As we reported last month, Port Washington School Board Member David Strom is resigning his post because he is moving to Los Angeles. His term expires June 30,2006. The board will operate as a six-member one until the May board election. At that time, the candidate who comes in third, will immediately take Mr. Strom's position until June of 2006.
Before he left for the west coast, the Port News asked Mr. Strom some questions regarding his experiences on the board. He provided the following thoughtful answers.
1. During your term, how has the board changed?
The board has become more functional, more cohesive, more used to working together and making decisions as a unit. While we are seven separate people, we also have learned how to best complement each other.
2. Given your sudden departure, what was left unfinished?
A better plan for the overall curriculum is something that I really wanted to work on this year, and feel is the most pressing need for the district.
3. How do you perceive the administration?
I think we have a solid team together for the first time in a long time. Just as the board has come together, I think we have in place a great group of men and women that can carry us forward.
4. What is the best suggestion for anyone filling your seat?
The amount of time that is required to do this job is enormous, and can expand to a full-time job if you let it. If you are not willing to spend the time and listen to the various community stakeholders, then being a board member isn't the right thing to do.
5. Biggest surprise on the board and biggest disappointment?
How much time we spent on non-educational matters. Whether it was parking, roofs, fields, or whatever, these are the lightning-rod issues that tend to bring out the public. I hope the board can put these behind us and concentrate on more educational matters in the coming months.
6. What type of person would be best to fill your seat?
Someone who cares about our kids and wants to do the right thing. It sounds like a cliché but is so true. In the past we had board members that lost sight of this and the schools and our kids suffered as a result.
7. The biggest challenge ahead for the district and/or the board?
How to maintain the quality of programs in these times of rising costs for health-care, pensions, and other non-instructional related areas.
8. If you could single-handedly implement any change in the district, what would that be?
Many of the things that I would like to change start in Albany, where we have no control over them. The state tends to push their agenda down on us, and not necessarily fund their plans, so often the district is left carrying the ball and having to come up with the money to deal with these new initiatives.
9. Best accomplishment, worst decision and best decision...
I am proud of the management team that we have hired: five new principals in the last two years alone. I am proud that we opened the high school and middle school and Salem buildings on time and under budget, and how beautiful these new buildings are. I am proud that during my service we kept costs under control, returned money to the taxpayer, and still passed our budgets while other districts had problems.