Elaine Whitney – Board of Education

1-Elaine Whitney-head shot-001Elaine Whitney is currently BOE Secretary after serving a term as Chair.  She has a seven-year track record of proactively improving our educational programs while simultaneously achieving the lowest operating budget increases in over a decade.  Elaine is passionate about maintaining the excellence of our schools and preparing each one of our students to reach his or her full potential.

Professionally, Elaine has extensive experience in management consulting, focusing on strategic planning and healthcare.  She also holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale and an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern.

Key Contributions

Elaine leads in a collaborative, nonpartisan manner and is a responsible steward of our taxpayers’ resources.  She is focused on getting things done on behalf of our town’s children.  Examples of Elaine’s contributions on the Board of Education include:

  • Proactively improved our educational programs, collaborating to: increase alignment of programming across the elementary, middle and high school levels; strengthen opportunities for differentiation to better engage and challenge every child; reduce the maximum class size in second grade to 22 students; introduce new courses and programs, including Singapore math in the elementary schools, Mandarin and engineering in the middle schools, and a wide range of innovative courses in the high school; and foster the development of 21st century skills, such as critical and creative thinking, collaboration, and resilience.
  • Put the schools on sound financial footing for the long term by making the tough choices necessary to realign the Board’s budget to reflect the new realities faced by the town, as the only BOE candidate this year who was serving on the Board at the beginning of the financial crisis.
  • Kept operating budget increases to historic lows and generated over $3 million in hard, annual savings — which recur every year — in close collaboration with her colleagues.
  • Generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings from productivity gains and structural changes in health benefits plan design, through her leadership of labor negotiations for the new teachers’ contract, laying the groundwork for similar savings across many other town and Board contracts while maintaining strong benefit levels.
  • Secured approval of the 2013-14 Board of Education budget from the Board of Finance and RTM near-unanimously and without any cuts.
  • Oversaw the successful implementation of the field lights in Staples stadium.
  • Strengthened the district’s partnership with the Police and Fire departments to further enhance the safety and security of our students and staff.
  • Proactively and continuously ensures that our school system serves the needs of all children at all instructional levels and of all ability levels.

Leadership at the State Level and in the Community

Elaine has also been appointed to serve on the board of directors of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, where she has played a key role in shaping educational policy at the state level.

Outside of the educational arena, Elaine is an active member of the community and has volunteered extensively in several local organizations, including Westport Rotary.  She is also Co-President of the Yale Rugby Association, where she oversees a gender-blind endowment and advocates for the development of the program with senior University leadership.

Prior to joining the Board, Elaine was Co-President of the Long Lots Elementary School PTA.

Personal

Elaine is the daughter of a retired Westport teacher and a 13-year resident of Westport.  She and her husband, John Garber, have three children: a recent Staples graduate, a Staples sophomore, and an 8th grader at Bedford.