Name: Steve Kirsch
Occupation: Senior I/T Architect employed by IBM for 34 years
Political party: Democratic
Running for: Board of Education
Why are you running?
Three primary reasons have led me to seek a position on the Board of Education:
First, I believe that I can contribute to ensuring that Monroe continues to provide a quality education for all of our students.
Second, I would like to be able to work more closely with the school system administration and other Board members to make sure that everything possible is done to run the school system in the most cost effective manner.
Last, I would like to work on improving communications between the BOE, the school system’s employee leadership, other elected town officials, and the public.
What are the three biggest issues facing Monroe?
First, we need to improve how the town government functions at all levels. This includes better communications between elected officials and the various boards and commissions, as well as between the government and the citizens. We need to reduce the time it takes to get things done; we need to ensure that projects and issues are dealt with more quickly; we need more transparency; and where applicable, we need better financial planning.
Second, we need to address the continued cost of education and its impact on the taxpayers of Monroe. We need to be sure that the BOE looks for every way possible to constrain the rate of growth in costs while maintaining a quality educational system for the students in Monroe.
Third we must find a logical and coordinated way to address the infrastructure needs of this town. We need to find a way to prioritize multiple critical needs, and create a long-term financial plan that allows us to move forward with a degree of certainty over time.
What can the Board of Education do to keep the town in the right direction?
The BOE must continue to ensure that the school system provides a quality education for all students and prepares them for their future after high school with a foundation to become valued and productive members of our town and our country.
The BOE has to continue to work closely with other elected officials and employees to ensure that everyone is working as a team, moving towards the same set of goals. This includes being fiscally responsible when making decisions, and maintaining town assets such as the school buildings.
The BOE can work to improve communications with all of the public, not just parents, so that the whole town can understand what the school system is doing and why.
What skills and attributes make you a good fit for the Board of Education?
I have a familiarity with the operations of the BOE and the issues facing the school system as a result of my regular attendance at BOE meetings and budget workshops over the last 18 years.
In addition, I have served on former Superintendent Alan Beitman’s Advisory Finance Committee; the 2012 Technology Planning Committee; and the current Superintendent’s Ad Hoc Facility and Demographics Study Committee.
I have experience serving on other boards and have held leadership roles running an organization. I have served on my congregation’s Board of Trustees since 1995, was Vice President of Financial administration, and currently serve as the Chair of the Budget and Operations Committee. I also have experience negotiating personnel contracts.
I have a range of business and technical skills that I have developed over my professional career. I understand where and how technology can be used to address the needs and goals of an organization. I have crafted RFP’s (request for proposal) as well as executed on RPF’s created by others. I know how to analyze data and I understand the intricacies involved with the execution of major programs and initiatives.
What do you think of the new Common Core Standards school districts are adopting?
I think that the new standards are a major challenge to both the school system from an instructional delivery and management point of view, and for the students due to a more robust and challenging curriculum. Clearly there will be a learning curve for everyone, but I’m glad that our district is well ahead of the curve in the planning and adoption of the changes that will be needed.
I also think that the new standards will allow us, over time, to expand our measurements of student success from a DRG (District Reference Group) or state-wide comparison to a more national view. After all, most of our children go onto post-secondary education where they have to compete with students from all over the country and the world.