2021 Candidate for School Committee, Ward 7
Campaign Website: https://www.valeriepontiff.com/Biographical statement
Valerie Pontiff is a 20-year Newton resident, parent of NPS elementary, middle, and high school students, and elected PTO president at Bigelow and Newton North. Professionally, Valerie is a commercial real estate broker and Boston business leader. She has chaired or served on nine non-profit boards.
Questions and Answers
Question 1: What in your background prepares you to be effective in the political office you are seeking?
Valerie Pontiff is a strategic thinker and leader, with a 31-year private-sector, success-based career. Valerie knows how to manage time and outcomes well. Valerie has extensive non-profit board expertise and is an expert at fundraising, budget oversight, and executive leadership search. Importantly, Valerie knows how to craft and execute strategic plans. This unique profile provides voters with the opportunity to have a representative on the School Committee who is accustomed to metrics-based decision-making. Valerie will listen to parents and guardians and champion their goals for the Newton Public Schools.
Question 2: If you're elected, what will be your first priority? Why? How will you address your priority?
Valerie is a leader in encouraging Newton Public Schools to focus on “Excellence.” Newton families expect and deserve academically excellent schools for all learners. In recent years, this core value has been diminished, with our MCAS scores near or at the bottom of our peer districts, and tragically so for our most vulnerable students. Valerie will advocate that the “Academic Excellence” component of the Newton Public Schools Systemwide Goals for 2022-2023 includes improved academic performance for all students.
Question 3: What is your plan to communicate the Newton schools’ plans, decisions, and programs to residents without children in Newton schools? How will you engage with them?
The starting point for better communication is listening. Almost two-thirds of Newton’s budget is dedicated to the public schools, yet Newton has lost a greater percentage of public-school students than any peer district except one, with the most significant losses at the elementary level. City residents need to come together to restore faith in our vital Newton Public Schools. Valerie will advocate for an annual survey of parents and guardians to enable the Newton Public Schools to continuously improve. Valerie will also hold frequent in-person and virtual listening sessions with all city residents. Valerie Pontiff listens.