OPINION: Candidate Spotlight: Embracing the challenges we face in Meriden schools

By Dr. Steven O’Donnell

Dear fellow Meriden residents:

Thanks to you I have had the pleasure to serve on the Meriden Board of Education for the last 12 years. I am asking for your vote once again. I have served as the vice president and secretary of the board and I have enjoyed my experiences and embrace the challenges that we face as a public school district.   Throughout my tenure, the board of education has always worked well together in a bipartisan fashion as we put the needs of our students first.  There have been very few instances of dissension as the board truly cares about our students, staff, and families. In partnership with our administrative team and staff, the Board of Education challenges all students academically, as we create safe welcoming schools and classrooms.  We continue to provide all students with a challenging and rigorous curriculum while trying to make sure all graduates leave us career-ready for the workforce. Over the last 12 years, we have seen continually increasing graduation rates, as well as improved standardized test results throughout all grade levels. During that time, the board and administration have continued to achieve these improvements with minimal financial increases from the local government.

The biggest challenge that we have experienced over the past 18 months was Covid and how to continue to educate our students with minimal disruption to the learning process. I am proud that we were able to provide a safe environment during that time for those students and families who chose in-person learning.  We also continued to safely offer sports and music programs.  In addition, we provided a comprehensive remote learning program for the students and families who chose that schooling option.   During my tenure on the BOE, we instituted all-day kindergarten, built two state-of-the-art high schools, created high-quality specialized programs, and provided universal breakfast and lunch for all students and at all grade levels. These initiatives support our student’s academic and social-emotional growth, as well as making sure that the youngest members of our community are ready for formal schooling. I have always supported extracurricular activities that assist our students to be well-rounded individuals, as we know that school is much more than just six hours a day.  As a small business owner in Meriden for over thirty years,  I feel fortunate to call Meriden home. I have also supported the local nonprofit organizations that are helping us meet the needs of our students. I have served on the Board of Directors at the South Meriden Youth Baseball league, as well as Girls Inc., and I was a former member of the Meriden Rotary Club.  I am asking for your vote and support in the upcoming election as I feel together we can make sure all of our students succeed. 

Democrat Steven O’Donnell is seeking re-election to the Meriden Board of Education.

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