1. What is the biggest opportunity that, if embraced by the district, would lead to an improvement in student achievement? Since the start of my campaign, I have advocated that the district should allocate additional resources and talented people into the Pre-K and elementary grades. Volumes of research have measured the benefits of early education. Over the past two years, we have seen measured gains in test scores. With more investment in early education, we’ll see those gains continue for the 5-10 years and beyond. In addition to the benefits to our young people, there is economic benefit to the community as one study predicts $8 of economic growth for every $1 spent on early childhood eduction.
2. What role should local businesses play in supporting our schools to ensure students are graduating with the skills necessary for successful employment? Manatee County’s entrepreneurs and young professionals should continue their work in our schools through programs like Leadership Manatee and Big Bank Theory. That direct connection between students and employers is vital for students to see a future for themselves as adults. Another outlet for career readiness would be a collaboration between students and employers to connect students with real-world internships, work-study programs and mentorship opportunities in local businesses. When a student can see and feel their future success, that is a powerful motivation to mature and bloom.
3. What is your top priority for the district as a candidate for School Board and how should this priority be achieved? My top priority is the protection of students. We were fortunate to get additional funding from the state for this previous school year and our district has made a dramatic financial turnaround since Supt. Mills and his team took the helm. However, in order to bring long-term stability to the district, more cuts will have to be made. I want to make sure children are the last stakeholder to be affected by those cuts.
4. What is the greatest strength you would bring to the School Board if elected? My 10 years of experience as an educator, including the last seven in Manatee County, will give the public trust that they have a teacher on the school board who knows what students and teachers need to succeed. Further, I don’t bring an ideology or allegiance to any faction or special interest of our currently dysfunctional school board. Therefore, the public will know that if elected to the school board, I will be an independent voice for students and taxpayers who can begin to rebuild the trust between the community, teachers and school leadership.