Greensburg-Salem School Board 2021
“Education Builds Stronger Communities”
Sara Deegan is running for a seat on the Greensburg-Salem School Board, hoping to emphasize the role that school districts play not only in educating children, but in raising the quality of the workforce and community life as a whole.
Deegan’s platform was developed with the support of Voice of Westmoreland (VOW), a nonpartisan, grassroots organization that focuses on issues that are important to residents of Westmoreland County: health care, clean air and water, living wages, racial justice, education and fair government. VOW believes all should have a voice — not just the powerful few — and provides opportunities for all people to get involved in the political process and to take collective action.
In that spirit, Deegan is calling for a future in which the board governs collaboratively with the residents of the district. She will work to ensure that citizens are well-informed and their views are considered. She will:
- Educate citizens on current district issues and create clear, interactive communication channels
- Survey residents so they can co-develop programs with school board members and elicit feedback from the community on programs that are implemented
- Incorporate commonly understood language in all district documents
- Provide continued electronic access to school board meetings
Regular communication and outreach will help to ensure that all citizens are included in decision making and all perspectives are considered to provide the best response to Greensburg’s challenges.
Deegan’s platform is focused on making decisions about education based on facts and data and taking a big-picture approach that understands the key role education plays for all members of the community, not just those with children.
FIGHTING FOR PROPER EDUCATION FUNDING
Deegan is an independent grant writer and former librarian who grew up in Scottdale and earned a bachelor’s degree from Edinboro University and a master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh. She has served on local and statewide efforts to improve workforce development.
Deegan believes in the power of education. Because of the constraints based on the funding formulas currently used to determine funding to school districts, funds do not reach the students who need it most. Deegan plans to look at the recently allocated federal COVID funding as a cushion to give immediate aid while looking into more sustainable and equitable ways funds, including reworking charter school funding, could be distributed by putting pressure on the local and state leadership who make those decisions.
“As we all have been forced to pivot in recent times, I welcome the idea that schools evolve in less traditional ways to meet the ever-changing needs of our students, to meet their competencies. I want all children to prepare for the future and not the past. We can take this unusual time to think outside the box for solutions in little and big ways. Our lives were already heading in that direction, but the pandemic pressed fast forward on these ideas. Instead of going back to the way things were, or how school looked when we were students, let us use this difficult period to our advantage and incorporate new ideas. That entrepreneurial spirit will only benefit our community.”Sara Deegan
In 2019, Deegan was invited to speak at an Integrated Learning Conference on her experience of collaborating with local, state and national organizations in accordance with a project she completed for Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA), which investigated how public libraries can help public schools meet Chapter 339 requirements for workforce development for children in grades K-12.
In 2020, she was invited by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Education to serve on the Career Ready PA Coalition as a representative of Region 2. She continues to spend time learning about career readiness and workforce development and how to apply them in this school district.
Deegan advocates for the enhancement of digital literacy. Even before 2020, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were being created each day and 103 million spam emails each minute. “Digital literacy is much more complicated than how the devices work; it’s considering who wrote it, who paid for it, whether anyone else is reporting on it, and doing your homework on your sources.”
ADVOCATING FOR DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION
Deegan is a strong proponent of equity, diversity and inclusion in public schools. “The more diversity at the table, the better the outcome,” she says. “We can create a stronger plan with input from everyone.” Data shows that racially diverse role models in the classroom benefit all children, regardless of race.
Her plan includes:
- Making equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) a priority so that:
- All citizens feel heard by the school board and administration
- Students see people like themselves among the teaching and administrative staff.
- Ensuring that all community members are represented among those developing an EDI plan.
Deegan also sees equity, diversity and inclusion as an area for further collaboration with Westmoreland County commissioners, who launched the Re-Imagining Westmoreland initiative prior to the pandemic, as an effort to increase and welcome greater diversity in the county. “Wanting to hire people from diverse backgrounds can’t just come from the school district, but must include the broader community. If we’re asking folks to work in our district, we have to ensure they feel welcome and safe moving here and bringing their families with them,” Deegan says. She is ready and willing to work with other organizations to make the district a more welcoming place.
REDUCING POVERTY AND INCREASING ACCESSIBILITY
“I understand that decisions made in school districts go far beyond those buildings. They will affect the entire community,” Deegan says, adding that educational quality affects real estate values and the quality of the workforce that is available when companies are considering relocating. “A strong school district creates a high-quality workforce.“
She is proposing five areas of response to ensure that all students reach their full potential:
- Assist families to meet basic needs to ensure students are ready to learn through wraparound services that come from pairing with local organizations
- Use data as a basis for decision making to ensure that allocations are fair and equitable
- Ensure equal education in information and digital literacy for all
- Provide access to the arts, music, library and other essential co-curricular programs for all students
- Strengthen the social safety net – because the next disruption is coming
Deegan says “I want students, their families and caregivers, and citizens to feel less frustration and more like a welcome part of sustainable solutions that last as we move forward in the district.”
For more information:
Candidate email: SaraDeegan4GSSD@gmail.com
Candidate Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SaraDeegan4GSSD