All of us, parents and non-parents, students and non-students, depend upon our local schools to provide the foundation for our communities. Since all of us benefit, all of us must be welcomed in to be a part of the solutions to our many needs. Together we can do everything.
What do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
Access to high quality education for all ages, affordable housing and decent transportation are big issues which affect the majority of local families. Every government and non-government organization, company and individual has to be brought in to be part of the solution. We created many of these problems together and we can only hope to solve them together.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
Our local school district operates under financial constraints primarily decided by the state government. Long term it take constant advocacy to increase funding and provide the equity we often hear talked about, but still don't have. At a local school board level we have to do everything possible to bring non-tax local resources (volunteers, organizations, etc.) in to supplement what can be accomplished with taxpayer resources. Allocation of taxpayer resources must be done efficiently and with a focus on the educators and classrooms where most of the work happens.
What steps will you take to address the high cost and lack of availability of quality child care and preschool programs in our communities, especially for low-income children and English language learners?
I have long supported maximum possible investment in early childhood education programs. Currently our schools have some funding for "transitional kindergarten" which is for students not quite five years of age on the first day of school. We need to do more, but are challenged by state budget priorities which so far have not done enough to fund the need for quality early childhood education for everyone.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
Our district presently spends large amount of money sending students with the greatest needs to expensive private schools. As potentially one of seven trustees I intend to ask a lot of questions about ways we might better serve the special needs students in house in order to benefit more students with the available funds.
Much of the student achievement gap has been linked to the "opportunity gap" that low-income children and children of color experience, including lack of access to healthy food, preschool, tutors and enrichment activities. If elected, what steps will you take to address this issue?
I'm currently board chair of a local nonprofit which has been raising funds specifically to provide enrichment activities to students who otherwise can't afford them. Charitable efforts help, but are not sufficient to address the needs. Our local economy needs everyone to be educated, fed and housed. No single school board member can fix all of these problems, but I'm committed to continue doing "more than my share" and to engaging other individuals and organizations to do the same. People need their basic needs met and local employers need workers who are ready to go.