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As a former broadcast news reporter, Cindy Kirschke said she knows the importance of accuracy and transparency when communicating information.
In her bid to continue representing the Grafton area on the York County School Board, Kirschke said she will hold the school board accountable to accuracy and transparency while also listening to the concerns of her constituents.
“I feel like the community still needs a strong voice on that School Board that will not just rubber-stamp the administration,” Kirschke said. “I feel like the School Board acts as oversight and needs to question the administration and always make sure that it’s being provided with the full picture of both sides of the issue so that we can make informed decisions.”
Kirschke, 49, and her family moved to York County 10 years ago after living in Europe during her husband’s U.S. Air Force assignment.
She said the schools were the major draw for her family to settle in York. Watching how the school board interacted with constituents, particularly during hybrid 4×4 schedule discussions, was the “catalyst” for her run for the District 2 seat, she said.
“I could see a disconnect between the administration and the audience as they were trying to explain why they wanted to implement the new hybrid 4×4 schedule,” Kirschke said. “The questions were not being answered, and I left there feeling like there was a lack of transparency.”
She defeated incumbent Linda Meadows in 2011 and is running unopposed this year. She said she is running for re-election because she feels there is still more to be done, including retaining teachers, adopting later school start times and improving family engagement.
“My priority is to make sure we maintain and improve student achievement. That’s the goal of education,” Kirschke said.
She said changing the grading scale to a modified 10-point scale and initiating conversations about later school start times are some of her top accomplishments from her first term.
“We need to do our job explaining why we need to explore later start times but we also need to listen to stakeholders and find out, ‘How is this working for your family? What scheduling conflicts do you foresee if we change the time?’” Kirschke said. “It’s a give-and-take with communication. We can’t just dictate without explaining and asking for feedback.”
Kirschke called herself an advocate and emphasized her passion for putting students first. She said she takes a solutions-oriented approach to resident concerns and makes herself accessible to her constituents by phone and email.
“I feel like I’m building a partnership with the families and teachers and stakeholders in my district and throughout the county,” Kirschke said.
She said she believes service on the School Board should not be a lifetime career and members can lose insight on what is happening in the classroom if they no longer have a child in the school division.
“I think a parent has unique insight as to what is working in the classroom,” said Kirschke, whose youngest child is a high school junior. “If you don’t have that and you’re only hearing from the administration, it leaves the possibility for the school board to just rubber-stamp the superintendent’s initiatives.”
Because of that belief, Kirschke said her second term would be her last.
“I am passionate about public education, and I look forward to serving a second term on the School Board,” she said. “However, I do not plan to run past this second term because I believe a School Board with little turnover can become stale and lose focus of its oversight responsibilities.”
If elected to a second term, Kirschke said she would like to see the school board support students across the spectrum of success, not just those who are excelling or failing, and help educators prepare students for the challenges of all grade levels, from kindergarten to 12th grade.