Tracy Keyes is one of four Democrat/Republican candidates running for New Hope-Solebury School Board. She lives on Equestrian Drive in Solebury with her husband, two sons and two guinea pigs.
Keyes earned a BA in human development from California State University and an MS in childhood development from University of Laverne. She has worked at Head Start, in corporate child care, taught first grade, and currently teaches early childhood education at Kutztown University.
“I love my job…I love what I do,” said Keyes. She also enjoys baking, wine tasting, and sewing during the summer months.
She believes that her dual role as parent and educator gives her a leg up on other candidates. “Because I work at a state university and we certify teachers, I have a good understanding of what changes are coming. I wear two hats — the educator hat and the parent hat — and I have to struggle with balancing my parenting role with my work role.
“When the school board was talking about closing the LES, I really started going to the meetings because I felt that unless there was some great reason why we needed to close it, that it was a gem in our community: to have an early childhood school is ideal. To me it made sense. So I became involved by going to meetings and I witnessed what was going on and my parent hat switched to my teacher hat. I thought there’s some things that are not going so well, and I could sit there and complain to everyone about it, but then i thought, ‘maybe i can contribute.’ Maybe my role as both a parent and as an educator and as a leader in my work environment could contribute something to this board in terms of a different perspective,” continued Keyes.
She sees the school board as performing “a governance role, ensuring that the kids are getting best education they can get, you’re ensuring that you’re being responsible to taxpayers, you’re ensuring that the school is safe and our facilities are up to code, and we’ve got a bunch of ADA issues coming down the pike with that high school, we really have to plan for that, and the retirement crisis.”
Other issues to tackle in Keyes’ view include the comprehensive plan, and from an educational viewpoint as compared to nearby districts,”We’re doing okay, but we could be doing better,” she asserted. “I think we have the resources to be the best, and why not go for it?”
Another approaching “big deal”for Keyes is the teachers’ contract. “They’re working right now without a contract, and the negotiations should come up with the next board,” she said. “And we’ve got to live within our educational means.”
In terms of addressing security concerns, Keyes said, “As a parent I want reasonable security measures. I don’t feel we need police at every school entrance, but I feel we need to be safe.”
All in all, Keyes believes the board needs to provide better leadership, and that her dual parent/educator perspective and collaborative, research-based solutions are the right ways to get there. She views her role as supporting the administration and teachers, rather than micromanaging. “No micromanaging for me. I don’t like to be micromanaged, nor do I wish to micromanage…they’re in those roles for a reason — they do a good job — the school board is just there to support them, rather than dictate.”
Keyes’ process for balancing the goal of superior academics with fiscal reality is through “Listening to the administration, to the staff, the teachers…they’re on the front line — what do we need, what’s working, what’s not working. Obviously, science has been an issue. We need to update our science curriculum. And you know, sometimes science tends to take a back seat to math and reading, but I think science is right up there. We really need to be be doing more science in kindergarten. So listening to the teachers and administration, and also the community. Just because you don’t have children in the school doesn’t mean you don’t have an opinion or something to offer.
“I’ve been going to board meetings long enough to know that there are no simple answers for these complex issues. It’s really about trying to balance all those needs,” added Keyes.
“The mission statement talks about how the school district takes pride in its commitment to excellence, and I think that it’ a very powerful statement, and I think as a school board we need to keep striving in our commitment to excellence,” she concluded.