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Letter from Exeter Resident : School Board Election

To the Editor: This year’s SAU16 school board election is the first I know of that has been fully contested since moving here 20 years ago. We have several options for board members; many smart, eager, motivated parents who want to get involved with their children’s education. Yet somehow, this has become a threat to the district and public education as we know it. Why? We all have emotional opinions about, well, everything. There’s no shortage of data feeds to subscribe to, feeding our emotions and assuring us we are correct in those opinions. But let’s put those emotions aside for a moment and ask ourselves some hard questions. We elect our School Board, who hires our Superintendent, to lead the way in making our district a place where parents want to send their children. And we did that. Just a few years ago we were ranked among the best schools in the U.S. And we celebrated that! But something has changed. Publicly available information shows our steady decline in academics, enrollment, and that our paraprofessionals and substitutes are underpaid. So what do we do? If our school board and Superintendent are confident in the decisions they’ve made, why are there more parents than ever who disagree? The answer lies in the leadership. Leaders convince others to follow. They are self-aware and prioritize personal development. They are effective listeners, accepting of feedback from others, and are open to change. I urge you to ask the parents who seek a leadership change if our current board and Superintendent possess those qualities. Why has our leadership resorted to attacking challengers as agitators, backed by outside groups who want to dismantle public education? Why not remind us how you created, presented, and oversaw the implementation of the plan for our schools and convince us you’re right? Emotional responses to legitimate questions asked (typed in ALL CAPS with multiple exclamation points!!!) does nothing of the sort. Remember, your challengers are not your enemy. They are concerned parents, neighbors, taxpayers and fellow community members who simply want the best for their kids. With only a few days to go before voting, we should all pay close attention to what incumbents are saying about their own record before we re-elect them. Ask yourself if they have been effective leaders who can unite this community for the betterment of our schools, our teachers and most importantly, our students. Steve Singlar Exeter, NH
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