Final Say: Amy Checkoway, Belmont School Committee

Photo: Amy Checkoway, Belmont School Committee candidate (Credit: Campaign Facebook)

Belmont is a community that deeply values and invests in its schools. I am running for School Committee because the Belmont Public Schools will experience a lot of change in the next few years as we transition all schools to new grade configurations and build the new grade 7-12 school. I am confident that I can serve as a strong leader and bring valuable expertise and perspective as a School Committee member during this important time.

I am already deeply involved in educational issues as a parent, a volunteer, and a 20-plus year career in education policy. My two children (grades 3 and 6) are in the middle of their school careers. We feel fortunate to live in such an excellent school district and see the benefits of our substantial community investment in education first-hand every day.

Since moving to Belmont in 2012, I have spent hundreds of hours volunteering in our school buildings through PTO leadership roles and as a Board member of the Wellington Student Care program. I have frequent discussions with families, teachers, and school leaders about the issues that matter to them, and would bring to the School Committee role a broader perspective on what is going well and what can be improved.

In my professional life, I work as an education policy researcher for a large international consulting firm. I work with districts and programs across Massachusetts on a range of issues such as educator effectiveness, teacher preparation, mentoring and coaching supports, and preschool programming. I am a trusted adviser to state policy leaders about how to invest our resources to support positive child outcomes.

I am also responsible for managing complex budgets; currently, I manage almost $20 million in public resources as one of my job responsibilities. My experience managing finances along with a strong understanding of what is in district budgets and how districts and schools operate in practice will allow me to contribute immediately to important discussions that the School Committee will need to engage in.

If elected to the School Committee, I will approach all discussions and decisions with a focus on what’s best for our students in the center. We need to provide every student in our district – including those with different learning styles, abilities, and backgrounds – with an excellent education. The district should continue its focus on social-emotional development as well as additional critical skills that are necessary to succeed beyond high school, including persistence, collaboration, and critical thinking. I hope that the new grade 7-12 school will inspire more opportunities for project-based learning and that we can consider additional opportunities across all grades for students to build their technology skills.

We need to continue to focus on reducing class sizes and investing in critical support staff such as guidance counselors, social workers, and academic support specialists. Our educators deserve ongoing high-quality professional development and collaboration opportunities so that they can continue to grow their skills and innovate in the classroom. We need to improve the diversity of our district workforce so that it better reflects the make-up of our student body.

If elected, I am committed to listening to the diverse perspectives in our town. In addition to listening to residents who come to share their views at meetings, I would also be present in a variety of other forums and make myself available to meet with community members about particular issues. Meeting with students and reflecting their voices in discussions is a particular interest of mine.

I am a strong advocate for the funding our schools need to support high-quality teaching and learning environments for students. I am also attuned to our town’s constrained resources and hope that we can find ways to recognize efficiencies across our town departments and identify new revenue sources.

Serving on the School Committee is a big responsibility and I am ready to jump in as a well-prepared, pragmatic, and hard-working leader. This role is not a passing interest; I am committed to involvement in our schools over the long haul.

Please visit my website for more details about my priorities:  It would be a great privilege to serve the residents of Belmont on the School Committee, and I would be truly honored to have your vote on April 2.

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