Name: Melissa Wesaw (Velky)
Occupation: Stay at home mother.
Educational background: B.A. from Rivier College with a major in Law and Government; J.D. from Michigan State University College of Law; American Red Cross Instructor; Volunteered for Habitat for Humanity; Inmate Reentry Programing and Education Volunteer with working with the elderly
What are your ties to Region 14?
I grew up in Woodbury as Melissa Velky. I attended school here from Kindergarten through 12th grade. When I graduated Nonnewaug I went on to obtain two degrees. I started a family and moved to Bethlehem. I am a mom of five boys that currently attend Region 14 school district from preschool through high school. I also have family members that currently attend Mitchell School and Woodbury Middle School. Many of my immediate and extended family members live in the Woodbury/Bethlehem area. Region 14 is what I have always considered home.
Why would you like to serve on the Region 14 Board of Education?
I would like to serve on the Region 14 Board of Education because I feel that the Board needs a change. I feel that members of the Board need to have a vested interest in the children’s education. Any decision that the Board would make would not only have an impact on my family, but every family that has a child in the Region. We feel these changes. One such change is the Board’s decision not to apply a co-op to the Football and Lacrosse teams at the high school. Over 50 students attended the last Board of Education meeting begging the Board to let them play varsity. The Board listened to the numerous comments, but still have yet to reach out to the teams to come to a resolution. I believe that members of the Board are there to support all of the children in the Region, fairly, and equally. If there is a major concern in the community it is the job of the Board to find resolutions that properly addresses the concerns of parents, children and staff alike. I want to become a Board member to do just that. Give the children, parents, and staff a voice and help find answers to the hard problems.
What do you feel are Region 14’s strengths and weaknesses, and how do you feel Region 14’s weaknesses can become strengths?
Every school district has weaknesses. Some weaknesses have been addressed as concerns by parents in the Region. One such concern is regarding Mitchell School. The parents have addressed their concerns of the first-grade class losing a teacher this coming school year. The parents are concerned that there is going to be too large of a student to teacher ratio for the children’s needs to be addressed properly. This is a real concern that the Board previously stated may not be able to be addressed because of budget concerns. Other budget concerns included reducing the amount spent on library books, reducing the expenses of the musical instruments, removing an HR position, and other similar issues. While the renovation of the high school is a great improvement it is only one of four schools in the region. The other three schools as well as the high school have educational needs outside of the renovation project. Addressing the educational needs of the all the schools can turn the Region’s weakness into a strength by benefiting all of the student’s and not just the buildings. These strengths would include appropriate staffing, addressing basic educational needs, addressing resources for special educational needs, buying books, obtaining instruments, playing sports and general necessities in learning that should not go unfunded or underfunded. Additional resources should be found, raised and applied appropriately to enhance the educational standards and needs of all of the students. The Board needs to find resources, fundraising ideas and solutions for proper budgeting. This is not an easy task, however, by applying time and energy anything is possible with hard work.
If you are elected, how would you make Region 14 the best public school system it can be?
I would make Region 14 the best it could be by not only listening to parents, children and staff, but by finding appropriate resolutions to address the problems and needs of the Region. I am vested in this community for many years to come. One thing I have learned since graduating Nonnewaug is that the community members are the experts on what the Region needs. The Board members job is to listen, find solutions, budget properly, and make Region 14 the best possible school system for everyone’s children equally. I am not afraid of hard work, speaking out for those who can’t and working to find answers. I am a vested member in the Region and would love the opportunity to bring change and a new light on issues and resolutions.