In a recent ‘Other Side of the Aisle’ column Woodbridge Republican Chuck Pyne claims “party affiliation and alignment should have no place on a school board.” We could not agree more. His criticism of Democratic Board of Education members therefore is hypocritical—not to mention misleading. Let’s get the facts straight.
Democratic Board members include highly qualified experts in the fields of education, early childhood development, law, finance, and science/medicine. They have supported keeping Beecher Road School open for in-person education for the long term, under conditions that keep our children, our teachers and staff, and our community safe. Democratic Board members ensured the safety of all in-person students and staff. Additionally, they advocated for quality education for the 25% of students whose families selected the option of remote learning—a proportion that enabled the in-person students to be adequately distanced at school, to learn safely, and to make it possible for full-time in-person learning as an option for members of the community.
Democratic Board members have demonstrated the skills and experience necessary to guide the school safely through the pandemic. They provided the science and asked the probing questions. For example, they asked what our capacity was for accommodating in-person students safely to clarify the number of students who could safely learn in-person in each classroom. So that parents and staff could understand and plan accordingly in a time of high uncertainty and stress, they requested clear and transparent criteria regarding potential transitions from one learning model to another.
They asked about safety protocols to highlight aspects of safety that had not been fully considered such as quarantining, testing, bussing, ventilation, and outdoor education. To ensure careful monitoring, they asked how we can confirm that no transmission has taken place at school. To help prevent transmission in school, they asked what kind of support we could offer to students to incentivize them to quarantine when needed. They advocated on behalf of our remote learning community by requesting resources for equitable outcomes. Committed to fiscal responsibility, Democratic board members took steps to reduce a quarter of a million-dollar deficit—a deficit that has now been fully addressed this year. These are just a few examples of questions asked in public and actions taken by Democratic Board members to balance safety (e.g., social distancing), resources (e.g., funding) and equity (e.g., classroom size).
Democratic Board members have collaborated and will continue to collaborate with their Republican colleagues in a bi-partisan way, ensuring that Beecher Road School offers a quality education for all. The facts are important. Let’s hold Chuck to his word, “party affiliation and alignment should have no place on a school board.”
Woodbridge Board of Education Members: