If elected, I will provide the children and families of MPESD with an objective, fair, and discerning voice for positive change. I believe problems are solved by listening and including all stakeholders in the decision-making process and by effective communication with a high standard of accountability.
Taking into consideration the profound impact of COVID-19 and the expanded movement for racial justice and equity, what do you think are the top three issues affecting our children and families and how do you propose to address them?
The top three issues affecting the children and families in my school district are 1. The lack of funding to accomplish all the goals set out by the district. 2. Bridging of the 'Digital Divide' during the COVID Pandemic and 3. Lack of access in our area to safe playing fields for healthy lifestyles and inter/extra-curricular sports. Having two children enrolled in the Mount Pleasant Elementary School District, I have learned firsthand how pro-active and forward-thinking our district is. It has many goals, programs, and needs that could be fulfilled with more funding. Today, schools must work creatively to raise extra funds. This can be done with writing grant proposals, soliciting corporate sponsorships, and re-allocating unused real estate assets into income providing opportunities. 2. Bridging the 'Digital Divide' (which is quite large in our community) requires the District to dedicate a lot of its resources toward supplying its students with modern technology and connectivity. Our District has been largely successful in this endeavor and, if elected, I will work to ensure that its efforts are continued. 3. The third issue, inadequate playing fields, is somewhat specific to our District. I prioritize this in my top three due to the fact that none of the fields in the District are safe. They have been damaged over many years due to a lack of funding and prolonged drought. These open spaces are critical for social development, rest and respite, exercise, and healthy living. Our district has pledged to keep these places open to the public, which is crucial to a park-starved suburban region. Grant funding and government rebates are just a few of the opportunities I will continue to pursue.
How will the priorities you addressed in the first question be reflected in the way that you approach the budget process?
The prioritization of the District's financial needs must be done through an open forum process where all of the ideas, questions, and concerns of invested stakeholders can be heard and prioritized. Once input is collected a plan must be devised with a keen eye on budgeting and fiscal efficiency, while at the same time ensuring prevailing wages and workers' rights are protected. Having a functioning decision-making process with accountability where all views can be heard and decisions made based on sound fiscal accounting will be my approach to making the most out of the District's budget.
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?
Though MPESD is not a jurisdiction covering preschools and childcare, it supports multiple low-income preschool programs on its campuses. If elected, will continue to advocate and support these programs throughout my tenure.
What steps will you take to improve inclusion and outcomes for children with special needs or with disabilities?
There are two special needs specific classes accommodating and integrating students in our district. The best way to continue to grow and supports these programs is to listen to the ideas and input provided by the parents, teachers, administrators, and students who are involved. Being responsive, adaptive, and willing to try new approaches will be integral to my leadership on this topic.
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?
The opportunity gap is largely based on the government's inadequate and inequitable funding of schools. If elected, I will work to support and ensure that MPESD continues its efforts to prioritize its available funding for programming based on a fair and open input process and I will support committing available resources, while also working to find alternative funding via grant opportunities, community services and opportunities provided by nonprofit and state entities that will help close the achievement gap and provide our students with the tools and experiences they need to succeed and thrive in the modern world.