A very long time ago, I was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the Niagara Falls School Board. I remained on the board for 16 years.

Those years have been challenging, insightful, aggravating but most of all, rewarding. I have had the pleasure of witnessing the growth of this district. I have had the opportunity to enjoy the achievements of our students as well as successes of our staff. Three new schools have been opened and we have made numerous upgrades to all of our facilities. It has been 16 years of highs and most recently lows.

You have read several articles from other board members outlining the difficulties this district has had to face. It has not been easy for any of us, and I regret that it happened during my tenure. Systems failed, and it has been very important for me to understand where the failures have occurred. Checks and balances have been put into place to ensure that the financial books are accurate, that everyone will be held accountable and district properties are not misused.

In spite of the recent audits, our schools have stayed focused on our mission of teaching children. Our teachers are continuing to receive ongoing staff development to deliver the best instruction to their students. Student achievement has risen and our youth have many opportunities now than they ever had before.

Our maintenance department did an amazing job transforming the former 66th Street School into the new district administration offices. This saved taxpayer dollars as it enables us to consolidate services and buildings into one location.

Many updates to our school buildings are being addressed within the next 10 months, and I promise that we will continue those updates in all buildings to maintain the highest health and safety standards for our students and our employees.

Our parents continue to make endless important contributions in our schools. Fundraisers have been organized and the monies raised are being spent on our classrooms and the children. One of my greatest joys these last 16 years has been visiting parent meetings in our schools. The parents are hard working, devoting their time and energy to making the learning environment a better place. They are amazing and there are not enough words of thanks.

The children are the primary motivation for wanting to serve on the school board. I am always proud to say that I have 7,000 children. They continue to be eager about learning even though they think there are too many state tests. All of our students have promise and deserve the best from all of us.

As we move forward with improved accounting practices and new leadership, I am confident that our students will continue to reap the benefits of a concerned community, a committed staff and the implementation of best practices in curriculum and teaching methods.

The goal is to help every child become all he or she dreams of becoming and prepare them for a highly competitive world.

Jeanette Stypa, member

Niagara Falls Board of Education

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