WESTPORT, Conn. For the past eight years, Westport resident Mark Mathias has helped mold school district policies as a member of the Board of Education . In November, this father-of-two hopes to be re-elected into what would be his third term.
Mathias, one of two Democrats running for the board, works in the computer consulting industry as a chief information officer/chief technology officer. In his spare time, he blogs about technology . His son Nick is a first-grader at Saugatuck Elementary, and his daughter Nicole is an eighth-grader at Bedford. He and his wife Kim host a Staples High School student in the A Better Chance of Westport (ABC) program.
A member of the Westport Sunrise Rotary and Saugatuck Congregational Church, Mathias recently took the time to answer a few questions about the upcoming election. The following are his responses.
Question: Why did you want to get involved with the Board of Education?
Answer: About eight years ago, my wife and I decided Westport was where we were going to stay and raise our family. We wanted to contribute to the community that has been so good to us. Given my experience, history and interest in education, the Board of Education was a natural choice. At the time I ran for Board of Education, my wife Kim also ran for RTM. She was elected and served two two-year terms.
Q: What, to you, are the biggest issues facing the schools?
A: First, the current economic climate is putting huge pressures on our budgets. For the past few years, our increases in budget have barely, if at all, covered the contractual salary increases for our staff. This means that other areas are affected. I am pleased that the board has not cut any programs for students. But we have had to do things such as extend maintenance and equipment cycles, as long as it doesn't affect the safety of our students, faculty or staff.
Second, the changing needs of our students as they graduate and go on to college and adult lives. We are constantly reviewing and updating our curriculum and graduation requirements to ensure that our students are prepared for life after high school. Our investments in updated curriculum and technology are offering our students increased learning, competitiveness and individualization at all grade levels.
Q: Why should people vote for you?
A: I am the longest-serving elected member on the Board of Education. I bring with me institutional knowledge of decisions previously made as well as an understanding of the working of the school system. Beyond that, people tell me that I am often the person who asks the difficult or uncomfortable questions that allow us to address sensitive and/or important issues successfully. I am also known for my independent thinking, investigating and then voting for or against an administrative recommendation, based on what my research and experience indicate.
Q: If you are re-elected, what do you want to help get accomplished?
A: I will continue to shepherd good budgets that protect the integrity and quality of our nationally recognized school system. I will continue to ensure that the quality and content of our curriculum and instruction provides our students with the opportunity to excel at whatever level they want and are capable.
Check back with The Daily Westport to read about Republican Board of Education candidate Jeannie Smith.
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