South Orange-Maplewood BOE Candidate Statement: Sheila Shidnia

The Village Green has invited the nine candidates for the South Orange-Maplewood Board of Education to submit statements for publication, which we will run as we receive them. Election day is November 7, 2017. 

As a South Orange resident with two children attending SOMA schools, I am announcing my candidacy for the school board. A Founding Board Member of Linden Tree Preschool in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, former PTA Board Member/ Communications VP, and Co-chair of the Diversity Committee at PS321 in Brooklyn, NY, I have always taken an active part in identifying trouble-spots and producing unique solutions when it comes to my children’s education.

Sheila Shidnia

I am a strong supporter of public schools, and chose to live in South Orange because of the reputation of this school district. Now a resident for over three years, I have been troubled by the lack of transparency and focus shown by the school district in providing an equitable education program, across all schools, to all students in our community. I’ve also identified a strong need for better planning regarding communication, curriculum goals and implementation.

As a member of the school board, I’ll focus on three core objectives to take action:

1. Access & Equity: We need increased clarity on the resources and opportunities available to our students, and fairness in how these are accessed by the community. There are systemic, socioeconomic issues that must be addressed, and a need for emphasis on a holistic education that is inclusive for children of varying needs and abilities.

2. Curriculum: We need stability in our curriculum choices. We’ve had three different curricula over the past three years in our middle schools, which is not the stability our children require to thrive. Our district needs to implement and maintain educational programs that challenge our students and provide equal opportunity for success.

3. Transparency and Communication: Our school district is the cornerstone of our community. The community is composed of highly involved, active, and willing parents that are already working to make this a district that functions at its best for all students. Their voices must be heard and there must be transparency and participation at a higher level.

We have been given a gift in this town, provided by the efforts of previous generations that have put in the hard work that made this district appealing to so many. We have members of our community that continue to build on this foundation,  putting much time and effort to better the chances all our children have to succeed. As a board member I would encourage the district to continue reaching out to these community members to discuss ways we can strengthen our school and lead by example in the region.

We must make better choices in selecting administration, specifically a new superintendent, that sees the talent in our children, in our teachers, and our potential to make this school system rise up to the challenges we face. I will be there to hold the district accountable, financially and operationally, making sure these issues are resolved. Join me, and let’s do this together.

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