Questions for the candidates: Concord School Board District A, Jim Richards

Published: 10/25/2019 2:06:34 PM

Incumbent Jim Richards is facing Patrice Myers in Concord School Board District A, which includes wards 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Jim Richards

How long have you lived in Concord? My wife, Beth, and I moved to Concord in June 2006, with our toddler sons. One of the main reasons we chose to live in Concord was the excellent school system. My sons have attended Beaver Meadow, Rundlett and are currently students at Concord High.

Profession: Head of Store Operations for a $550 million retail business that has 1,300 full and part time employees in locations throughout N.H.

Other experience: I have an MBA in Finance and Strategic Management and have worked with budgeting and financial analysis throughout my career. In my five years on the board I have served on the Negotiations, Communications and Policy, Finance committees and have chaired the Capital Facilities Committee. However, some of the most important experience I bring is my time in the schools. I have participated in numerous events and been a volunteer. I have visited all the schools, spoken with teachers, administrators, parents and students and listened to their needs and concerns and how we can improve.

What two issues are most important to you, and what would you do to address them? I feel student safety and security is the most important issue facing the School District at this time. Parents and students must feel confident that schools are a safe, positive learning environment. I am proud of the work my committee and the board has done in securing the entrances to the high school and installing secure electronic locking doors. We also added cameras that act as a deterrent to criminal activity. However we still have much to do to protect students from threats to safety from within as well as from without. We need to establish a culture where we put students first and hold each other accountable to ensure student safety. Our policy and training initiatives are a great start but we have more to do. As one Concord Crisis Center volunteer aptly put it, “The students know if they see something, say something. Now it’s time to educate the adults.”

An annual challenge facing the board is the fiscal responsibility of operating a 4,000-student district and managing the budget in a way that meets the needs of students, parents and citizens of Concord. We need to provide the best teachers, educational programs, technology, and facilities for our students while never forgetting the impact our decisions have on the taxpayers of our community. In coming years we will face challenges of uncertain state funding, reduced Medicaid funding, investment decisions on building a middle school, and the escalating costs of health care and benefits. I promise to continue to use my knowledge of finance, business management and my experience on the board to make sure every Concord dollar is spent wisely and efficiently.

What voice/skills would you add to city government? I come to the Concord School Board as the parent of two Concord High students who have grown up in our schools. I  actively engage and listen to members of our community and work to understand their concerns. I am compassionate, and also pragmatic, with a strong knowledge of finance, business and budgets. I understand a workplace governed by a Collective Bargaining Agreement and understand how to work with unions to get things done. I am experienced. Most importantly, I care about our kids and I care about the Concord Community.

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