I want to begin by saying that I will always remember the tremendous support I have received from my family, friends and all the people who have come forward these past two months to help the campaign in entirely unexpected ways. It’s been a humbling experience and I thank everyone who has taken the time to speak with me, put up a sign or volunteer in some manner.
Now, as Election Day comes upon us I thought I’d provide a summary of why I am asking you to consider me for election to the Westfield Board of Education. You can find more expansive writings on these points at www.ChristopherLanghart.com.
Experience and Qualifications. I work as a public finance attorney and I spend a great deal of time analyzing the financial condition of public entities like school districts. As such I am intimately familiar with the issues that school districts like ours face on an annual basis. I can work with our district professionals and staff to develop and manage an ongoing annual financial plan that serves both the district and our taxpayers. I also have experience in reviewing and negotiating contracts and in dealing with personnel and administrative matters. I look forward to applying this experience for the benefit of the district.
The Budget. A big part of my job is to meet with public officials to review and analyze their revenues and expenditures. The ultimate goal of these meetings is to determine how revenues and expenditures can be managed in order to provide the best results for the money available. As a board member I would look forward to applying this same analysis on behalf of the Westfield Board of Education. An all-encompassing approach to the budget is necessary to ensure that town residents are not subject to an overwhelming tax burden and the educational standards of the district remain at the highest possible level.
The Emotional Well Being of Our Students. On October 22 there was a seminar at the high school about stress and anxiety in our students. By my count there were approximately two hundred people who turned out to hear the presentation. This is clearly an issue that is affecting students and their families. The pressure on kids today to be successful in school, successful in sports and extracurricular activities, and all the while be socially accepted can be overwhelming. I would like to increase the focus on this issue. I would also look to develop the resources and personnel the district has in place now to educate parents and students about stress and anxiety. I think that is the best way we can help students who are feeling overwhelmed.
Preparation. It is very likely that the future will require the board to address issues they had no idea were on the horizon. In preparing to become a candidate for the Westfield Board of Education I have met with people who are or were involved with the district, become familiar with the issues facing the district, solicited opinions about possible solutions to our problems and then thought about it all in order to develop my own particular view. In short, I tried to learn, prepare and then act. I’ll do the same thing as a board member. Problems will always arise but I am confident that we can meet all of our challenges head on if we prepare ourselves to act properly.
Communication. I think communication between the board and the officials of the district is paramount. There needs to be trust and transparency at all levels within the Board. As an attorney I have found that one of the quickest ways to obtain prompt, effective action is by making sure everyone involved has a clear vision of the ultimate goal and a clear understanding of how it is to be achieved. As a board member I will try to ensure that all sides understand each other on any particular issue and that the reasons behind any decision are set forth for all to understand. I think this is a common component of every winning strategy.
Our Kids. My three children will be in the Westfield school system for the next 15 years. If you are the parent of a child in the district it is very likely that your concerns will be my concerns. I find that to be the case now when I speak to other parents about the experiences they are having with their children in school. I can understand exactly what they’re talking about since it’s usually a topic that I am familiar with as well. I’ll work hard to resolve the school related issues we face and I’ll make sure our children receive the best education we can provide. That means reviewing and improving the curriculum when necessary, maintaining and improving our facilities, and attracting and keeping the best teachers and staff for our children. We do have a tradition of excellence and we need to maintain it for future generations.
Finally, when I first started discussing my intent to run for the board of education and how I should prepare myself, I spoke with a former three term board member. After giving me the benefit of his experience, the last thing he said to me was “… and at the end of the day you make your decision based on what’s best for the kids.” That’s what I’ll do.
I hope you will consider voting for me, Christopher B. Langhart, Column 1 and the first name at the left on the ballot on November 4th.
Christopher B. Langhart