School Board President steps down

After 10 years of service, Paru Shah stepped down from her position of School Board President as her term came to an end in April. Shah cited multiple reasons for this decision, one of them being the importance of change in the community.

“I think that change is a good thing in these types of boards,” said Shah. “I don’t necessarily think there are different perspectives on some of the big issues, but I think that new people move into Shorewood and want the opportunity to have what I did, and I think that’s a great thing.”

Shah added that while she is still invested in the community, she felt it was time to move on and focus on other things.

“[It’s not that] I don’t still love Shorewood or support the schools, but I think there are opportunities for new voices and new perspectives to make those decisions as well,” Shah said. “It just felt like it was time to do some of the other things that I needed to do at work and other opportunities to contribute to other organizations.”

Shah was initially appointed to the School Board in 2012, pursuing an interest in politics and public office. This interest is also reflected in her career as a professor of political science at UWM. 

“In my work as a political scientist, the things that I’m really interested in are candidates who run for office, particularly women and candidates of color,” Shah said. “I also thought it was a great opportunity to just be more involved in the community here.”

Throughout her time on the School Board, Shah experienced some of the challenges that come with holding public office, like making the right decision even if not everyone agrees with it. 

“I think the challenge in leading and leadership is always that you’re not going to make everybody happy all the time, so what we really try to do is think about how to explain how we came to the decision,” Shah said. 

Shah specified that the needs of students were always the priority in her decisions.

“For me, it’s always been that what we know is right is what’s best for kids,” Shah said. “If it’s best for students, then we can feel confident that even if other people don’t necessarily feel as happy about the outcome it’s the right choice.”

Shah also reflected on moments of pride from her time on the School Board, including the District’s commitment to upholding the rights of transgender students. 

“I think one of the things I will always remember is that we were one of the first school districts in Wisconsin to make it really clear we would support transgender students,” Shah said. “We had a resolution around this, changed a lot of our policies, and we had former students come to school board meetings and talk about how proud they were to be Shorewood residents or Shorewood alum, and that was a really great feeling and I think it exemplifies who we are as a Shorewood community.”

Shah also noted that seeing the facilities updates come to fruition was a gratifying experience.

“[For] the facilities, that was a five year endeavor, and to be able to see that finished was really gratifying,” Shah said. “To be in that space now when students are in there and feel like it accomplished what we wanted it to accomplish is really a fantastic feeling,” Shah said. 

Shah noted that although she is moving on from the School Board, she feels confident that the ideals she advocated for throughout her service will be upheld. 

“I feel confident that we’ll see the decisions that are being made are around thinking about what’s best for students,” Shah said.

Shah is particularly passionate about the equity work that is being implemented in the District and broader Shorewood community.

“I’m really excited about our path in Shorewood toward thinking about racial equity and other kinds of equity, and really being leaders around that in the state,” Shah said. “I feel really confident that we’ll continue to do that.”

Overall, Shah hopes to see Shorewood continue to be a school district centered around providing for students.

“I want [Shorewood] to be the kind of school district that really values student voice, that provides students with lots of opportunities to think about who they are and how they can make the world a better place, and continue to really value hearing from lots of voices and making decisions together,” Shah said.