Dear Warren TAP Readers,
It is a pleasure to continue my conversation with you as we approach the November elections. As you may know, I am up for re-election for the Warren Board of Education (BOE). Over the next few weeks, I’ll offer information about my background;, experience both on and off of the BOE, and my vision for a District that already has a solid foundation.
Current and prior BOE members, among others, built that foundation through the gifts of their time and talents to better our schools and our children’s future. I share their passion and take seriously the role and the trust the Community places in the BOE.
My husband Kevin and I have lived in Warren for 15 years. We have a 7th-grader at Warren Middle School. Her sister just began her freshman year at WHRHS.
I am an active volunteer for many causes, both in and out of town. I have been a reader for the visually impaired at EIES of NJ Radio, reading the Sunday and weekly newspaper to those who can no longer do so. I have been a church lector for many years as well. I love to read!
I have served as a constantly active member of the PTO. I volunteered over the years for our Young Authors’ Days, Science Days, Read Across America Days, and numerous other events. I worked with two other moms to create a unique Caring Day event at Woodland, where students were immersed in the world of charities, including the Seeing Eye and the Valerie Fund. I chaired the Caring Committee for years, which organizes and donates meals to families in crisis; and was Co-Chair of Cultural Arts for Woodland, and subsequently, WMS, bringing high quality performances and assemblies to the students. Meanwhile, I was the leader for both my daughters’ Girl Scout troops for five years simultaneously.
Working so closely with the kids in our schools was and is a source of pride, joy—and entertainment!
Additionally, I am an inaugural member of the Family Advisory Council (FAC) at Children’s Specialized Hospital. The FAC launched in 2006 and our goal is to empower the families of children who need the Hospital’s care. We serve as their voice to Hospital administration, and work to find ways to ease families’ navigation of their hospital experience. Working on the FAC for 9 years has provided me with valuable experience on administration, good boardsmanship, and how to effectuate short - and long- term goals in a committee-based organization.
My BOE Experience
In March 2012, I was appointed by the BOE to fill a vacancy. I did not know any of the BOE members socially or personally. All of the candidates were interviewed in an open meeting on topics ranging from fiscal responsibility to what could be improved in our District. After my serving my appointed term, I was elected in November 2012 to serve a full three-year term.
Since I’ve been on the Board, I have passionately dedicated myself to the Board and have attended numerous seminars and workshops offered by the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA) to enhance my knowledge of the issues/topics relevant to the BOE. During my second year as a Board member, I was invited by the NJSBA to speak as part of a panel in Princeton on “How to Be an Effective New School Board Member” to newly elected BOE members from all over NJ.
Not only have I participated on nearly all of our BOE committees, but I have also had the pleasure of serving as our Policy Committee Chair for the past two years. I chaired the Strategic Plan Committee that was charged with creating our brand, “Shining Brighter Every Day.” Our committee comprised community and district staff, and I’m proud of our good work.
Superintendent Selection and Declining Enrollment
I will utilize my experience to assist the BOE in making the best decision on two crucial issues: selection of a superintendent and declining student enrollment.
As a BOE member, I participated in the hiring of five school administrators and our current interim superintendent, and annually reviewed and set goals for our prior superintendent. I know what skills and strengths to look for in an incoming superintendent and what reoccurring issues a superintendent will likely face in our District.
With respect to declining enrollment, the BOE began examining this issue more than a year ago. We have reviewed two studies, met with a demographer, and are formulating a plan to address the issue. Community input will be crucial as we continue to evaluate this issue. Declining enrollment presents numerous challenges and is a complex problem with a lot of moving parts. It must be examined with an eye toward both short-term impacts and an accompanying long-term view as enrollment is cyclical. As always, I will address this issue independently and fairly and with the entire District’s best interest at the forefront of my mind.
Although campaigning can be exhausting, my dedication to the BOE is tireless. My family fully supports my volunteer efforts both on and off the BOE and I love them for it. (And for other reasons, too!)
I hope through my demonstrated track record, I can count on your support as well.
I thank the TAP of Warren for this opportunity to follow-up on my introduction to you from September 25. You can also visit my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/ReelectKathyHelewa where you can further learn about my candidacy and the election.
Kathy Helewa, Vice President, Warren Township BOE