SUNDERLAND, Vt. – Serving as a school board member can be a thankless undertaking. The hours take you away from your family. The issues sometimes can put you at odds with your friends and neighbors. Financial reward? Forget about it. Despite what may sound like an unappealing package, residents of our community step forward each year to serve on the school board. They are committed to the public education of our children and to their communities. And we are so very fortunate that they do.
To acknowledge the importance of this work and honor these amazing people, the Vermont Legislature passed a resolution making January School Board Recognition Month. “This is a time to promote awareness and understanding of the important work performed by school board members,” said Sue Ceglowski, executive director of the Vermont School Boards Association.
Perhaps no one appreciates the contributions of school board members more than Randi Lowe, first year superintendent of the Bennington-Rutland Supervisory Union. “They have been the wind in my sails,” Lowe says. “From my first day on the job in the midst of the pandemic, they have offered the constant guidance and support that keeps me going. I never feel alone.”
Lowe should know. At the BRSU, she works with four separate school boards. Three district boards – Winhall School Board; Mettawee School Board, serving Pawlet and Rupert; and the Taconic & Green Regional School Board for the communities of Danby, Dorset, Landgrove, Londonderry, Manchester, Mount Tabor, Peru, Sunderland, and Weston. A limited number of members from each district board serve on Lowe’s fourth jurisdiction, the BRSU School Board.
“What I love is that the members are a diverse group with different perspectives on the role of education,” she says. “They come from different communities and backgrounds, but they share a common commitment to put students and families at the center of every decision.”
Covid-19 has raised multiple challenges and difficulties during Lowe’s first year on the job: navigating the vagaries of in-person and remote learning, maintaining the health and safety of students and staff, responding to the biological whims of this unpredictable virus, maintaining equity for all kids, and delivering an education that prepares the children for the future.
“At all times, the deliberations of all four boards have been thoughtful, with members always respectful of each other’s positions,” says Lowe. “They have placed a priority on equity as we build budgets during the pandemic that meet our safety and educational goals and respect the taxpayers. It’s an honor for me to work with these people.”