October 4, 2020

Eric Wilkinson

Pronouns:He/Him
School DistrictChelsea School District
City:Chelsea

How long have you lived in your district?

3

Have you received any endorsements?

None

Are you an incumbent?

No

Why do you want to be a school board member?

Put simply, I love the Chelsea community and want to help make it better. My family and I were welcomed to the area when we moved here and I want to serve this community as a member of the school board. Education has always been an important aspect of my life and I recognize the foundational role it plays in the lives of our children. I want to see my children and all the children in our community given an opportunity to a sound educational foundation.

What does education justice mean to you? What does it mean specifically in the context of your school district?

I believe it means providing equal access to a quality education to all students in our district and to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable or challenged students.

If you could completely reimagine the way schools look after this public health crisis, what would they look like?

I think this crisis is going to open future possibilities in how education can be delivered to students. With many of our students becoming familiar with virtual schooling, there may be opportunities to bring resources from outside the district to help students with special needs and interests. For example, school districts may be able to pool together to offer new and more diverse curriculum offerings.

Describe how you think parents, students, and families should be involved in making decisions within your school district?

Parents are ultimately responsible for their children’s education. They should be working with their board members and the district’s administration in expressing their concerns or needs. Board members must be open to hearing these concerns and take them into consideration with making decisions.

Who (if any) are your top financial supporters for your campaign?

I am self funded.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals within your school district?

1. Returning to normal after the disruptions of COVID

2. Sustaining healthy enrollment numbers to include addressing reasons why some students are leaving the district.

3. Continue and improve upon the success the district has had in the academic performance of its students and graduates.

What are your top 3 educational priorities/goals at a state level?

At the state level, I believe the main priority is providing the district with the funding needed to address and recover from the COVID crisis.

What challenges do you anticipate this school year to COVID and what do you think your school district must do to keep students & staff safe?

I think that the school district will be dealing with the impact of COVID for the rest of this school year. I think it is imperative that we return to face-to-face learning as quickly as possible and in a manner that is as safe as possible. I am worried how far our students may have fallen behind with the long gap between now and when school was suspended in March. I don’t believe that remote learning can meet the needs of all of our students especially when so many in the district do not have access to reliable high-speed internet. The disruption caused by the lockdowns and this hybrid start to the year are going to have lasting effects that will have to be addressed.

What should be your school district’s top spending priorities in their budget? Alternatively, what should not be prioritized your district’s budget?

I believe that the core goals and objectives of the district should drive the budget priorities. At its most basic level, the district is charged with providing a safe environment for receiving a sound education to all students.

I believe that class size is an important metric and greatly influences how successful the district will be in meeting its core goals. Especially with the younger students, there is a limit to how many students a teacher can effectively teach and provide the attention needed to help them advance. Providing for those students with special needs also goes along with this as it ensures that a segment of our students is not falling behind while keeping teachers from being overwhelmed.

What role do you think standardized tests should play in your school district?

I think that standardized tests can be one tool that the district uses to monitor and track a student’s progress and help to identify those students who may need additional help to stay on track.

At a school and district level, standardized tests can be used to evaluate how we are performing compared to our peers across the state and the country. This allows the district to make sure that its curriculum is meeting the needs of our students and identify any gaps where changes might need to be made.

If you could have an impact on your school district’s curriculum , what changes would you make? What, if anything, would you keep the same?

The district is charged with providing its students with an educational foundation that will allow them to succeed as adults. One area I think would benefit students greatly would be an exposure to personal finance topics. Many of these students will graduate and go off to live on their own for the first time. Some of the early choices they make can have lasting financial consequences such student loan debt or how they save for future needs like retirement. This is why I think it is important to provide students with a basic foundation in personal finance

What responsibility do you believe your school district has in supporting students’ and staffs’ mental and emotional health/wellbeing?

The district is charged with providing a quality education to all its students. We should ensure that our schools provide a welcoming and safe environment for all our children to be able to learn.

We should focus on excelling as the core mission of educating students so that they are mentally and physically fit to handle the challenges that life will bring. The challenges they may face 20 years down the road may look nothing like what we see today. We can however work to provide them with the educational foundation to be able to face these challenges.

How do you think your school district should handle student discipline/and make schools a safe place for students and staff?

The safety of students and employees is the first priority of the district. Students cannot learn nor can the staff perform their duties if they feel their safety is threatened. The district must have clear policies and procedures on how to handle disruptive and threatening behavior. Children will make mistakes and good discipline policies will help children learn from these mistakes. For repeat offenders or those that threaten others with violence, the policies must provide for more serious consequences to ensure the safety of all those in our schools.

What are your top priorities around special education in your district?

In line with my previous comments, I believe we need to ensuring that we are addressing the unique needs of all the students in our community. While the district is doing well in this area, I think we should be always working to make improvements.

What is your perspective on working towards achieving equity within your school district?

I believe that education is a great equalizer. The district should be focused on the unique needs of all its students and work to provide them with a sound educational foundation.

Any other information you want to include or share?

None