December 7, 2019

Sarah Bowman (D): Candidate for Region 18 Board of Education Representing Old Lyme

Sarah Bowman

Sarah has lived in Old Lyme with her husband Russ, and children Sadie and Cooper, since 2010. She is a graduate of Loyola University and the University of Maryland School of Law.  After serving as an Assistant State’s Attorney in Baltimore County for 6 years, the Bowmans lived in Massachusetts for 5 years settling in Old Lyme.  Sarah currently serves as an Assistant State’s Attorney in New London. Among other activities, Sarah has enjoyed coaching Sadie’s club lacrosse team, helping produce two of Cooper’s middle school musicals, and currently serves on the Board of Lymes’ Youth Service Bureau.

What are the three major issues in Lyme-Old Lyme Schools that you are currently aware of, which require resolution during your potential term of office?  Please list and explain each one briefly in order of importance.

Like most parents, I have always been concerned about the caliber of my children’s education and the opportunities our school system provides. When changes to the district’s pre-school programming threatened to reduce music education staffing, I started paying more attention to the Board of Education, its procedures, and the ways parents and taxpayers can influence the policies that guide our schools.  In deciding to run for a seat on the board, I recently met with current members to discuss various issues, and “rumored” issues, within the system. First and foremost, I learned I still have a lot to learn.

That said, I continue to see budgeting and, more specifically, the need to resolve tensions between maintaining high quality academic programs, funding needed maintenance, and deciding which capital improvements to make when, if at all (such as athletic fields and courts) as the primary issue and responsibility facing the board.

Second, I see a need for greater transparency and public engagement concerning how these resource decisions are made.  While I believe concerned citizens better educating themselves can overcome rumors and misinformation, the Board can and should ensure anyone interested in a Region 18 issue has easy access to facts and reports that inform the board’s decisions.

Third, I believe the board needs to continually ensure each and every policy decision is made with a view toward what is in the best interests of our students.  I am eager to help ensure this always remains the case.

Regarding Question 1, explain more about your choice of the issue of most importance and how you think it should be resolved.

The Board of Education is tasked with deciding how to allocate what amounts to  roughly 70% of the town’s overall spending. This involves technology for STEM classes, field trips and travel to enhance our arts and language experience, as well courts and fields to keep our teams safe and competitive.  At the same time, the Board has to approve spending on facilities, which includes preventative maintenance and emergency repairs to our aging elementary and middle school buildings. Thus, curricular programming, athletics, and facilities are often in direct competition for limited funds.

As a parent of two teenagers who are involved in sports, music, theater, and advanced classes, I am familiar with the opportunities they have and believe this is a major reason our town is the home of choice for so many young families.  While all aspects are important, in order to maintain our margin of excellence, we need to continue to invest in our physical infrastructure. Meeting these competing needs requires careful study, discussion, and long term planning. I look forward to facilitating those processes.

What do you see as the main relevant skills and character attributes that you will bring to the position if elected?

I am very comfortable asking people (sometimes difficult) questions to get at the truth of a matter to achieve a positive result.  In fact, I’ve made a career of it. At the same, I enjoy working collaboratively with diverse groups and interests. I’d be honored to leverage these skills on behalf of the people of Old Lyme.

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