The city of Augusta has a proven history of supporting excellence in education through its public schools. Year after year, the residents of our city have given that support through the annual approval of the school district budget, by backing numerous school improvement initiatives, and in electing school board members who seek to support our schools through positive, forward-thinking leadership.

As a member of that board for almost six years, I have been proud to serve my community, it’s students, and it’s families. I have learned and grown personally, and I have gained an overwhelming appreciation for the residents of the city that I have chosen as my home. In my time on the board, I have come to respect the incredible knowledge, expertise and commitment of our administrators, teachers, specialists, and support staff. I believe that it is the duty of the school board to provide support to these professionals through informed decision-making, financial accountability, and a vision focused on continued excellence.

While it is always necessary to reflect and evaluate in order to find opportunities for improvement and change, it is essential that the focus be on “building up” rather than “tearing down.” When a board becomes entangled in divisive criticism, it quickly loses the ability to lead effectively. Personal agendas and hidden motivations interfere with the ability of the board, and subsequently the school department, to participate in civil and productive discussion.

This fall, the residents of Augusta have a chance to shape the direction of our school board through our local election process. You have the opportunity to choose between continued criticism and unnecessary conflict or community support and positive problem-solving. n a time of political devisiveness at the national and state level, your vote for school board is an opportunity to communicate the importance of collaborative, respectful and positive leadership.

Our schools are an important part of our community, and they should be led by people who value and support education in our city. When you fill in that circle beside a name on the ballot, I hope it will be done with full confidence that the person you are selecting will support the standard of excellence that the city of Augusta has come to expect.

Kimberly Martin is a school board member in Augusta.

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