Kaur aims to keep collaborative spirit


BRATTLEBORO — Having served as a board member during the Windham Southeast School District's inaugural year, Emily Murphy Kaur wants to keep the momentum going.

"I figured we just started doing amazing collaborative work between the four towns and really understanding the communities together," she said. "It would be a nice time to continue."

Kaur, 34, is running against Kim Price for a three-year seat on the board for a Brattleboro resident. Liz Adams is running against Tara Davis Castine for a three-year seat for a Putney resident. Tim Maciel is seeking a one-year term for a Brattleboro resident. Board member Thomas Nolan is seeking a two-year term for a Dummerston resident. Michelle Luetjen Green is running for a three-year term for a Dummerston resident.

March 3 ballots in Brattleboro, Dummerston, Guilford and Putney will feature these names. Candidate surveys can be found by clicking "Information" on sites.google.com/wsesu.org/wsesdboard/home.

Kaur ran for local school board positions twice last year. She had been elected to the Brattleboro Town School District board in March then the Windham Southeast School District board in May.

Kaur said an intent of Act 46, the 2015 education law that brought about a merger of districts in the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, is to create "equal and diverse opportunities" for students.

"One of the biggest issues I've seen is we really don't have a way to think about equity in programming," she said. "We don't have wonderful ways to really think through our priorities and realize where there might be gaps in equity because we never had to do that before."

Coming from a background in education policy and teaching, she said, "I feel like we've just brushed the surface of a lot of topic areas."

Kaur is chairwoman of the district's Programmatic and Performance Equity Committee, which formed in September. It has looked at after-school programming and the use of sport fields.

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She said she enjoys being able to do "a deep dive" into data and information with the committee, whereas it might be difficult to fit in such work during a regular board meeting.

The district became fully operational July 1.

"We had a lot of topics, we had a lot of long meetings but I thought it went very smoothly," Kaur said.

She said local residents have told her that they were initially concerned there would be angling for individual communities, but she does not feel that has been the case. Her hope is the district will be able to continue to work collaboratively in problem solving.

After the elections, there will be a new chairwoman or chairman of the board. Kaur looks at the position as one that brings everyone together. She said she would like to see a seamless transition.

With new members being elected to the board, Kaur is calling for efforts to ensure everyone feels they are being heard.

"I think there are a lot of great candidates who could, you know, really merge right in but it will just take a little bit of transition time," she said. "There's been a lot of transition. It's not new to the board."

Kaur said the district is proposing "limited budgetary expansions" this year but she sees the potential for dedicating more funds to special education in the future.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at cmays@reformer.com, at @CMaysBR on Twitter and 802-254-2311, ext. 273.


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