Kristin Lehoullier is the second new candidate to declare she’ll run for School Committee, days before the official candidacy filing papers are due. Fellow newcomer Michael Fain has also said he will run.
There are four School Committee seats up for election. Only Chairman David Green has said he will run for another 4-year term, his second. Committee members Mary Ellen Winters, Susan Records and Jack Sommer have all said they are still deciding whether or not to run again. Winters and Records are in their two terms, Sommer is in his first term. Members are term-limited to three 4-year terms.
Lehoullier said the main reason she’s running is to help make the School Committee’s stated goal of becoming one of the top 100 school districts in the country a reality. Lehoullier is a member of the district’s strategic planning committee.
She said she sees three priorities to reaching that goal: “Strengthening communication with and engagement of families and the community; defining what it means to be a top 100 school district and setting clear goals for getting there, and ensuring that district investments are prioritized based on evidence of effectiveness and relative cost.”
In terms of communication and engagement, Lehoullier has been part of a loose confederation of parents who have been regularly attending School Committee meetings this past year and spreading the word about issues.
“Over the past year, there has been a lot of effort to get other parents involved and to make the process more transparent. Nobody knows how it works and we didn’t either,” she said, referring to School Committee meetings – how and when to make public comment and how to get something on the agenda, for instance.
“The district and the School Committee need to do a lot to strengthen the engagement of stakeholders [parents] in their work,” said Lehoullier.
On her third priority, ensuring investments are made on evidence of effectiveness and cost, Lehoullier was referring in part to the decision to move ahead with the 1:1 plan – one Chromebook computer device per high school student – in September.
She said she was not against 1:1, but questioned the decision-making process.
“Are we really making this decision about this investment without understanding what we aren’t investing in?” she said. “That’s what really good strategic planning can do.”
Lehoullier is self-employed strategic planning and organizational development consultant. Her list of clients includes the Providence Public School District, Rhode Island Kids Count, and Brown’s Swearer Center for Public Service.
She is married to Jeff Lehoullier and they have two children the East Greenwich public schools.
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