Meet the Candidate: John M. Richards

A look at John M. Richards, non-partisan candidate for Berlin Board of Education.

John M. Richards. (Credit: Submitted)
John M. Richards. (Credit: Submitted)
"Meet the Candidates" is a feature on Berlin Patch designed to help you get to know your local candidates before you take to the polls this November. Each profile was submitted directly by the candidate. 

Take a moment to review each profile so you can be informed and prepared when you go to the polls on Nov. 5, 2013.

This week, we are looking at the non-partisan Berlin Board of Education candidates:

John M. Richards
Party, Board Seeking:
Berlin Board of Education
Family information:
Married; 2 children, grown and out on their own
Occupation, if applicable:
Consultant, Financial Analysis
Political Experience:
Incumbent, member BOE for 14 years

Why did you run for office?

I tell people I meet that I am proud to be a member of YOUR board of education.  In my years of service to the town, the board has become an institution that is recognized as a high performing body. With two, long time incumbents not choosing to run again, I believe it is important to maintain the continuity of the board. I have been a tireless worker for the children’s best interests and would be honored to have Berlin allow me to continue the good work of the district, striving to improve student achievement.

Over the years, I have held the important positions of BOE secretary and chairman of educational resources. We follow a distributed leadership philosophy and this puts me in a position to step up when others are not present.  This also provides for a historical perspective to help us consider decisions, and to be consistent with decisions made in the past.

If elected, what would be your primary areas of focus?

Service on the BOE is unique. The board does not exist unless it is gathered for a meeting. Thus, there should never be a personal agenda.

The board’s focus has to be on maintaining the strong, positive working relationship we enjoy with our Superintendent. He is the CEO and manager of the district and we need to work together to address the issues that face the district (see below), and others that occur unexpectedly during the school year.  We only have one chance to get it right for our students. In addition, I am a member of the PBC advisory committee and am chair of the ad hoc renovation committee.  As such, I will continue to be intimately involved with the construction and finance decisions for the BHS renovation project.

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing Berlin today?

The biggest issue we face is unfunded mandates from our State legislature.  Changes to our administrator and teacher evaluation system, the movement to Smarter Balanced Assessment student testing, and safety issues are being driven by the Governor and legislature. 

While each has value, they test the fabric of our day-to-day operations, and cannot be allowed to impact basic student learning.  Finding the time to implement the changes, while delivering a rigorous, challenging balanced curriculum deserves the full attention and support of the BOE. The BOE needs to be active in its work with our sympathetic, local legislators to keep them informed on the impact to our schools their collective decisions have. The loss of local control in the decision making for the future of the Berlin Public Schools becomes costly, both in time and in funding.  As we have seen with the aftermath of the Newtown tradgedy, each town in CT needs to evaluate its state of preparedness.  No one answer fits all communities, and we are better served when the legislators provide guidance, and not specific solutions, to be considered for implementation.

What skills do you have that you could bring to the community?
My children were brought up in Berlin. Over 14 years, I have made and enforced the policies of the district. Skills that I offer in my service include being a good listener, asking probing and clarifying questions, and providing critical analysis of our finances. I have become known as the BOE member who will provide a spreadsheet to allow the full board to consider options and alternatives, and to estimate the cost associated with them. This helps to provide insight on where the district is headed and how we can achieve our goals using the limited resources we are given. We pride ourselves in Berlin for making data driven decisions. That means that the information upon which the decision is to be made has to be accurate. We may differ on how to interpret the information, but we need to have facts before us to make a good decision. Also, I have served as Berlin’s representative at the Capital Region Education Council (CREC) all of my years on the BOE. This gives me a chance to network with other BOE members in the 35 districts of CREC, and to share ideas on common problems we all face.

(Optional) Anything else you would like to share?
My work and passion for the BOE takes up a great deal of my free time.  As a long time member of BHS’s UpBeat Community Team, you can find me working with students on various projects, at the Townwide picnic, or at the training weekends at Camp Woodstock. Helping students make good decisions and stay drug free keeps me young and in touch with tomorrow’s leaders.

Please take the time to consider all the candidates who are willing to volunteer their time to serve their town on the BOE. I hope you will find my experience and energy what you want to represent you in the difficult work of supporting public education, and the future of our children.

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Redcoat October 23, 2013 at 04:04 PM
So when is the district wide meeting with Parents in regards to the Common Core Standards? After Three years since it was enacted here in CT, nothing. No mention of the Smarter Balanced Assessment being the vehicle by which personnal and private information will be Data Mined from our kids without parental notification and/or written permission. See how parents in other States are finding out about this: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2013/10/16/parents-outraged-over-wildly-intrusive-school-survey-that-polls-students-on-obamas-skin-color-parents-political-affiliation-obamacare/ Will any BOE Canditate fight for the rights of parents, students, and teachers, or was the thrill of Federal Money for education too much to give up in exchange for our privacy rights? In Florida, schools in Polk county let a company come in and perform Retina Scans without parental notification or permission. How soon or how much money will be dangled in front of this BOE before this happens here in Berlin? http://www.educationnews.org/technology/florida-school-district-draws-ire-over-student-retina-scans/ Yes Mr Richards we ahve lost local control of our education, so why would anyone want to be on the BOE which basically has no authority over the CC? See Public Notice of Common Core Standards which have been Coopyrighted, which means we have no control over this garbage:http://www.corestandards.org/public-license
Redcoat October 23, 2013 at 04:07 PM
If you are a parent and are not sure about Common Core, get educated:Two Moms from Utah have bee tirelessly compiling information: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/
Redcoat October 23, 2013 at 04:50 PM
Why does a teacher in Louisiana have the time to research and get us information, but Our BOE stays silent? http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/2013/10/14/the-common-core-memorandum-of-understanding-what-a-story/


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