The Journal Gazette
Monday, April 26, 2021 1:00 am

Five questions for Noah Smith

Fort Wayne Community Schools board member

1 You were an advocate for public schools long before joining the board. What brought you to that advocacy, and why do you think public school education is so important?

I think education and in particular traditional public education is the greatest gift/opportunity we can offer as a society. It has the potential for those that take advantage of it to lift up our community and allow children no matter their background the opportunity to succeed and improve upon their situation in life, no matter what it is. Education can truly be that Willy Wonka golden ticket for anyone who puts their mind to it.


2 When controversial changes to FWCS honors classes were suggested a few years ago, you were vocal about keeping them. How did that experience shape your views about how public education should be approached?

I was against the idea of eliminating this important offering to those kids who take advantage of it. However, learning more about the reasoning and then eventually what has been going on with traditional public education, I had a new appreciation of what the district, the teachers and the students are faced with. While I still believe we were right in our cause to keep honors classes, these challenges are what led me to put my hat in the ring to serve on the school board.


3 It's been about four months since you were appointed to the District 3 seat. Has your experience so far met your expectations for the post? Why or why not?

Yes, I have really enjoyed my time on the board so far and look forward to making a more meaningful impact on the district as I continue to learn and understand the workings of a school district our size. The past 13 months have been a huge challenge for anyone in education. I am extremely grateful to all the people at FWCS for putting their best foot forward to meet the challenge of educating kids to the best of their abilities during this unprecedented time. I am excited to see what we can accomplish as we continue to come out of the pandemic and get things “back to normal.” I think the future is bright for FWCS.


4 Has your background in business and finance helped with your work on the board? If so, how?

I think a combination of my finance and business background have helped prepare me for this role and allow me to make a positive impact. The fellow board members have been great and welcoming, and I think we complement each other well. My background is different than the others on the board, and I think this diversity allows our strengths to rise within the group and make us strong as a unit.


5 So many challenges face Indiana public schools – the ongoing pandemic, funding, the negative effects of the state's school choice program. What are your goals for FWCS, and how can the district successfully navigate those challenges?

I want FWCS to be the district of choice and a source of pride for the Fort Wayne community. As a state, we are not only below average on important educational initiatives like teacher pay, we are well below average. I believe Fort Wayne is an “above average” city and want our school district to be thought of as “above average” as well. I don't see how we can get there without more support from the state, which means more money.

I appreciate the state's new budget for 2022 and 2023 and its investment in our teachers. I hope to see consistency in this investment going forward. As a taxpayer, it's hard to see state leaders throw more money at schools that don't share our “gift” of accountability and transparency, particularly vouchers and (Education Savings Accounts) at private schools, as heretofore there has been a decrease in the support it provides for those traditional public schools that serve over 94% of all students.

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