A closer look at what the BOE does for ELHS
Beyond the walls of our schools lies a decision making body that affects all students: The Board of Education (BOE). But, what do they do?
The BOE is made up of 10 citizens elected for a four-year term. Meeting twice a month to discuss issues concerning East Lyme schools, the members vote on curricula and discuss budgets and policies.
“We don’t get involved or shouldn’t really get involved with the nitty-gritty, the day-to-day operations of things,” said board member Catherine Steel. “It’s the big things that matter at the Board of Education level. That means understanding diversity, equity and inclusion.”
The BOE members bring diverse experiences to their roles. Ms. Steel has been on the BOE for two years.
“I am an educator by tradition. I spent 36 years working in schools. I have lived all over the country,” Ms. Steel said. This experience gives Ms. Steel an understanding of how different school systems work.
“By reaching out to people that I meet… just asking questions and letting them fill in the blanks… From that I am able to discern how things are going and suggest they take steps in the right way,” Ms. Steel said.
Candice Carlson has been on the BOE for nine years and is involved in various roles.
“I help set district policy, support student services, help set goals and long-range planning, help adopt curriculum, establish budgets, and communicate with our community,” said Ms. Carlson.
Senior senate member Sachi Vora has been the representative for ELHS in the BOE for the past two years, talking to them about different events happening in school.
“I was voted by our senate to represent, same with graduated Grace Vlaun, juniors Brendan Fant and Mannat Kadian,” said Vora. She feels that the students were able to hear her and many of the other representatives’ voices last year.
“[The BOE] heard us well if we had any concerns and took our opinions into account… But I hope that they continue that connection and relationship with us,” Vora said.
The BOE also addresses community challenges. The “devious licks” challenge was one issue brought up at a recent meeting.
“Hopefully, our kids are smarter than that, but apparently there was an incident here at the high school,” said Ms. Steel. She mentioned that while technology improves our lives, people should not be mishandling it.
“As far as challenges, COVID’s been a big challenge especially with hybrid learning. Right now we’re having difficulties with food supply,” Ms. Steel said.
The BOE has an enormous impact on education, however Ms. Steel believes there is work ahead to become a successful school district.
“I think that it would be good that we had more authentic curriculum,” Ms. Steel said. She also believes that we need more inclusion.
“I would like to see more understanding that we all come from different vantage points. Some of us have all this opportunity and some have less. But at the end of the day we need to be respectful,” Ms. Steel said.