In anticipation of April 3 municipal elections in St. Louis County, Clayton-Richmond Heights Patch invited local candidates to answer several questions about their background, their respective city and their goals if elected to office.
Additional questions about elections coverage may be directed to the editor by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The following is a profile of Lily Raymond, who is seeking a third term on the . She and two other candidates, incumbent Jane Klamer and newcomer Darryl Higuchi, are running for election to one of two open seats.
A published Saturday. A profile of Higuchi will publish next weekend.
Name: Lily Raymond
Years lived in Clayton: Exceptional schools are the reason my husband, Bill Schmidt, and I moved to twelve years ago before our oldest daughter, Alex (now in 11th grade), started kindergarten. Our younger daughter, Lisa, attended the at age two and is now a 7th grader at .
Education: University of Notre Dame, 1984, B.A., summa cum laude; University of New York, Albany, 1991, Ph.D., Psychology
Professional background: I have had a twenty-plus year career in forensic psychology at St. Louis State Psychiatric Rehabilitation Center (formerly St. Louis State Hospital) working with clients who are court-committed to an inpatient psychiatric facility. I am fortunate to have a job I love that continues to be challenging and rewarding. My work entails providing therapy, assessment, team leadership, training, supervision, and participation on an executive committee that determines clients’ readiness for release. The skills I bring to my work include listening, understanding multiple perspectives, analyzing complex data, and collaborating to promote positive change.
Elected office(s) held previously: It has been an honor to serve our students and community as a member of the Clayton Board of Education for the past six years. Although school board membership is an elected office, I do not consider myself a politician — the reason I pursued board service was because of my strong belief in the power of high-quality education to change lives and my commitment and dedication to our district.
What do you like about the School District of Clayton?
The is an amazing place. There are phenomenal teachers in every one of our buildings. Our community values and invests in education. I believe our students, teachers, parents, community volunteers, and resources make ours one of the very best school districts in the nation.
If you could change one thing about the district, what would it be? Why?
Because we are and have been historically such a strong school district, we must be careful not to simply rest on our laurels. We must not be complacent. We must maintain a critical eye and open mind to make changes that will continue to push us forward.
Identify three challenges your school district is facing at this time.
(1) High expectations for all students so that each child reaches his/her potential. As a public school we have students with a wide range of talents and abilities. Because of our demographics, we also have a high percentage of students who are high achieving, gifted and exceptionally gifted. Approximately 33% of our students are performing at or above the 96% percentile in reading and math on the state MAP test. We must support, challenge and maintain high-expectations no matter where a student falls on the continuum.
(2) Willingness to revisit and more closely examine our allocation of resources given current economic and educational realities. I believe there is room for greater efficiency and with that greater effectiveness.
(3) Initiative overload. Like in many areas, our strengths can also be a weakness. Our district leadership and staff are so committed, well-informed, and motivated that it is hard to turn away from promising ideas. But sometimes less is more. Focus is an essential component of success within any organization. Our District must consider the big picture before adding new initiatives to ensure that we are offering focused and effective educational experiences for our students.
Describe a difficult decision that you have had to make. How does this situation illustrate the approach you would take to problem-solving as an elected leader?
In my job as a psychologist I have been appointed to a forensic review committee that determines if a client meets the legal and clinical standard to be recommended to the court for release. These complex decisions involve weighing the needs and desires of the client with the safety concerns of the entire community.
Although on the surface these determinations may appear very different from the decisions expected of a school board member, the magnitude of the decisions, as well as the complexity and decision-making process are surprisingly similar.
Both require working alongside other thoughtful professionals, reviewing and utilizing extensive amounts of information and data, asking difficult questions, engaging in lengthy discussions and debates, and arriving at a decision as a committee. After decisions are made we must stand behind our decisions even when they are controversial and evaluate the outcomes on the individual and the community as a whole.
How would you characterize the district's economic climate? And what is your philosophy with regard to financial responsibility in the district?
Although Clayton School District’s current economic climate is good, we should not ignore the economic issues facing the nation, state, and many of our surrounding school districts. Because of sound policy decisions and prudent financial management, the CSD has been able to extend the 2003 tax levy far beyond the originally expected three years. But we should not stop there.
I believe we should look carefully at all our expenditures and find areas where we could be more efficient. Toward that end, starting last year the school board began an extensive and comprehensive allocation review process. I believe we need to continually evaluate our expenses and our revenues so that we are responsible stewards of our District.
Identify three issues that are of greatest concern to the Clayton residents you would represent. How would you address each of these concerns?
(1) Ensuring that Clayton schools continue to be ranked among the best in the nation. The Clayton community reaps the benefits of excellent public education in many ways — quality education for our children, secure property values, and excellent business opportunities — and we must keep in mind the integral part the schools play in our thriving community.
(2) As with any community, residents are concerned about increasing property taxes. To acknowledge and address this concern, the Clayton School District is currently pursuing a comprehensive review of district expenses. I am one of two board members serving on the resource allocation committee that is focused on a critical examination of expenditures and finding cost reduction opportunities.
(3) The most important concern is that about which an individual person is concerned. It can be, and usually is, quite personal. As a Board member, I must always be listening to our students, our parents, our teachers, and our residents so that I am aware of the issues affecting our District.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
What my years on the board have given me is a keener critical eye, and a deeper understanding of and experience with how to effectuate change within the Clayton School District. I look forward to continuing to dedicate my time to our students and our schools.