School Board Candidate Stratham Memorial
1 Year Term
Who can vote for Erik?
Voters in Stratham who want a fresh perspective, new voice and a pathway to change.
Tell us about yourself.
I have lived in SAU16 for 8 years with my wife Abbie, my daughters Amelia and Sadie and our yellow lab, Ellie.
I have lived in New England for 25 years, but grew up in Tennessee and Georgia.
I graduated from Southern New Hampshire University. I work with an amazing team as a VP for Client Solutions where I am responsible for sales engineering and product marketing.
Why are you running for school board?
I want to create measurable goals for the school and district, and hold administrators accountable for reaching those goals. The most important goal I would like to set is improving academics, measured by a marked increase in student proficiency in math and reading (especially math). I especially care about our elementary students, our little ones, who were critically impacted by the ineffective response to the pandemic that resulted in poor learning outcomes. I have significant concerns about the administration's judgement. Their actions remove accountability, lack bi-directional dialog with the community, disengage parents from their children's learning, and are focused on the wrong things. For everything we spend resources on, we're making choices to NOT do other things; it's all about opportunity cost. We can have the highest rated schools in the state! We have smart, well-paid teachers, caring paraprofessionals & staff, loving parents and guardians who what to engage, and a very supportive community with high expectations. There's no reason why SMS and our district can't be THE place everyone in the Seacoast wishes they could send their kids to. I know this, because that's how it used to be, and not that long ago. But it's going to take new oversight and an emphasis on accountability. That's why I'm running.
What do you see as the main challenges facing the school district and what do you want to change?
Making up for lost ground during the pandemic where we've seen academics slipping as measured by proficiency scores and independent rankings. We need to carefully evaluate every initiative, spending request, or resource allocation that doesn't align with improving academics.
What issues about education are you the most passionate about?
Active oversight of public schools by elected representatives. Improving grade-level competencies in math and reading. Holding Administrators accountable. Increasing parental involvement in their children's education. Respecting free speech while maintaining apolitical classrooms, especially at the elementary level where I seek to serve.
What are two key areas you feel the school board should improve?
1) Defining key performance indicators (KPIs), and 2) holding Administrators accountable to those KPIs.
Why do you believe animosity has increased during in interactions between the school board, the administration, and the public, and how can the current climate be improved?
I believe it's a failure to communicate properly. The community longs for dialogue, a true conversation. Not one-way communication. And that's the situation today, people on all sides talking AT each other versus WITH each other. This creates a vicious cycle: the public speaks during public comment or sends email to their board member representatives or administration, but there is no acknowledgement of their grievances, no desire to debate the merits of their concerns, no effort to persuade those that disagree, no collaborative sessions or round-table discussions from folks representing opposing viewpoints. As such, the public goes back into their social media echo chambers to reinforce their own biases and vent frustration. Ultimately, those that are dissatisfied believe that removing the board and administrators is their only redress. I would advocate for long-form conversation, round-tables, transparency, and meaningfully responding to all messages I receive from my constituents - basically, acting in good faith!
If elected, what approach will you take in responding to parents' questions and concerns as it relates to their children’s educational experiences inside the classroom?
I intend to personally provide a meaningful response to every email message or letter sent to me by a constituent. I would like to create long-form public conversations (more than the 3 minutes of one-way public comment) between stakeholders holding opposing viewpoints, or their representatives. I think of stakeholders as including parents & guardians, teachers, staff & administrators, board members, tax payers, and concerned community members.