pavement, talking to neighbors and providing information about you and the people that are supportive of what you stand for.”