Beth Anne Cornell Answers Our Questions
Information Management, Leadership Stability, Budget Priorities
Question 1 – Salem has 10 schools including the Early Education Center. Information can come from many and varied sources. How will you navigate your way through all of these sources in your decision making process?
The most important skill that I will bring to the School Committee is my ability to engage a variety of stakeholders in decision-making processes. The district lacks consistent and transparent avenues for community engagement. As a result, we have inconsistent methods for decision-making. The primary initiative I will advocate for is a system of standing advisory committees with rotating membership, term limits, regular meeting schedules, and published minutes so that that the School Committee has consistent, broad-based input from community stakeholders. These committees will prioritize consistent engagement with the community at all levels, from School Committee members to students.
Question 2 – Over the last few years our Superintendents and Principals have been in what can best be described as “state of flux?” What can be done to bring long-term stability to those key administrative positions?
In order to retain strong leadership, the District and School Committee must set clear, measurable expectations for success and provide the support that principals and Superintendents need to meet – and exceed – those expectations.
I don’t believe in top-down leadership, and I don’t believe that any one leader can be all things to all people. We need to be able to identify the skills at which our principals and Superintendent excel and follow their leadership, but we also need to provide professional support, particularly in the areas where they need the most growth.
Question – If you were given the option of designating 10% of the Salem Schools budget in any way that you choose. How would you spend that money?
I’m not convinced that focusing 10% of the budget on any one initiative will address the challenges we face as a district, but we do need to rethink the way that we attack those challenges. For example, aggressive transparency and community engagement doesn’t necessarily require an increase in or reallocation of funds; rather, it demands strong leadership and honest self-assessment.