Donna Smith, a 24-year resident of South Orange and former district parent, announced recently her candidacy for the South Orange-Maplewood School District Board of Education.
Smith, who has been actively involved in the school community for more than 15 years, seeks to fill one of three open seats on the board of education.
“I know how things work in our district—who the participants are, how the funding works, and how the support organizations and volunteers work cooperatively with the schools to maintain our academic excellence,” Smith stated in a release. “I will ensure we move forward as a district with an educational experience that is well rounded and beneficial to all our children.”
Smith spearheaded two parent groups, “Levels Can Work” and “Group for Objective for Academic Leveling,” which challenged the school board and school administration to maintain high standards and rigorous curricula at the middle schools. As a representative of “Levels Can Work,” she was asked to participate in the District’s “Task Force on Excellence and Equity,” charged with recommending strategies to increase student access to rigorous coursework.
“My primary priorities are successful implementation of the International Baccalaureate at the middle schools to meet established goals; ensuring strong fiscal oversight and prudent allocation of SOMSD resources to provide the most robust educational curriculum possible; holding a strategic, long-term perspective that keeps in mind the entire K-12 program; and implementing a strong Gifted & Talented program,” Smith added.
Smith stated she is against implementing the International Baccalaureate model at the high school level at this time. The district should instead concentrate on preserving high standards and a wide variety of course offerings at the high school, and expanding the curriculum to incorporate a more global element, she said.
Smith also wants to hold the administration to its promise to continue providing more access to honors and AP classes at the high school, by improving the methods by which students are assigned to such classes and making the system more transparent.
Smith has held numerous positions in the Parent-Teacher Associations and Home-School Associations of the district, from co-president of the South Mountain PTA and newsletter editor at South Orange Middle School, to head of the directory committee at Columbia High School. She also was co-president of Presidents’ Council for two years.
She participated in the district’s Strategic Planning program, and was a member of the appointed committee to hire two assistant principals for elementary schools as well as the committee to hire the district’s physical education coordinator.
Her three children attended schools in the district from elementary school through Columbia High School with her youngest graduated high school in June 2014.
The school board election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 4.