2016 Farmington school board candidate profile: Terri Weems

Local voters will choose among 13 candidates November 8 to fill three, six-year terms and two partial terms on the Farmington Public Schools Board of Education. Farmington Voice sent all candidates a questionnaire; responses are published as they were received.

Terri WeemsTerri Weems, Farmington Hills – candidate for six-year term

I’ve been in the district since 2010 when my family moved from London England to Farmington Hills MI. We choose Farmington Hills because of its location and because of the school district. My husband and I have three children in the district.

I am a Certified Public Accountant with almost 20 years of experience working at a large public accounting firm. Outside of work and home, I am the treasurer of my homeowners association. I volunteer my time as a Women of Tomorrow mentor to young at risk youth, and to VITA (a volunteer income tax assistance program). I’ve also served on the Detroit Public Schools technical advisory board.

I am an active member of the community and an active member of the PTA. I served as PTA fundraising chair, vice president and president over the years and thoroughly enjoyed my experiences at Wood Creek Elementary, Warner and Dunckel. Over the years, I enjoyed meeting other parents, identifying school improvement needs and being a part of the solution. In 2014 I was asked to serve on Building and Site Utilization Committee. Through this committee, I became aware of the needs and issues the district was facing including declining enrollment, a widening achievement gap, and a dwindling general fund balance. A year later, in 2015, when two positions on the board needed to be filled, I sought appointment because I believed my skills as a CPA could be leveraged for the benefit of the school district. I interviewed along with 22 other applicants and on September 24, 2015, I was chosen unanimously.

In a year I have:

  • Collaboratively engaged with others toward the same goal – making our district a wonderful place for children to grow up into the adults they are supposed to be
  • Demonstrated sound, even-minded leadership
  • Navigated through difficult decisions, with the health and well-being of the students as the overriding consideration
  • Engaged the community to identify and address multiple interests through numerous formal and informal sessions
  • Attended the MASB conference in order to identify practical ideas to help our board resolve challenges and accomplish critical work ahead.
  • Completed 8 of 9 formal professional development courses in the laws and policies affecting public K-12 school districts through the Certified Board member Awards program and am on track to become board certified by December 2016.

What is the most critical issue facing Farmington Public Schools, and how will you work to resolve it?

Student achievement is the most critical issue facing our district. We need to develop a short and long range plan to align curriculum, close the achievement gap, and provide students with the access to programs and technology needed for all children to be successful in the future. We need to focus on all children at all levels. If we are ever to increase enrollment and become a premier school district, this is critical.

My areas of focus over the next year are:

Student Success – My goal is to exceed the Michigan math and literacy proficiency standards over the next term. I will look to to identify proven programs and teaching and learning practices which have been vetted by teachers, agreed to at a district level, and have input from our people both staff and parents. We have pockets of excellence in the district. These need to be identified and spread.

Financial Stability – My goal is to develop a budget that prioritizes the programs and services offered by the district to meet the achievement needs of all students. My intent is to ensure that the limited dollars we have are spent in the greatest areas of need: student achievement. I’m concerned for the loss of talented staff and programming. I’d like to reinstate some of the services and programs we lost in the prior year to improve student growth.

Community Involvement – My goal is to engage the community through listening and learning tours. I plan to work with the district to develop an updated vision and long range plan for the district incorporating feedback from our community (teachers, support staff, administrators, parents, students, business, etc)