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KEN OTTO

School Board Candidate Stratham Memorial
3 Year Term

Who can vote for Ken? 

All Stratham voters who seek a fresh perspective, new voice and a pathway to change!

https://www.facebook.com/Ken-Otto-for-SMS-Board-102985482319364/

 

KEN OTTO

Tell us about yourself.

I have lived in SAU16 for almost 10 years with my wife, Giulia and our twins Isabella and Logan. When my wife and I wanted to move back to New England in 2012, we knew we loved the Portsmouth area. We chose Stratham because it was highly recommended from close friends as a great town in which to live. We knew we'd be having kids, so the strong school system was definitely a factor. We love living in Stratham.

I grew up in Florida and Connecticut. I graduated Worcester Polytechnic Institute - BSEE, Worcester, MA and from University of Hartford - MBA, Hartford, CT.

Why are you running for school board?

There is a lot of tension in the community about how the schools are operating. I think I can help bridge gaps in communication and foster critical thinking as we work towards getting our schools back to "normal" and focus on academics and developing our children for the world they are entering.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing our school district and what would you like to see change?

I think the key challenge is working with the community to navigate out of this current emergency mindset and back to an environment focused on learning academics. I'm hoping to drive our decision making processes towards critical thinking and fact based debates and help to ameliorate some of the negative emotions swirling around the community.

Why do you believe there are negative emotions swirling around the community and how can the current climate be improved? 

Unfortunately, the actions and practices of the Board over the past year have left a lot of people in the community feeling unheard. Many people feel like they are screaming into a hurricane and the decisions being made are not being discussed publicly so the community can understand the rationale, if there are indeed any. Also, it is not clear that the Board is taking into account any feedback or discussion with the teachers who are actually in the classrooms. The Board needs to publicly discuss decisions, publicly discuss the facts based on those decisions, and publicly state why or why not certain viewpoints are not being considered. None of those decision making processes are being done publicly in the Board meetings.

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? 

This will take some refinement, as I am not familiar with how the Board rules and requirements "should" work. However, we need to do a better job of informing the public of topics to be discussed at the Board meetings. We need to make sure the public comment section of the meeting is timed appropriately such that the public can weigh in on necessary topics adjacent to when the Board discussed them. (E.G.- if the Board discusses one thing early in the meeting at 630pm, it does no good to have public comments come in at 9pm). Perhaps we can also create a digital forum for parents to submit relevant questions ahead of time to be read aloud/discussed during the meeting?

I have diverse experience in a lot of management positions impact hundreds of people. I also have experience being responsible for the health and safety of those hundreds of people as we as budgeting experience. I'm also logical and search for constructive debate. I don't hide from fact based arguments. Its the only way we can get to the best outcome for all involved.

What would you use as a model to gauge academic success? 

This I do not know. And I would like to hear input from the SMS administration or from other schools in NH. I read about how the schools in SAU16 have fallen in the rankings, but I do not personally know what those rankings are. I will say, anecdotally, that I've heard from many parents in the community that their kids are not being pushed academically. I have also had conversations with parents outside the SAU16 who can show demonstrable proof that their kids are further ahead than our comparable students. I want to ask the administration directly, how are we measuring success? And, why are we using those metrics? Are they appropriate?

What makes you the most qualified person for the job? 

I have significant experience in planning, budgeting, working with people towards common goals, negotiating and identifying the critical tasks in pursuit of achieving those goals.

I have diverse experience in a lot of management positions impacting hundreds of people. I also have experience being responsible for the health and safety of those hundreds of people as well as budgeting experience. I'm logical and search for constructive debate. I don't hide from fact based arguments. It's the only way we can get to the best outcome for all involved.

Learn more

https://www.facebook.com/Ken-Otto-for-SMS-Board-102985482319364/?ref=page_internal