Dear Fairfield,

It is hard to believe it has been 20 years since I started in Miami as an educator. As a parent, my children are in their 11th year in the Fairfield Public Schools. As an education advocate in our town, I am entering my 11th year as a Pro- Education voice, and for the first time I am a candidate for the Fairfield Board of Education.

My career in education has spanned from being an elementary school counselor, to special education residential placement, to post-secondary admissions, to early childhood, to local and state level education advocate. My background, coupled with my consensus building capacity with diverse stakeholders to focus on solutions through a process of collaboration and shared goals are just some of the experience and attributes I hope to bring to your Board of Education.

When looking back over a decade of BOE meetings what I remember the most are budget discussions, plans on how to improve and move our district forward, redistricting, facility planning, changes in administration and a very engaged public. There is little disagreement on the value that a strong education system brings to a community or to the lives of our students.

Also looking back over that time, I see what our kids accomplish in and out of school. The unbelievable talent they possess. The heart in their endeavors. Their commitment. The strength of character they show in the face of adversity. Within their accomplishments are all those who support them; their parents, their teachers, their coaches, their sources of inspiration. If elected, I will be as much their representative as I am to all of you. That is a role that I take very seriously and will have their best interests at the forefront of any consideration. 

It seems to occur too often that Fairfield receives some not so great news for our town from Hartford. I see the varied response from the public and the work our town officials are doing to mitigate the impact. I follow Hartford very carefully because I know what happens there impacts our schools, our families and our town. In the latest budget to pass the General Assembly Fairfield has been granted 95% of its municipal aid from last year, with an additional reduction for FY19. This is good news so far for our town since we were anticipating far less and provides time for us to plan. However, we should also recognize that municipal aid can be reduced during the year and going forward.  As such our departments and boards have already begun looking to where there may be cost saving opportunities. While topics of redistricting and closing schools has ensued, I believe we need to engage in some outside of the box thinking in how we can expand our revenue stream outside of our tax base, build partnerships with our local small businesses and tap into the talent we have right here at home.

Each of our Boards of Education has faced its own set of successes and challenges. The next Board will be no different, if not even more challenged, and as such will need strong voices and those willing to respectfully work together at the table with our administration and educators.  I stand prepared to analyze our options with a high degree of scrutiny for their short and long-term impact upon our students, district and community. I support maintaining a high-quality school system for all of our students with a focus on collaborative solutions which unite fiscal responsibility with educational fidelity and a commitment to delivering our mission.

There are 8 candidates for the BOE. Five will be voted to a seat. 2 R's for a 4-year term. 2 D's for a 4-year term and 1 R or D for a 2-year term. On November 7, 2017 may our BOE, and all boards, end up with one goal – moving our district and town Forward Together. My hat is off to those who have chosen to run for the Board of Education given what we know may very well likely be a difficult term, but one that can also provide an opportunity to expand our thinking and creativity in an atmosphere of collaboration.

As campaign season continues I am talking with community leadership, parents, students, educators and prior board members because working together means listening first. I want to hear your thoughts, concerns and questions and look forward to seeing you out while knocking doors. If you were unable to attend the League of Women Voters BOE debate on October 25th you may watch that on FairTV  here starting at the 55 minute mark for candidate views on topics including Pocket and Comprehensive Redistricting, Facilities-One High School, Elementary School Determining High School Feeder, School Closings, Racial Imbalance Solutions- redistrict, zoning, legal challenge, Special Education, Education Mandates from the State, Potential Structural Changes for the District, Revenue Ideas and Transportation.  The PTA Council is holding a roundtable discussion on Diversity within our schools on November 1 at the Fairfield History Museum at 7:30pm. You may also visit my website or follow my campaign Facebook page for further information about my background and qualifications for this role.

Historically, in similar elections, less than 30% of Fairfield residents vote. In 2015 we had 29.5% voter turnout. I hope that this year, at this critical time for our town, that many more of us will participate in choosing who we will entrust decisions to going forward on the BOE and the many other town positions on the ballot this year by voting on November 7th.

No matter what comes our way, I know that Fairfield will rise to the challenge as we always do- with focus, resiliency, a healthy dose of debate and an outpouring of care for our town and each other.


Jennifer Jacobsen, M.Ed

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