Amy Carrico Root is running for a three-year term in the Nov. 5 election for Westfield Board of Education. A candidates' forum will be held at Westfield High School, Wednesday, Oct. 23. Questions for the forum may be submitted to ptc@westfieldnjk12.org by Tuesday, Oct. 22.

Name: Amy Carrico Root
Age: 52
How long have you lived in Westfield? My husband and I have lived in Westfield for over 20 years, arriving in the spring of 1999.

What are your qualifications for office? My primary qualification is that I have been a member of the Board of Education in Westfield since July 2016 and have been board Vice President since January 2019. I have served on the Policy, Finance, Negotiations, Long Range Planning and Curriculum committees, the latter two as chair. Prior to joining the board, I was an active volunteer in our schools, serving as VP and Co-President of the Parent Teacher Organizations at Wilson Elementary School and then Roosevelt Intermediate School. I was also active on several bond steering committees and served as a member of the district's Strategic Planning Council, and have attended board meetings and Parent Teacher Council meetings for the past 15 years.

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What would your top priorities be if elected to the Board of Education? I would like to help inform our citizens on important issues such as whether and how to implement full day kindergarten, enhance communications to better connect with stakeholders, and continue to prudently and responsibly manage the district's resources. All of these are particularly important as we strive to provide a safe, secure environment for our children and staff while not losing the benefits of active community involvement in our schools. 

Do you support the proposed school bond referendums for full day kindergarten? I support putting the question to voters via referendum, yes. Members of the board are charged with making sometimes difficult decisions about how to utilize district resources, but some questions continue to resonate. The absence of district-provided full day kindergarten in Westfield continues to be viewed as a detriment by many, although others consider the private full day options in town to be appealing and cost-effective alternatives. The best way to find out if a majority supports paying to add full day kindergarten to our district schools is to go to a vote.

MORE: Submit Questions for Westfield Board of Education Candidates Night

How would you work to promote student well-being and safety? First and foremost, I listen to our Superintendent, administrators and staff members and try to support them as best I can. They are in direct contact with our students and offer invaluable perspective on how our students are doing and how best to support them. The district's partnership with local law enforcement and relationships with professionals with security experience are valuable resources that we draw upon to help inform our decisions. I feel that the district's emphasis on social and emotional learning, which at its core if about teaching students to learn how to make good decisions and improve resiliency, will help our students during and beyond their time in Westfield schools, and I hope we can find additional ways to help this effort.

What else you would like the readers to know? The role of a board member takes some getting used to, as we do not manage the district or its staff directly. Since there is a bit of a learning curve associated with taking on that role, I feel like I am hitting my stride as a board member and hope that I will be elected to return for another term.