Steve Spooner has been a resident of Old Lyme since 2009. Steve and his wife Stacy are proud parents to three young daughters – two of whom attend Mile Creek School. Since graduating from Florida Institute of Technology with dual Bachelors of Science degrees, Steve has worked as an airline pilot as well as the owner and operator of three small businesses. Steve is currently a Board of Education member elected in 2012 and also serves on the Safety and Facilities Committees for Region 18. He has also proudly served for three years as a parent volunteer at Mile Creek School.
Name the three characteristics (one word for each) that you believe will make you an effective member of the board of education? Expand on the one that you feel should be most significant to the voters.
It is with great pride that I have served on the Board of Education for the past 12 months. The three characteristics that allow me to serve the Region 18 Board of Education are: Experienced, Advocate, and Listener. I believe that my life experience as a business owner, an airline pilot, and a parent have and will continue to bring great value to the Region 18 Board of Education. Serving on the Board of Education ultimately boils down to understanding the needs of our students and the priorities of our town. In Old Lyme, it is clear that our community values our school system. My wife and I relocated here in 2009 for this very reason. With three young daughters, I will be a part of this district for many years. I am also a taxpayer and understand the obligation that the school district demands each and every year of our residents. As a business owner and pilot, I believe I have the necessary skills and background to effectively manage the needs and wants of our school district as well as the capacity of our taxpayers. It is imperative that the Board of Education listen to the students, teachers, parents, and taxpayers when establishing our districts priorities. These priorities must ensure that our schools continue to outperform AND allow Old Lyme to maintain a competitive mill rate. Listening to all stakeholders and establishing priorities is something I do every day as a parent and business owner.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge facing Lyme-Old Lyme Public Schools in the next four years?
Our school district continues to face a number of challenges moving forward. In the long term we face the reality of a declining enrollment, yet in the near term we are burdened with complying with additional state mandates as well as the implementation of our redistricting plan. This redistricting plan will result in an increased population at Mile Creek and Lyme Consolidated as these schools grow into K- 5 facilities. The Board will need to be certain that Mile Creek and Lyme Consolidated have the appropriate physical space and resources to be effective schools for these additional grades. Libraries, playgrounds and staff resources will need to evolve. While these plans have been reviewed on paper, the Board will need to closely monitor how they actually play out. As elementary enrollment numbers fluctuate, the Board will need to maintain an open forum to hear from parents, citizens, administrators and teachers to be certain that these facilities are meeting the needs for these additional grades. This redistricting process will also result in Center School housing our Pre-K program as well as our administrative offices. This re-purposing of Center School will require an investment from our community. It is important that this facility meets both the needs of the Pre-K program, and that it is also preserved in the event that we should need to reopen this school in years to come.
If you could achieve one objective — and only one — during your term on the Region 18 Board of Education, what would it be?
I am not running for the Board of Education to achieve any ONE objective. I do, however, believe that the most important thing we can do to support our students is to pass responsible budgets that reflect the needs of our students and respect the resources of our taxpayers. I am proud of the budget that was passed last May. Not one person from the community attended our budget hearing. The Board proposed and ultimately passed a budget that increased spending 1.6% operationally, and 2.1% overall (including debt service). Growing up as a student in Regional School District 13 (Durham/Middlefield), I recall budgets being voted down time and time again. Ultimately, our children are the ones who suffer should the Board propose unreasonable budgets. The reality is, our students are making amazing achievements and our schools continue to receive numerous awards – which only prove that we can find the right value in providing our children’s education. The success of our students reflects the reality that a child’s education is a partnership between parents and educators. In Old Lyme we are fortunate to have an engaged group of parents serving as PTO Moms and Dads, classroom volunteers, on the Board of Education, and sitting night after night at the kitchen table working on homework. I am proud to have served on the Board for the past 12 months and respectfully ask for your vote on Tuesday, November 5th!