As with many school board members, Meredith Heuer’s first exposure to Beacon schools was as a parent. She joined the PTA and then became a co-chair of The Beacon Arts & Education Foundation (BAEF). She thought her involved would stop there.
“Having lived my life as a bit of an outsider, never having had a real office job or anything, I did not see myself as getting any more involved with the organization. I didn’t see myself as a school board member,” she says on this week’s episode of Beaconites!
But as Meredith saw up close the disfunction and high turnover that plagued the district administration at the time, she grew alarmed and decided to run. Some stability has returned since then. Superintendent Matt Landahl has been in his job for four years, and the district is investing in professional development for teachers.
Meredith also addresses the impact of development on schools. Listeners may remember that in our first episode, former mayor Randy Casale dismissed concerns about this, pointing out enrollment is down from its peak.
“It’s true that we probably have some extra chairs laying around, but one of the biggest initiatives that we’ve done to serve the children here better is to limit class sizes,” Meredith responds. “In the past three years we’ve hired seven new elementary school teachers to keep the class sizes down. The data shows that it’s one of the best thing you can do for kids to help with those foundational skills. That is at a cost … I’m really proud of us for doing it, but if you add more students you’re going to need more teachers and teachers are expensive. It’s short sighted to look at those numbers and say, there’s room for those kids. It’s not a matter of turning the lights on. It’s a matter of nurturing them and educating them the best way possible.”