William “Billy” Forrest is a professional architect with two children in Windsor schools. He has been a longtime volunteer in his children’s classrooms, served on School District’s Finance Advisory Committee, Bond Oversight Committee, several site councils and is a coach for youth sports.
He said running for school board was a natural extension of his longtime commitment to education and that he felt his extensive professional experience designing buildings for schools would be valuable as the district continues it’s expansion projects.
“I’ve been involved and heavily involved in the past and this is just taking a little more responsibility for my involvement,” he said.
Forrest said his philosophy of education was focused on igniting a sense of excitement for education within students. “I want everybody to graduate, to love school and to want to go on. I want everybody to feel like they can go on to college. I want them all to feel they can do it … I want them to feel that there’s this incredible world out there and there is so much for them.”
Forrest said he felt his experience as a professional architect working on school projects in several states provided him with a uniquely valuable skill set for the upcoming school board term. He said he could contribute to the design of a new school, help evaluate bond funded projects and develop creative ways to make the school district more fiscally sound through green building practices.
With his current oversight of bond funded projects, Forrest said he has seen the need for a new school in Windsor, both to meet current needs and also to address future expansion. He said he is interested to see what alternatives were available to the Jensen Lane project but if the Jensen Lane school is built, he would work to bring in community input regarding traffic, road improvements and other potential problems. “The key is that the people and the town are involved with how access is dealt with. I think that working with the town and working with others, not just staying in the school system is key to help the school system grow healthily.”
As part of the bond oversight committee, Forrest said he has been involved with the district’s finances for a while and that he felt ready to step up into a decision making capacity. “In my bond oversight stature, I’ve been overseeing how they’ve decided to spend the money but I haven’t been able to decide how it’s spent.”
He said efficient and environmentally friendly design could help the district meet its ongoing challenges with budget cuts. He said already approved projects could incorporate green building practices that would create long-term savings and that he would pursue additional funding in the form of community outreach or grant money to help support cost saving improvements. He said additional savings would have to come from collaboration between the board and staff.
“I dislike the idea of increasing class size, which means letting go of teachers,” he said. “We have two school days that we probably will have to take. Beyond that, there may be another early retirement plan offered. We’ll be working with the union and having them come up with ideas is another possibility.”
He said he opposed linking teacher pay to standardized tests and said the school board should trust administrators to determine how a teacher is progressing.
He said standardized test results didn’t allow for the diversity in student capability. “In most jobs you can evaluate what you’re producing and how well you produce. Teachers are producing something, students, but they come to the class very unequal,” he said. “What you have to look at is a true evaluation on how that teacher is teaching those kids in that class.
Forrest said teachers wanted to create good kids with good ethics but that a focus on meeting standardized testing goals left a hole in student education.
“Students should not have to worry about testing, they should worry about learning. Teaching them how to take the test does not teach them how to perform in our society.”
Forrest said he hoped to appeal to a wide range of voters who would appreciate his existing knowledge and involvement with schools while trusting him to be a good steward of public money. “They look at me and they know their money is going into the system and I’m most qualified to get them the biggest bang for the bond buck.”